What I do know is that assuming we know what is right and pulling the invaders without asking the Plants or the Land continues the domination paradigm. This is why I feel that if we want to be good stewards and really stand in our role as part of Nature, it is imperative that we learn how to communicate with Nature.
It has been nearly a year since I moved to what I now know as Heart Springs Sanctuary and slightly longer since I started working with the Nature Spirits of this place. For years I longed for a place to call Home, a place to work with the Elementals to create a Sanctuary. And here I am. Perhaps when you think about what it is like to co-create a Sanctuary with Nature, you have an image of a peaceful, beautiful unfolding: soft light, walking slowly through tall grasses, stopping to touch and smell and pray with the abundance of Plants. Or perhaps you have no idea what this looks like.
For me, I imagined the first scenario. And while I do touch, smell, and pray with the Plants, I have to admit, creating a Sanctuary is hard work and sometimes it isn’t work at all.
Heart Springs Sanctuary is part of the United Plant Savers’ Botanical Sanctuary Network which means that we agree to restore and protect habitat for wildlife and especially focus on the endangered native species. Earlier this year, we started a campaign called “Planting Heart Springs Sanctuary” to plant about 70 Trees and Shrubs. This sounded like an easy job, on paper, in the winter. Then all the Plants arrived at the same time and needed to get into the ground- that’s 70 holes to dig, which of course, happened to be right when I was hosting the Organization of Nature Evolutionaries annual meeting. With help, I managed to get everyone in the ground, learning that everything goes smoother if I’m not doing the work when I’m tired. We have a few more Trees to gather to complete this first stage.
While it was a little overwhelming to plant everyone, this is actually an easy part of the job and to be honest, quite enjoyable. You see, I am also creating a Sanctuary for humans. Which means, a place where humans can come to connect with Nature and Nature Beings and discover the hidden aspects of themselves. This is a place where simply sitting by the Pond is healing (for both the human and the Pond). Creating this for humans is the part that requires the most amount of time and effort. Painting, unpacking, creating areas of sleep and rest and learning, hanging hooks, thinking of their needs - what is necessary to allow them to ease into their connection. And then of course is the logistics with the Land - where will they park, how will they move from place to place, creating areas of connection and repose.
This past year has been one of intense manual labor and quite often exhaustion. Though I know that this is simply the beginning, we are creating the foundation, and from here everything will blossom. If we set it up well, it will require much less effort to keep things going and growing. And soon (Friday), we will welcome this year’s HEARTransformation Apprentices! (There is 1 space remaining if you’d like to join us.)
So what does it really look like to live in Sanctuary with Nature? It is deep listening - listening to what the Land needs, listening to what my Heart asks, listening to the smallest flower and the loudest bird, reading the signs that Nature provides. It is often ignoring my ego - which may mean cleaning out a dump area instead of creating a wetland garden around the pond (which in hindsight, the Nature Spirits were right, removing that trash cleared stagnation and raised the vibration of the Land) or asking for help when I’d much rather do it on my own (simply because I don’t want to ask) and even harder, accepting that help (and acknowledging how important it was to work together). It is often moving beyond my edges and perceived limitations. It is planting my favorite Berry bushes, knowing that I most likely will not eat any of them, for they are a gift to the Birds. It is sitting by the Pond drinking a cup of tea and allowing the water to bring forth my tears. It is singing to the Sun rising in the morning. It is getting down low to marvel at the dew drops on grass. It is leaving gifts for the Faeries. It is gathering Stones with the Gnomes. It is breathing and waiting when I want to do. It is marking off areas of no mowing and hanging signs for no spraying or harvesting. It is planting and rejoicing when you see the first sprouts returning. It is feeding the many feral cats and accepting their cardboard slums. And also laughing as they run and jump and hide in the boxes. It is often feeling overwhelmed and insignificant and being reminded that there’s no time limit, focus on one small step at a time. It is dreaming and visioning. It is gathering sticks. It is self-care and listening to my body. It is being covered in mud and falling asleep exhausted. It is being covered in paint and falling asleep exhausted. It is taking a nap in the Faerie Glen, receiving healing and messages. It is gathering trash and then more trash. It is hours on the computer - answering emails, writing, paying bills, creating classes, researching. It is gathering with friends and strangers. It is being astounded at the many gifts, surprises, and synchronicities. It is talking with Sister Protectress (Poison Ivy) and asking ki to stay out of the pathways (or intended pathways). It is letting go of the shoulds. It is radiating Love to every aspect of this Land and all who enter. It is magical.
