Learning to Love the Land of One’s Birth
I think it is important to be able to separate the Land itself, from the actions and ideas of the people that live on it. Especially for those of us who feel like we live in less than magical places. Growing up in the mid-west, the bible belt, or any ass-backwards small town full of narrow minded imbeciles can make us feel like we don’t belong. Trauma and judgement can make us feel like the very dirt itself would refuse our burial when the time came. Oftentimes, the disregard of the white man on Native Lands is what began this process of disconnection with the land and its inhabitants, turning one against the other. It is our responsibility as Pagans and people of the earth that we return to our roots not only for our own healing, but the healing of bonds that were exploited and broken long ago.
It was right around this time last year that my husband and I went on vacation to Florida to visit some family, and decided to take the opportunity to move there and get a fresh start. Needless to say we are back in Indiana now where we were both born and raised. Leaving for the sake of leaving, somehow feeling like I owed it to myself to embark on this journey “before it was too late.” What I thought was my final destination was really only the beginning of a new found appreciation for this place that I have lived in for all of my life.
Coming back to Northern Indiana at the end of November after living in Florida for the fall was definitely a shock. It took some getting used to the cold temperatures again, but it made me realize how much I appreciate the changing cycles of the seasons. While each one has its pros and cons the cycle of seasonal change has always been a part of my life. I was born during Lammastide, while we were experiencing a major drought in the late 1980’s. As an adult I find myself extra sensitive to heat and sunlight, preferring the moderate temperatures of Spring and Fall.
The landscape in Indiana has been the backdrop for my life story. The fields of corn, beans and more corn are a familiar sight that blends into the back ground. The deciduous forests that once covered this land have long been cleared away to make room for farming and raising livestock, but there are pockets of both old and new growth forests all around. I have always felt at home in the forest. As a child and teenager I would spend much of my free time out in nature at various preserves, parks, and wooded areas within walking distance to my home. I would create tools out of the items found on the forest floor. I spent summers carving paths and hollows within the dense underbrush, creating an intricate labyrinth that became a second home. I would imagine living before modern times, building forts and creating various medicines out of the things I would find. This was before I had any knowledge of the things I was putting together. The act of collecting and blending various natural items held its own enchantment, whether they were actually usable or not.
There has always been something about the forest that continues to draw me back even as an adult. During my rebellious teenage years the secret places of nature are where my girlfriends and I would smoke weed and trip on mushrooms. The privacy we sought was probably more out of convenience and not wanting to get caught, however there was always a deeper appreciation for the land that we were on. We would talk to the trees, and walk the trails, experiencing the natural world through varying states of consciousness.
The forest was also the place that I would turn to when struggling with depression, addiction and other personal issues that I was working through as a young adult. I think a deeper part of me knew and understood the healing and nurturing I would receive when in the natural world, away from civilization. I continued to return to particular locations when I was at low points in my life, subconsciously knowing that just being there was healing my soul.
Ancestry, Heritage, and Healing
My grandparents played a major role in raising my sisters and I. My mother was a single-mom after divorcing my abusive-alcoholic father, and spent a lot of time working to give us a better life. We lived with my grandparents for a short period of time, and spent many days over the summers of my youth with them. They have played a pivotal role in my upbringing, and continue to be a big part of my life. They are my only living grandparents, and those who I have always been closest to. I have been lucky not to have lost any close family members, however I have always felt like I was being watched over by someone.
My grandfather, in my opinion, gave me the greatest gift a person could give another; my love of learning and reading. I remember many nights sitting up with him while he read classic novels like Tom Sawyer and Robinson Carusoe. My grandmother also cultivated my love for books, art, and the natural world. As a child some of my fondest memories are of being taken to the Little Professor Bookstore where I would lose myself in this magical world. I loved nature, science, and archaeology and still do; I also showed an early interest in astronomy and the planets. Regular trips to the “earth store” was one of my favorite things to do with my grandma. It was a store that sold crystals, fossils and science kits for kids and continued to pique my interest in the natural world and its mysteries. I guess what I am getting at is, that the core interests that would lead me to my investigation of the Unseen mysteries of the natural world began during this period of my childhood. I will be forever grateful for these experiences.
It is amazing how history repeats itself in cycles, and how we carry on particular affinities through the heritage of family and genetics. My grandfather is a passionate gardener, his mother did the same. She was a hard working, salt of the earth woman who farmed and cultivated the earth to provide for her family. My grandfather has told me stories about his grandfather who was also an avid gardener, and was very influential on my young grandpa. It is intriguing and meaningful to me that he has played a very similar role in how he has influenced my own affinity for growing things. If I had to pinpoint the green thumb in my family, it would be here.