It is a beautiful day, past 70, the sun somehow soft. Hard to believe that just a couple of days ago the trees were gloved with ice. Now, as I walk in the greenbelt, the muddy trails are the sign of the melt. The rich smell of leather and resin braids the breeze, the scent of junipers split open, the ribbons of their wood like muscles and bones exposed. Trees bend over, hinged at hips that leapt from their once sturdy trunks. The whole forest seems to be leaning, bowing to the ground.
But I'm not here to track the damage of the storm, though I can't help but bury my nose in the junipers, as if drinking the musk of a lover from my hair. I'm here because I always come, when my body offers its blood. It has been about 5 years now, every moon coming to the water with my wine dark drink. The practice has changed me subtly, slowly, bringing me into my body and the body of Earth.
At first I didn't really know why I was doing it. Mystery gave me a song in the midst of my first soul encounter, which was as clear as Mystery gets in terms of instructions.
salmon come home to me home to me my blood home to me river my blood river
The first offering I made was actually in a salmon river up in British Columbia, though I didn't see any fish as I squatted over stones. You can read more about making pilgrimage to salmon territory with my blood in Offerings to a Participatory Cosmology or read what I imagine is possible in my short story Homecoming. Typically, I come to the wildest creek that is close to me, which is usually urban. Even when I'd go down to the water right in the middle of Oakland, California, I'd go unnoticed by other humans, as if the place protected me and this ceremony.
Today I dodge some folks, who have come out by the hordes to enjoy the good weather on a Sunday. At first a family wanders up the wash, which I'm hoping is still a trickle like the last time I came and not the dry river bed I find. I'm sitting on a big stone watching the wind dance through the junipers and ripple over the spider webs stretched between small branches of a leafless bush, several sets of hands playing cat's cradle, each with its tiny web weaver in the center, threads gathering and throwing sunlight, a fabric of fireworks. The family feels me as a threshold guard, and turns back toward the trails.
Settling in, I begin to speak, telling the river and the land why I'm here again.
A couple skips over the rocks eagerly. They notice only when they are right upon me, and have to jump up onto the bank to pass. I feel strangely flattered by this, as if the river bed has folded me in. As if I am the delicate spider webs, which only the attentive are rewarded to see.
And that is what I'm here to feed. I feel the land as a massive body. Under the surface of Earth's skin, beneath their hair of flowers and trees, I feel blood throbbing, vessels knitting the planet. I am not the first to claim such a thing, though I am more interested in feeling it, knowing it on a visceral level, than I am with more reputable notions of interbeing, like the Gaia hypothesis.
It took many months of offering my blood, fumbling over the words, before my deep belonging to this larger body sunk in. Women's bleeding is so powerful. As our world gets more and more technological, and we more removed from ourselves as animals, and more distant from our Earthly kin, it is the instinctual, the irrepressible carnal hungers that beckon us home. Menstruation is a monthly fuck you to a paradigm that claims we are alone, fundamentally self-interested, or better than all the other creatures. How can you possibly believe there isn't some vast intelligence weaving the universe together when you bleed on schedule with the moon? When I offer my blood, it is not just a symbol of this interbeing, it is the very juice of it.
Eventually, each time I've wandered with my jar, I just drop in, as if Earth's vibration has finally taken over enough of my sinews to tune me, make me resonate at Earth's frequency. Earth breaks through whatever psychic or nervous system barriers keep me from attuning to the web of life and I feel I can communicate and understand just because we are all rooted in the same web, woven of the same clothe. It's Earth's song that I feed with my blood, the same song that sung me into being, that I give back, that you might hear it. I give my weight to the web, to strengthen it, that it might draw you in, draw you home.