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Posts Tagged ‘forest’

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Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

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Offerings at the oak tree. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

When life gets busy – go to the forest.

When there is drama at protogrove events – go to the forest.

When you question why you are trying to build community – go to the forest.

When your thoughts won’t let you be – go to the forest.

The oak tree will teach you how to reach to the upper and lower worlds.

The oak tree will teach you to weather your storms.

To oak tree will inspire strength.

The secrets are there in the forest. Your purpose is there in the forest.

You will catch your breath in the forest.

Life will make sense again.

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The week’s stress comes to a head on Sundays, and the call from the forest is strongest then.  Come dance with the trees!  Come lose yourself in the quiet!  Come heal!  So I listen and go.

It snowed last night.  Not a dusting but a proper, North Country snow.  Everything was melting over the last couple days, but my trek to the forest once more found me knee-deep in cold, white dunes.

The forest welcomed me.  It seems, whenever I reach the hedge and ask permission to enter, a great wind blows and beckons me further in.  There was a stillness, but it was a comfortable stillness.  An anticipation, really; a “let’s hunker down and weather this once more” sort of feeling.  In the distance, returned song birds chirped, promising the green season to come.

An Cailleach has shaken her cloak once more so it felt right to visit an old tree in the woods that I have gone to for several years when I want to speak with her.  There is definitely something of her about it.  It is gnarled and full of holes.  It is the hag tree in the woods.  I made offerings – corn for her deer herds and a big, thick slice of homemade bread for the Goddess herself.  Some UPG I’ve received repeatedly is that she loves homemade bread.  I thanked her for the many lessons of winter.  Once more, she has taught us that we are not in charge.  The seasons shift when the spirits and the Natural World feel it is right.  All we can do is adapt and be patient.

After  giving the offerings, I stood and closed my eyes.  I listened to the sounds of winter.  The wind howling through the branches, the trees creaking…  It’s the voice of An Cailleach.  Soon she will quiet and I will have to wait to hear her whisper and shout again.

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The previous weekend, I went out into the forest.  I needed it.  I was feeling some cabin fever.  We’ve had snow on top of snow on top of snow.  Furthermore, I had had a terrible, no good, very bad night the day before.   The forest was calling my name.

I was already trudging through the knee-deep snow to the forest when my father suggested I try his snowshoes.  I decided to give it a shot.  I’m glad I did – they were such fun!  Although I could have made it to and from the woods just fine, it would have been a heck of a lot of work.  Putting on snowshoes made the trek more relaxing for me, so I’m glad I took that opportunity.

Me in snowshoes. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Once I reached the forest, the stillness was exactly what I needed after a very stressful few days.  The forest felt so welcoming.  Everything felt restful and my troubles faded.  I greeted my tree friends and left offerings for the local spirits.  In the distance, some song birds chirped merrily.  Copious amounts of snow had settled on the tall evergreens like thick layers of dust.  A mighty wind blew and the canopy erupted with shimmering snow!  I lifted my arms and actually gave a shout of joy as I let myself be enveloped in the temporary whiteout.  The previous day’s anger, frustration, and helplessness dislodged and hurried away with that gush of snow and wind.  I let it go when I surrendered to that moment of joy…

In this way, without meditating in the traditional sense, I found my center and was able to relax.  What is it about the forest’s magic?  As I’ve reflected in the past, I’m very aware of the darker sides of this place, and yet it normally gives me such peace…  I’m so grateful for that.

 

One of my tree friends, a lovely tall eastern hemlock. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014

