After we learn to let our bodies tell our stories, after we embrace somatic spirituality, after we become one with these bodies that move us to action, that power the physical acts that manifest our spiritual work as feminists, what next? After the Body, what relationship must we strive to heal, embrace, and empower next?
Our relationship with the Land.
For years now, in conversations concerning environmentalism, my conservative father offered up the challenge, to “put my hippie money where my mouth is.” And slowly but surely, for all those years, I and my household have taken small steps to do just that. While the on-going dialogue with my father always takes place in the realm of policy, the underlying motivation for my commitment to sustainability-based living is spiritual and feminist. After all, my paganism is grounded in the earth. And as a Woman of the Earth, I believe in respecting and protecting Her sovereignty as an integral part of my feminist spiritual practice.
Last month, we took our biggest step to date and relocated to a co-housing community with a strong sustainability focus. I am grateful and excited to be taking even more steps towards a form of daily living that resonates so fully with my authentic self– body, mind, heart, & spirit. And yet, at the same time, I fully understand that such steps on such a scale are not necessarily within everyone’s reach. So, what is? Where can we start to engage living in right action with this earth we are all so connected to whether or not we choose to acknowledge it?
We can begin by returning to the Body, by using that first relationship we’ve rebuilt to help us expand into the next one. Our bodies rely on the Land for survival. Clean air to breathe. Clean water to drink. Sunlight that is transformed by the living alchemy of flora & fauna to eat and to heal. The birth of our relationship to the Land comes through the Body that we’ve recently begun to know and love. This, I believe, is why all meditative, mindfulness-focused traditions and tools begin with the breath. Breathe deep. Feel the breath of the Land and the breath of the Body come together to create life within you. Your breath is always at your disposal. Do not take it for granted.
Then, drink deep. Feel the life blood of the Land fill the cells of the Body and give life its flow. Fill your glass, return to your breath, toast your growing connection with the Land. Relish your next meal. If you are blessed enough not to go hungry today, honor what you have while you have it on your plate. See the Land in that plate- the seed that became the fruit, the soil-stained hands of the farmer that nurtured it, the air, the water, the earth that came together to feed your body. Our food, medicine, air, & water– our survival, individually & as a species– come to us through the Land. Feeling our connection to Land in our bones can kindle within us the desire to learn more about these connections.
This is the point at which we begin to engage the Mind. Our bodies know, on an individual level, that our survival is tied to the health of the Land. But our minds allow us to dig into the why and the how of that, in order to come to a more expansive place of knowing in our pursuit of right relationship with the Land. Maybe we watch a PBS program on the history of clean water access in the US or a TED Talk on improving global clean water access. Maybe we read a book about dirt. Or one about how the relationship between humanity and the bounty of the Land developed. If we let that initial somatic understanding of this vital relationship with the Land take root in our bones, our beautiful, insatiable, incredibly human need to know more opens us to new knowledge; to growth through understanding the Land around us in the Mind.
This knowledge begins to touch the Heart of the matter- reclaiming and renewing our relationship with the Land. When we come to know the influences of imperialism and colonialism on our relationship with the Land today, we feel the loss of traditional indigenous relationships with the Land. When we come to understand the importance of predators or pollinators to the ecosystems we inhabit, we feel the need to take action. Our hearts are touched by our expanding cognitive understanding of vital concepts impacting our relationship with the Land. Our physical engagement with the Land in a more educated, more mindful, more heart-centered manner begins to become part of our daily awareness, part of our lives all the way down to the cellular level. And this…. this is where the magic happens….
We’ve become aware. Aware of how the Land feeds us. Aware of the link between the Land and the Body as one that must stay healthy for our own physical survival. Aware of the lessons, dangers, struggles, blessings, destruction, and beauty inherent in understanding the importance of pollinators, the impacts of climate change, the toxicity of chemical factory farming, the healing gifts of herbalism, the pleasure of a meal made of real food, the necessity of investment in renewable energy, etc.
And in that awareness, the Spirit comes alive. Our Spirit. The Land’s Spirit. The Spirit of that which created both Body and Land. As with our relationship to the Body, our relationship to the Land brings us one step closer to the Divinity within all creation. Earth, my Body. Water, my Blood. Air, my Breath. And fire, my Spirit.
Kate M. Brunner is a writer, healer, ritualist, & member of The Sisterhood of Avalon, studying at the Avalonian Thealogical Seminary. She is a brand-new resident of Colorado & a homeschooling mother to her three children. She holds a BA from Tulane University, where she studied Economics, International Relations, & Religious Traditions. Kate is a presenter for Red Tents & women’s retreats. She also hosts seasonal women’s gatherings, facilitates labyrinth rituals, and leads workshops on an assortment of women’s spirituality topics. During 2016, she will be presenting at the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology Conference in Boston, MA, at the SOA’s first open online conference, AvaCon 2016, & at the inaugural Ninefold Festival in Orange, CT.