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The Art of Spiritual Compost

Charla Hermann

It's all around us as the trees drop their leaves and the garden is turned to the winter phase. Little forms of Shamanic death are everywhere we look. The flowers have pretty much stopped blooming, and we can barely see the road for the wind blown limbs of trees and all forms of natures droppings. Some of the wisest animals have burrowed in for the season and won't be back until February; along with the new leaves, flowers and blooms of spring. Somehow we know that is a truth. No matter what the Earth Changes news is, we seem to have a knowing in our heart that Spring WILL return and we will be planting and harvesting all over again. YET, even in that knowing, there is a longing for reassurance that the things around us that we take for granted, will remain loyal and do what we know is supposed to happen in each cycle of the moon. We look at the dogwoods and roses, and remind them as we trim them back, that we are expecting them to grow again next year, no matter what global warming does. We call to the Bees and ask them to remember to buzz around the garden again, and the critters to raid the trash again. Because, in our hearts and minds we KNOW that is what is supposed to happen. Nature taking its course over and over again.

My favorite garden GURU, Mark Hallert, has the most amazing garden out in Oregon. I thrill each year to run into that garden and harvest the berries and stand next to the flowers that are taller than me. I literally get lost in hisgarden. I have now seen that garden in all of its phases, and there are not always berries and flowers taller than me. There is a dormant time while he works the soil. You know the stuff deep in the mama's gut that will feed and nurture the garden next season. I call it Mark's religion of compost. It is where we start in the kitchen preparing the foods and praying over them. We nurture from the foods and leftovers as long as we can. Then the last of the leftovers go into the compost bucket. We make a little prayer as we add it to the processing pile outdoors and then in the spring we gather that special soil that we have created and mix it into our garden as we get ready to plant, all over again. We pray on the garden each day and pray really wonderful thanks as we harvest to take it to the kitchen get it. It is a cycle of life and prayers and nurturing.

So, just where am I going with this “Geez Charla, we all know this”..... well family it is about our own Spiritual composting time. In the past week I have spoken to over a dozen close friends and Elders who are feeling more than a little funky. They are tired, Spiritually butt kicked and emotionally dry of the juices that fed the people all ceremonial season. AND, as brilliant and enlightened as we all are, we forget that in our life cycle, in our Shamanic practice cycle; WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DOWN FOR THIS CYCLE OF HEALING, PRAYING,VISIONING, AND COMPOSTING ALL OF THE GOOD AND THE LEFT OVER EMOTIONS FROM THE PAST SEASON! This is the time of the year that we are supposed to sit back and evaluate what has worked, not worked and what we chose to carry forward into the next season. This is the time when we do sit back with our Spiritual PTSD and heal the wounds of so many around us and the sticky stuff that we all carried home in the process of our work. And darn it, that just hurts sometimes. It is near impossible to honestly touch into the heart and soul of the people and not feel what we are all feeling right now.

So, like the rest of you. I have been quiet. Very quiet. I unplugged the phone for many days. I took long naps and dusted the shelves in the house and in my mind. I shuffled through the house and the land slowly and shed a few tears over the losses of so many that we had not had time to focus on any form of grief. I will work my way around to the celebration point. First I must stop to go within, grieve, feel and hold a composting funeral for all of the leftover emotions. If I don't, just like food left too long in the fridge; they will rot inside of me, not be offered into next years garden. AND friends, even as I know it is a truth of the process of my Spiritual growing to go back inside myself and turn over the garden..... The turning is a bit upsetting. That garden was so abundant in the height of the ceremonial season and now it is fallow. The depth of the energy that fed it each day is gone. The laughter of the children cannot be heard on the land. The busy chatter of the staff is missing. The waves of energy from the lodges and the arrival of special guests is not there. The rush is gone, and it feels like a long flat line of “who cares.” Yep, that is me, every single November and December as I sit back to put together the plans for the coming year.

Back in the day, when the corporations owned my soul, we did the same thing. This was the time of the year when we crunched the numbers and set the goals. ONLY instead of sitting back to vision... We fussed and flustered as we foughtto shift the cycles of the season and make the winter months more productive tothe bottom line. We fought the cold and flu season and made ourselves ill by working too hard when we were supposed to be resting. We did not compost the harvest, but spread it as far as we could and then chewed out the staff for everything getting naturally slow. We fought the cycles of nature.

