Practice Well-Being for Earth Day

Even though there’s no official slot for it on the Pagan Wheel of the Year, Earth Day, which began on April 22, 1970, when millions of people across the U.S. demonstrated for peace and environmental protection, feels like one of the holiest days of my year, right up there with Samhain. To celebrate Earth Day, I like making a shrine together with my kids, going on wildflower walks, fishing trash out of a local creek, and meditating. Like many of you, I tend to spend the day assessing my current relationship with the environment and brainstorming ways I could better love this one, precious planet that supports life as we all know and enjoy it.


Honeybee on horseherb growing in my yard

This year I feel committed to quitting disposable plastic straws and to curbing my use of disposable cups and cutlery. Seriously, there’s no reason why I need to use plastic straws. And I already have reusable cups and even a travel spork that I could more reliably pack. Actually pulling the spork out and using it might be a bit socially awkward, but the best part about getting older is that I care less and less what others think of me, and more and more about living authentically, as I creep closer and closer to 40.

Those who choose to demonstrate, do community service, or make lifestyle changes in honor of Earth Day are certainly in keeping with tradition. Thank you! For picking up trash, for marching, for building compost bins and gardens at your neighborhood schools, for trading in your car for a hybrid or electric, for pledging to fly less and eat less meat, and to carpool and vote more often. Thank you for doing some of the things on the laundry lists of environmentally sustainable “shoulds” that are flooding all of our social media feeds for this week and this week only.


Compost bin made from wooden pallets at my kids’ school

But I want to suggest another way of celebrating our beloved Eairth this April 22, one that’s just as much work and even more radical and uncommon than community activism: take really good care of yourself, because real, lasting change starts at home. I’m not talking about pedicures or expensive chocolate, although I’m a fan of both. However, I am suggesting that the holiest things any of us can do on Earth Day are simply drinking enough water, resting if we need to rest, moving if we need to move, and eating truly nourishing foods. For the love of Her, we need to make our art, hug our people, and pet our fuzzy four-leggeds this week. We need to walk outside and exchange eye contact and smiles with friends and neighbors. We need to breathe slowly and deeply, to journal, and to practice gratitude. This week is the perfect time to take the first decisive steps on the path to wellness, whatever that looks like for you. Because we’re all a part of Eairth Hirself, self-care is Eairth-care.


Walking barefoot along Bull Creek

And if we’re not healthy, neither is She.



On Being Witch: How, Why, Where, When, and with Whom?

A number of recent posts in the Pagan blogosphere, including Lisa Wagoner’s first post in her new Patheos blog Witch, Indeed? and John Halstead’s recent post on why people may have good reason to make fun of Wiccans and witches, have me thinking about the labels that I put around my spiritual practice. I plan to explore the topic in a series of posts, but for today I want to focus on why I identify as witch and when it might be worth it to say so. Why use the W-word at all, when I’m likely to be misunderstood and disrespected for it, even by other members of the NeoPagan community? Continue reading “On Being Witch: How, Why, Where, When, and with Whom?”

March Blue Moon Tea: Dewberry

I have a long history with dewberry plants, since my dad used to grow them along the back fence of our home, when I was a child. He got his canes from my grandparents, who got theirs from my Texas German great-grandparents, who used to turn the berries into wonderful pies, jelly, and wine. Most of the dewberry canes I’ve encountered as an adult living in Austin grow wild in sunny clearings like this one:


The young leaves and flowers make a wonderful tea. I picked less than 10% of the flowers that I saw in this patch, though, to avoid impacting the insects already enjoying them and to avoid substantially decreasing the summer berry harvest.


Sweetened with local honey, this was my favorite wildcrafted simple of the year yet.


Spring in the Texas Hill Country, even in the city, is so sweet.


Happy Full Moon, and hope it’s just as lovely where you are, dear readers.

Notes on Spring Equinox 2018

Happy High Spring! Today I walked with Poe and observed what’s happening outside. The Austin sky is sunny and breezy today, with temperatures only in the 60s F, and thank all the gods, no packages except those that I ordered have been delivered to our front door.

Early spring bloomers like henbit and chickweed now look leggy and wilted, but spiderwort, wind flower, fleabane, bluebonnet, paintbrush, and pink evening primrose have begun to bloom. Redbud continues to bloom, and mountain laurel, too, perfuming the breeze with the scent of grape soda laced with jasmine.


Continue reading “Notes on Spring Equinox 2018”

Growing beyond atheism

Eleven years ago this spring, I participated in a weekend-long mindfulness meditation retreat. Two continuous days of scheduled sitting and walking meditation, dharma talks, and silent meals left me rested and clear, yet inexplicably discontented. On the third and final day of the retreat a choice of activities was offered, including more sitting meditation, attending a workshop, or hiking. I had pined all weekend from my cushion indoors for unstructured time outside in the spring sun, so I chose to explore a trail through the park’s oak-juniper woods.


After walking for some time, I slowed in a sunny clearing of Ashe junipers to admire the the trees, the light, the sky. Unexpected words swelled up, which seemed to roll through my mind and out across the woods around me with the clarity and resonance of thunder. Continue reading “Growing beyond atheism”

Hunger Advocacy: Crop Walk 2018

This afternoon my daughter and I walked with other members of our UU Church in the Austin Crop Hunger Walk, an annual fundraising and education event sponsored by the Church World Service. After a week of rain, the sunny, breezy 2.4-mile walk around Camp Mabry grounds was a treat.


Proceeds from the walk benefitted both the CWS, a non-profit that promotes grass-roots  efforts to combat hunger globally, and several local organizations involved in hunger advocacy and service, including the Central Texas Food Bank, Casa Marianella, Sustainable Food Center, and Refugee Services of Texas.  Continue reading “Hunger Advocacy: Crop Walk 2018”