I Belong to This Land; This Land Doesn’t Belong to Me

I am a child from nowhere, a long string of wandering ancestors trailing behind me

Some forced from their native homes long ago, some more recently

By war or economy — conquered, defeated, starved, persecuted

They carried their wounds with them where ever they went

And as is the cycle common in abuse without healing, they turned from victim to oppressor

For years, I have asked myself: where do I belong?

When one’s spirituality is a spirituality of the land, but the land doesn’t belong to you?

Ancestors who stole the land, who killed and enslaved and pillaged

And here I am, a child from nowhere, curled up on the pine needles and live oak leaves

Crying

Here I am, a child from nowhere, flying to one of an overwhelming number of “homelands”

Searching

Only to find its gentle rolling hills and old stone walls are beautiful and soft and welcoming

But don’t fit anymore

Because my wild soul was shaped by earthquakes and wildfires, granite and glaciers

Bears lumbering and coyotes singing, and the darkness you only see

When there is nothing for miles but stars

How do I breathe into all this pain?

My ancestors’ wounds: the wounds that they caused and the wounds that they carry?

The land invites me in

Not always nicely; not always gently

Sometimes through flood or fire or blizzard or rip tide

This land is prickly and bristles with raw power

As if to say: how dare you think I could ever be owned or controlled?

Reminding me that the land has its own peoples who understood it better, whom it still loves

And yet, it claims me for its own

This child from nowhere, landless but somehow capable and willing to feel its pain

This land doesn’t belong to me; nowhere belongs to me

I am caught between the past and the future

Too many strands of transience and suffering to have a homeland

But I belong to this land

And that is a gift beyond measure

 

Reflections on Indigenous Peoples Day 2019

Herd of wild horses running in front of foothills

A herd of wild mustangs near Benton, California. Like me, the mustangs are a product of colonialism and they have a complex environmental and cultural impact.

About the Author

I'm Kimberly Kirner, a Druid (in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids). My spirituality is focused first on serving the nature spirits of this lovely being we call Earth. I'm a professor of cultural anthropology by profession, specializing in environmental and medical anthropology. I started this blog to collect my thoughts and experiences that arise from my spiritual and creative (rather than professional) practice. I wanted a space, a time, to move differently in the world (and with a different group of people): to balance between an analytical approach and an intuitive one. For me, Druidry is about expanding our capacity to connect and communicate with the non-human world, deepening our commitment to justice for all beings, and re-enchanting the world so that we heal the brokenness and discord that exists between humans and our home. In many ways, my Druidic practice is a path toward walking between the worlds - of waking and dreaming, of the world as it is and the world as it could be. It is an attempt to love all beings through service, study, and art. I am not always great at it, but it's the commitment and perseverance that counts.

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