Building a Witchy Garden as an Act of Resistance
“Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond.” Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Transformation is a gift we have as witches, healers, pleasure seekers, community activists, parents, lovers, seekers, dreamers, and pragmatic thinkers. It is that magical ability to receive, blend, and transmute that which is given into an essence that is powerful and life giving, no matter if the original materials were broken or marred. It is the alchemist, the Temperance card, it is trauma work, it is compost. It is our closest ability to photosynthesis, to take energy and turn it into beauty and nourishment. This is taught to us in so many ways by our community of humans, animals, and plants around us, each bringing their own perspective on how to interact with their environment and tend their loved ones.
Learning from plants directly seems like an obvious opportunity at our fingertips, but it is often lost through capitalism and colonialism so prevalent in our society. It can also get innocently lost in translation between the language of plants and the language of peoples. Named, addressed, taught, and disseminated all through a tongue completely foriegn to the mind of the teacher. Plants want to commune and teach us their wisdom; to show us how to love ourselves, to respect them, to heal, to grow, to prune, to protect, to be in service of others, and to end. They want to show us the connection our spirit, body, and mind long for, through a medium that many of us have been taught to either fear, invalidate, or ignore. By reconnecting to their deep knowledge of wisdom we can cultivate ourselves into receptive students and citizens of this land.
What does it look like to reconnect with our plant teachers? What does it mean to cultivate those lines of communication, those avenues of relationship, and those channels of reciprocity? What does it mean to use our magic towards collective resistance against oppression? In a world that commodifies and gatekeeps knowledge, that says don’t speak up unless you have the perfect words, that questions your right to pleasure, plants offer their gifts freely. The simplicity is radical in its authenticity and purity; asking for our time, for proximity, and for our openness. This accessibility means that communing with these teachers can be a potted plant near your apartment's only window, it can be the plants you tend in your office space, or if you are fortunate enough to have the space, the plot of earth nearest you. Try tending plants that feed your family or provide you healing herbs or plant berries solely to give to neighbors. Consider planting the herb you regularly use as an essential oil to see it live in its living form or a plant indigenous to where you reside.
Allow yourself not to feel pressured to choose the “right plants” or feel overwhelmed by the possibilities. The ritual of gardening, commiting to another creature, and learning how to be in community with the earth is the magic. The acknowledgment of the wisdom they hold is the resistance. The healing comes from recognizing the community and connection that is around and the resiliency grows from the vulnerability to hold the grief, beauty, complexity, anger, and wisdom. Let yourself reside in the pleasure of meeting these new plant personalities, dig your hands within the earth, and breath in that new growth smell.
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