Green Burial at No Unsacred Place

Over at No Unsacred Place, I talk about green burial as a “best last gift”, endangered vultures in Asia, and how you can build houses out of cemeteries. From the post:

“I am decidedly agnostic when it comes to the idea of an afterlife of any sort. If there is one, great! The adventure continues. If there isn’t, though, then I would spend my last moment of awareness horrified if I felt I hadn’t made the most of this life. This includes the responsible disposition of my remains once I’m gone. I have no guarantee that there’s any life other than this one, but I know for sure that what I do in this moment can have reverberations in this world well beyond my own departure. I am not motivated by fear of a horrible punishment after I die. I am motivated by the care of the beings I share this life with right now. And I feel that the best last act I can do for this world is to responsibly return the resources I used to build my body back to their source once I’m done walking around in the flesh.”

Read more here.

Some Recent Writings of Mine From No Unsacred Place

If you aren’t a reader of No Unsacred Place, for which I am both writer and admin, you may have missed my most recent writings there. Here’s a summary with relevant links:

I Carry the Ocean In My Blood – Water reminds me of my evolutionary history; here’s where I trace that ancestry.

The Art of Taking as an Offering– We often think of offerings as something you give–but how do you take an offering away?

A Call to Hope – Why guilt isn’t good for us, especially in our relationships with the rest of nature.

Return of the Green Shopping List: Stuff You Don’t Need Edition – Here are a few things you can cut out of your shopping list (and save both the earth and some money!)

Being a Part of Something Bigger Than Ourselves – I continue to explore my path as a naturalistic pagan , and why connection is at the heart of my spirituality.

Forest Fire Dreams and Nightmare Tornadoes – I don’t talk about my dreams much, but these two motifs of my bad dreams were worth mentioning.

Saving Our Water – This is a discussion of some simple ways to cut down on household water use.

A Call for Urban Greening – We shouldn’t abandon our cities. We should green them!

United Watersheds of America? – A brief piece on a potential redrawing of U.S. state lines based on watersheds.

Inspired by David Douglas – My most recent piece, part musing and part book review, discusses the kinship I feel with this early naturalist and his enthusiasm for the world around him.

NUP Posts, and Some Notes About This Blog and Its Author

First, it’s been about half a year since I last linked to any of my posts over at No Unsacred Place–here’s what I’ve written since then:

Thoughts on Tree Planting
Challenges Face the Columbia River
Grounding Through Land Stewardship
Lupa’s Favorite Three-Item Geren Shopping List
Religion, Spirituality, and Earth Stewardship
Screaming Scrub Jays!
Updates on Coal and the Columbia

Also, I have completely overhauled the About page for this blog for the first time in years. I would greatly appreciate it if you all would head on over and take a peek; it’s much shorter and more concise than before, and what it contains is quite different than in its previous incarnations.

Finally, I’ll be taking a little solo trip down to SoCal this weekend for Ghost Writers Unite! They asked me to come down and add in my expertise on small press publishing and the like, and so I’ll be moderating a couple of panels and doing an author reading, in addition to checking out all sorts of other workshops and the like. Plus while I’m down there I’m taking a couple of days extra to do things like visit the La Brea Tar Pit Museum and maybe do a bit of hiking in the Santa Monica mountains. I’ll still be checking in online, of course, but I’m looking forward to my first just-me trip in a while.

No Unsacred Place Posts–and A Bit of News!

In case you haven’t heard, I am the new admin/editor for No Unsacred Place, the nature spirituality branch of the Pagan Newswire Collective. The founding editor, Alison Leigh Lilly, stepped down earlier this year, and through various events I became the new administrator. We’ve since brought on a few new writers, and I’ve been spending some of my free time updating and tweaking the site. I have, of course, continued to write. Here’s what you may have missed in recent weeks:

The Risks and Benefits of Nature – nature isn’t always safe–and that’s okay.

Remember That We Are Among the Most Privileged Beings to Live on This Planet – a bit of reflection on the impact our technological and other advances have on the planet and its inhabitants.

