Tuesday, July 25, 2017

How Do We Talk With The Earth?

I was very disappointed that circumstances forced me to return to Tucson and I was not able to remain at Brushwood for the festivals as I hoped this year.  I have come there to heal and "talk with the land" for many years, and the land (and people) always inform me of what I need to know.  I feel very fortunate that I could have all those "pagan summers" at the Brushwood Folklore Center in Western New York, working at the festivals, building my Moss Garden shrine deep in the woods,  spending time with my visionary friends Frank and Darlene Barney who created Brushwood, and their daughter Theresa and her husband Dave..........and the many people who have come there over the years to celebrate with ecstatic exuberance the land, Gaia, the Goddess and the God, the rising of the Dog star, the walking of the Labyrinth, the recreation each year of little shrines and gardens, at festivals like Starwood,  Sankofa and Sirius Rising.

For years I've been making works  I ended up calling  "Earth Shrines" or "Earth Icons".   I've made them from bird nests, twigs, and found places that seem to insist on making a little shrine.  The pieces I hang on walls always seem to have roots and eyes woven into the designs.  I finally understand that  the roots represent our inter-dependancy with all other living beings, our deep roots of nourishment in the Earth.  And the  eyes are the presence and intelligence I experience everywhere, the  conversation inherent in the woven fabric of the  entire world, in our bodies, in the trees,  in the slow dance of ecosystems,  in the breath of the sky, in the tendrils and roots that  twine and seek and speak deep under our feet.  

Frank Barney and I had a conversation a number of years ago, and I want to share it again, because it's important.  We were riding through the “village” that seems to bubble out of the ground when the big festivals happen.  It's like I used to feel with the Renaissance Festivals when I worked at them........like Brigadoon, the festivals appear, then gradually  disappear.   I asked Frank what it was like to live with a particular place since childhood, to raise your family there, to grow up within his environment of forests and meadows,  and eventually become  its caretaker and spiritual collaborator.  "How", I asked, "do we learn to  speak with the Earth?"

Frank (who is a dowser as his father was) answered my question as he always does, in his own inimitable round-about way. He was answering in circles, literally, as we toured, looking at favorite trees, niches,  feeling the geomagnetic intensities of various places, the “green breath” of the forest, that watchful "presence" I always feel among the trees.

Most of the voices of nature are small and delicate,” he told me, “and can easily be silenced. They can be made invisible, or driven underground. And when that happens, people forget that they ever existed at all. Within a short time, they forget what it was like to live in such a rich chorus of voices, among so many stories, intelligences, lives.......and then  they’re living without them in a world that has lost not only that living  population, but also its mystery and vitality. An increasingly flat world with only human voices. “

“If you violate a person, be it a child or an adult, they shut up. You silence them. They withdraw - although, with human beings, the energy of that violence is likely to erupt in some future way, in some future violence. Places, like people and animals, also have voices. Violate a place, like putting a Wal-mart parking lot over it, and all the voices that belong to that place leave.  The land is silenced. ”

“What I've been trying to do” he said, “for the past 30 years is to create a place that can facilitate communion with the Earth. By treating the land with respect, by acknowledging the presence of so many other intelligences, visible and invisible, that are evolving within the immanent cycles of life, right here, on the land. On this land, with all of its uniqueness. "

"And there are different ways we've accomplished that.  For example, because we didn't have much money, we couldn't do what many people do when they acquire a piece of land. Which is to come in with big machines that level and dominate the land, bulldoze it flat, force it to do what they want it do. We didn't have the financial means to do that, even if we wanted to, so Brushwood evolved gradually, organically, according to the dictates of the land, its contours and water ways and bumps and swamps and resources. And also its energy leys and vortices. 

We bring people here who have an earth friendly ethos and mythos. They can feel safe here, they can interact and create and explore without ridicule or hostility. They come here to connect, to play, or to heal. They can do ritual, make things like art or theatre or music, wear masks or costumes, dance, have discussions, make love, get naked in the sun or rain if they like, the children can ride their bikes or play in the mud - they feel safe. So the Earth can speak through them in all the things that they say and do.

That’s how we talk with the Earth.
 We let the Earth talk through us.”

Erecting the Thunder Bird (2008)
Throughout the week long festival, prayers and intentions were collected,
and deposited in the Thunder Bird "messenger " -  similar to the ancient
Celtic  Lammas rituals  of the burning of the Wicker Man.

Photos of  Sirius Rising are by, and copyright,  Roy Jones


Gail said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. I am truly sorry that your time was cut short. I wish that I could join you on one of your summer journeys. I enjoy living vicariously through you, but think I would like to experience Brushwood Folklore Center first hand.

Lauren Raine said...

I think next year you should go Gail! Go to Sirius Rising!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Beautiful! It's too bad your time there was cut short. It sounds like a fantastic journey!