Picking up David’s wonderful prompt from yesterday… Venerating the land is something I’ve primarily expressed through walking. For most of my life, time spent on foot in the landscape has been a major part of how I do my Paganism, how I connect with the ancestors, with the wild, the elements and the cycle of the seasons. It’s where I find much of my inspiration, think things through, find poetry and philosophy. Walking has been the heart of my Druidry.
Then in 2020 I got really ill – not with covid, but the extra stress the pandemic caused certainly didn’t help. Anaemia contributed to low blood pressure, and in the years that followed there were a lot of days when getting around the flat was as much as I could do. Walking was often unthinkable, and longer walks were impossible. I felt lost and disconnected. With hindsight it’s evident that the misery this caused serve to further mess up my body chemistry, adding to the problems.
Stress and misery aren’t good for a body. Walking was a big part of how I dealt with stress and found things to be happy about. It’s been a tough few years. However, at this point I am definitely healing, which feels like a miracle. I’m still not a very fast walker, and I can only manage a few miles at a time, but my blood pressure is sensible, and I can get out and about without being overwhelmed by dizziness. I haven’t had heart palpitations in quite a while and I’m starting to think I’ve beaten it.
This week I’ve been out and about a lot, managing walks that would have been unthinkable a matter of months ago. I’ve felt confident enough to walk on my own – an act of faith in my own body, and in my ability to deal with whatever I find out on unfamiliar paths. I feel so much more like myself. My heart needs landscape and the open sky. Being unable to walk much has been soul destroying.
Walking allows me to love the land, one foot at a time. I can discover places, and know them slowly, reverencing each encounter, each detail. Birds and orchids, trees and streams, I do my veneration through the act of encountering. Moving through a landscape is an animist conversation, one in which I spend more time listening than talking.
I make no sense to myself when feel cut off from the land and the seasons. I am not myself if I’m not out under the sky. I thought I had lost those parts of myself forever, and am experiencing a deep joy around finding that simply isn’t true. I had not dared to hope I could heal, and yet I am healing.
The chemistry in a body that manages blood pressure is something we make when we’re happy. In 2020, I fell into depths of distress that started to compromise my body in serious ways. Stress has taken a terrible toll on me, and for years I wasn’t in a position to do anything about the situation that was making me so very ill. This year, everything shifted, and I have what I need now for my body to heal and be a lot more well. It’s all the things I thought it was all along, but was not previously able to change.
There is utter joy for me, being out under the sky, encountering wild birds, meeting trees and wildflowers, feeling wind and sun on my skin. I feel alive again. In that joy, I repair the damage done, and continue the healing work that I have every reason to believe will keep me able to go wandering and protect me from being so ill.
I commit myself to the love of landscape, to joy, and to doing what it takes to be able to venerate the land in the way that most calls to me.