Sunday, February 8, 2015

Week 6: The Earth is Full of Life

Ah, the earth.  Is there anything more ubiquitous in modern Paganism?  Many, if not most, Pagans will use terms like 'earth-centered' or 'nature honoring' to describe their religion or practice; and those who do not usually make a point of letting people know since it's such a common assumption.  I also identify as having an earth-centered spiritual path; but this means something a bit different to me than many Pagans.

Rather than a pantheistic view of the earth as mother-of-all, all-encompassing Goddess, my idea of honoring the earth is a recognition of the incredibly varied tapestry of spirits that dwell on and within it.  The Goddess I am dedicated to, Nerthus, is typically described as an earth mother; but this is not the best descriptor for Her.  She is not found in all places with dirt, or indoors, without being called or welcomed there.  I also honor other deities with ties to the earth or planting and cultivation: Freyr, Gerda, Gefjon, and others.

In addition to the deities, there is a whole world of spirits to welcome and build relationships with.  The altar I've built in my garden specifically honors a tree Goddess, while also acting as a shrine for many of the land wights - earthworms, squirrels, tree spirits, the local river Goddess, etc.  These relationships make up a huge part of my personal spiritual practice, forming the backbone of how I relate to the world around me.  Learning to identify each individual voice in the chorus of wights that make up the land around me was a huge challenge as I moved from a pantheistic worldview to a more animistic one, but it was a challenge that broadened my spiritual horizons hugely.

As I prepare to plant my garden this spring, I also continue to build relationship with the many wights that dwell in and pass through this land.  It's a blend of the concept of getting out and experiencing the land and spiritual appreciation of the many beings that share this home with me.  The earth is alive with many spirits, many stories, many personalities that are all worthy of attention.

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