This is a time for us to feel. There is a lot to feel. There is a place for each of us to look in the mirror and see new lines in our faces and more gray hair. It is a time to pull out of the spin and look at what we created while we were spinning so fast. The slowing down to many looks and feels like depression. It is. The word in the dictionary says that depression is when our energy is stagnant. Which simply means the energy that we bring up to work on others is not flowing as fast as it was when we were jumping through flaming hoops for the ceremonies all season. In other words...WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE STAGNANT RIGHT NOW AS A NATURAL PROCESS OF COMPOSTING SO WE CAN PLANT NEW GARDENS NEXT YEAR. Hey the skunks are smart enough to figure this out, and no one gave them a pill because they crawled into the earth and shut everyone out until things warm up again. Why are we not as smart as the skunks?

This past year I/we at Hawkwind served more folks than ever before. I saw the same in most of my Elder friends. The circles were big and they were intense. The world situation is intense, and if we are the wisdom keepers, the spinners, the magicians and transformers of change; WE ARE SUPPOSED TO FEEL THIS, so we can work it. And yes there is a place to rest from feeling, so it is not too overwhelming. Like many of you, I stopped sleeping through the night quite some time ago. When Ate was making his passage he taught me the power of the time between 3am and 6am, and I began to use it. Then I lost my ability to get a full night's sleep. I, like hundreds around me, was not getting sufficient dream time. Many of my old herbal allies were not working, and I tried a couple of meds. Waking up with a headache and cotton in my brain was not allowing the flow of clear energy. And HEY, I am an energy junkie, so I want my pure energy juice to be flowing. I love the juicy dreams that guide my wisest choices, and I am not real thrilled when I am feeling shaky and achy from lack of rest. So, like my compost pile where I add some hay to the process of breaking it all down; I have been adding herbal teas to my day. In particular I have been doing infusions of oat straw and nettles with some red clover or raspberry teas in between. At night, I go into a completely dark room with a meditation CD on, and I stay there until I know I have had 7 hours of sleep. If I get up, I may have some chamomile tea, but I go right back into the darkness and maybe even play the CD again. It makes a huge difference. And yes, I am knowing that I am composting my internal garden right now. I am processing, and it is okay to do that. Actually it is part of my evolutionary job.

If you are one out there feeling the funk, I honor you. I thank you. You are doing your job right now. I know I will see you again when the skunks come back out. I know you will be perky and pretty and full of juice. If you are feeling funkier than usual, I encourage you not to watch the news. Stay out of the clustered airports and malls. Avoid Wal-mart and muzak. Stay in your natural place. Nest, sleep, read, journal, take a vison quest inside your own soul and seek the means to step back out next year. The prophecies and the economists predict next year could begin a cycle of a really rough ride. Plan around that. If you had trouble paying for gas to travel this year, add to the budget for next year. There isn't going to be more gas or more natural resources again inour life time. So if it is pinching your reality now, step back, step within and see what is really important to plant in that garden next year. No reason to plan on putting your energy into things that did not and do not continue to work. AND MOST OF ALL, you won't have any energy to plant and work that garden if you do not rest, remorse, refuel, restore and renew. It is simply what you are supposed to be doing right now. Don't be embarrassed. There is no shame to be feeling what you feel right now. It is real and it means you feel. Thank God we all still feel.

Today, I honor each of you. Today I rest and feel. I prepare to vision in the longest night. I mean really folks, how many more Solstices will offer you that portal in you life time? There are only five more between now and 2012 that we are supposed to use to transform the planet into a new reality. FIVE, no stress. So let's not waste our depression time, let's use it as the means to warm up the compost for the new garden that we will plant for the generations to come. Let's lay back and wallow in it for a minute...just a long minute. And then let's shake it and move into the next cycle. Right now, we don't even have to know what that cycle looks like. Not any more than the dogwood tree outside my door. It is bare right now. It is stiff and cold. I see it in its beauty and full of blooms, when its time is right.

See each of you when your time is right! With respect for our shared composting time.

winter 2007