Sometimes we have to take a pilgrimage to where it all began – to the source of our spirituality. By that, I mean the places where we first felt the stirrings of spirits around us, observed the interconnection of everything, and where our soul first learned to dance. For me, that place is my childhood home – in particular, the forest behind the house.
I grew up able to play in the shade of white pines, sugar maples, red maples, black cherries, crab apples, and aspens. I learned the name of many plants, native and invasive, and whether or not I could eat them. I learned how to recognize numerous birds by shape and call. I often woke up to find herds of deer or flocks of turkeys outside my bedroom window. Once I even saw a pine marten. I meditated below those trees, poured my first offerings there, and hailed the moon on that land. On summer nights, the song of crickets and spring peepers was my lullaby. On winter mornings, the happy coo of mourning doves was a gentle alarm clock. Although I was baptized a Roman Catholic, I always felt the most spiritual out in the forest.
As moved into Paganism, and as that grew into Druidism, I started to visit a particular spot often. I made an Earth Mother statue, placed a small, porcelain teacup below her, and brought her interesting stones, seeds, flowers, etc. The shrine is still there, although I have to gently remove the pile of leaves blanketing it each visit. I always feel a mixture of gratitude for where I’ve been and an extreme nostalgia for the childhood that is gone. I can almost imagine the ghost of my childhood self playing around the trees. Perhaps that is a different type of Nature Spirit or ghost – the positive energy we left behind in our old haunts?
I wonder what will become of my old shrine should my family ever move. Should I take those relics with me, or should I leave them there for a new child to wonder at? Who knows if I’ll ever have to cross that bridge. It makes me a little sad to think of all the childhood homes that are now inaccessible to others because they moved away. Such is life, though. We can always return in our minds if we quiet ourselves long enough and unlock the memories. For now, the shrine remains, a special landmark I occasionally pilgrimage to.