Tag Archives: worms

Druids and Worms

Worms should be one of the beings we hold most sacred. They are essential to the life of the soil, and human life depends so much on that vitality. Worms pull plant matter down into the existing soil, and eat it, breaking it down and releasing the nutrients back into the earth. The way in which they move through the soil aerates the ground, and is part of how the structure of the soil is created.

Worms are one of the key the means by which death is turned back into life. They are engineers of this most essential process. Pagans honour the cycles of life and death so we should hold in the highest possible esteem the beings who drive that cycle. And yet, I’ve never encountered anyone celebrating worms in this way.

Worms are suffering as a consequence of human pollution. They are the creators of life, and any threat to them is a threat to us all. We need to protect them in any way we can.

An individual worm isn’t a dramatic entity. They are small, quiet, easily overlooked and living underground, are mostly invisible to us. They do not demand our attention. We don’t have famous worm Gods at whose shrines people might make offerings. We overlook their power and their magic at our peril.

The best shrine you can make to the worms, is a compost heap. Feed them, engage with them, make a home for them that you are fully conscious of. Bring them offerings every day of the food you did not want, the peels and skins and inedible bits. Offer up your rubbish to them, in recognition that they will turn that rubbish into rich food for the soil. You give them the most worthless things you have, and in return, they give you life. It is a relationship that should make anyone feel humble, and that reminds us that power is not always self announcing.

Worm Magic

To call someone a ‘worm’ is usually an insult. If you ‘worm your way’ into anything it tends to imply that you aren’t entitled to be there and that your method for getting in was dodgy. Linguistically, worms get a rough deal, but out there in nature they are tiny powerhouses and worthy of our respect.

In terms of the life of the soil, worms are essential. They aerate it as they pass through. They help break down debris, alongside the micro-organisms and fungi also at work. Worms will draw plant matter from the surface down into the soil, eat it, poo it out as soil, and thus add to the fertility of the land.

Worms provide food for a lot of other beings. They are eaten by a number of birds – although I always think of blackbirds as the main worm eater. Moles of course eat worms, and so, more curiously, do badgers. Given the size difference, it may seem like an odd menu choice, but scruffluing up worms to eat is a big part of what badgers get up to of an evening.

Taken as an individual, a worm isn’t much. It’s just a squishy, mobile stomach. Things go in one end, and come out the other. One worm more or less doesn’t change anything much. Taken collectively, the value of worms to the rest of the living world is vast.

As humans, we make up a lot of stories about the triumph of the lone individual. Most of us will never be the lone, standout hero, and condemn ourselves to a life of feeling jealous, mediocre, unsuccessful, irrelevant. We could learn a lot from worms. As with worms, small actions from large numbers of people have huge effects. Our one small bit, more or less, doesn’t seem very relevant, but what we do as a whole has considerable consequences. At the moment, those consequences are grim, but it need not be so.

If we all took ourselves a bit more seriously as one chewing worm amongst many, perhaps we’d be a bit more careful about what we put into the soil. If we learned to see the power of small things, like worms, we might better be able to see pour own power, and to use it effectively. We might be less afraid to worm our way in to places of power and influence rather than believing we don’t belong there. We might be less tolerant of the way those bigger humans, with power and resources, use labels like ‘worms’ to discount the masses. We might see the power in numbers, embrace our inner worms, and make some real changes.

Me and my worms

I live in a flat in an area that doesn’t currently collect kitchen waste on the doorstep. We don’t generate a lot of food waste, but there’s the inevitable banana skins, squash peel, carrot tops and things of that ilk. I hate sending things like that to landfill. Last autumn we had a family conference, and decided we needed worms.

We purchased a junior wormery – small enough to be a comfortable addition to the small kitchen. It’s basically a big bucket. Inside the bucket is an elevated platform so that liquid can collect at the bottom. There’s a tap to let the liquid out. The tiger worms came by post, with some starter bedding and instructions. In the first few days we had a lot of escapes and had to be very careful in the kitchen of a morning, then we got clever about tying the lid down, because the securing brackets just weren’t enough on their own to thwart the adventurous inclinations of our wormy friends.

In the last month, they’ve had babies – which encourages me to think they find their standard of living acceptable. This morning we were able to drain off liquid for the first time – watered down it provides a feed for our small array of windowsill plants. It also stinks. Apparently worm wee is one of the smelliest things imaginable. Still, hopefully the plants will like it. We should now get a regular supply of liquid. We should also get a few pots’ worth of compost, come the summer.

This just leaves the problem of the non-recyclable plastics. I continue to harass supermarkets and product produces when opportunities arise, still pondering the scope for clever reuse. In the meantime, the worms save our council a few pounds here and there on landfill costs, and provide us not only with fertiliser, but also considerable amusement. They’ve been a surprisingly entertaining addition to our little household, and are well worth considering if other compost options are not available to you.