My ex liked to move about every two years (just moved again, as a matter of fact)–probably one of the many reasons we’re no longer together. If you’re always running, you never let yourself have the time to be affected by relationships, whether it’s with neighbors or the land itself. I hated being rootless.
Listening to the land is what being a Druid is all about though. If a single sacrament exists that unites all Druids, it would be to Know Thy Lands. But what form does this take? We are undeniably people of the Sun; her journey thought the sky dictates our celebrations. By and large, our rituals are as open to outsiders as they are to the sky. Knowing the land will bring health, wealth, prosperity. The overflowing arms of a fecund Mother, bucolic prancing lambs, and a piping Pan are among our most beloved images. And that makes sense, after a fashion, even if it smothers the raw truth of what the land is in a gloss of anti-industrial Romantic bubble wrap.
Here’s what they don’t tell you. Sometimes being tuned into the land isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Dreams of giant squash bugs, visions of creeping fungus and of garden beds crying out for blood. Holding a dying mother turkey in your arms as her pullets cry out for her. Maggots in the compost heap, rats’ nests in the hay. Keeping a dead chicken in your fridge until the Ag Department can come to determine if it’s bird flu. You can’t turn your back on the compost, shite and death. The Black Hen of Cerridwen, if you will, that’s one call you can’t ignore.
After five years of watching, writing, listening, tasting, I’m finally settling into the rhythms of being Wachusett’s long shadow. Even as I know nature owes me nothing, I marvel in being able to eat from my garden and get eggs from our chickens. And now, at the end of the season, I’ll revel in the catabolic processes that will work their magic in the fallow months to make the land fruitful again come spring.
No, they don’t tell you that before the wonder of Pryderi’s return comes a terrible claw seeking revenge. But now that you know the land, do they really need to?