The law of return and cycle of life

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I have just finished reading a fantastic book that goes into the fossil fuel industry called “this changes everything” by Naomi Klein. As some of you may know I work in the environment sector and it is a space that bring both highs and lows. This book, or collection of story’s, pulls out just how tough it can be to work in this sector, made even tougher by the fact that the short term economics behind the destruction of our natural resources really makes almost no sense when you look at the long term economic situation.

Within the pages I found a description of the law of return that I hade never really thought about, even with working in this sector and with how much I am learning about growing food. The quote comes from a farmer who is part of a group looking at how from the moment humans started farming the earth, we have been taking from the earth and not putting back. The quality of the soil and the nutrients in the soil is what makes a good crop. In permaculture and gardening in general it is often said that you don’t feed the plants, you feed the soil. Healthy soil equals health plants.

So the quote from the farmer went like this

“The problem of sustainability is simple enough to state….It requires that the fertility cycle of birth, growth, maturity, death, and decay…should turn continuously in place, so that the law of return is kept and nothing is wasted”

In this case what he meant was returning the energy taken from the soil in the growing process. In the wild this cycle happens naturally, plants grow, the are diverse having many different plants in the one area (and you see this in the arid desert to the lush rain forests). And then plants die, feeding back into the soil as they rot and decay. When you farm, you plant the same crop over a patch of soil, then you pull the plants up. Current practices match this cycle by planting different crops in the same soil over different times in the year. Why do we do this, for the simple fact that different plants take and give different nutrients to and from the soil. This is why so many different plants do survive quite nicely in a small patch of soil in nature, in gardening this is called companion planting.

Current farming practices don’t really support this natural cycle, so we have used chemical fertilizers and industrial ways of recreating this natural cycle, as a way of feeding the soil. Different farms and farmers do it in different ways, some good, some bad and I am never going to even pretend that I know much about it, or in how good or bad these different techniques are. However one of the interesting observations made by the author of the book was that as the area where this test farm was went through drought, it was the only farm that had a good crop. They had managed to look after the natural soil condition enough that less water was needed for the plants to thrive. To me this was a really good example of just how powerful the cycle of life and the law of return is.

Image courtesy of amenic181 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Learning how to practice when you don’t know what you are doing.

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This is an interesting topic that a lot of people struggle with, especially when you are learning remotely and from books. I see it so many times when the students I am tutoring come to the actual ‘doing’ parts. After all, how do you know if you are doing it right when you have never don’t it before, or seen someone do it? And then to top it off, there is almost too much information out there.

Take a simple thing, or what should be a simple thing, doing a ritual. When you have never done one before it can be a daunting task. So you look to websites and books to get an idea of “how” you should do a ritual and “what” you should do. Only to get completely bombarded with so many different ways to do one and a lot of it conflicting.

A ritual should preformed outside, a ritual can be preformed inside, a circle needs to be 9 feet wide, a circle can be as big or small as you need, the elements go in these directions, no hang on it depends on what is around you, or what side of the world you are from, you do the circle, once, or maybe three times, you go clockwise, or is it anti clockwise, do you open the circle or not, you need to be skyclad, or you can wear cloths just not jewelry, you need to dress up as much as possible and look fantastic, hear out, hair up, you need all the tools, you need no tools, and on, and on and on.

And in amongst all of this the reason behind why you wanted to do the ritual can get well and truly lost.

So here is what I tell my students. Keep it Simple. Read up on a few different ways, think about them. Ask yourself what appeals to you, what do you want to try first to see how it feels for you? There are some basic elements or structures that are good to follow. Building a circle by walking around your space (with either your finger or athama or wand) visualizing the circle space building around you. Calling the elements in some way. Inviting the Lord and Lady into the space. Doing the ritual work and the reason that you wanted to create this space in the first place, which could be a simple as just wanting to communicate and spend time with the elements and/or the Lord and Lady to some form of complicated Magick, or anything in between. Sharing some Cakes and Ale, Saying good buy and thank you to the elements and the Lord and Lady. And though not everyone does this, I like to open the circle space again by walking the opposite way around the circle space (again with finger, athama or wand).

These are basic building blocks and from there it is try, try and try some more. Put the elements in different directions and see what works for you and your relationship with the elements. Do one that is clockwise, then next time anticlockwise and see how both feel to you. Think about how you want to be in the circle, how you want to present yourself in this space. Rituals can be very personal things and they do require some thought and planning, at the same time they can be very spontaneous.

