Today I went to the forest to do a devotional. It’s a perfect day for that. The sky is clear, allowing the sun to hit the changing leaves. It makes them look like a brilliant flame!
As a precaution against hunters and bears, I donned a red jacket and, once I was in the forest, sang “We Approach the Sacred Grove” on my way to my little nemeton. When I got there, I circled clockwise, stopping before the oak tree. I then allowed myself to breathe and take in the beauty of my surroundings. I felt so at peace and thankful to be there. It’s something I look forward to each week. If I miss my walks for some reason, I do my devotionals inside, but there’s something extra special about doing them in the forest.
I called to Brighid as a Goddess of inspiration and as a gatekeeper. Like others in ADF, I have been experimenting with this portion of ritual and looking to the fire as the beginning of a ritual working upon reaching the sacred space. While I do not start fires in the forest, I look up to the sun as the great bonfire in the sky. I prayed to Brighid:
Lady Brighid, Goddess of flame,
I pray that your fire sparks the flames in my mind
Inspiring me to speak with truth, beauty, and eloquence.
I pray that your fire shines a light into the darkness,
Chasing away the negativity.
I pray that your fire’s smoke carry my prayers to the Other Worlds
And that you open the ways.
Lady Brighid – let the ways be open!
It is a work in progress. I feel that I tweak that process and prayer a little each time, but I like how it is working out.
I attuned with the fire, well, and tree, meditating on their symbolism and power. This is always very visceral for me when I’m outside. I focus on how I sense them. The sun’s warmth and light touches my face, the creek nearby often gurgles, or the sun glints off the raindrops on the leaves. The oak tree, which I lean on when I focus on the Two Powers, gives me strength and stability. The firm earth gives me a foundation on which to stand.
I sang to the Earth Mother, then bent to give her a kiss. Next, I prayed and gave offerings to the Three Kindreds, followed by special offerings for my spirit guide and patroness.
When I am in the woods, I meditate, but not the way I do inside. Being out in a forest, off a path, I need to be mindful of the possible dangers. I relax but generally don’t close my eyes. I stand against the oak tree and soften my gaze. I let myself truly open up to the sensations of the forest. My purpose in going to the forest is to commune with the land, with the Nature Spirits there, and praise the Kindred among the trees. I’m not trying to escape that in some way by visualizing an alternate grove. When I meditate in the forest, it is to fully immerse myself in that environment. When I leave, I carry that with me for all the times I pray and meditate inside. Going into the woods is like recharging a battery.