In permaculture design, we talk about the edges and the margins being the most abundant, diverse, and critical places in any ecosystem. This is where we find the epic brambles and berries, with their thorns that snag and catch, yet bear fruit. This is where we find the rose, which produces amazing medicine and will grab and tangle. Jewelweed, stinging nettle, wild yam, sweet violet, so many of the best medicinal plants can be found on the edges. Most plants on the edges and margins are thick, lush, and hard to get through.
In our own lives, the edges and margins often create discomfort and confusion, but also abundance. I’m certainly on the margin myself at the moment–I’ve recently left Michigan, sold my homestead to a most capable and incredible herbalist who will carry on my work on the land and do much more of her own (that’s how magic works, folks!), and I now find myself exploring a new town in the region where I was born. This week, I’m leaving for a two-week intensive permaculture design class, starting or continuing a few other major projects, and just really looking forward to my new life here in Western PA.
So perhaps its fitting, in the midst of all this change, that this post marks nearly five years with the Druid’s Garden blog and is my 200th post! I’m so honored that you, dear readers, have continued to follow this blog and learn and share. In some ways, this blog has evolved quite a bit. But in some ways, this blog continues to accomplish exactly what I hoped it would from the very beginning, that is, to engage in conversations about druidry, permaculture, sustainable living, and all of the things in between. So I thought I’d step back from my regular posting and think about what this blog has accomplished–and where its going next!
The history of this blog….
Five years ago, I started this blog to help track my progress on my advanced druid studies, where I had self-designed a 3rd degree project focusing on sustainability and druidry for the Ancient Order of Druids in America. I finished that work in 2013, but decided to keep blogging. First, while I am writing professor by profession (meaning I teach writing, research writing, read others’ writing, publish articles, assess writing, and so on all day), I wasn’t spending any time on my own personal writing, and the blog was a wonderful way for me to do some writing on a subject that I’m knowledgeable and passionate about. Second, this blog sought to address what I perceived to be a large gap in discussions within the druid and earth-centered spiritual communities and druid community about real earth-centered and sustainable practices. I had hoped to engage in discussions about how to develop sustainable, spiritual practices to address the predicament we face as a species. So I drew on permaculture design, traditional western herbalism, wild food foraging, the reskilling movement, natural building, organic farming, and more to try to do this. I’ve been so excited to see how far this blog has gone, how many people are reading and sharing, and I’m honored that all of you visit my little corner of the web.
Some of my favorite posts…
I wanted to direct your attention to some of my posts that aren’t as visited as my more popular posts, but are some of my favorites:
Holy shit. This was my very first post on the blog, where I spent time reminiscing on the importance of compost and my experiences in spreading it over my new garden. Ah, the good old days!
Mystery of the Stumps, Revisited: One of the most important lessons I ever learned was described in this post–the incredible healing power of the forest. This is also, consequently, when I really got into mushroom hunting. The forest has always been my best teacher.
Ode to the Dandelion. I just love the dandelions, and I think they hold some of the keys to rekindling our relationship with nature. After posting this on Facebook and sharing it with some friends, it was amazing to see people’s reactions. I have some exciting news about the dandelion coming up soon, in fact!
Sacred Sites in the Americas (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6): I did a whole series of posts on sacred sites in the Americas, which I feel was critically important work. Part of this was because in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (of which I am a druid grade member), sacred sites comprise some of the curriculum–and we just don’t have them in the USA like in the UK. And when we do have them, there are serious ethical issues of cultural appropriation and such. So this series of posts represented my own solution to a very “American” druid problem. I had originally three posts, but then I felt the need to keep writing, so now there are essentially six parts in this series.
Sound of Silence: Mass Extinction and the Music of the World: This was one of my more recent posts and definitely one of my favorites. I think a lot of us following druid or other earth-based paths really struggle to effectively accept and respond to everything that is occurring, especially to events beyond our control.
Druid’s Crane Bag: This is another older post examining the druid’s crane bag, and what is in this druid’s bag :).
Where do we go from here?
Even though I’m still very much in the discovery mode of what this new life will be–and eventually, what kind of land I’ll end up on (urban farm, intentional community, another small homestead? who knows?), I’ll still have plenty to cover in the upcoming year on this blog:
- Continuing my work on Sacred trees in the Americas (these posts come slowly, because each post takes about 20 hours of research and meditation to complete). Some examples are maple, hemlock, and eastern white cedar and my most recent post on American beech. Next on the list include black birch, white pine, chestnut, ash, elder, and hawthorn! 🙂
- Continuing to present recipes, harvesting information, and medicinal information on wild plants, mushrooms, and herbs, similar to these posts: candied violets, chicken of the woods mushrooms, and jewelweed salve.
- A longer series on Permaculture Design and its connection to earth-centered practices like druidry. I’m doing my Permaculture Design Certificate at Sirius Ecovillage in Massachusetts–I’ll be posting about their village and some of the material that I learn.
- A series of posts on urban gardening and other sustainable solutions for those renting and those living in a town or city (both of which conditions I find myself in for the next year or two till I’m ready to buy again). This will include visiting a few urban garden sites, urban composting, container gardening, solar ovens, and more!
- Spiritual insights and suggestions to handle energy-based disruptions to our land. In Michigan, it was oil pipelines and more oil pipelines. In Pennsylvania, it is fracking. So many earth-based, awake, and alive people I know are dealing with these all over the world–so I’ll be sharing some of my experiences in energy-based work here.
Ultimately, this blog is a joint project–I consider my readers just as critical to the success of this blog as I am. So what would you like to see? What would you like to see more of? I’m all ears!