As I prepped for presenting my workshop last weekend, I decided to shape up my notes into an overview of what I will be talking about. In parts of this post I will reference what I would be asking the participants. Feel free to post in the comments section and I will get back to you with answers and resources if I can.
As druids we honor the Earth Mother first in our rites because our founder, Issac Bonewits wanted Our Druidry to be focused on her and the environmental challenges that our modern culture has created. Today I’m going to talk about ways to bring those teachings into your daily life by learning to work with the land where you are. Homesteading harkens to the days of the pioneers and that’s what we can be, whether we live in an urban apartment or have acreage and dreams of a productive farm. There’s permaculture and aquaculture and wildcrafting, there’s CSAs and raised beds, and so many options for growing food, medicine, materials for crafts, offerings and incense, and more.
As pagans we believe in gods and spirits. We honor fairies and give offerings to the earth mother. We celebrate the turning of the seasons through the wheel of the year, celebrating each high day or sabbat in it’s turn.
The question that came up for me as I deepened my spiritual practice was how was I to reflect my love for the goddesses and gods, for the earth herself in my daily life in a real authentic way?
I started experimenting with what I saw as authentic pagan practice in my early twenties, by including more vegetables in my diet and learning about organic and local agriculture which then lead to studying horticulture and organic gardening at MSU, growing my own garden, keeping chickens, planting fruit trees, lactofermentation, and a life long addiction to plants.
What is sustainability in terms of all of us as people? We need to be living our lives so that there are resources for future generations. The long term maintenance of well-being our well being. It is imperative that we are not destroying the very ecosystems that keep our world functioning.
Many people see that sustainability has three parts: Social, environmental, economic, so let’s break it down. First up:
There’s a lot of skills that can be applied there, and in my workshop we spend some time brainstorming ideas and the resources of the people attending. I suggest picking one thing and focusing on it at first. By working on one thing at a time it becomes a more manageable task because each skill will teach you about other skills and open your eyes to new things you will want to learn.
The beautiful thing about sustainability is that there’s something for everyone. Whatever you’re interested in, whatever your hobbies are, you are the perfect person to figure out how to make that activity more sustainable.
This is choosing how we spend (and make) our dollars. We all have choices. After many years of studying these things I suggest focusing on building your local economy and supporting local farmers even more than buying organic. This is because local food cost less to ship, increases food security, and makes for long term community wide sustainability.
- buying local
- Farmer’s Markets
- dumpster diving
- Growing connection to the land and the spirits of that land.
- Making a cairn and giving offerings
- Leaving wild places in your yard
- Land claiming with fire
- Supporting local clubs, community associations, and government
- Getting to know your neighbors
- Making friends where you live
Functional ideas for those who can’t live on a farm and devote their lives to this stuff:
At this point in the workshop I usually take some time to ask the participants where they are at with sustainability, what they’d like to focus on and if they have any problems or questions in their lives that connect with living a more sustainable lifestyle. There’s always too much to talk about and not enough time, so it’s important to see where they need to go.
Here’s some ideas I might throw out:
Supporting local farmers instead organic: organic laws, chicken examples. How important local food systems are, the danger of long supply chains, importance of genetic diversity in food crops, aka buy funny colored potatoes. Learn about weird vegetables and the importance and power of cooking your own food. Not using plastic.
Gardening in small spaces: container gardening, hugel culture, lasagna gardening, straw bale gardening, irrigating containers. Making a waterer out of a two liter. The amazing usefulness of youtube.
Learning Skills: Small motor repair. Welding, Soldering, Playing an instrument, singing, making art, making local herbal remedies, cooking, drying, canning, lacto-fermentation, preserving meats, small livestock production, bicycle repair, pruning of fruit trees, vermicomposting, sewing, knitting, crocheting.
The essential quality that I see as necessary for us is flexibility of mind. By letting go of what is supposed to be important and right as told to us by the mainstream we can rethink a better vision of what is truly important.
Here’s where I occasionally get on my soapbox.
We are the tribe of the outsiders. We know who we are. Those who think differently than the mainstream. I see it within many subgroups, pagans, poly, kink, gamers, geeks, we are the people who think outside the box and that kind of thinking is exactly what is needed. We live in difficult times. This is the time of peak oil and growth overshoot. We live in the time of confirmation of climate change and the knowledge that we as humans have the power of the gods to shape our very existance. With great power comes great responsibility and this responsibility is on each and every one of us. We have the responsibility to find a better way to live. To seek a vision of sustainability not only for the spirits of the land and the gods and the goddesses, but for our children, and their children, and for ourselves as well. This is both an altruistic calling and a selfish one.
I have had visions of the future. I have seen the earth as a great river, a flood that comes and wipes us away as flotsam and twigs. She is powerful and there is only so much she can do to protect us from ourselves. In my vision I saw us as bits of twig and leaf being washed away by the force of the waters. But then, one twig caught another and braced against the bank. More and more twigs and leaves came together and caught branch to branch, leaf to stem. We built safe places in the onrushing flood, reaching out to catch others. And with each stem and each leaf our safe space became stronger. With each new person caught we were more able to create something new. This is the vision I give you. It is not a vision without fear. It is not a vision without pain. But it is a vision with hope. We have been told that this is the beginning of the age of aquarius. We have been told that this is the dawning of a new era. I tell you that a new era will not come unless we ourselves work for it. We are the Tribe of the Outsiders and this is our quest. To seek and make a vision of the future that is better than what has been gifted to us. We are pagans. We are the children of the Earth. I would say unto you we have the choice to birth a world that is equal for all, that celebrates all people of all races, genders, and choices. that lives our belief that we are walking on the sacred earth with every step. We have this power. This is the ultimate power from within ourselves to shape ourselves into something new and better.
The acceptance of your own ultimate power and responsibility is a fearful thing. The knowledge that we are the ones that will birth this change, that our parents could not do this thing that there is no certainty to sustainability and safety is formidable. But we must do this. Incrementally, one small change at a time. One choice, one meal, one garden. Let go of what the media tells you. Let go of expectation and outdated ideas of success. We are the Tribe of the Outsiders. Let us embrace our gifts that we may find our vision and lead the way to a true sustainable, beautiful, joyful new time that we may gift to our children and their children.
May it be so.
Thank for your time.
So that’s kinda what I talk about in my Pagan Homesteading Workshop. If you like my work and you’d like to support it, please think about signing up over at my Patreon Account. Thank you.