Wolf packs in Oregon successfully interbreeding – a piece of good news from the Pacific Northwest!

By the way, if you’re on Facebook there’s a fan page for No Unsacred Place here. And I have one for updates on my art, writing, and other news here.

No Unsacred Place Posts

Quick note, it’s been a while since I did a roundup of my posts over at No Unsacred Place. You can get an idea of my summer nature-spirituality writing over there in the following articles:

Bathing in the Colorado, Swimming in the Pacific – reflections on water and perception while in California

The Power of Positive Greening – why we need a more constructive, positively-focused approach to the environmental issues we face

On the Impermanence of Mountains – on my many dance partners in this wild universe

The Dangers of Talking Plants – the perils of pseudoscience when trying to prove spirits exist

Getting My Hands Dirty – how is mucking about in a creek like pagan sabbat rituals?

White and Red Clover as Totems

I’ve been thinking again about my now-deceased little patch of woods from my hometown. I can’t have that place back ever again; even if the pharmacy that’s there now were to be torn down, the plants that would regrow wouldn’t be the same, and the geography’s been changed, flattened out. And so I mourn that loss. (As an aside, I’ve written even more about it recently at No Unsacred Place.)

In the process of mourning, White Clover and Red Clover came to me. These low-lying legumes were a big part of my childhood explorations; I spent many hours outdoors lying in patches of three-lobed leaves and fragrant white flowers, and eating the pink petals of the larger red species. Spring was always marked by the arrival of the first clover buds, and throughout the summer I would silently cheer any time the flowers got high enough to be made into necklaces before the lawn would get mowed again. My favorite hiding places were where the clover and other plants were allowed to grow high and thick, instead of being cultivated into submission as with most of the neighborhood.

As I grew older, and eventually moved to several places around the country, I always found clover–white more often than red, but both of them still made strong showings. And they were persistent. Even when I lived in paved-over old industrial areas of Pittsburgh where bricks and old run-down buildings were common, clover stubbornly populated open lots and little scrubby patches by the sidewalks. Here in Portland I see a lot of white clover, to include places where organic urban gardeners plant it as a cover crop. Red is more rare, but I’ve seen it on occasion, often on the edges of parking lots and other hardscrabble places.

And as I have mourned my loss, White and Red Clover reminded me of all the times I’ve seen them over the years and how that’s helped me to maintain the connection to my childhood wonder at the world. I realized that although I’ve lost a specific place dear to me, I never lost the connections that were formed there. I’ve taken these connections much further, too, out of suburban lawns and into empty lots in cities, and the wide open territory of the Columbia River Gorge. I’ve gone from a tiny little creek trickling through my second patch of woods, to the rivers the bridges in Portland cross over–and to the Pacific Ocean itself.

I am not lost. I am still here. Wherever there is clover, there is also the connection I grew up with. I do not need to feel connected only to the patches of clover in a yard I no longer have permission to enter, or in a field that no longer exists. I also have the clover in the neighbor’s yard that I walk by several times a week, and odd patches here and there throughout Portland. And just as I carry the lessons taught by family members many years deceased, so do I carry what I learned from White and Red Clover, and Periwinkle, and Black Poplar, and Eastern Red Cedar, and White Oak, and so many others through their physical counterparts as I went from a seedling to a sapling to a fine young tree myself. These still stand out to me, so many years later, as a collective of plants and their totems who were so incredibly influential. Some of their children are now dead, victims of the destruction of one place. But thankfully the species and the totems live on, and no one can take that from me.

And given that neither White nor Red Clover are native to the United States, their ubiquitous presence helps me to feel at home where I might otherwise feel rootless. Similarly to Douglas Fir, the Clovers have helped me to be as flexible and adaptable as they are in a new place, particularly as I was not even born on this soil. Part of that grounding does come from reminding me of my roots, and teaching me to set them down wherever I go. If they can bloom where they’re planted, so can I.

I find all this comforting. I have lost, but I am far from alone–or rootless. White and Red Clover showed me that.