Tag Archives: #RDNA

A Call to the Nature Spirits

Summerlands1

It is cold this winter. Too cold. I feed a couple of outdoor cats and I stopped seeing one of them in mid-December. It is now the end of January and I fear the worst for her, although I remain always optimistic for her return. The life of an outdoor creature is a difficult one anytime of the year. It is especially difficult now.

Everyday, I put food out for my outdoor cats. Every evening I do the same. My other outdoor cat, Ghost or *Ghosti or Ghost-y, comes everyday, often twice, and dines on the offerings I put outside. After the first cold snap in Dec ember, I became worried for these gentle creatures.

When I have a concern, especially beyond the ability I have to care, I turn to the Earth Mother or the Kindreds for help. I thought that if anyone would understand the plight of outdoor animals, it would be the spirits of nature themselves.

I believe that the spirits of nature are instrumental in teaching us about the cyclical nature of reality in our world. They are born, they grow, the flourish, they diminish, and they pass away. Like us. Some of them go through these cycles on an annual basis; others go through it over the course of time. Like us.

While I put out food and shelter for the animals in my world, I begin to think of the other kindred spirits who are struggling with this weather like my friends do. What can I do to help on a grander scale than my offerings of food and shelter on the front porch? I know that my animal friends are not alone in this harsh season. I know there are others, just like mine. I act locally by the things I do here, but I truly feel that by calling upon the ubiquity of the Nature Spirits, that I can help not only my own friends, but all of the other creatures that may need.

Ara Trees One

Will my offerings be enough to change the reality for millions upon millions of outdoor animals? Probably not. I may help one. I may help a few. I may help an ever-increasing number. Yet, through my practice, I can only do so much. Therefore, I put together a prayer that I say during my daily devotionals (they keep growing!) and I wanted to share that prayer with you.

Here it is:

Hail, Nature Spirits!

I call out to you today,

In this time of cold

And harsh weather.

Please, watch over

Those Nature Spirits who are

Least able to fend for themselves:

Give them food,

Give the shelter,

Protect them from harm,

I pray you, Nature Spirits

Accept these offerings from my hands,

Through yours,

Into the places where they will do the most good.

 

 

 

The offerings I made were ones of food and shelter. I felt that these were offerings of immediacy and speak to the matter at hand. In my prayer, I ask for the Nature Spirits to protect the at-risk animals from harm – this is where the magical protection comes into play.

What exactly can the Nature Spirits do? Will they keep all animals safe from harm? I think probably not. But I do believe, in my small corner of the world, that perhaps the animals at risk will find a place where they can stay out of the elements, either those that I have created, or those small, out of the way places where animals may find shelter.

I believe that offerings and prayers are the things we can do to nudge the universe. I believe that the magic that the Nature Spirits can do is to nudge the physical universe in small ways as to make passage ways open, to make safety and shelter available, where it was seemingly not available before. This is my belief.

It is not difficult for us to relate to the Ancestors – we all have someone that has passed from this world into the next. We can still remember them, we can still recall our interactions, we can still feel their presence in our world. They were there, and now they are not.

It is not difficult for us to conceptualize of the Gods and Goddesses, the Shining Ones. When we first experienced need, or wonder, or piety, we put a face, a feeling, a sense to those entities that we call the Gods. We may not be able to picture them in our minds, but we have a sense for who they are.

It is difficult, I believe, for us to conceptualize of the Nature Spirits. They are the entities closest at hand to us. They are here, living with us in this middle realm, our Earth. The Earth of the Nature Spirits and the Earth of we humans is here together, yet we may never see them. We may find that the unseen among the Nature Spirits are hard to fathom, are just beyond our understanding. Yet, I feel that they are there, waiting. By offering them the hospitality of your home or your environs, you acknowledge them and allow for a deeper relationship to blossom and develop.

The Nature Spirits, in my mind, know those secret and hidden places that our animals friends can use to survive in this harsh time. The Nature Spirits cannot help alter the weather, but I truly believe that they can help other animals endure the weather and flourish. I will make my offering and my prayers. I remain optimistic.

 

Unus dies par omni est

“Any day stands equal to the rest”

las-bruixas

This quote is attributed to Heraclitus of Ephesus, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived from 535 – 475 B.C.E. Perhaps this quote means one day is no better than another or perhaps every day is just like any other day, but I tend to believe that it means that each day is as important as another. Perhaps, to the stones, like Las Bruixas above, there is only one day that stretches on forever.

With the arrival of Beltaine in the Southern Hemisphere and the passage of Samhain in the Northern Hemisphere, I am reminded once again that to the Earth Mother, Beltaine and Samhain are just two sides of a leaf, one facing to the Sun, one facing away. I came up with this thought for Beltaine/Samhain:

For our friends in the Northern Hemisphere, let us read the names of the Dead and remember; for those in the Southern Hemisphere, let us read the names of the newly born and rejoice!

