What an addictive tool the Internet! I can’t wait in the morning to run to my online school and see what my students have written! They have homework, they have destiny work, they have Tree work, and they chitchat with each other forming/nurturing an international women’s community.
I am very impressed. I started teaching in the days of the mimeograph machine (early seventies). Yes, Virginia, we cranked the pages out one by one by hand, and got a lot of ink on ourselves in turn. The ink didn’t come off for weeks.
Then we advanced to Xerox machines, expensive but faster. Printing the first women’s liberation newsletter SISTER was a later development, after we mastered the art of asking for money and taking on regular subscribers. History just went fast forward from then on.
In the early eighties we still didn’t have computers; the machine we had was big and not much more than a glorified typing machine. But the times went into warp space, and suddenly we had computers, and email, and the works. Internet came as the topping on the cake. It has leveled the field all around the globe. Suddenly we are one not just in theory but as a tangible global community. I know what my friend in Budapest is cooking in her pot, and what my other friend in Brazil is reading. They know if I have some troubles with my IMAC, or the email is acting up. I bought me a pair of boots online and they fit! This must be the ultimate victory, saving time for fine things like nature walks. Smelling the roses.
I am an Aquarian with Libra Moon, Sagittarius rising. As a teacher I am best when I get to talk to my students in person, but I had to learn new tricks.
How to establish a school, online, where the students won’t get bored, won’t feel abandoned, and how do I urge them on to actually invest the time and finish the homework I have assigned to them?
How do I reward them? Do I need to give out grades? How often do I need to comment on their work? What about the peer review?
Isn’t that more exciting?
Life has stepped in and I had to go away to Europe to get some surgery done. I had double hip replacements and in that time I had a crappy computer to work on with not the American keyboard available, but a European one, with the letters and Y all mixed up. It was a nightmare.
But never mind. The Information Age has not let me down. My students have endured valiantly my misspelled words. They were kind about the long pauses when I was post-op and unable to sit without pain at the computer. I managed to hold on to my website. New students have come, and in fact my business doubled while I was laid off getting better.
Now we are nearing the 3rd year anniversary for the Dianic University. We have amassed a lot of homework in our resources; students and I started seeing that some reward IS in order, like a certificate that they had completed my curriculum. I am working on that now.
What are we learning?
My idea was to create a place where women can come and study as they have time. These women are new moms, some are students at Universities, some are professional women, some are kids. The Goddess is a family-friendly study. The Wisdom Track is a journey around the sun, taken together and taken consciously.
Each month has a Goddess monolog, and seasonal information about the sacred trees, birds, stones, and inner life. We share these with each other. Yes, its based on my book Grandmother of Time, but my books are to be lived, not just read. Reading about nature helps, but living it makes the journey visceral, makes it personal, something to share with each other.
What I found most exciting all my life is getting to know the trees. Sacred trees, every one of them. Some of them are more famous than others, but I think all trees are the very lungs of the beloved blue planet. Lungs and breath, spirit.
To make acquaintance with a local tree is to spend time with her: Hang out around her; Make some contact; Touch her; Kiss her bark. Tree-huggers dream assignments! The tree is not fast in responding, but when we take them seriously, the trees are direct phone lines to LIFE. A couple of heartfelt visits, maybe asking for a wand. These visits can become prayers.
I am very close to two trees in the cemetery park where I walk my dogs in Oakland. Here the trees are allowed to grow big and stay alive.
My beloved FRIEND, a yellow poplar, greets me as I start my walk. She sees me from afar, waits until I too can see her. Then, like a person, she begins to dance with her leaves. First just a few on the outside. Closer I come, more and more. This is independent from the wind conditions. When the wind is blowing of course she is more active. She can express excitement, she can express love, she can say yes and no depending on how she moves. I have learned her leafy language, I know what she is saying most of the time.
I tell her about my life. I ask her to send me more friends. (I have actually met two women later in the park after I asked her to help my social life). I asked her to send me more students. Most of the time I bless her and she in turn blesses me.
I have introduced her to friends of mine who do not walk this park, she approved on one, she wasn’t quite as enthused about another. Just like a person.
I urge my students to find this kind of deep personal relationship with a good tree. Many have managed to find their Tree Sisters, but some are more in tune with flowers. Some love stones better, have personal relationships with rose quartz, opals, amethysts, moonstones, and even diamonds. These human-to-planet experiences are prayers. We realign our souls with the natural world. No longer orphans, us women. We belong here. This is our time and our space. This is our planet.
Spell casting is expected from us witches, so there is a good amount of suggestions towards successful practice. But we don’t consider spell casting a daily chore. We use prayers, and abundant blessings on everything, mostly the water from which all things emerged. Than you water! Thanks and blessings change the molecular picture of water; it changes when receiving gratitude. It’s magic on a daily basis.
I have another Tree Friend. I call her Cork Mama Oak. She is magnificent. Her strong limbs reach out in a effortless stretch, her arms are thicker than my trunk. She has the sexiest groove between her main branches, and I bury my face in there and whisper sweet nothings to LIFE. She is also my Altar. Here I cast my most urgent spells just with words into her cork skin. I can hear my voice echoed back. (How does she do that?) When I finish, I leave with a much lightened heart. I kiss her several times before I leave. The feel of her cork skin feels dry but wonderful. I know I am the only one who has ever kissed her with deep love; maybe the only one to kiss her at all.
As part of our learning, we come together and talk about what has happened. How our prayers were answered by the trees. How our connection to nature created for us a family. How our love for the planet is growing. This love often gets translated into action for the environment. For peace. For each other.