Earth, Sex, Magic – an invitation into the Family of Things

Dear Beloved*,

At the end of September, I’ll be running a day workshop called Earth, Sex, Magic. As you can probably guess, it is an invitation into relationship with what our shared favourite poet Mary Oliver calls “the family of things”. I’ve been wondering how to articulate to my community why it feels vital to spend a day (and indeed a lifetime!) indulging in that relationship – so I thought I would write to you about it, because I know you understand, and see what unfolds.

This year has been a decimating one for me. I have spent the summer traversing the wasteland that is grief. Recalling previous times when I found anchoring and sanity in the wilds, I have leaned hard into the medicine available in the landscape around me. I walk every day, and every day I am assailed by the family of things in all their exquisite beauty and thirst for living. I have spied foxes slipping into the hedgerow in broad daylight; watched no less than five buzzards circling together above the Downs one afternoon; stumbled across many a murder of crows a hundred strong at least; stood on bridges over chortling streams and stroked fluffy trees; written long missives to my lepidopterist father about the varieties of butterfly I’ve encountered on this or that day, and made friends with the cat who hangs out in the graveyard near my house. For every time I have had to drag my weary bones up the hill, I have come down breathing deeper, walking the walk of one who belongs in this world. I want to share the blessed relief of that fuller breath with others, and help them build practices that can integrate it into their daily lives.

There is a kind mirror to be found in nature. I’ve been in some forests recently that I know you would have loved. One of the things I appreciate most about walking in woodland is how graceful those spaces reveal death to be. A fallen tree becomes a new ecosystem – a landscape for moss and mushrooms to take root on and a myriad tiny creatures to burrow into and call home. An ending becomes a source of new life and infinite beauty. It’s like that quote, whose author I unfortunately cannot find: “the trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go”. And it’s not just endings, release, closure, all these things our culture is so phobic of: There is rest in nature. We western humans talk about having “highs” and “lows” as though the latter were somehow lesser or worse than the former. Nature leans gratefully into each new season with the knowledge that each is necessary, each brings its own nourishment. We’re living beings, moulded in so many of our myths by the gods from clay, from dirt, from the earth. Finding our way out onto the land, we find a much more forgiving and truthful mirror to our own natures amidst the family of things than the distorted ones held up by a capitalist culture obsessed with perfection and exponential growth.

As you can probably guess by the title, Earth, Sex, Magic will have some ecosensual elements to it – including a self-pleasure ritual very like the one you may remember from our time in Sweden! There’s so much to love about the ecosexual movement – all the ways that intimacy with the land and the elements can expand our capacity for pleasure, wonder, and magic, as well as enrich our overall wellbeing. But one thing I particularly appreciate is the way that ecosexual pioneers like Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens invite us into relationship with Lover Earth rather than Mother Earth, shifting that relationship from one in which we are the constant recipients of an unconditional and apparently infinite source of nourishment, to one in which we are active partners in a mutual relationship. This is not only a more accurate representation of the reciprocal and interconnected systems we live within, but also a vital directive for our survival – a particularly poignant one at this moment in time. I hope this can be a day of resourcing ourselves for the changes we want to make, not only on a personal and creative level, but also on a community and planetary one.

I’m on a train as I write this, heading north. The landscape is getting flatter, and there’s some big sky outside the window. The sky has always been such a source of hope for me. When I was young, I thought of it as an ocean that would eventually carry me to safe harbour. I guess what I really want to do with this day is entice a bunch of heartkin to get out under the sky with me. To take a breath, to receive a little pleasure, to give the family of things a chance to speak to them – and to remember that they are welcome on this Earth.

I hope we get to stand on the same patch of earth together again soon dear faekin.
Sending squeezes and sparkles and sonnets to you until then,
Rowan

A figure in red sits on a boulder in an ancient woodland

*This is the first post in which I’m experimenting with a new “love letter” format for blogs. The beloved who volunteered to be the recipient for this “letter” is my magical friend Flora, who also happens to be the founder of Earthly Eros, which you can find here on Facebook. “Earthly Eros is an evolving exploration of natural philosophy and ecosensuous movement, of ecosexuality and spiritual ecology, of resonant poetry and elemental embodiment, of how to use the inner and outer perceptions of our animal bodies to experience the interconnectedness and interdependence of all life and deepen ecological awareness and mindfulness.”

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