Choosing seed is one of the earliest stages of farming or gardening…or growing in mind, heart, spirit, body. Some of us, of course, never choose radish or tomato seeds because we are convinced we have a black thumb or we don’t have anywhere to plant a garden. But all of us choose the seeds we plant, nurture, and sustain inwardly. It is true that there are — a few! — wind-borne seeds that drift in from some neighboring soul, or are carried in by a visiting spirit (a healthy one or a dysfunctional one), and occasionally we think we are getting white morning glories, but they turn out to be blue. However, the truth is – for all intents and purposes – once we pass 6 or 7 or 8 years of age, we actually have enormous control over what is growing at any given time.
We also have quite a bit of control over the ground in which those seeds are planted. It can be soil that has been carefully prepared, amended with the rich compost of processed experience and old growth turned under, loosened and raked clean. Or it can be haphazard soil filled with clutter, or exhausted soil that has been used too long and too hard, or the hard-packed soil of rigid beliefs, or toxic soil laden with unresolved angers or resentment. We choose how we care for the soil of our lives. We may be born with a particular inner landscape, but we can improve it or destroy it by the choices we make, we can cherish it or disregard it, we can honor it or dishonor it.
And let me be clear that there are many kinds of useful ground, with many different qualities: high desert is not silt-enriched river valley, alpine meadow is not tundra or peat bog. Yet each can be a place of wonder, delight, and integrity…or a place of barrenness. If my inner landscape is high desert, I am probably not going to grow water lilies – not unless I want to put in the hard labor of creating an artificial pond and refilling it daily as the water evaporates in the dry heat. But succulents and wonderful grasses in a hundred varieties can carpet my spirit with unmeasurable beauty, blossoming in season and providing nurture to all the small precious creatures of that landscape.
Whatever our ground, whatever the inner loam of our spirit, Imbolc invites us to take stock of it as we choose the seeds we will plant this year. Imbolc asks us to be attentive to what we may have left undone when we entered the fallow period of Samhain: does the soil need to be enriched after a hard season (or two or three)? Do all the stalks of old growth need to be turned under now (because we were caught by the first hard freeze and didn’t get around to doing it at the end of Lughnasadh)? Is there clutter that has accumulated while we were resting and not focused on such things?
So: as I prepare my own ground for a season of different seeds – the unusual and perhaps unexpected seeds – which become available as I put myself in a different physical geography on sabbatical pilgrimage, here are some of the questions I am asking myself:
* What is the composition of soil, the composition of my inner ground, at this particular moment in my life? Is it worn down so that I need to look for crops that can renew it? Has it been enriched by experiences I didn’t even notice? Has it been eroded by grief or sorrow? Or have those, instead, carved furrows that make it ready for seeds that need deep planting?
* For what harvests has my heart been yearning? What have I not planted because it needed more care or differently prepared soil than I could handle in the last year or two?
* Is my garden plot in full sun these days? Or have trees grown up that shade everything? Is that the kind of gardening I need to do right now, or do I need to do some pruning (or pre-planting) to provide a blend of sun and shade – even knowing that the garden may not be ‘ideal’ for a year or two or five?
Maybe these questions can start your preparation, too, or can inspire questions that are more pertinent to your situation. Whatever the curiosity or challenge or blessing the questions bring, may these words inspire you this week:
from which first people emerged,
be the landscape of
Clay or loam or peat or sand
be fertile with possibility.
From your depths, broken open,
push me forth
up from deep roots into wide spaciousness.
O, let it be so again!
Text © 2015, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos ©2105, 2010 Immram Chara, LLC
NOTE: You will find the photo “Cloister Gardens” in the Etsy shop as part of the Spring Threshold card set for 2015. There are two new fiber pieces: Emerge (which was finished in time for the shift of the season on 1 February) and Balance (which was finished last week).