Honoring the Nature Energies – A Fall Closing Ceremony at the Sacred Garden
Somehow, it seems only right to share this on December 21, the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Our region (Baltimore and the Mid-Atlantic) received more than 20 inches of snow over the weekend and it’s starkly beautiful outside. The trees and buildings have all been softened with cushiony snow draped all over them. And the remaining tall dried stalks of flowers are angled in odd directions rising above the snow in my back yard.
If there were not 20 plus inches of powdery snow in my yard, I would go out tonight with sacred tobacco and smudge and bless the gardens in my yard in an end of season blessing of deep gratitude to them. But my boots are not high enough to trudge through the snow to do this. It will have to wait until the snow melts down a bit more.
I should have done this earlier in the season but in truth, I never finished putting my gardens to bed this season. I ran out of time before I left for New Zealand for three weeks on November 19th. There are even about 25 pansies in little four inch pots that I shoved on top of my compost pile just a day before the blizzard hit last Friday. The ground was too frozen to put them in and I did not want my snow shovel hitting them where they were sitting on the sidewalk once the blizzard was over.
I’m not too proud of not finishing my garden beds this fall but time collapsed in on me and before I knew it, I was on that plane. Thus some weeds never got pulled nor stalks cut in the perennial fall schedule of putting plants to bed. But there is still early spring to catch up on some of these tasks.
I was also remiss in not yet going out and thanking the Nature Energies in my area for all of their wonderful help and support this season too. And I feel doubly bad for this.
At least we did have such a ceremony at the Sacred Garden at Jasmine’s house back in early November. This was good and right and honorable considering that it was her yard and her Nature Energies that we were honoring. (Not that it makes it any different for myself and my allies here in my neighborhood! They are surely just as important…)
A number of us gathered at Jasmine’s during the first weekend of November to do a final fall cleanup of plants and weeds. We also harvested a goodly amount of kale, chard and some late peppers, onions, rosemary, and lots more calendula blossoms (to dry for smudge). Part of the day’s effort was also to pull out the remaining rotten tomato stalks that had been hit by the tomato blight that ravaged the region, including our Sacred Garden. While the Nature Energies did all that they did to contribute to a bumper crop of basil and peppers and other herbs (including HUGE calendula blossoms), they could not hold off the fungus spores. Alas. This was a large disappointment to us. (Interestingly, the heirloom tomato in my front yard never got hit by the blight. Surely because no one else near me was growing any tomatoes in my city yard?)
When we finished for the morning, Jasmine came and gathered us at a higher point in her yard that overlooks the whole vegetable garden. She walked out with her king-size abalone smudge pot already billowing smoke and we circled behind her as she faced the garden and blew on the embers to encourage the smoke to waft down the yard and around the garden.
Then she called on the Creator and Earth Mother to give our blessings and from there all the Nature Energies who had played any role small or large, the multitude of them, in supporting the bounty of our garden and the beauty that it had provided. The vegetables, the flowers, the vines of moonflower and only-so-perfectly named Heavenly Blue Morning Glory that graced our gate to the garden, so much so that the weight of the heavy vines collapsed the makeshift trellis above the gate!
She called to all of the Nature Energies, not by individual names, but as a group to express the blessings. I could feel the energy around us swirl a little as we stood there and listened to her call out to them. The smoke from her weighty smudge pot billowed out and around her into the yard. A deep gratitude came from all of us standing there as we silently listened to her words and took in the blessings of the smudge and her words. And surely the Nature Energies took up the smudge as gifts from us and danced with it up in the air above our heads. I could feel this.
Jasmine blew further on the smudge pot until the embers started to wane to worn out shards of charcoal and we bowed our heads to acknowledge our respect and gratitude to the garden and our friends in the spiritual dimensions who took it upon themselves to support our efforts. And then it was complete.
Jas turned around and gave us one of her twinkle smiles, and said: “That’s it! Short and sweet!” A couple of us laughed a little and then we followed her trundling back into the house.
But I lingered a little on the lawn. There was a palpable difference in the feeling about the yard and garden. There was a sense of completion and closing that only good ceremony could bring forth. More than anything, there was a sense of rightness to the whole yard. Jas had started out the spring with a private ceremony to opening up the garden and this time she allowed us to be there with the closing. The season had come full cycle of birth and growth and death or dormancy. We had harvested what we could, given gratitude and now it was time for rest. For inward winter quietude.
And my yard, I can feel that it is not complete yet, that full cycle and sense of deep honoring. There is a slight itchiness there that I have felt before when I have not done the appropriate blessing with the Nature Energies to seek their permission to break the soil in the spring. Not as strong a dissonance but a slight one. Therefore I need to bring forth the smudge and tobacco for my honoring. Perhaps tonight I will go out on my porch that is not so deep in snow and say my prayers and honor the Energies of the garden. For indeed. I am deeply, deeply grateful to them. They will know my intent and that is the important truth.