The path through the forest is full of twists and turns, and also unexpected treasures and joys. Sometimes, its tough to keep going up when the path winds ever upward or the rocks block your way. But still, the journey continues for each of us. Part of my own journey and that of you, my readers, is shared here on this blog, and I am so delighted you’ve found me and have been reading!
I began the Druid’s Garden Blog in October of 2010, almost seven years ago. Today’s post marks post 300 and about 6.5 years of weekly blogging! The blog is subscribed to via email by over 2000 people, followed on WordPress by 1000 people, and on Facebook by over 5000 people–I am truely honored and overwhelmed with gratitude that my little corner of the digital world is paid such high respect! Today, I’d like to share a bit about this blog and some of the themes that have emerged in the last two years and forecast some of where we are heading next.
I was born and raised in the Laurel Highlands region of Pennsylvania, and lived in a few different states for varying lengths of time (New York, Indiana, and Michigan) before returning back to Western PA two years ago. I began this blog while I was in Michigan as a way to document my own process of learning and transformation to a more sustainable lifestyle and my explorations of permaculture in druidry. This blog was my way of showcasing that, more for myself, and for the process of my Druid Adept degree with the AODA (which I completed in 2013). At the time I started this blog, I was living on a 3 acre plot of land that I wanted to turn into a homestead and learn how to do that using perennial systems. Two years ago, I sold it and shifted to a rental situation while I worked to figure out next steps. I’m still very much in the process of doing that work at the moment!
The themes of this blog are the relationship between druidry as a nature-based spiritual practice and how that manifests through physical practice using permaculture and broader sustainable living strategies. Into this mix I throw in some other things I’m interested in and that directly connect to this theme, including wild food foraging, wild tending, and herbalism. Since stepping into leadership and becoming AODA’s four archdruids in 2015 (I currently serve as Archdruid of Water), I’ve also taken on a number of topics on druidry itself that I see people in AODA and elsewhere struggling with (my ongoing Bardic Arts series being one such example). In other words, I focus on nature, relationships, and connections.
Land Healing and the Extraction Zone
During my special post for 200 in 2015, I showcased some of my favorite posts from my first five years blogging. I’m going to do the same today focusing on the last two years of posting. In fact, I think most of my best writing has occurred during the last two years on this blog for a simple reason: returning to Western Pennsylvania and seeing what had happened while I was gone really hit home, and a lot of that processing and spiritual work has made its way into this blog. As times of struggle and turmoil often offer us rich rewards if we embrace it, most of my best writing came from these events, and that work is ongoing. I feel like I’ve been brought back to my home region not only to bring some of these tools into this region but to a larger audience through this blog.
For one, I had to face, directly, the reality of what has been happening with fracking upon my landscape. This meant seeing firsthand disrupted telluric currents, fracking wells, and recognizing that I was living in one of the most intensely extracted and polluted areas in North America. I was living in a place where coal power plants filled the skies with toxins (three around my town alone), where mountains were removed and land stripped, where logging was commonplace, where our streams were polluted from acid mine runoff, and where fracking wells were so abundant it is difficult to go on a hike without running into them. Of course, the circumstances here are heartbreaking for someone who loves the land (and the idea of solastalgia, which I also talked about in the land healing series, is present and pervasive). However, it also lead to some of my best insights to date, particularly on land healing and posts in what we can and can’t do in these circumstances (this last link offers the final post in the series, which links to all of the others). These posts, and my ongoing work with land healing, is a direct response to the circumstances. In permaculture design, we say that the problem is the solution. One of the things this has required me to do is to think deeply and engage a good deal of my own spiritual practice with figuring out the best way to respond. Here are all of the land healing posts, which I highly recommend if you haven’t yet read them: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, and Part IX. And here’s a Galdr Ritual I co-wrote and led for the healing of the Eastern Hemlock Trees–another kind of energetic land healing work.
The Problem is the Solution
Right as I was making my transition back to Western PA, I finally finished my Permauclture Design Certificate course, which was one of the most empowering things I have ever done. I had been practicing permaculture for a number of years on my homestead, but getting the actual PDC was a way to synthesize all I had been doing and practicing–I loved the way in which we looked at so many problems and thought of the opportunities that existed. Given the challenges that my own region faces with fracking, logging, and pollution, thinking about the solutions inherent in this problem was one of the ways I had of moving forward and not becoming distraught.
