I skirt the asymmetrical edge of the salt marsh, very much conscious of my movement and energy. My maternal grandmother, Mary, and my most recent herbal teachers, Annie and George, always emphasized leaving habitats as undisturbed as possible. The goal: very little to no evidence of bent or broken grass, branch, leaf, or flower; disruptive aura spikes; and trash. I smile, knowing I’m doing my best to make sure the area is cleaner than I had originally found it.
The hairs on my neck suddenly prickle and spring to life; I’m being watched. I look to my left and see a great blue heron calmly observing me from the elongated shadows cast over the muddy shallows by a white oak. From behind, I hear the dry croaking of a snowy egret as it lifts its legs with a slight splash and takes off for the airy cerulean unknown. And then, SILENCE. I ground and thank the Great Spirit for the day.
My family constantly marvels at my approach to life and my relationship with Mother Earth. Simply put, it’s intuitively embodied. Mary raised me on stories about the Good Folk, the land as sentient, and the connections we have with all beings on this planet. At bedtime, her mythopoetic yarns wove a tapestry of how past folks treated and honored All-That-Is and, in turn, each other. And so, my respect has naturally manifested in my words and actions. For me to stop would mean soul death. I’m one with the land, just as the land’s one with me -- with all of us, really.
Today, per Irish storyteller Eddie Lenihan, in an interview published by author Signe Pike in Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World, we have "tried to substitute things for things that you can't substitute anything for. Helpfulness, kindness, charity, human decency." His comments beg the question: have we forgotten how to live beyond the world of money and consumerism?
I can’t deny the validity of those from bygone generations saying they had close to nothing or were flat broke. I know my Scots-Irish forebearers had their ups and downs, coming face to face with situations I can barely even fathom. At the same time, they still had something: the richness of their beliefs and tales. I will not let their legacy die in this post-modern world.
My gran's tales can easily be relegated to the realms of both superstition and backwardness. However, after about four decades of (imperfectly!!!) weaving their energy into my life, I know they’re very much alive, both within and without us. So walk across the threshold. A warm cup of tea, a gentle smile, and a listening ear await you at my hearth.