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 Begin a regular practice of attunement to the land, including outdoor meditations and offerings to the Nature Spirits. It is suggested to pick a place easily accessible that you might be able to go to several times a week (such as an overgrown fence – row, a more ‘wild’ section of your backyard, possibly a city park, or even a balcony garden, etc) rather than a place that you might only get to visit every few weeks.  Keep a journal of your experiences over a six month period — including where on the land you went for
your meditations and offerings, weather, encounters with animals, plants, etc. Summarize your experiences and any insights gained through the experience. (summary minimum 300 words)
I’ve decided to tackle the above portion of the Naturalist Guild study program in ADF.  Now that I’m no longer pregnant and fearful of falling, I’ve been getting outside more and more.  When the forest calls my name, I am usually in a position to go!  I’m going to use my blog as a place to journal about my experiences because, well, I tend to do that anyway!  So let’s begin!
Today I took a walk to the shrine in the forest.  I’ve been visiting at least once a week.  On my way there, I noticed a plethora of tracks in the snow.  Deer and rabbit of course, but also canine tracks that, based on the size and solitary nature, probably belong to a coyote.  I know there are coyote and coydogs around anyway, but they made me nervous all the same.  I slipped through the hedge following some deer tracks and, in a few minutes, reached the shrine.  It’s very simple – some rocks piled below a pine tree.  I took a moment to breathe and take in my surroundings.  Snow everywhere.  Branches on the ground or just clinging to their trees, victims of the recent ice storm.  A clump of dried leaves and wadded spiderweb swayed in the breeze like a wildcrafted dreamcatcher. In the distance, a fire siren cried out and I worked to put it out of my mind as I focused.
I spoke to the local spirits and thanked them for their blessings.  I prayed to grow in greater harmony with them and learn more of their wisdom.  Suddenly, I found myself pausing and then asking for safe passage.  I generally don’t do that.  Now, I do ask permission to enter each time… but this was an additional step that I had not felt compelled to ask before.  I realized how uneasy I felt.  I finished my prayers and offerings (local dried corn and a green apple).  I noticed how quiet the forest was.  Usually at this time (the afternoon), you can hear the playful chatter of chickadees or the scolding of red squirrels.  Perhaps you would ear the cawing of distant crows and ravens.  Nothing.  I suddenly felt as if I was being watched and I remembered the coyote tracks.  Was it that?  Was it the aforementioned siren?  Was it the snowstorm reportedly coming?
Just to be safe, I carefully left the forest and returned home. Not every visit will be sunshine and happiness.  Sometimes a visit to commune with nature is coming to terms with your fear and weaknesses.

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Lessons From Trees

Photo Nov 30, 3 13 02 PM

A favorite place… Photo by Grey Catsidhe

Sniffles be damned- I felt pulled to the forest! The winter wonderland conditions were perfect and it’s been so long… So hubby watched Bee while I pulled my boots on and headed into the forest.

It always feels like visiting an old friend.

As always I brought offerings, along with the remaining mini pumpkins. The wee Nature Spirits will like them!

I was sad to see some pink spray paint on the tree I built a shrine under. There was some sporadically sprayed here and there in the general area, mostly in the form of sloppy initials. Hoodlums. I can’t believe I just typed that word, but it’s true. Hack marks here and there revealed that someone was also playing with a throwing axe. It’s a shame I have to share this sacred place with people who mar the trees.  All the same, the trees are strong.  They weather harsh winds and freezing rain on their branches.  They teach me to be strong and continue to grow despite mistreatment and challenges I encounter.  I must visit them more frequently now that Bee is a little older.  I want to show them the respect elders are due, and maybe learn more from their silence.

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The first robins I’ve seen all year! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

 

When I woke up this morning, I felt the forest calling.  As if to emphasize it, a crow cawed as I shared my feelings about it on Twitter.

Now that the wind isn’t so biting and the ground not so slippery, I could no longer ignore the calling to get back into the forest.  I’ve had to be careful with my walks.  There aren’t any established trails in the woods near my apartment, so falling is a real possibility, especially when the ground is covered in snow, ice, or mud.  Today felt like a great day to get back.  The bigger I get, the harder it is to waddle up and and down the slight inclines and over the puddles.  I’ll be in my third trimester in a week, so I want to get into the woods as much as I can while I’m able.

The snow on the ground is mostly gone.  There are a few clumps here and there, but the brown grass, and the tender new grass, is all exposed – much to the delight of the deer and newly returned robins!  Although there are moist places, the ground felt sturdy today.  I crossed over a small ditch and into the forest.  The air was fresh and cool.  The clouds shifted and sun beams flooded the forest.  Filtering through the evergreen trees and settling on the leaf carpet, the forest took on that warm, golden glow I so love.  As I walked to the Nature Spirits’ shrine, I spied a chipmunk, awake from its hibernation, darting over a log.

Once I made it to the shrine, I poured and placed offerings to the local spirits, thanking them for their blessings.  A crow cawed from above, seeming to approve.  I left and made my way back, picking up some litter as I went.  I always feel that extra bit of effort is an offering in and of itself.

Spring is slow to come in the North Country, but it’s slowing emerging.  There were more buds on the trees, I’m seeing robins, and I’ve even seen some spring flowers starting to poke out of the ground!  It’s coming, folks!

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