And probably one last note, you can also trip over, stumble on words, forget what order you were going to do it in and get it back to front, burn things, drop things, head go blank, and have all sorts of Opps moments. The Lord and Lady are not expecting you to be perfect, after all they see you every day and know all your inner darkest secrets and all your bad points, and they love you anyway. When you drop the scared candle on the rug that catches fire in the middle of a ritual, they are going to completely understand that you are going to stop every thing and put the fire out.

So when it comes to the ‘doing’ relax,breath, keep it simple and most importantly, enjoy it.

Image courtesy of bandrat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What is it about trees?

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I had a really big conversations with a few people about trees recently, and how important they are to me and as it turns out to them as well. Trees seem to follow me around, or is it that I just pay extra special attention to them when they cross my path?

One of the most recent conversations was about Yggdrasil, the life tree and how this tree represents the whole of life from the smallest being to the whole universe. Yggdrasil is not a simple tree. Its roots go deep into the under worlds, its trunk is strong and solid, and its canopy covers the entire universe. The tree is so big that it actually requires a messenger to carry information from the roots to the canopy. The tree is strong and powerful, and at the same time has it weak spots as the tree is continually damaged by other elements, this damage is constantly being repaired.

For me this whole story talks about life in general. Life is not straight forward and though we are all strong in our own ways, there is always stuff out there that puts dints in us. These dints that we need to continually repair and work with. After all not one of us is perfect. And just as with the tree of life you don’t really get to see this damage until you start to look closer, from a distance the tree looks amazing.

I think every time I see a tree I see the whole image of life, the good, the bad, and the wonderful. I see the Majestic Red River Gums that stand twisted and firm, living through temperatures from -5 to 45 degrees. Living though constant low rain falls, and the magnificent floods. Getting twisted and turned from the winds and birds and other elements. I see the amazing Desert Oaks, which grow down and down into the deep soil and sinking their roots into the water table before they ever grow up. I see the other desert trees and plants and wonder at their strength and also their fragile existence. They are very hardy, and at the sometime they are so well adapted to living in the arid zone, if the conditions change to much they may not have time to adapt to the new patterns.

And I see the people I work with who all have trees running through them with out me even knowing it when I met them. Many of them have something on them either tattooed or they carry and item that represents the tree of life. My own coven has trees imbedded through our structure and even our name. My own business has found a home at a clinic called the “Medicine Tree”.

Trees really are something special.

Lammas

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Once again we find ourselves at the time of celebration. This time the wheel turns to Lammas or Lughnasadh, the first of the harvest festivals.

This is a great time for reflection of life and what you have grown for your self over the past year as we move closer to what is considered the end and beginning of the year (Samhain). I have always loved getting to Lammas, for me it signifies the beginning of the end of summer, and the beginning of the end of the really hot days we get here in the Red Centre. Though this summer has been a little different and we have not had the scorching, backing days of the normal summer. With so much rain and cloud we have managed to have a relatively mild summer.

This time of year I start to see the nights get longer as we moved towards the equinox and when the nights will start to be longer than the days. Soon the air conditioners will get turned off and we come into my most favorite time of the year, Autumn. When the days are still, the sky’s start to become clear as the dust falls to the ground and all live seams to take a deep breath as it gets ready for the coming cold.

I also take this time to remember that we do have it a lot easier than days of old. For me to harvest all I have to do is go to the supermarket. Unlike my ancestors who would have had to have really worked at making sure there was enough food to get them through the winter months. All I have to do is make sure that I can get to the shops. This is a time when I really like working in my little garden as it reminds me that there are a lot of family’s out there working hard in the fields that make it possible for me to get my bread, milk and vegetables all year round.

So have a fantastic Lammas every one (or Imbolg if you are on the other side of the world) and remember to give yourself a big pat on the back for all the hard work you have done, and say thank you to both your self and others that make life the way it is today.

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The joys of having an open heart, mind and spirit.

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Today’s blog starts with an experience. Something that happened to me at about 2am this morning.

I was having an odd dream that I really don’t remember much about and I am still not sure of its relevance. Through the dream I heard what was happening in my own home in real life and time. First my front door creaked. Then my four-legged boy gave an uncertain low bark, then another…. He then came into the bedroom and sat on the floor still letting out these small, uncertain barks. There were no other sounds and other than my boy every thing was silent. I then told my boy to jump on the bed which he happily did, and still he kept up these uncertain, low barks. Time for me to investigate. How and why did my front door open?????