After I read this, I thought, in the spirit of the universal and ever-moving (ever-changing) nature of the Earth Mother, that perhaps it would be best to do both, to honour those who are coming into the world and also to remember those that have passed through.  The ancients may not of known that life goes on in an opposite manner in a different hemisphere, but we surely do and we should embrace this knowledge and revel in it.

It takes a little bit of adjustment to consider and feel the slide towards winter and the ascent towards summer all at the same time. We don’t all move into sleep and hibernation; we don’t all run headlong into the glory of the summer Sun. We do both. We can do so by straddling the equator, one foot on each side, or we may do so by placing our feet on both sides of our understanding and experience concerning the seasonal changes and our experience of them. Please – don’t just live in the Dark Half or the Light Half of the Year: live in them both.

We do not enter into a quieter time to stay in an eternal winter; we do not frolic into an endless summer. We know that each will come and that each will follow and while we can truly only live in one at a time in these three dimensions, we can contemplate and extend ourselves into a larger reality.

As we honour the Ancestors, we often speak their names aloud and the Earth and the Sky are aware of their names because we speak them and we do so often. Yet, what of the young? What of the newest members of our community, be they animal or human? Should we not speak their names to that the powers-that-be become aware of their presence and entry into our lives. What of the newly Dead or those who have just become Ancestors, aren’t they born into that role as well? Shouldn’t we speak their names as well?

I will call to the seasons as I pass through them, not just where I stand, but where I understand. I will honour the darkness that lengthens as the days grow shorter, but I will savour the days that get longer as well, in the lands to my south. I will live in both worlds at the same time, while my body is anchored in one. Let my mind extend where my body, for now, cannot.

Unus dies par omni est: any day stands equal to the rest and for me, I will stand equally in both hemispheres as a child of the Earth Mother, in each and every day.

 

 

 

Hands Across the Water

I have been blessed.

I recently returned from a wonderful trip to experience Beltaine with the Druids and other neo-pagans of Australia at the Mount Franklin Festival, Australia’s longest running neo-pagan gathering, now in its 34th year. I was hosted by an amazing group of ADF members and welcomed by witches, Wiccans, Druids, neo-pagans, and nature spirits alike (Hello, Rosie!).

I left the US as preparations for Samhain were under way. It was feeling like Samhain: a change in the air, a change in the trees, a change in the colour of the Sun. The end of one spin around was calling, beckoning, insisting that its time had come. Then, as if some miracle of the collision of worlds, I stepped onto an airplane and into another world, another green world.

I have been wanting to visit Australia for sometime. ADF has members in Australia and I thought it would be nice to visit them AND see Australia at the same time. Through the intersection of desire, days off from work, and most especially an offer of hospitality from one of our members in Melbourne, I was able to put together a trip that not included fellowship, outreach, and rest and relaxation, but also provided me the opportunity to attend one of the premier (if not THE premier) pagan gatherings of the Southern Hemisphere, the Mount Franklin festival, now in its 34th consecutive year.

Coming into Melbourne was such a marked contrast to the Midwest that I had just left. Where trees were losing leaves, the trees here were newly in bloom; where the days were getting shorter back home, the days were getting longer here; where the last harvest was growing close with the approach of Samhain, here, the season of growth was coming up fast.

The Mount Franklin Beltaine festival is held in the bosom of the Earth Mother, in the crater of a dormant volcano about an hour from Melbourne. Upon approach, the non-native pine trees reached high into the sky, setting this sacred space apart from the rest of the rather flat landscape.

I spent five days nestled in this protected space. This land was sacred to the aboriginal people, and after listening to the winds whisper and watching the sun climb over the tree line, I can understand why. I feel that the sacred, often like forgotten Gods, lay dormant until it or they are reawakened by a thought, a prayer, or an offering. And offerings were made: spirits, grains, and prayers were given and given in a delightful plenitude that was proper to the place. The kookaburras, the parrots, the trees, the people, all gathered together to make it a Beltane to remember, especially for myself.

Silver Birch Grove offered a fantastic main rite and it was truly beautiful to see 100+ people gather together to honour the Kindreds and their own spirits. I was blessed to offer the omen and the omen was good: look within to heal, use the old knowledge to help in that healing process, and look at what has been accomplished. Quite a bit has been accomplished, really, whether it be Samhain or Betaine or anything at all. Neopaganism, like the Beltaine season, is on the rise, not only in the Southern Hemisphere, but everywhere. The Reformed Druids of Australia were formed. Magic happened!

I celebrated Beltaine and left that secluded crater and went back into the world. My days continued and I visited the Southern Ocean at the end of the world, where I made offerings to the Earth Mother, to ADF, and important private offerings as well. The wind told stories the old as time and the waves insisted that everything ebbs and flows, like the seasons. Like Beltaine and Samhain.

I returned to these shores and gave thanks in my own Samhain rite to the Earth Mother and to all those that made my journeys possible. I remembered back on seeing the Full Moon, that wondrous orb, looking upside down, but, in reality, it was still the Moon, and it was I who saw things differently. I stretch my hands across the waters to my new friends, my new continent, my new recollections, and to a new season dawning, bright, just over the tree line.