Off and on I have delved deep into practice, into doing … no more than that, into really living my practice. By that I mean hardcore. I was living on many acres of land, living a fairly simple lifestyle and also living off the land to a certain extent. I was also having a go at traditional lifestyles as well, doing it the old way.<!–more–>
I carried water up a mountain side everyday (sometimes twice or thrice) so I could cook, clean and drink. I learned the value, the sacredness, of every single drop. There are few things in the world that can teach you to truly understand that water is indeed the lifeblood of the Earth (and everything that lives on and within Her) than being a small, barefoot woman, thirsty to the point of parched, dragging 30 pounds of water up a rocky mountain side under a blazing summer Sun.
I dragged (and later carried as I grew stronger) hay bales about the place to feed horses and livestock. I wishpered prayers to Epona everyday … and more as I tried to tend a wound on a half-gentled young filly.
I spent many long nights up to my elbows in blood and birthing fluid, being a midwife to animals. I welcomed life with prayers, recited charms as I tied and cut umbilical cords, pored offerings as I buried placentas, and fought death with tears running down my face.
I had wood heat and dogs to keep me warm. Tending a fireplace or woodstove became much more than some quaint old tradition I had read about in a book of Celtic Paganism. Making sure the thing was properly cleaned and tended before Brighid came ‘round on Imbolg was suddenly very important. February is often very cold at night. I came to understand the important of the hearth in old folk customs and lore. I saw my ancestors in the ash and smoke, gods in the flickering flames.
I re-learned to crochet so I could make garments to help me stay warm, weaving magick into them as I went. I patched tears and whispered spells of strength and protection into clothing, rather than simply toss them out and go buy something new.
I walked through woods at night guided by nothing but the Moon, and perhaps also the reflection off the snow.
I have made friends with trees, worked out deals with land spirits and stumbled into gods in isolated places.
I have done all this and more, now and again. It seems as though the cycle of my twentieth decade in this incarnation has had a pattern, a spiral dance, of finding myself out in cabins and shacks and trailer out in the woods often for years at a time, often hungry and lonely for the love of other human beings but at one with the land around me.
Then someday I move away, in search of companionship, work, civilisation and community. Before I know it I am back in the city again. At my fingertips are libraries and a whole community of fellow Pagans and Witches. Open rituals, book clubs, women’s circles, workshops and more.
I curse the crowded streets but praise the museums. I hate the streetlights glaring into my windows late at night but love the local occult bookshop. I pick up trash in city parks and give offerings to polluted water courses. I throw native wildflower seeds into vacant lots. I find myself pulled to volunteer at local animal shelters and rescues. I whisper charms of protection for the urban coyotes as they stalk the dangerous city. I visit famous haunted buildings and leave coins at the feet of statues.
Then someday I grow tired of the bustle of the city, the politics of community. I yearn for the slower pace of the country life. I begin to dream of a cottage in the woods again.
Such is the way it goes.