And it is just the beginning!
Here’s the thing, you too can live in Sanctuary. My Sanctuary happens to be 4.5 acres with 3 ponds, a creek, and numerous ecosystems. However, any place and every place can be a Sanctuary. It is making a conscious choice to work/play with the other Beings of that place to be in service to the Highest Good of All. It is recognizing that as Humans, we are only 1 small part of Nature and learning to listen. When we create a space of reverence and Love where all Beings are honored, we create a healing space for ourselves.
This is the time of year when the veils between our world and the Faery world is thin. It is a great time to leave gifts for the Elementals, to dream, to vision, to play, and as tradition holds, to make Love in the fields blessing the harvest.
As the Spring time energy bursts forth in flowers and the Faeries dance with joy, may you too be fed and renewed, re-membering the connections with all. And above all else, may you know that you are Love(d).
We have moved into the time of year of balance and new beginnings. This is a great opportunity to view our lives and ask where we are out of balance, what we need to do less of/what we need to release and what we need to have more of/what we need to invite. Lately, I have been curious about pleasure.
We tend to live a life based on busyness, needing to always be doing more and moving at warp speed, yet having to go faster. For those who want to create a better world, there’s so much that needs attention and healing — GMOs, pipelines, fracking, pesticides, racism, sexual assault, homelessness, deforestation, refugees, protecting Dreamers, healthcare, the list goes on and on — that we often feel we can’t take a break. This eventually leads to burnout.
On my walk this morning, I could hear, “We survived! We survived!” The Birds were singing, the Plants dancing. Everyone was excited to be waking from the slumber of winter. I was moved to see the Plants returning. As I was walking, I was brought back to the first time that I walked this Land and how it has changed.
After many years of searching for land, we finally agreed to see this property. It had been on the market for over a year. Every time that I saw the listing in the paper, I said that I wanted to see it and then we would remind ourselves of where it was. It was a cornfield. We were opposed to taking farmland out of production. We wanted wooded land. We wanted land that we could help heal. Suddenly we awoke from our slumber and realized that the land that needed healing was the farmland around us. This land has been and is being poisoned and planted with more poisons (GMO corn and soybeans). We finally agreed to see it. As soon as we stepped on the property, everyone said “This is it!” We knew!
What did it look like then, just bare soil with remains of cornstalks. Though we did find a turtle and several frogs. We bought the farm in October 2003, shortly after a crop of soybeans was harvested. The field pretty much was barren earth surrounded on three sides with thin woods. The only Plants that we found growing were Jimson Weed, which is an imposing and poisonous, though medicinal plant. We had a farmer plant hay in the field. The following Spring, Burdock, Thistles, Yellow Dock, and Amaranth were among the plants to join us. These plants have good protective armor with thorns and spikes. They also have deep tap roots that help to bring minerals into the upper soil and I think help to clean the land of toxins. After a year of pleading, Plantain moved in! She has been here ever since and is now quite prolific.
Since that time, more and more Plants have come to live here. I love to see the progression. When we first moved here, there was a tiny patch of Violets in the woods. I considered that my special place and would often go to spend time with them. Now, they are throughout the field. It still surprises me when I see them.
As I was walking today, I discovered that several Trees are beginning to grow in an area of our field that we have not been mowing. This is exciting! I wanted a good portion of our Land to grow and change on her own. However, that is difficult to handle when you are taught that land needs to be manicured and a person’s character can be judged by how well maintained their yard is. And so, this was always a bone of contention with my family and neighbors. Fortunately, as Ani Difranco says, “Nature always gets her way!”
One of my favorite areas of this Land is an area that we agreed from the beginning to leave alone. It is a Faerieland. When I was there today, my Heart was bursting with Love and gratitude. We now have Trees whose trunks are 6” in diameter! These trees were not there when we moved here and we did not plant them, yet they are tall and strong and gorgeous.
I am so grateful to live on this Land. I now realize that it was incredibly arrogant of me to think that I was going to heal the Land; instead, the Land is healing me or maybe we are healing one another. I realize that not everyone can (or wants to) live on a farm; however, I think everyone needs a special spot where s/he can watch Nature unfold and change. This can be your backyard, a park, a sidewalk. Nature is everywhere.
I love this time of year: the new beginnings and unbridled energy full of joy and sensuality. I hope that you enjoy the re-awakening and re-emerging into the Light.