Leave behind the voices in your mind. The things undone and moves not yet made. There’s nothing to be fixed, there’s nowhere else to be. Nothing is really so serious. Sink into this moment, feel into the hug of your warm animal body.
Come with me on an adventure; a journey into the unknown, into the womb of the earth, into the wilderness. Here we will listen to the whispers of still places, to the heartbeat of peaceful things. Who knows where they will lead us? who knows what they will teach?
I dreamt that I stepped into my garden to find a peacock perched in the bough of a willow. As I approached the peacock she morphed into a languishing turquoise leopard. The leopard leapt from the tree and landed to the earth as a snake. The snake wrapped herself around me. I wrote these words….
My journey home to the land has been a spiral. As a young girl, I longed to travel far from my remote Scottish farmland. I lay in dancing fields, gazing up at the clouds rolling across an endless arch of sky, listening to the drumbeat of the cosmos coarsing underneath and through me. The world beneath the sky seemed so enormous it was breathtaking. I wanted to see it all in my lifetime.
My bond with the earth and the animals that lived on it was such a natural sensation, I didn’t recognise it as something sacred; something that needed protecting and honouring. Sitting high in the arms of the trees that I climbed, looking out over the spellbinding beauty of those landscapes, I was one with the world, and I didn’t know it could be different. They were my church. The wind was my goddess. The plants and rivers were my guardian angels.
Spralling outwards, the road took me far. I forgot the land and fell into every trap of the ego, I was labelled mentally ill. It became my identity. Until I became so unwell I almost died, and nature was there, calling my name, sending out her creatures to guide me. I came to realize that nature was always speaking to me. I just wasn’t paying attention. She taught me how to be still and listen, to stop numbing my sensitivity and reawaken my psychic senses. How to feel that where she gapes and bleeds, I gape and bleed, when she howls I howl, when she blooms I open like a flower. When I nourish her I nourish myself. When I surrender to her dance, she leads me. We are inseperable from the earth. We share her consciousness.
Spiralling inwards I discovered that I come from a long lineage of custodians of the land and guardians of the spirit. My ancestors were farmers or priests as far back as I can trace. They were also wise-women; healers, seers, prophetesses and priestesses. I heard them in my dreams and I felt them in my bones, but their stories were warped or buried with the rise of Christianity, the patriarchy, its holocaust and the conquerors who wrote history. While their ancient healing wisdom resides in the lands and the soil that they returned to, the wellness of the earth they worshipped is now in our hands. Meanwhile, the lands my relatives tended will soon slip from their weather-cracked, compassionate fingers into those of a larger enterprise. Farming as we’ve been doing it, has become unsustainable.
They called from the mountains of every continent, in the ghostly mists weaving the rocks of Scotland’s seas and islands, through the trees of the gardens of childhood. Their song led me to permaculture, a practice which heals our personal and collective relationship with the land and nourishes our symbiotic bond with the earth that heals, feeds and sustains us. Permaculture questions how we will support the earth amidst the growing threat of climate change, how we will feed the nation when fossil fuels expire, and how we can re-empower ourselves and our communities by sustaining ourselves and our ecology locally.
Over the course of the next year I will be undertaking a writing residency at The Red Shed, a beautiful permaculture food forest garden in Coldstream, Scotland. In this blog we will explore my journey there and my wider adventures in nature. I might get lost occasionally. We might stray off the path and fall down a rabbit hole. But there promises to be beauty. There promises to be wonder.
“If we surrendered to the earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees.” – Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
Cover Image: Peacock Dream, by Gayle Baird