I must have been under five when I spent one whole summer day digging a hole with a large spoon in the side of a bank near our house. I had to dig and dig because the ground was so full of roots and my goal was to make a hole big enough to sit in – like a cave. And that took a lot of hard work. Digging through all those roots was tough.
What I remember most about the experience is something my grandmother said.
When you take the dirt out, make sure you have a place for it,” she cautioned me, “because the dirt is used to being in that particular place, and it is at home there. Don’t take anything that is part of something and just scatter it around. Remember you are disturbing the home of the worms and the insects. You are moving them out of the place where they have been living, and you need to make sure that they are happy about where you are taking them.
So I would scoop the dirt into a little basket I had and take it around to various spots. “Is this where you would like to be?” I’d ask. And if the answer was yes, I would leave it. Otherwise, I’d pick up my basket, go to another spot, and ask again.
When I had finally made the hold deep enough to sit in, I would crawl in there and listen. I could hear the earth talking.
About the author
A Seneca elder now in her eighties, a member of the Wolf Clan, Twylah Nitsch did not begin sharing the sacred teachings and traditons of her people until she was in her seventies. Today she lectures widely, using her Seneca name, Yehwehnode, “she whose voice rides the wind.” She is often told by her audience how perfectly she exemplifies the sacred wisdom that develops in elderhood for those who seek it. Inner guidance comes to her through a precise experience in the solar plexus, an actual sense of movement occurring there. The excerpt above is from The Feminine Face of God, by Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins.
Sacred Voices: Essential Women’s Wisdom Through the Ages, edited by Mary Ford-Grabowsky (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002).
Reprinted here with the kind permission of Mary Ford-Grabowsky.