[-empyre-] RUDERAL WITCHCRAFT
margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com
Sat Nov 9 15:59:58 AEDT 2019
Dear Marisa, WhiteFeather, Oliver and all,
So grateful to the networks in the soil, the air, and the labor of
maintaining network infrastructures for enabling this conversation, as we
consider the oversimplified ecologies of the Plantationocene, and the
invisibilized labor of plants in persisting in making worlds otherwise. I
too love the prayer bundles and echo Marisa's sentiments for their
continuance. Echoing the understanding of ruderal places as "magnificently
queer, non-gendered and nonlinear, multi-spatial places, capable of
slowing-time if we allow ourselves to be immersed."
Also so interesting Marisa what you bring up in terms of compost and time.
I write this evening from the SLSA conference in (warm) California. Shout
out to this conference for allowing lots of ways of knowing the world and
our unfolding crises. Yesterday I attended a compost devotional ritual with
Aja Rose Bond and Amici Mortem (Friends of Death) and was reminded that
work with compost is shadow work -- we deal with shit, refuse, detritus,
abjection in the work, turning it, slowly, into something we and our
multispecies kin can be nourished by.
I am left thinking that working with the ruderal is also a kind of shadow
Shadow work is not empowering in ways we normally think of this word, for
the individual is broken down, not prioritized. I am wondering about
StarHawk's clarification of kinds of power -- power-over (in terms of the
Foucauldian, hierarchical, top-down power enabled by force or threat of
force), power-with (where power is felt in relationship), and inner power
(felt in a more religious or spiritual context -- this, in my mind need to
be unpacked more; I'm not sure that inner power can be understood as a
universal experience in all spiritual experience). In shadow work, we break
down identifiable forms, face fears, are haunted by pasts and
(increasingly) by futures.... Ultimately not empowering.... and yet,
important -- essential for life. There is something about doing the work
intentionally that makes it more ... meaningful. Maybe it is less important
to classify this work as empowering than it is to talk about it in terms of
On Thu, Nov 7, 2019 at 11:04 AM Oliver Kellhammer <okellhammer at gmail.com>
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> As someone who uses 'him/his' pronouns, I was wondering what thoughts
> others might have on Sylvia Federici's observations that the unenclosed
> commons were historically spaces that, while not specifically feminized,
> were vital as means of production for women who, excluded from property
> relations (less title to land, less social power), depended on the commons
> for subsistence, autonomy and sociality? Herbs (for food, medicine and
> witchery), berries, mushrooms, dye plants and so forth) would be typical
> resource the commons could offer, as would be the availability of a social
> space outside of the patriarchy. Is the ruderal all that is left of the
> commons after capitalism has metabolized it by extracting the most readily
> commodifiable resources and contaminated it with its tailings? What is the
> potential for the ruderal as a feminized space? A queer space? A space
> outside of patriarchy?
> Then there is the issue of contamination which affects the poor and the
> young disproportionately. Back in the '80s in Toronto, I did some
> phytoremediation work using buckwheat cover crops to attempt to extract
> lead from the contaminated soil in a working-class neighbourhood close to a
> lead smelter.
> http://www.oliverk.org/art-projects/land-art/lead-down-the-garden-path .
> Mel Chin's work in Flint echoed this some years later and there are several
> other artists operating in this sphere. The people who suffered the worst
> health effects were inevitably poor women and their children. So perhaps we
> should be cautious about overly romanticize the ruderal. It can be an
> emancipatory space or a space of menace and contamination. Thoughts?
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