Note: the last time Nancy Lankston did this, she ended up creating Sacred Earth Institute!!
We give thanks for all those who are moved, in their lives, to heal and protect the earth, in small ways and in large. Blessings on the composters, the gardeners, the breeders of worms and mushrooms, the soil-builders, those who cleanse the waters and purify the air, all those who clean up the messes others have made. Blessings on those who defend trees and who plant trees, who guard the forests and who renew the forests. Blessings on those who learn to heal the grasslands and renew the streams, on those who prevent erosion, who restore the salmon and the fisheries, who guard the healing herbs and who know the lore of the wild plants. Blessings on those who heal the cities and bring them alive again with excitement and creativity and love. Gratitude and blessings to all who stand against greed, who risk themselves, to those who have bled and been wounded, and to those who have given their lives in service of the earth.
May all the healers of the earth find their own healing. May they be fueled by passionate love for the earth. May they know their fear but not be stopped by fear. May they feel their anger and yet not be ruled by rage. May they honor their grief but not be paralyzed by sorrow. May they transform fear, rage, and grief into compassion and the inspiration to act in service of what they love. May they find the help, the resources, the courage, the luck, the strength, the love, the health, the joy that they need to do the work. May they be in the right place, at the right time, in the right way. May they bring alive a great awakening, open a listening ear to hear the earth’s voice, transform imbalance to balance, hate and greed to love. Blessed be the healers of the earth.
This meditative exercise helps you reconnect with the little bit of earth that holds you throughout this life. Settle back, relax and come home to your sacred and beautiful body.
At the beginning of February, we celebrate a strange and wonderful holiday known as Groundhog Day. We are told that if the prophetic groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, sees his shadow on this day and runs quickly back into his burrow, winter will last at least 6 more weeks. Today Phil did NOT see his shadow, thus predicting that winter will end soon. How ironic that this prediction occurs when much of the country is buried under piles of snow!
The idea of waiting and watching for the first inkling of spring is not new. The ancient Celts celebrated Imbolc in early February long before Groundhog Day existed. Celtic stories tell us that the Cailleach—the divine hag Goddess who rules over winter and death—gathers firewood for the rest of the winter on Imbolc. If the Goddess Cailleach wishes to make the winter last a lot longer, she will make sure that the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. But, if Imbolc is a day of foul weather, it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over.
The Cailleach was worshipped by the Celts as the sacred Earth Mother herself in her bare winter form. And she is not just a dark and evil hag who arbitrarily decides how long winter will be. The Cailleach is also the Bone Mother who collects the bones of the animals that die in the winter. The Bone Mother is said to sing or pray or sleep over the bones all winter long. She does this out of love, so that the animals will cross over and can return as new life in the spring.
The Celtic tribes lived in the far north where winter is a brutal season. They had to burn huge quantities of wood to keep from freezing every winter. They also had to rely on their own stores of food to get them through the long winter months when no crops could be grown or harvested. There was no corner grocery store to run to if they ran out of bread. Is it any wonder that the Celts were quite focused on the return of spring?
The Celts watched and waited for spring. And they noticed that the ewes began to lactate and prepare for the birth of their lambs in early February. The Celts saw this return of mothers’ milk as reason to celebrate. The flow of milk and the birth of baby lambs meant spring was definitely on its way. The harshness of winter would soon end. The Celts celebrated Imbolc because they understood that their lives depended on the grace of Mama Earth and her seasons.
There is a magic to Imbolc and the early days of February. It is there, running just beneath the surface. Can you sense it? Mama Earth holds the seeds of spring safe for us all winter. As the cold wind blows and the snow piles up, she holds them safe in her soil. Now it is February, not quite time for the seeds to sprout. But the days are definitely lengthening. The wheel of the year is slowly turning towards spring and new growth. And beneath the surface of Mama Earth, the seeds are beginning to quietly stir. Spring is stirring in the ground beneath your feet. Listen with your heart. Can you hear the stirring?
Imbolc is traditionally celebrated at the halfway point between winter solstice and spring equinox. In 2016, this halfway point falls on February 4. Here is a way to celebrate Imbolc at your house: Light a candle or two tonight. Then offer up a simple prayer of gratitude in honor of Mama Earth and the return of spring.
Taming Nature by Nancy Lankston
I like to spend time camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. I love that place. But the last time I camped there, I came away sad. The hiking trails at RMNP are badly damaged from too many hikers. The campground is stripped of every bush and flower; only the hardiest old pine trees still survive. There is very little natural life left anywhere near the campground. I was haunted by the nagging thought that humans destroy Nature wherever we go.
People have been trying to manage and control the beautiful wild places on earth for generations. But we always seem to end up destroying huge pieces of Nature in the process of trying to preserve and micro-manage it. Environmentalists preach about man’s destruction of Nature all the time. It is sad to realize that a tree hugger like myself can add to the destruction without even realizing it.
I believe that we lost an important connection between humans and Mother Nature when we stopped sleeping on the ground and hunting in the forest every day for dinner. We lost something valuable when we got “civilized.” And now, with every piece of wildness that we pave over or fence in, we lose even more connection. With every choice we make to ride in a car instead of walking, and with every streetlight that we keep burning all night long, we lose our understanding of the value of wild places.
Somehow we forget that every drop of water we drink and every bite of food we consume is a gift from Nature. We forget that Mother Nature provides everything that sustains our lives. We forget… Is this our proverbial fall from paradise, this act of forgetting?
I look around at everything humans have done to our Earth in the name of progress and I wonder. We seem to have a terminal case of amnesia; we forget that humans are intrinsically a part of Nature. Is this a Christian oops, this idea that humans have dominion over this planet? Where did we come up with the notion that we must tame and subdue and manage every other creature on Earth? Whatever happened to the Christian concepts of kindness and sharing? Apparently those ideals don’t apply to plants and animals.
I shouldn’t pick on Christianity. It’s not like Jews, Buddhists, Hindus or Moslems have a history of being any kinder to our Earth. Most religions act like the human body is a necessary evil rather than a divine miracle. Is it any surprise that those same religions view the body of Mama Earth like a necessary evil to be tamed and controlled?
Can we stop trying to tame Mama Earth? Can we just STOP? Instead of seeing life as a battle of humans against Nature, can we wake up and connect with the wisdom and wonder of Nature? It is the wisdom and wonder of Nature that makes life on Earth possible! When will we realize that destroying Nature is as dumb as cutting off our own arm? Are we wise enough to finally choose cooperation over domination?
I know in my heart that I am not separate or distinct from Nature.
This single simple idea feels so critical to me. But what will it take before I start living like I believe that? When will I start working with Nature, actively listening to Nature, looking to Nature for my answers?
I wonder, what else is possible? Can I learn how to partner and work with Mama Earth rather than doing things to her? It is time to try. Because the truth is, I cannot survive without Nature. Nature and I are one.