Gardening is not my forté. I’ve had experiments throughout the years that have ended in catastrophic failure. The grass patch for animals to eat. The seedlings that sprouted in the middle of the planter, never popping up, and when I moved them to the top of the planter, they died. The paperwhites for Osiris from the Osiris Mysteries last year. The unknown green leafy plants in skull planters that I didn’t water for 6 months and then over watered them. I just. I think it’s safe to say that I am a garden’s or plant’s worst nightmare.
I had all manner of excuses about why I didn’t do well with gardening. I lived in a place without much sunlight. I’d do better with outside plants. I mean, I’ve said so many very reasonable excuses about why I sucked at this. But the truth is… I planted morning glories with my mom once at twelve and swore off gardening because it was dirty and bugs are outside. I liked the results but the work was gross and hard and nope. Not going to do it.
So, when Osiris pinged me last year to grow something as a sort of experiment for the Mysteries, I laughed. But this wasn’t a suggestion; it was a demand. And since it was winter, I had to try the indoor garden experiment that failed in epic fashion. (I got no blooms and they all fell over by Christmas to turn to brown tendrils sadly peering at me from my porch where I had banished the failed experiment for its failure.) He didn’t hold the failure against me, but told me to learn from the mistake.
I suppose I learned from the mistake because I took it into my head after reading about renewing the earth as part of the Festival of the Beautiful Reunion to plant some shit. But what shit? Flowers? Vegetables? My ego? There were so many options and they were all really good options but how the hell do I choose what to plant? My mother-in-law’s greenhouse chose for me, leaving the hard decision to the whimsy of fate after her plants spent two months in a greenhouse without water during quarantine (and life stuff).
I wound up with five lavender plants as she knew I have wanted lavender for years (thanks, Practical Magic). I got five columbine plants because she knew I was pretty interested in having native plants in my yard after a rabbit hole of Google brought me to garden websites advocating the planting of native plants. And then she grabbed whatever she could for vegetables and herbs: oregano, brandywine (tomatoes?), basil, citronella, peppers, cukes, zucchini, squash, and peas. I have a giant shrub in a bucket now too out front that I don’t know what it is.
My mother-in-law dropped off the planters and a giant bag of dirt, as well as some bird seed on Sunday. We traipsed around the yard to coo about how well my husband had done killing the hell out of the poison ivy everywhere last summer. (Fun fact: poison ivy can be a vine or a shrub or random little twigs popping up and we have all of them in the yard.) We also discussed the bittersweet choking the life out of one of my bog trees and found a vine of poison ivy hiding under the bittersweet. (We also weeded a giant vine of bittersweet trying to take root on our chimney.)
And then, I was alone… with the plants.
I stared at everything, planning which plants would go in which planters, but I didn’t know where to begin. Did I put dirt in all of the planters first and then put the plants in? Did I go one planter at a time? How did I properly mix the planter mix in with water to get it to the right consistency? I had so many questions and didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
This is where my husband comes in. He knows enough plant stuff, having helped his mom at school and at home often enough. He sat there watching and chatting with me while I asked seemingly silly questions before planting the cucumbers and peas first. After the first planter was done, I was muddy and dirty but kind of exhilarated because I had done all that shit. I wiped my hands off on my jeans and forged ahead with the rest of the plants.
My little victories pleased my husband as he taught me the best places to plant the plants and while I chatted up the things I had Googled in a panic, realizing that now was the time to get serious about gardening. At one point, I got mud in my hair as I was stooped over a planter, mindlessly mixing the dirt with water. (My hair is long enough to sit on if I’m not careful.) Unbeknownst to me, he was taking progress pictures and sending them to his mother as I let my thoughts roam as I mixed and planted and bothered him with my questions.
When I had become a mud-covered mess with planters filled with plants, I looked back at the handiwork. I could admit that, once I got into the swing of it, this had been a pretty calming experience. And the fact that I had dug into a bag of dirt instead of the ground meant that I didn’t come across some terrifying creature from another dimension. Er, bug.
We tried to plant the columbine into a nice partial shady spot, but the ground is hard packed there. The previous owners had tried to plant tulips and iris there only for them to fail because it was too shady. The perfect place for columbine though. Sadly, planting them in the ground requires a shovel (no, we don’t own one), so I’m thinking I’m going to put them in planters instead. And that way, the chipmunks can stop using them for their backyard parkour.
The lavender had to be planted out front as it gets the most sun everyday. The front resembles a garden experiment that isn’t horrible but clearly, the old owners just plunked the same type of plants the neighbors use in whatever place they saw fit. They also used burlap to line the ground, which proved impossible for me to break into. The husband handled the lavender planting since my weak ass couldn’t even dent the shit.
The lavender is in temporary housing. My mother-in-law have been tossing ideas at one another about how to completely redo the front space and where to move the things I want to keep. That won’t happen until this fall though when life stuff stops being so difficult for everyone. But at least we have a plan.
So far, this experiment appears to be going well. The only semi-casualty is the basil that a baby bunny thinks is the most delightful treat. I think I need to invest in a table or a planter holder of some kind for the plants in smaller planters.
While I was mixing the dirt for my planters, I thought about renewing the earth and what this could conceivably look like for me. TTR had reminded me of a Tumblr post they had made some time back about the exudations of Osiris when I asked them what they thought of when they heard the words “renewal of the earth”. After re-reading the post, it made me wonder what Hathor does to ensure this renewal.
While researching (so. much. research.) for the ritual I was to write for this, I found the following highlighted by me at some unknown past moment in Hathor Rising by Alison Roberts: “Renewal through Hathor only comes about by surrendering, letting go and moving to her rhythms.” This is borne out over and over again as her fertility and rebirth associations are oft intertwined in a sort of midwife association and as anyone who has given birth can attest, you must let go and surrender to the rhythms of the process.
It is also through the vitality of Hathor that the renewal process is begun. The world cannot survive without her vitality and vigor. Without her energy, even the gods are unable to function properly. She gives to them, as they give to her, and this reciprocity allows for the world to continue anew every day, every month, every year.
As I read and re-read that highlighted quote from Hathor Rising, a sort of YOLO state of mind came over me. I had been worried that I would mess up these rituals with foolish words and mistaken content. I was working so hard to make all of it look, well, legitimate. As if what I was writing was something that could have come straight from the temple precincts of ancient Egypt. I had written, re-written, screamed, thrown books, and written again everything before this YOLO idea came to me.
What I’ve created may not necessarily be what the priests would have said and done in AE, but I already proved with my calendar of events that this recreation process doesn’t always have to exactly replicate what was done in antiquity.
So, YOLO, y’all. YOLO.