[Editor’s Note: Please welcome Melissa Hill to the Agora! Melissa will be writing Dandelion Seeds here on alternating Wednesdays. As always, subscription links are located at the bottom of the article. Welcome, Melissa!]
I am a pagan, poly, bisexual, farmer/artist/poet.
Whew. Okay, we got that out there. Nice to meet you. Writing a first blog post is weird. It’s like a blind date. How do I explain the essence of who I am and what I’m going to be trying to share with you in a thousand words? I’m also a priestess, and so I know that answer:
Before you read it, take a moment and think about you, and how you might express your self-ness in a poem. It’s cheesy, I know. Some of the best things in life are cheesy.
I am a yellow flower in the sun
I am a lake, cold and still
I am a coyote on the run
I am an oak tree on the hill
I am a page in a yellowed book
I am a poem in the hand
I am a red stone in the brook
I am a fox in Wonderland
I am a swan rising in flight
I am a word upon the screen
I am a star spinning through the night
I am a scurrying mouse unseen
I am the sky lit by the rising day
I am a voice of the Earth Mother’s way
Who seeks the headwaters of the river?
Who pours offerings upon the flame?
And who reads the ancient riddles and speaks the many names?
Who knows the secrets of berry red and greenwood’s wicked thorn?
Who casts off ill and calls the blessing who cures and chants and prays?
For whom do the spirits wink and nod in the evening and the morn?
Who weaves the cloth of ancient lore with warp of knowledge new?
The answer to those questions is me, of course. The Dandelionlady. It’s a name I took as an online handle, more than ten years ago now. Sometimes small choices can shape large changes.
I wasn’t always this person. I came from the endless lawn mowing suburbia. Repetitions of strip mall, party store, and fast food restaurant were the landscape from which I emerged. I was meant to achieve bigger and better things than to be a farmer, artist, priestess, and mother. I was meant to wear a suit and carry a briefcase; I never was very good at that. When I was in seventh grade I proclaimed that I would be a Garbage Woman and break into the field. I had never seen a female garbage collector, and this threw my Dad into fits. It was perfect.
But surprisingly, I wasn’t all that wrong. I do love garbage. I compost and recycle. I use sustainable materials in my artwork and in my work as a farmer. I am a farmer, but not of the tractor driving variety. The dandelion has an incredibly strong taproot that can drive down into the most packed down, ruined dirt. That’s why you often see them taking over in old parking lots and beside sidewalks. Like the dandelion I am tough and often found in stony ground. I know how to break up the hardest soil, how to make fertile ground when you cannot find it. I have learned the hard way that drying fruit with a solar dryer can be tough, that burdock root is a giant pain to pull out of the ground, no matter what the books say, and that the first sun-ripened tomato off the vine is literally the best thing in the world.The dandelion is classified as a pioneer plant. That means it grows where other things can’t grow. It retakes damaged land and creates an environment that is more favorable for other plants to grow. We pagans are pioneers. But not of the sort that force people off their land. We should be the ones who are healing the land. We are explorers of culture and religion. Our religions are young and we are the ones who will shape them for the generations to come. My job is to help that process. I experiment and ask questions, I try new things and see what works. This blog is my attempt to report back on those adventures. To share the knowledge I have gained in my experiments, and to build a dialogue with other explorers of culture, religion, and sustainability.
I am lucky enough to live communally on an urban farm, raising my children to love the land, respect people of all creeds, and seek knowledge for its own sake. I am bisexual, poly, pagan, a druid priest, an artist, and a farmer trained in organic vegetable production. So I know a little about living on the edge of consensual reality.
I have a background in psychology and in the course of my training as a priest of ADF I have studied anthropology, linguistics, ritual structure, trancework, and magic. In this blog we will talk about modern eco-philosophers such as David Abram and Terry Tempest Williams, the work of farmers such as Eliot Coleman, and the spiritual work of many people, both pagan and of other creeds. The scope of this column will be broad because the scope of the issue is broad. It must not only include the spiritual, but the physical as well. Ritual mechanics and gardening practices both have their place in the world of the modern pagan.
My goal in this blog is to sort through all this knowledge to find the seeds of wisdom contained therein. These are my Dandelion Seeds that I hope to share with you, dear reader. May the gods bless this work, may it be rooted in the Earth Mother, warmed by the sun, and enlivened by the spirit that resides in us all. So be it.
Images above courtesy of the author.