It’s a not an uncommon paradox found in Pagan communities that, though it’s an earth based religion, many of us are not outdoorsy or into nature all that much. I have counted myself as such a paradox, especially since moving to the US where the natural world has more hazards than in my native UK. For instance just yesterday I casually moved a pot in my garden only to find a baby snake under it. And in western North Carolina we also have bears, and poisonous spiders, let alone the fact that the landscape is so vast and underdeveloped that you could go for a pleasant wander in the woods one day only to get hopelessly lost, with no cell network. You could die out here. In Britain my biggest fear when going into the countryside was other people with their annoying dogs, I never encountered so much as a crabby badger.
While it is unlikely I will ever want to live out in the wilds of Appalachia, I have a renewed love of nature as I see it in my own garden.
In May my daughter underwent heart surgery to correct a defect. It went smoothly initially, but was still a major event that brought us face to face with our vulnerabilities as human beings. On returning to our lives, my husband and I both turned to the garden, a welcome contrast to the artificial environment we had been existing in for a week while our daughter healed. It was also a place where we felt in control, this I think was especially true for my husband who set about weeding and mulching with ferocious intensity. Suddenly our weedy yard seemed full of possibility and was as far removed from doctors, IVs and wounds as we could imagine.
I ended up developing a little rockery but the more I did so, the more it became an altar as well, partly of its own will. When I got the message that this was what it wanted to be I continued with developing it, adding candles, a cauldron, etc. Now I am slightly embarrassed it took me so long to figure out what that scrappy little patch should be.
Not soon after this project, we discovered that our daughter had a post-surgery condition that would need immediate treatment and we raced back to the hospital. That was a couple of weeks ago and now we are supposed to be getting back to normal. This has been harder for me than I had assumed. The altar has been my support in this time as I come to terms with what we have been through as a family. It has also helped me re calibrate as a witch. This sweet patch is a portal and a refuge. I continue to develop it with found broken ceramics and rocks and my daughter has added all her painted pink rocks. Friends have given us items for it too.
Spending time here has helped me develop a connection with nature I can handle and in so doing has helped me reconnect with spirit. I watch insects on the rocks and the smoke from my incense dance in the wind. When it rains I go and observe the changes it brings to the plants and crystals. It reminds me daily there is more and there is change and that peace can be found.