In Praise of Creepy Crawlies
I have been complaining interminably about the cold, bleak weather of winter. Just for today, I decided to turn my thoughts in the direction of spring. It is only a couple of weeks away and I think this year, it’s more eagerly anticipated than ever. March full moon, in some of the indigenous traditions of the Americas, is called, “Earthworm Moon.” I think that’s pretty cool so I pulled some of the things I’ve written about earthworms to share. Another version of this blog post appeared in Pagan Pages.
The March moon is called Full Worm Moon in some Native American lore, according to The Farmers’ Almanac. It was so named because the warming weather and the warmer rains caused the worms to rise to the top of the soil, where they sometimes drowned. For my college roommate, walking across campus after a rain caused a lot of screaming terror because she hated that particular sign of spring, wriggling or dead worms on the sidewalks. For someone raised with a multitude of male relatives, this behavior was almost incomprehensible. I learned early not to be repulsed by insects, worms, and other creepy animals, living or dead, that might been left out for an unsuspecting girl, tossed down her shirt, or held out for her inspection.
As a young person who was a little weird and then as a pagan, I learned to have a fondness and even a love for creatures with bad reputations or a less than normal appearance. Bats, spiders, snakes, vultures and more are interesting. Later, I learned they were sacred to various deities as guardians of the darkness, of death, and of those borderlands most preferred not to travel. I look at it this way, life brings us to the edge of those borderlands and sometimes pushes us in. If we already know and understand its creatures, we then have allies and friends as we move into uncharted territories.
So what of the lowly earthworm? Without earthworms, we would not have the fertile soil we need to plant our crops. Even their tiny feces, called casts, provide an abundance of fertilizer to nurture seeds. The worm crawls through the soil like tiny plows, bringing more air and nutrients to the soil. The earthworm is essential to an abundant and productive ground. They consume the organic matter from the fields and the resulting residue is an indication of high quality, fertile soil.
It takes some doing to regard the earthworm as a friend an ally. The can teach us a lot, as a totem and spirit guide. They teach us to seek moisture, to balance our lives with an appropriate amount of water; water that symbol of emotions and matters of the soul. The worm teaches us to look to inward to tend the soil of our heart and to grow a strong, healthy soul.
The earthworm also teaches us of our bodies and helps us understand our ability to stay strong in our bodies. The flexibility of the worm body teaches us to move in and out of barriers, to be flexible and go around things when it does not serve us to break them down, and to work persistently to knock down barriers when it serves us to do so.
The earthworm is a sure sign that spring is on its way. In March, in the cold regions of the central New York, it’s hard to believe that spring will come. We are still shivering in below freezing temperature and looking to the skies for snow. And yet deep within the awakening earth, the earthworms are working their magic and will soon rise to the top to create the new and ever-renewing fertility of the earth, of springtime.
To move in harmony with this creepy crawly, settle yourself comfortably for the following meditation:
Take a long cleansing breath, filling yourself with breath from the tip of your toes, to the tip of your fingers to the top of your head. Exhale and let go of cares and concerns. Take a second long deep breath and close your eyes, letting go of inhibitions. Continue to breathe deeply and connect with Mother Earth as she begins to awaken from her slumbers.
As you breathe deeply, you find yourself standing in the middle of a field in the early morning in that betwixt and between time of night and day. The memory of the full moon’s rays is in your being and sunlight is only just beginning to peep out at you. The field has been farmed in the past and it seems very familiar to you. As you walk along, you recognize various things that you see, reveling in the familiarity of it. You have been here before, in your dreams, in your journeys and perhaps in your life.
In the distance you see a woman standing in the field, looking down at the ground. As you get closer, she looks up at you and grins. She points to the ground and you see a mass of earth worms squirming on the ground. The two of you watch as they dig in and out of the ground.
She looks at you and says, “Do you know why this was so familiar to you? It’s because this earth is your body. These worms tell us the story of you as you live in your body. She then tells you of the things you need to know about your body and your life. She picks up an earthworm and holds it gently in her hand before letting it go back into the earth; she whispers one word that means something to you about your body. Remember, she says, this word and the wisdom of the earthworm for your health and physical well being.
She looks at you and says, “The earthworm speaks to you of your heart and what you need for understanding your emotions and the matters of your heart. Watch.” As you watch, words form in your head as the earthworms give you the wisdom you need to grow a fertile and productive emotional life. Your heart opens to receive this wisdom.
A third and last time, she looks at you and says, “The earthworm speaks of your soul and what you need for your spiritual path.” In your sou you form a knowing of what needs to be understood or done. You hold this knowledge as she speaks of your soul as revealed by the worms working the ground.
Finally she looks at you and you understand the things you have felt, known and heard in this field. Some of the things are a welcome surprise and still others have the sting of truth. At the end, she hugs you and says “And most of all, you are a loveable and loving.” She places her hand over your heart and you feel healing energy move through your body like the earthworm moving through the soil. You thank her and she says goodbye. She disappears. With a long deep breath, you are back in the here and now. With a second deep breath, you open your eyes. With a third deep breath, you reconnect with your centeredness and reconnect with Mother Earth.
As you return to your everyday place and time, record your journey in your journal or find some other way to record the wisdom you have learned. Make a promise to yourself to work this wisdom into your life.
May your life be blessed with vision to see the beauty in everything, including the creepy crawlies!