Being of the Earth
by Robin Rose Bennett
Healing Magic: A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living
People have begun to wake up and reclaim our stewardship of the earth. We also need to recover our love and joy in being of the earth. The earth is not just our environment, not just our primary source of resources; the earth is the living heart of humanity. The words earth and heart are anagrams of each other; what’s the hidden message?
I remember an old farmer with a sly twinkle in his eye who sold wild greens and hand-fashioned country treasures at the city greenmarket where I used to shop when I lived in New York City. We often got to talking. I think he liked educating me, the nice but ignorant city woman, about the real world he knew from living his life on the land. He was aware in a way I was not, how fundamentally dependent we all are on the health of the earth for our lives. I knew this intellectually, but intellect—knowing something—and experience—living something—are very different.
One day we were happily discussing plants we loved. I was buying wild watercress he’d harvested the day before in a clear stream near his house. He lived just an hour and a half out of town, but it might as well have been another world. As we talked about the heart-shaped leaves of sweet blue violets and tangy yellow-flowering wood sorrel, the twinkle in his eye turned into a knowing gleam. He paused and looked at me intently. “Did you ever notice how so many things in nature are heart-shaped? I think she’s trying to tell us something.” He beamed at me and laughed.
Terry Tempest Williams has written that, “We are in danger of becoming biologically illiterate. If we don’t know the names of things we won’t miss them when they’re gone.” Most people walking outside where I live would look around the early spring landscape and perhaps notice a few small green plants and trees that mean nothing particular to them. When I go right outside my door, I find a wealth of details.
There are evergreen mountain laurel trees that will develop showy clusters of sticky, pink-and-white blossoms in late April, leafless oaks that will birth next winter’s cache of acorns for the local squirrels, maple trees with flashy red buds all over them, and slender, gleaming, black birch trees that are beginning to smell tantalizingly of wintergreen again.
Looking down, I see glistening starry mosses; dry, drab-looking blueberry bushes (you’d never guess what’s coming in July), a baby juniper tree, dark green periwinkle leaves, lying low, covering the ground, and little yellow coltsfoot flowers that have popped up out of the stony soil before their leaves. These soft, round flowers look like dandelions and are one of the first to come up every spring. They let me know that periwinkle’s beautiful blossoms with the funny squared-off petals can’t be far behind.
Velvety new lady’s mantle leaves are peeking out from last year’s stalks, reminding me of my great grandmother, who used their leaves for healing. Tiny baby dandelion greens make my mouth water in anticipation of wild salads; and many, many more plants and trees are coming back to life in the early springtime.
When I was a kid, one young maple tree was neatly planted in front of each house, in a little square of dirt cut out from the chemically weed-free, curbside grass. We kids used to peel open the light green seed pods from their centers and paste them onto our noses with the sticky, white substance that was inside. We called the seeds pollywogs, and for a long time, I thought they were pollywog trees! I loved eating French toast with maple syrup, but never fully appreciated the connection between the young maple trees planted outside and the delicious syrup I was pouring over my favorite breakfast.
Now when I enjoy maple syrup on French toast or pancakes I remember that it’s a gift, and that it comes from the sweet, rising sap of a maple tree being reborn at the end of the winter. Maybe you were taught to say grace of some kind in thanks for your meals, but most of us have not been taught in a way that truly awakens us to the grace of the earth that is feeding us.
We don’t see God-Goddess-All-That-Is in the maple tree we tap. It is not like “tapping” someone on the shoulder either. The tree’s body is pierced to withdraw her sap, her life-blood. We don’t see our beloved Earth Mother in the greens, grains, fruits, fish, and/or animals we ingest. We don’t perceive that we are in a reciprocal relationship that calls for acknowledgment and giving back, at the very least, our gratitude. To paraphrase Susun Weed, “We eat the earth, and the earth eats us.”
Just as parents must draw the line sometimes to let children know when their behavior is unacceptable, Earth, the ancient mother of us all, has been demonstrating that we contemporary humans have crossed too many lines of objectionable, even intolerable behavior.
The earth is calling us to consciousness through her climactic and geographic changes, through her increasing inability to feed us from depleted soil and polluted waters. The atmosphere’s natural sunscreen, the ozone layer, is disappearing to the point where black-skinned people are getting unprecedented sunburns, and skin cancer rates are soaring. These and more are the consequences of treating the earth like a giant manufacturing plant or a warehouse filled with an endless stock of resources to plunder, rather than as a living, conscious home providing for billions of creatures.
The earth needs us to grow up. She needs people of privilege—people who are not starving and surviving at subsistence levels—to take back our power to support the healing of life on earth. Earth’s power funds and supports us when we learn and remember how to call it in and open to receive it. We find that we are the earth.
To live magically,
To work with energy,
You have to rekindle your senses, your instincts.
To practice magic,
To consciously engage in co-creation with nature,
You have to remember how to see in the dark.
Women lead here.
Women remember this art.
We embody it in our ovaries, and in our wombs.
Women have always had a unique kinship with Mother Earth through our power to bleed and give birth and nourish new life from our bodies. Still, all of us—women, men, and children (though children least of all)—suffer from the disconnection from Earth that is now commonly considered normal. Reconnecting with the earth helps awaken you to Healing Magic. At the same time, practicing magic strengthens your connection with the earth.
The earth is a mirror for all of us. Like our planet’s body, our bodies are composed of about 75 percent water. Earth has extensive self-regulating filter systems for keeping her various ecosystems circulating freely, nourished, clean, and healthy. We have kidneys, lungs, digestive systems, and skin, which are all self-regulating filter systems, too.
These systems—the earth’s and ours—are stressed to depletion and dysfunction. We cannot harm her without harming ourselves. What is good for the earth is good, healthy, and life-promoting for us, and what is good for us is good for the earth.
by Robin Rose Bennett
Excerpt from Healing Magic:
A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living
Healing Magic: A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living is filled with green blessings. Don’t wait! Help yourself to a large serving.
—SUSUN S. WEED
author of the Wise Woman Herbal Series
A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living
Follow the path to physical and spiritual health with this how-to
manual filled with ancient lore and wisdom. Using stories, songs,
rituals, recipes, meditations, and trance journeys, it suggests
more than 100 ways to practice the art of magical healing. Find
out how to reconnect with the earth and draw on its energy, interact
with the power of the seven chakras, make use of moon magic and
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medicine wheel, and cast spells for love and wealth. No matter what
your beliefs, this guidebook will open your heart and mind to the
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Other articles by Robin Rose Bennett
An Herbalists Notebook part 1
An Herbalists Notebook part 2
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“Robin has been practicing Earth Spirit healing, herbalism and Wise Woman ways for twenty years and is an incredibly gifted spiritual teacher, healer and ceremonialist. Robin's powerful teachings come to the reader through a personal writing style that is immediately engaging, sharing practical wisdom through anecdote and example.”
Jen Prosser, Sunstone Herbs
The Cookbook that Challenges Politically
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Herbal Pharmacy, part 1
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