Monday, July 21, 2014

Hard To Talk About Stuff Pt.1 : Permissions.


Railway spikes found near a dump-site in the woods.
Brought home and re-purposed to "nail down" the corners of my land.
I have decisions to make, but I'm not alone. 

Decisions about trees.  Decisions about wildflowers. About fallen logs. About old bricks. Decisions about rocks. Decisions about dirt. Un/fortunately, I am not making these decisions solo. There are a myriad of spirits and forces that have to be taken into consideration before these decisions can be made.


That might sound silly, but it's not. Not really.  If I must ask a tree permission to take materia from it for Work (and offer in return, and ask the earth that I may leave that offering, and thank my tools for having dug that hole, and thank the grain that it allowed me to make the cake, and thank the... etc.) what permissions must I ask to fell it?  It is not the tree's fault it grew where I would later need or want to put something. 

Is it safe to change any of it? Is that tree beloved of anyone? Any spirit? I have to ask them all. I have to get a unanimous sign-off, and enter into (and resolve) any negotiations before it's done.

Then, there are ecological and conservationist considerations.

What species of wildflower IS that? Is it vulnerable? I've never seen it before. I'll have to carefully exhume it with a large chunk of dirt and turf in case it's a parasitic or symbiotic plant. But I still have to ask them first.

All of the relocated plants are going to a dedicated wildflower garden. The exceptional specimens will actually be getting quite a bit of TLC and attention for a while - I want to get to know the new neighbors. My new neighbors, my new (hopefully) friends. I think they'd want to get to know me as well. I'll come bearing routine gifts of fish emulsion fertilizer and water. Plants love that kinda thing.

Is that fallen log now supposed to remain in situ? I need to put a driveway here, can I move it a few feet away? Should I? Is somewhere else better? Does something live in there? I have to check for feral kittens, for baby raccoons, for rabbits, for snakes. And... I have to ask them all.

I have to fill this area. I have to level it a little. The foundations are at risk if I don't fix this, stick in a retaining wall. It's going to be foreign dirt. Is that okay? How long will it be foreign dirt? Do I have to ask the spirits of where the dirt came from? Horned One on a fuckin' Tricycle... I have to ask everyone - EVERYONE EVER.

The bricks, surely... surely these bricks are not now YOUR bricks, spirits? Can I move this pile of old bricks over there and arrange them into a garden-wall? I kinda need to... y'know... put a gas meter here. I swear, they're still yours. They'll just be yours in a new configuration. Let me convince you of how nice that garden will be, please let me move these bricks.

This is the Wild, and these are the Rules.

I have to ask them first. ALL of them. Possibly get back with some of them when they're a bit perkier. Because I am a Witch, and this is the Wild, and I am a guest here sometimes and sovereign others. I may hold title and deed, but they can fuck my shit up if I piss them off. I have a thousand roommates who all pay equal or better on the rent and consultations aren't simply respect, they're mandatory. One mad roommate raises the stress, and suddenly we're all at each-others throats.

This is not a pleasure garden I stumble in to, to be welcomed and exhaled by everything as the Master and Keeper of it. I am privileged to be here, I am blessed that the land allows me to continue to be here. I will not fuck that up with manifest-destiny BS thinking.

Perspective.

I'm sitting on the back of a Sleeping Giant - zie's been restless lately, quaking, shaking, and grumbling away. On my right hand is The Untamed Wood, cut through by The River into the realms of life and death. On my left hand is The Giant's Bowl, filled and empty in turns, so long-neglected that wildlife has come to dwell there. Here, horsenettle has grown in the folds of the Giant's clothes, through the deep kudzu blanket it had pulled over itself before nodding off. Bitter amaranths and redbud trees conceal me from onlookers - you'd have to really have a sharp eye to see the witch in black, with their multi-colored shawl amongst the brown stalks. This world would move without me.

Untended, wild, and the same.  I am humbled by it, and in awe of it. I would not have been made a Witch had the soil beneath my feet not risen up in spirit-voice and demanded it of me. In awe of the perfection and beauty which are inseparable from the grotesque horror and savagery.  

I am better for having known it, and so I strive to make it better for having known me.

And so I ask permission. I ask each and every one of the spirits. I put out a blanket call to the locals - Is this okay? Can we reach an agreement? I hear and see you, and aide by consent.  If I betray the consent, I have betrayed them and their holy form. That is unforgivable for someone who has heard them and seen them, and knows they are real.

May I move this rock? No? Then it'll stay there until and unless you decide otherwise. I'll put a little flowerbed around it so that no one else tries. You want more rocks? I'll buy you rocks to go with that rock. That rock stays there. It's cool, man. It's your rock.

3 comments:

  1. I have received a few trollish/"gotcha" messages lately, and my zero tolerance policy on that may actually be "negative tolerance" now.

    However, after following back some traffic I found that one was actually a genuine question that got caught up in the mess, and I apologize for having deleted it. The question was, more or less: "Did you catch the fish yourself and ask if it wanted to be fertilizer"

    I'm going to try to answer it to both of our satisfaction, because often when people ask me these questions it's the first time I've given verbal form to the answer rather than just trusting my gut.

    Firstly, most of the fertilizer I use is actually the "waste water" and accumulated sludge from the captive aquaria and ponds I maintain. For anyone who has not cared for a fish tank, or a small pond - Fish eat food, fish poop, poop rots, water gets dirty, you have to routinely remove portions of the water and replace it with clean, "chemical free" water. This waste water is often high in dissolved nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous.

    That MIGHT make you ask "Did you ask the fish/plants if they wanted to be pets?" - Yes, I actually did.

    Secondly, the commercial "Emulsion". There is a line at which it becomes too much to deal with and still function as a constructive person (I addressed this in a post about rescuing roadkill, and why I stopped for years). If I am spending too much time taking responsibility for the things other people have killed then I can't work and earn a living. I have to pick my battles, so to speak.

    I must ask the things on my land because it is "my" land. I take responsibility on the things I consume because I have consumed them. But, I do not hold the land where the fish are raised or caught that are used to make the fertilizer. That WHOLE debt is not mine, and I don't want to try to make it mine. The debt I hold is the jug I hold in my hand, and I do my absolute best to repay it.

    Do I make my apologies for any suffering and ill-treatment they got before they became a thick, brown, liquid? Yes, I do. Do I work to elevate their death by putting them to the "best use" I can? Yes, I do. And every time I harvest something I thank the spirits of those things that died so that the soil was enriched by them. I follow it as far up and down the line as I can without adversely impacting my ability to survive and thrive.

    So, I can see precisely why the question was asked. It does look inconsistent. But, I make my amends in a way that is consistent with my beliefs and practices, and acknowledge that there is simply a line where it can't be my problem anymore, because there aren't enough hours in the day.

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  2. You write so elegantly, and reading about you asking permissions from so many entities inspires me to be a little more respectful, a little humbler, a littls kinder. Thank you.

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  3. ... oh for fuck's sake. Again. You did it again. I have to tell you at some point ... I love your work. It is at turns unsettling and deeply reassuring to read that the things I worked out for myself are shared by other people. By competent, ass-kicking, intelligent ones at that. It is even more unsettling to see what bottomless and awe-inspiring depths are out there, being walked by others.
    Your stuff is fascinating. Your stuff is helpful. Your stuff is stronger than black tea steeped for seventy days while constantly kept just below boiling point. Your stuff is no-nonsense, non-sugarcoated and fucking real, and I can't find a better way to express myself than by constant cussing.

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