In Native American cultures, The Great Spirit is a deity intertwined with the fabric of the Universe itself on the large scale and yet personally engaged with the web of living things and the world on an earthly scale. I am creating a spiritual practice by borrowing a little from the Buddhists and the practice of mindfulness, but mostly from the strong connection I feel for the worship of Earth as taught us by our first nations. For those who hunger for the connection of a spiritual practice from someone who is learning to braid her own.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Theory and practice


"We can talk about intensity, or we can experience intensity," reasoned our Shaman. We must've looked lost. He went on to explain, but when we persisted in puzzlement he asked us to stand in a circle. He began a series of easy foot moves, accompanied by his wooden whistle. We followed his lead.You could feel the energy rise from our post-lunch malaise. He played and we danced, movements that included a stomping of sorts on the dirt ground. When we finished he asked, "what is more valuable, talking about intensity or experiencing intensity?" The question was rhetorical.

Worshiping Great Spirit and Pachamama requires us to become part of the Earth and Sky, measured by how closely we are in touch with the sacred soil under our feet beneath a canopy of stars. Worshiping our natural world requires us to get up close and personal, dirt under our nails, inhaling the dank smells of life. And death. We are more effective as agents on behalf of the Earth if we are soldiers whose muddy hands work the land. "Knowing" I need to act on her behalf is like me talking about intensity without feeling it. 

It's no accident upon return from our week inhaling the New Mexico desert we found ourselves in mud, digging out blackberry root octopus with a pitchfork and making sure to cover exposed skin before diving for nettles. We are restoring habitat. To return some of the care Pachamama has given us in a lifetime. To support a beaver family with habitat and year-round water supply. To provide a viewpoint for beaver watchers from our deck (including the neighborhood kids who have learned a bunch). To connect myself closely with my source of life, and every other gardener who's worked the ground and breathed the air I breathe.

Spiritual connection is not an arm chair sport. Connection was meant to be made outside, in the arms of our mother, as one of many living creatures large and small, close and far. I know that in a way I haven't in the past. Though I learned about being in the moment from Thomas Moore in Care of the Soul and I knew how to use my senses in the dirt. I just didn't understand or truly feel the connection when I was digging. Maybe it's because I've added song and prayer I can feel the pulse of the Earth when my hands are in the dirt, especially when it's wet.

You might hear me from the street, deep in the green way below, "Pachamama, Pachamama, Pachamama, Madre Tiera" or "Ancient Mother I hear you calling, Ancient Mother I hear your song. Ancient Mother I hear your laughter. Ancient Mother I taste your tears." It feels respectful to sing the melancholy. Being the die hard optimist, though, I can't help follow with songs of joy. Either way, I feel part of the Earth when I dig now. And when I feel part of the Earth, I am connecting to Great Spirit like those before me.

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