I got up, grabbed a pair of pointy nose pliers that were lying next to the bed (doesn’t every one have pointy nose pliers by the bed?) and went and had a look. To my amazement, yes my front door was half open, HOW? Nothing else was different, no human wondering through my house, nothing changed, no movement (my boy was still happily safe on the bed giving his low, uncertain barks), nothing. But there was something, what was it?????

Finally my boy thought it was time for him to help investigating and helped me with the back yard, nothing. So after securing the front door and doing one last check we both headed back to bed. The next surprise, how easy it was to go back to sleep after having my front door opened, for both of us. What the???

It was this morning that I understood what had happened and why we both still felt safe in our little home. One year ago today was a very sad day for both of us. One year ago today, I was with my other four-legged boy helping him to move across the rainbow bridge into a world with no arthritis or cancer. Where he could play, run and be happy and safe. The only down side is that neither his brother nor myself could go with him. There have been times in meditation where he has visited, but this was the first time he has come back into this realm. How he could do this I don’t know, all I know is that I am happy he did. And I am so gratefully that my heart, mind and spirit is so accepting of what is possible as I know with out that the pain of losing my boy would be so much harder.

Yes, we get a little excited about water in the desert

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Well it is raining in the Red Centre to the point where we even made the national news. Do we get a little excited when we see the river flow, well yes actually we do. And as always it is a really good lesson in just how powerful the elements are.

Right now I am sitting nice and dry, in my little home listening to the rain on the roof. I have been listening to that sound for the last 4 days. And there is at least another 2 days to go. Flash floods, cars swept away, homes damaged, quite a lot of minor damage has happened around town. And the unfortunate event of a resident losing his life after jumping in the river to float down it in a tire tube.

So why does the river mean so much for the residents of Alice including me. It is hard to explain. We call our rivers up-side-down rivers; the sand is on top of the water that flows underneath. The rivers always flow, its just flowing under the sand. The river brings all community members together; we all come out to watch the river flow no matter what part of the community we come from. The community comes together to help one another when damage occurs, again no matter where or what part of the community they are from.

This is probably the biggest part, Alice Springs does suffer from racism of all sorts. Racism of young people, Indigenous and immigrants and probably a lot more. There are those who only see the small percentage of negative publicity of these groups. As there are others who understand even less of the negative influences that these people have to deal with, some times every day.

When the river floods the Todd gets a clean out, the riverbed gets washed and moved and mixed up. The rain cleans all of the surrounds and the trees sparkle with new life. The grasses green up and take on more color, and even flowers grow as plants do all they can to take advantage of the excess water. In short it helps the town feel new, fresh and vibrant, and in doing so it brings people together. No matter which side of the fence you are from, every one experiences both the good and bad from having so much water land on our town. Its like the river cleans the whole town.

This is why I get excited about understanding that the river is always flowing. This is why Alice Springs gets excited about the river flowing above ground. Water definitely is a powerful force.

Image courtesy of Maree Hayes.

The Dogma of Wicca and my own Assumptions

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Picking up and reading books on Wicca is often a good way to expand your thinking and knowledge. In my most recent reads where the first chapter focused on the history of Wicca it was interesting to think about all the different versions. Not only in Gerald Gardner’s story of how he came about the information, but also what happened next.

Something that challenged my thinking was the author’s interpretation on how dogma has been created in Wicca structure. I follow the tradition of Inclusive Wicca and fully accept and respect that not every one practices in a coven. There are a lot that just like me for the first 10 years of my path practiced solitary. I was talking to another solitary witch on the subject just recently and how we both have walked very different paths to get to where we are. She is very much a solitary witch and I the leader of a coven. Both of us fully respect and acknowledge the wisdom and learning’s of each other. However we both know that there are people who would not agree with us, we have not been through the “name tradition here” therefore we are not true witches.

I have never really looked into how these traditions came about other than making assumption by their name. What is being challenged for me right now is that I think I made some wrong assumptions. Just because some of the people in those traditions state that you are not a true witch does not mean that the founders of those traditions thought like that. Right now I am even questioning if the “founders” of the tradition were actually attempting to build a tradition within Wicca. Maybe they were more focused on getting the knowledge out there and letting people follow in there own way just like a lot of us do now. It’s the people that came later on that have fashioned it into a tradition.

I am not sure if I will ever find that out, but I am happy that my assumptions have been shaken. I know I will think and read further into this as my new ideas form and settle back down. Though at the same time I know that keeping an open mind and accepting that my assumptions do need to be shaken up from time to time as my journey continues is a very good thing.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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