Archive for the ‘Forest’ Category

In the forest today, I noticed a single thread of spider silk stretched loosely between two pine branches.  It undulated slowly in the wind, occasionally catching the sun and giving itself away.  I stared at it for a time, watching the world inhale and exhale.  I marveled at how delicate it was.  I thought of the Japanese and their love of cherry blossoms; how they celebrate their fleeting beauty.  The spider silk reminded me of that.  I thought of myself as the silk, shining in the sun until the wind and rain break me and the Earth takes me back into herself.  I thought about how that is all life is, and we must do our best to be the most wonderful piece of spider silk clinging to a tree.

Sometimes I get caught up in the academic side of Paganism.  Don’t misunderstand me – I love history, mythology, anthropology, and language.  Discussing the nature of deity can be an engaging exercise for the brain.  But sometimes…  sometimes you need to step back and admit your cluelessness.  Many of us feel that we are doing what is right for us, but even then we can never fully know.  Sometimes, we need to go to the source of our spiritual fire – be that a hobby, a temple, or the land – and just exist in it.  Take note of the life around you and feel the divine – whatever it ultimately is – move in and around you.  We divide ourselves with tradition and culture.  I don’t find anything inherently wrong with that because we cannot all be the same.  I just think we can become so blinded by it that we lose sight of the essence – even if it’s only for a moment while we’re engaged in a heated theological debate.

Taking a moment to lean against a birch tree in the woods and just be… It is good for the body, mind, and soul.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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On Mushrooms

I took a short walk in the woods yesterday, just as the sun was beginning to set.  I visited the birch tree for a time and then made my usual circuit.  I will sometimes deviate and wander from my path – up the hills, over the craggy heights, around the clearing beyond.  Deer season keeps me closer to home, and that is okay because there is always something new to see in the forest.

I love to look at the little things: vine-like moss creeping over the dead leaves; the last of the ferns; the color of rotting wood; a moth crouching against the chill; the every shifting population of fungi…  Mushrooms continue to fascinate me.  I really should look into finding a mycology class.  I would love to learn more about them and which ones are safe to eat.  I don’t often find fly agaric mushrooms in the woods.  This year’s record is three.  Something about their iconic connection to magic and myth has clutched at me since finding my first early summer.  I find myself more observant of all mushrooms.  I’ve never paid them so much attention before this year.

As I walked in the woods,  I realized that.  I also realized that I spent more time getting to know the forest this past summer than I had before.  I finally feel (mostly) safe there.  I feel (mostly) welcomed.  To me, the mushrooms symbolize my growing relationship with this new forest.  As the winter rolls in with it’s uncomfortable bite, I’ve found myself bringing the spirit of the mushrooms inside with me.  Now my tree spirits have mushroom spirit friends.  I cannot wait to post a photo.  They’ve quickly become one of my favorite things to make!

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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My spirit really wants to take a walk in the woods but my body is very much against it.  For starters, I had a long and wearisome work day.  Second, and most influential – it’s dreadfully hot today.

I think it will be a good night for trance.  Maybe.  *crosses fingers*

It is also a good night to work on study programs and catch up with my mentoring and reviewing…

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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I took an overdue walk in the forest today.  My bronchitis and some severe rain kept me inside for a week or so.  I couldn’t resist the pull any longer.  It was raining a bit today, but not enough to soak me to the bone and obscure my vision.  It was rather atmospheric actually.  In the forest, the rain hardly got through the leaves. It was like a percussive mist.

I gave an offering to the local spirits and spoke a bit to them.  I apologized for being away so long and declared how much I longed to visit.  From that moment it was one gift/lesson after another.  It started with the discovery of tiny bones near the shrine.  At first I thought they were from a bird because they looked so light.  Many of them were cracked, but some were still attached to their hinges.  I moved a tiny bone in its socket and thought of my own body.  I followed the trail, and eventually found the skull at left.  It was some sort of rodent but I’m not sure what kind.  Perhaps a chipmunk?  I thanked the spirit of the animal, for the discovery reminded me just how fragile life is.  I left the remaining bones for the mice and others to enjoy.

I found a few other things – some quartz fragments, a lovely white stone, orange jelly fungi, more jewelweed…  I even got to see a flash of deer leaping through the woods!

And then I found the specimen at right: the skull of a small carnivore, perhaps a fox.  I just happened upon it – a branch running through one of the eye sockets.  The rest of the body was nowhere to be found save the left canine tooth.  “What are you?” I asked aloud.  “How did you get here?  Where is the rest of you?  …How did you die?”  What a mystery life is.  These creatures had lives and then suddenly – death and decay.  The trees themselves know the secret to this creature’s death but they will never give up the story.

I delighted in finding these skulls and took great care in gathering them.  I feel I was very respectful.  I must seem like a strange vegetarian collecting animal skulls, but I gathered them out of reverence and a desire to learn from them.  I’m bleaching them at the moment.  They will undoubtedly end up on an altar dedicated to the nature spirits.  

As my entry from earlier indicates, I do feel the absence of a strong human teacher in my life, but I am very lucky to be forming a closer bond with the Nature Spirits.  For a Druid, witch, or shaman, nature is the best if not only real teacher.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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My cough hasn’t completely gone away, meaning I haven’t been able to meditate again.  I made up for it ten-fold by going into the forest for a long time by myself.  Something about the experience feels meditative in some way – very peaceful and clarifying.  There’s also an exhilaration born from excitement, personal triumph, and fear of the unknown.

I made offerings to the genius loci, talked to the plants and animals, and sat for a long time basking in the glow of the sun with a dragonfly.  I also found more fly agaric which I admired.

My purpose for going into the woods today, aside from the desire to commune with nature, was to find a suitable branch for a staff.  I found such a branch and, judging by the trees I found it near, it looks to be from a red or silver maple.  I need to make further observations before I’m sure which.  All the same, I think it will be a fine staff for practical and magical purposes.  I’ve already started to remove the bark.  I’m not sure what I’ll carve into it yet.  It’s something I’ll have to meditate on.

When I can meditate again.  :S

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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I am so blessed to have a husband who is willing to have rituals with me despite his lack of religion.  There are even days, like today, where I feel “out of it” and it’s him encouraging me to do the things I value so highly.  I’ve been feeling congested all day as well as kind of depressed.  I knew I wanted to acknowledge the new season in some way but felt blase about it at the same time.  Hubby kept asking and asking so I finally decided that we would do a very laid back ritual closer to my longer devotionals.

Hubby said he enjoyed it.   He helped out by making a couple offerings and drawing the cards for the omen, even helping me interpreting their meaning for our lives.  To me, it was such a bonding activity.

We honored a being I’ve been calling “Forest.”  I see her as the guardian spirit of NY.  I don’t really know her real name so just call her that because that is where I feel her strongest.  There is a wildness about her and yet a tameness – much of it imprinted on her by us, but she nourishes us through the fertile, tilled fields where thick trees once stood.  She’s the localized Earth Mother who is waking up after a winter nap.

The omen we received was similar to what I got in my last ritual, and yet hubby felt there were other meanings too, which made a lot of sense.  The kindreds are calling us outside, to travel to our tribe, to dive into our different projects, and to not worry so much.

That last bit is something I need to work on…  Really, it’s probably the crux of my personality flaws.  I worry too much about what I need to do, whether or not I’m good at something, whether or not I’m attractive, etc…  I need to just stop and be.  It’s these things that are acting as hurdles to my spiritual development.  My mind is sometimes far too busy and it needs to relax.

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