I live in the rural North Carolina mountains. My neighborhood consists of open fields framed by mountains, small houses and tractors. I spend much of my free time outside during the warmer seasons, so during the winter, I often feel a sense of longing for the return of my communion with the land. This separation anxiety has been especially strong for me this winter after having lost my loving, sweet dog, Lily, in the late summer. Having new dog children in my home brings a remembrance of Lily’s puppy days, and her early years full of wild energy revisit me through their playful discovery-energy. While embracing the grief that comes with loss, I have become more connected to the grief that sits on my own land. I am more in tune, on a regular basis, with its majestic possibilities while remembering that it also holds its own historical memories of loss.
In honor of this wisdom-loss-grief-hopeful state of melancholy I have invited and honored this winter, I have been exploring ceremonies that offer gratitude and healing to the land. As I offer my own gifts of gratitude and send out my prayers for healing in my life and for the greater mother earth, I find my communion with the Divine to be richer and closer in every breath I take. I have been working with a shamanic healer—a good friend and mentor—and she has helped me bring fresh perspective to the connection between myself and the land I inhabit.
Recently, she guided me through a creative, re-centering ceremony—the despacho. It is literally a sending of prayers for healing and gratitude to the land on which I dwell and the greater earth mother who cradles me in this human life form. Using symbols that consisted of foods, flowers, spices and more, we said individual prayers that related to the meaning of each object. Some of the prayers were for family. Some for the land. Some for my own person. Some for the greater world. All of them were placed into a beautiful montage, blessed, and wrapped in paper.
The despacho offering is an organic, inspired, physical Valentine. I buried it on my land and honored all it represents—that greater whole of possibility and medicine of abundant love. This Valentine’s Day, I am in love with the land, and although it is cold and covered in snow, I know that much is happening beneath the surface, beyond what my eyes can now see. The abundance is already blooming, and the garden that is just a few weeks around the corner will surely be authentic and untangled.