A Song of the Earth

So, here it is – almost June, with Beltane gone by so quickly, the Spring so strange, and all of my life in slow motion. What is this that happens, when your world is turned upside down and inside out, all of a moment and everything we think we know changes? I thought I knew, having been through a few of these events, in past. But new ones arrive and you are stricken again, all over again, like the very first time.

After the first death, there is no other.

Dylan Thomas

I love Dylan Thomas, but I think he had this wrong. I recall all the recent shocks, starting with my brother’s death, and then Luke, and then my father, and last fall, the call from Saskatchewan that was not my partner of 25 years, but his uncle, telling me that Alex was in surgery, that he had a complicated appendicitis, that he would update me. And then the updates, making clearer and clearer that had the uncle not been there, to drag Alex to ER, he most certainly would have died. Two weeks in hospital, and then months of recovery, he did NOT lose his colon, but it was touch and go for a while.

You think you get used to this – you go through it again and again, you rally, you deal with it in your own way, whatever way that is.
And then the storm settles, and you think you are ok – again.
I was ok last March, working on a course I am very proud of – coming to terms with the losses and struggles of last year, and then the gateway to Chaos opened again and there it was.
So, as of March 9, I am basically homeless. My centre, my spiritual home, everything I have loved and tended and yes, struggled with for 11 years is about to be taken from me. I have been told my lease will not be renewed, and I’m not going into the details here. It is unjust,  the worst possible timing but n amount of pleading will soften a heart that does not exist.  Ok than! Let this be, yet another lesson.

So – today. Is this a requiem or a door opening? Obviously, to me anyway,it is both. . As much as I have loved, written about, celebrated my geographical surroundings, there are many problems here. Some, drive me up the wall. Some are fixable, others are not. At the end of the day – this is not my property, and everyone who allows themself to fall in love with someone else’s home, runs the risk of suffering as I have this past 3 months. We run the risk of losing everything and at a moment’s notice. We invest in something that is never ours to invest in at all. We place ourselves at the mercy of others, whom we may not even know.
I am, on one level completely devastated not only that we have to move, leave this enchanted place that is also the place I have lived longest, ever in my life – 11 years. I am, on one level, inconsolable. I awake with the dawn and watch the light outside, kiss the cedars and sing to the birds, who sing louder probably to stop my atonal noises. I feed the deer, the foxes and the squirrels, not t mention birds. Trumpetflower wraps the front porch,feeding the hummers, and a hundred times a year, I catch something wounded, bring it in and help it heal, release with a prayer of both blessing and gratitude.
Both of my dogs died here, and I sat in this office for two weeks, waiting for news my father had died.I finished two diplomas and countless other courses on route to becoming the herbalist I like to think I am now. I watched both inside and out of this house crumble with neglect, and I thought, as recently as last month, about rallying everything that I can and buying it. But in the end, I could not save it, not as a rental, not as the sanctuary it has been for me despite all the problems. For weeks, I could barely function with sorrow and anxiety.

But still…didn’t I mention something about…celebration….

It is 2 pm on a hazy late spring Monday and I have just come in from bringing water to the valerian and St.John’s wort, the two herbs I grow that are suffering the most in our extreme heat and lack of rain. To get to the garden I walk past a glory of lilacs, a rapidly blooming wild rose and underfoot is an unbelievably soft carpet of Ground Ivy, Mouse-ear Chickweed, Speedwell and Wild Strawberry.  The lot is ringed with white pine, Northern white cedar, trembling aspen, wild cherry, balsam poplar, white spruce, several small ash trees, the two rowans I planted a few years ago in memory of my brother, and one corner features two apple trees and a struggling, but magical hawthorn. In that corner, a few years ago I started a fairy shrine – using a gorgeous triangular piece of quartz I found hiking nearby as a centerpiece,  and adding incense, statues, crystal glasses filled with cream and honey and home made incense, year after year.  And suddenly last year, a red elder popped up right behind the shrine. There is no red elder anywhere on this property or adjacent to it. I love that, and honestly could not ask for a more meaningful sign.

Elder-Flower-Fairy1

Over the years here I have developed a deep relationship with several deer who visit in the autumn, I have walked out back to come face to face with a black wolf, staring me in the eye, and then walking slowly away.I have sheltered a small Saw-whet owl who took to my porch in deep winter and hunted voles under the thick snow, leaving me a bezoar when he departed.I have made medicines of all description from the wild plants here, learning their ways intimately, growing much more into my herbalism than in years past.I have learned a fierce independence that was not defiant or shrill, but simply my sanity asserting itself after years of bewildered longing. I have seen, finally, the shift in my consciousness I sought from an early age, looking for it at university and in Wiccan circles and in love relationships and in Jungian analysis and endless self examination (there it was, in nature, all along). I have put out a call for Motherwort and awakened to a yard completely covered with it (careful what you ask for, the Plant Kingdom has a sense of humour!)  All of this and oh so much more, while watching the sun and moon change positions, all year, every year, watching sunrise over the ridge of wildwood out to the east and sunset over the winding stream,lined with hawthorn and white willow, just outside my front door.

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And all of this, I will carry with me to the new land, to the forest and streams and enchanted spaces that – this time – I will call my own, will build a permanent home and mark the quarters, build gardens everywhere, make magic in seclusion and safety and without the threat of suddenly, having my life ripped apart, on the whim  of another.

So, over the next year, as we seek our Home and prepare to leave this one, I’m planning a series of posts here about the trees, plants, bird and animals who have been so much a part of my life here, such teachers and soul-friends.  In ways both tangible and not,  I will bring so many with me when I go…and leave behind much, as is always the way when a magical link is broken.

Next up, then, reflections on the trees I loved first and perhaps best of all – Trembling aspen and Balsam poplar.
And then, pheobes, avens, catbirds, snapping turtles, bur oak and silver maple, white ash and saw-whet owls, and foxes who come to the  house to die.   Rose beads and hyssop, apple runes and mugwort…mockingbirds, orioles…and always, the deer.

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