From her womb, each and every one of us has burst forth to tiptoe and dance and stomp and roll about. From her blessings we reap and to her we shall return. There is no greater honor than to be a part of her restless tides. I am speaking, of course, of our supreme mother- mother earth. She has been personified, worshipped, cultivated, celebrated, and revered the world over. At the heart of witchcraft is a joyous union with nature, as the earth is a manifestation of divine energy. As life is her gift, she lends it with the promise of death.
As a witch, it is our duty to honor and protect her. Source your herbs and flora ethically, honor the bounty of the world around you, bask in her beauty every chance you get. Studies have shown that the practice of earthing, or grounding, has a list of positive health benefits- This is the practice of being barefoot on a naturally occurring landscape (i.e. not manmade). In ritual “The idea...is humans evolved in direct contact with the Earth’s subtle electric charge, but have lost that sustained connection thanks to inventions such as buildings, furniture, and shoes with insulated synthetic soles (Washington Post).” In short, it restores the balance of electricity within us. Rupina Meer says,
“When you walk barefoot, you’re literally soaking up millions of electrons that decoagulate and detoxify your blood. So instead of your blood being all viscous and thick, like ketchup, it becomes free flowing, like red wine. Earthing also shifts the sympathetic nervous system back to the point where it has more tranquility, and clinical studies have shown that earthing helps with everything from inflammation to insomnia, and from autoimmune to heart disease.”
In ritual, earth is represented in a number of ways. Branches, twigs, animal bones, soil, sand, plants, herbs, flowers, resins, and stones. I think a good way to describe our interaction with this element would be: the sense of touch. Releasing the energy or offering of an earth element is done through use of the other elements to transform through burning, bless through air, or infuse through water. Like the rule of all matter and energy in this universe, the powers invoked in ritual can neither be created nor destroyed- only transformed. We witches use the divine energies infused in earthly elements to bend fate to our will. But, especially in the practices of dark magic, nothing is given that is not taken. We share energy with the world around us, which means there is inherently a give and take within the finite amount of energy to go around.
I bring this up because the earth and her bounty is capable of absorbing our unwanted energies which ties in my earlier exploration of grounding. Direct contact with earth connects us to the Goddess, and understanding her makes us powerful. If I may give some small advice: Work the earth. Meditate with the herbs you use in ritual. In the words of The Dixie Chicks- grow something wild and unruly. Embrace the duality of chaotic twisted vines and the finely tuned circle of life, of life and death, of work and rest.
One of my favorite practices is to sit in meditation with my back against a tree- the bigger the better- and feel its energy flow. Imagine the nutrients being taken up from the soil and transforming into a broad leaf. Imagine the warm sun being soaked into the leaves high above you. Imagine the strong, individual cells that make up the bark. Now imagine the love of the Goddess that went into making such a tree. Every footstep we take is on top of literally millions of seeds, from a millennia in time, waiting for their moment to spring forth. Ponder, what were the perfect conditions that this particular tree took a chance on when it decided to peek out from the dirt? Take in its life, and each individual piece, from its time as a fragile sapling, to a gangly teenager, to a lush behemoth. Then, in its miraculous glory, share with the tree that energy which you do not want. Share your hopes and dreams and fears and anxieties. Sit in conversation, your spine aligned to its trunk. Allow the tree to carry away from you your terrors, to travel up and out and evaporate from its leaves. Allow the base of your spine to take in nutrients for the soul and intertwine with the roots down below. Feel the inner workings of the tree be transposed with your body to carry away unwanted feelings and absorb needed energy.
Disclaimer: this musing is not meant to be descriptive and not prescriptive. I am sharing my experiences (recipes if you will). A ritual is all but worthless if you are not in touch with the exchanging of energies and the tools used to effect change. Like most recipes, substitutes can be made, or you can choose not to use the recipe altogether. Your altar is your own, and how you choose to practice your craft is up to you. I simply mean to provide resources to those who are looking for help with their craft, or ideas in how to practice.
And with that, I will leave you with the words of Kahlil Gibran, who said,
At night the watchmen of the city say, “beauty shall rise with the dawn from the east.”
And at noontide the toilers and the wayfarers say, “We have seen her leaning over the earth from the windows of the sunset.”
In winter say the snow-bound, “She shall come with the spring leaping upon the hills.”
And in summer heat the reapers say, “We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her hair.”
All these things have you said of beauty,
Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,
And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy,
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.
It is not the image you would see, nor the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.
It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,
But rather a garden for ever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.
People of Orphalese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.
But you are life and you are the veil.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.