On Honoring the Land

Hello friends! It's been a quiet couple of weeks on here as I traveled home to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday. I got home a bit later than planned after getting caught up in some serious Mercury Retrograde and Blood Moon eclipse energy that left us stranded in two different airports for over 24 hours. But I've made it back, and spending time in my native land after years away got me thinking about all sorts of things regarding my practice. 

In my last post, I discussed the notion of how our practice belongs within the context of the place we inhabit. I've since spent a lot of time thinking about this further, and about related concepts that stem from this. In her book Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Kimmerer teaches us that "becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children's future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it."

There is so much to be unpacked in this sentiment, but for the sake of this post, the basic idea here is that we owe it to our land to develop a respectful mutual relationship with it, rather than to treat it as a resource to be exploited. Once we understand the offerings of the earth as the gifts they are, rather than resources, we can start to engage in the proper respect and reciprocity. We shouldn't just take from our land, but instead make an active commitment to give in return. 

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What does that look like if, like me, you've made your home in a place other than the place you were born and grew up in? I've chosen to make Salem my home, and for the last 9 years, have developed a working relationship with the energies and helping spirits of this place. We've built a home here, started a business here, and gotten deeply involved in local politics. These are all modern markers of commitment to a place. But when I step off the airplane landing in Brazil, I recognize the way the wind blows, the smell of the air, and the hum of the earth beneath my feet. "It's good to see you," the spirits say to me, and my body responds, "it's so good to be home." The pull is so strong I came home (and how funny it is, to have two places that really feel like home in my heart) to Salem with a little jar of dirt from my home town, a vibrant red soil rich in iron. It now sits on my altar along with stones dug up from the ground in Salem. Both tug at my heart in different ways, both calling me home. We are being born of the earth, and we must honor our lands if we want to use our Shamanism to heal the world outside of ourselves. 

So where am I going with all this? This all ties into my ceremonial practice of honoring both the ancestors and the descendants. Whether we have positive or negative feelings about our ancestors, there is the undeniable truth that without them, we would not exist in our current form. For that reason, we owe it to our ancestors to honor them - and it's important that to honor does not mean to love. We must also recognize that we are just one point along our lineages, and our descendants will follow. Even if we don't personally procreate, our bloodlines continue, in our nieces and nephews, second cousins, and so forth. We each have a responsibility to live as if we understand that the world will continue after our time, and do our best to take care of it. When thinking of the lands where we were born and the lands we now live in, we are dealing with similar concepts. The place where we were born should be honored as our ancestors are honored. As we commit ourselves to the places we have chosen for our homes, we must care for these places as if we intend to pass them on to our descendants.  

One of the most important lessons we can learn is that we are part of the earth, not apart from it, and we have an obligation to honor it in the way we live our lives. As you deepen your ceremonial practice, I urge you to see yourself as part of this greater whole, and ask how you can contribute to healing the whole.