There are two running themes in this series of posts: one is exploring how we might tend to the wilds and become a force of good. In this series of posts, I have showcased the work of my father, who has been diligently planting hardwood nut trees and cultivating rare forest medicinals to replant the landscape. I’ve also talked about seed balls, building refugia gardens, and actively working to replant the land. Part of this also means making friends with existing plants and engaging in need tending and recognizing their inherent worth.
The other running theme in this series is my ongoing discussion of permaculture, especially my work in translating the permaculture principles into a magical/druidic framework through the five elements. These posts offered empowering ways that druids and those new to permaculture might see and use this as a tool for addressing the predicaments we face. Tied to this, we can also look at how permaculture principles manifest on the inner planes and how they might be used for spiritual practice. Different design principles offer us specific tools for going deeper into this work of regeneration and both on the inner and outer planes. A revision of this framework appeared in the AODA’s Trilithon that was released in June 2017 (you can order it here).
Self Care and Healing
Because of the circumstances of my immediate living, another theme that has emerged on the blog in the last two years focuses inward on self care, healing, and personal growth. I have focused on these issues in various ways, from examining permaculture’s ethic of self care as a spiritual practice, to considering how we might live our authentic selves both openly and in hidden ways, and also how we can find balance and healing despite these turbulent times. One other post worth mentioning was looking at how we can cultivate polycultures to address the predicament we, as a species, face. I have realized, more and more, that self care is the foundation upon which any other healing or land regeneration work is done.
Of course, nature spirituality and working with trees has been a long-term focus of mine in this blog, and the sacred trees posts and druid tree workings posts are nice examples of this work. So far, I have covered a variety of trees local to the mid-Atlantic, North East, and/or Midwest temperate forests including: Ash, Hickory, Eastern Hemlock, Eastern White Cedar, Maple, Hawthorn, Beech, and Walnut. I’ve also written a number of posts on druid tree workings, some of which fairly recently and some in the more distant past (the post here links above to all of those writings). These kinds of posts, to me, represent some of the core spiritual practices of my own druidry, and I will continue to share them as I feel led to do so. These are the working tools of reconnecting with the sacred trees and forests (which are so abundant here where I live). I’ve also been working a lot with rivers, which has come through in several posts, including one on thinking about the relationship of land health and connection.
Sacred Gardening and Sacred Living
Of course, the ongoing work of earth-centered living, through sacred gardening and through ongoing sacred action and sacred living, has been the most longstanding theme on this blog, and I have continued that over the last 100 or so posts. Of particular fun to me was my post on compost toilets (which will include an update fairly soon), descriptions of some new gardening projects (like making paper seed pots and recycled watering systems), and resources for folks living in rental situations.
Where is the Druid’s Garden heading next?
All of this land healing work and living here in such a place of extremes has really had me thinking about the core of what druidry is and what it offers the world. I’m trying to tackle this broader question this year and into the coming year (and will likely be doing so, with many others, for a lifetime!) But in terms of writing, this work will continue to spiral from my post on connection as the core philosophy in the druid tradition. I’m starting to realize that I have a very distinct “flavor” of druidry based on some of these experiences, and I’d like to get some of that out there in a more accessible format. So my recent series on the bardic arts represents a move in that direction, and I’ll continue to explore the other core druid practices from this “connection” perspective.
I’m also working to continue my research on the sacred trees in the Americas. I have about a dozen or so trees that I’ve done at least some of the research and meditations on, and I’d like to wrap up this series before post 400! :). And of course, there will be a smattering of posts about permaculture, gardening, wild foods, wild medicine, natural building, and more.
A lot of people have asked me if I’m planning on writing books. At this point, after seven years of blogging, I certainly have more than one book in here. In fact, I’ve finished my first manuscript and am shopping for a publisher and am actively working on a second manuscript at the moment. I’ll share more once I have something worth sharing! 🙂
Thank you so much for joining me on this journey and for being a reader of the Druid’s Garden Blog. I am truely honored that you spend time here and find my work of value. If there’s anything you like me to cover, please let me know and I will do my best to cover it as the awen flows :).