Earthly – the word inspires images of what it means to me to work with the Earth. In my tradition we use the Green Cube as our tool in the North, the direction we associate with the element Earth. We also work with an energy tool called the Iron Pentacle. I placed the pentacle on this Earth altar because iron is in the core of the earth and in our blood.
In my personal practice much of my Earth work is rooted in death. What does it mean to let something die? What does it mean to cull? How can we sit with that which lies fallow? Can we find beauty in the potential of the compost, made of us dead and rotting matter? I collect bones when I find them. On this altar there are various bones found in fields, likely from cattle. There is half of a jaw from what I am guessing is an opossum. The full skull is from a raccoon.
The rock slab was picked up on my favorite river bank in the Ozarks. Resting on top of the rock is a talon taken from a dead bird. There is a deer antler from a deer hunted by a friend of mine and a crystal dug up from the earth in Arkansas by my aunt. The black casket contains graveyard dust and a piece of cotton from Arkansas. This was the invitation one year to my friend’s annual black feast – a feast we hold at Samhain to honor our ancestors and the cycles of death.
I know for many people the earth inspires thoughts of birth: babies born, spring time buds, beautiful colors, animals frolicking and mating. This is all earthly and important. I have always been more drawn to the unseen and the uncomfortable. For me, the earth is where we return in death. While living, her cycles of death, leading to new life, have much to teach us.