In Appreciation of Earth Druids

Last week I developed a new appreciation for earth elementalists.

I was digging in a pile of dirt, loading it in a wheelbarrow, and dumping it in my horse’s stall. I get a little over-enthusiastic when cleaning his stall, and as a result, have dug out a lot of the dirt floor along with the poop and pine shavings.


Peregrine, maker of large poops

We’ve also had some heavy rains in the past couple of weeks, and while the barn is nice and dry during a rainstorm, the farm is on low-lying land. Groundwater has been coming up into the stalls, creating a good-sized puddle in the crater I’ve dug in the middle of Peregrine’s stall.

Wet conditions tend to weaken a horse’s hooves, and thoroughbreds typically have crappy hooves anyway, so he needs a dry stall. Thus, I had to do something about the puddle. The floor was also quite uneven so that needed to be addressed as well. Which brings me to my adventures in dirt.

I don’t know if you know this, but dirt is heavy. Like, really heavy. I imagine I did know it at one point in time, as I’ve done some gardening in the past, but over the past several years I’ve neglected the garden in favor of writing books. I’ve also never pushed a load of dirt around in a wheelbarrow that I can recall. I’ve transported horse poop many many times and it can get weighty, but it still has nothing on dirt.

Calling our garden neglected is something of an understatement. Before my husband cleaned up the front yard last summer, my daughter used to give her friends directions by saying “It’s the house that looks like it’s losing a game of Jumanji” and they found it every time, no problem. But I digress.

As you can imagine, it’s been quite a while since I’ve even looked at a shovel, much less used one. Each shovelful felt like about 5 lbs, but I didn’t count shovelfuls. According to, one cubic foot of dirt weighs about 40 lbs, depending on the type, density, dampness, etc., but I’m just going to go with 40 lbs because I’m already in over my head involving math in this post.

This dirt pile was a lot bigger before I attacked it.

The wheelbarrow I used can hold 10 cubic feet, but I only filled it up about a third because I wouldn’t have been able to lift it if there was more. So we’ll call it 3 cubic feet, weighing 120 lbs per load. Which, coincidentally, is how much I weigh. So basically it’s like I was pushing myself in the wheelbarrow. Which probably would have been more fun than pushing dirt.

Not much in the wheelbarrow.

On Monday I moved 3 loads of dirt, about 360 lbs. On Tues and Wed moved 4 loads of dirt, about 480 lbs each. Grand total: 1,320 lbs. Thank goodness for not-so-modern technology.

Boots the barn kitty, inspecting my work.

While I was digging I started thinking about earth druids and how much elemental magic they’d have had to exert to move all that dirt. Air, fire, and spirit (electricity) are essentially weightless, so those elementalists are exerting more willpower in controlling their elements than lifting or moving them. Imagine how much focus it takes to move air, an element you cannot see. Water druids are the only other elementalists to manipulate really heavy stuff, but most of them only work with relatively small amounts of water, like a couple of gallons. So even though water is heavier than dirt – 62 lbs per cubic foot vs. 40 lbs of dirt – earth druids are moving vastly greater amounts and so are doing more work.

Going with the theory that all druids have approximately the same size Well that contains their magic and that they all have about the same size “channel” through which they draw magic from the gods, how are earth elementalists able to do so much on such a large scale? How do they dig huge pits or raise thick walls? How do they tunnel through the ground? How do they create earthquakes?

It doesn’t make sense. Logically speaking, like a water druid who can only manipulate a few gallons, an earth druid shouldn’t be able to move more than a few cubic feet. Yes, I know we’re talking about a fantasy world with magic, but bear with me.

It made me wonder how an earth druids can move so much more of their element than the rest. Then I remembered when one experienced druid was teaching an inexperienced druid to earthmove, telling him:

“Feel the mother supporting you. Danu is the goddess of fertility, growth, and abundance. Permit her to help you grow and develop your elemental ability. She is the goddess of inspiration, intellect, and wisdom. Listen to her teaching and meditate on it. Allow your consciousness to flow into her, and let hers flow into you.”

But more importantly:

“[W]hen you engage with the Earth Mother, communicate your feelings of respect, of amity, of camaraderie. Let your needs be known. Instead of demanding assistance, simply… ask for help.”

The answer becomes obvious: earth druids are not doing all that earthmoving on their own. They have help from the earth mother herself. Whether she is worshipped as Gaia, Danu, Freya/Frigg, Terra/Tellus Mater, or an earth goddess from some other hearth culture, the earth is her spiritual embodiment.


Statue of Danu. Photo from John Beckett’s blog “Under the Ancient Oaks

This is why earth elementalists spend more time in meditation than their counterparts who wield air, fire, spirit, or water. Communing with the earth mother on a regular basis provides the deep connection that is necessary for an earth druid to call upon her, ask for help, and receive aid. Through that bond, these druids are able to move vast amounts of earth and even to shake the ground underfoot.

Now that my horse is taken care of, I think I’ll go do some earthmoving in my own garden. I’ve neglected it long enough.






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