On the “punching bag” episode of the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, they discussed the hatred directed towards the pumpkin spice latte, tying it to sexism and classism in interesting ways. At the end of the discussion, one of the panelists said: “… on the west coast, you do not know it is fall for…
The road I’m on barely warrants the name; it is more of a trail, the width of a car, that winds through the forest. I’m in four wheel drive, bumping slowly downwards. At one point, the road turns upward sharply than drops away again immediately. I stop at the top. The nose of the vehicle is pointed up at the trees and I can’t see the road at all. My friend in the passenger seat – a more experienced off-road driver – laughs at my nervousness: “The road is still there. You know it’s there, so just go.”
“Don’t look at the floor. It’s not going anywhere,” says my Tai Chi teacher. My partner and I laugh; he knows that right now I can’t really feel my feet. That is combining with my lack of balance to make my animal instincts less sure that the floor is, indeed, still there from one step to the next.
I lean atheistic in no small part because I like to perceive instead of believe. I want to trust my senses, but they are sometimes failing me. My instincts can be tricked and can override my logic, so I must extend my trust to common sense and my memories.
I need to know that the ground is still there, still strong and supportive, even if I can’t see or feel it.
If we are the universe embodied and if we are here to experience the universe, it makes sense that there would be rewards built in to connecting with the natural world. As we serve the cosmos, we receive happiness, serenity, and maybe some healing as a side effect.
I see a lot of headlines like “How to harness nature’s healing power”, “How forests heal people”, and “How to use nature to improve your health”. Their version of nature is lush, green, and peaceful. There’s no red in tooth and claw; there’s no predator, prey, and parasite. Theirs is a tamed nature that exists as a tool for our benefit.
To me, respect for nature means understanding that it isn’t here to serve us. It can be the soothing green shade with bird song, but it can also be the disease carrying deer tick picked up in that same idyllic place. It exists for itself alone. We are lucky that walking through the natural cathedral of old trees or observing a wild flower conveys spiritual, mental, and physical benefits, but framing nature in terms of how we can use it maintains the same paradigm that led to animal extinctions, rain forest clear cutting, and vortexes of plastic waste in our oceans.
Get out into the green when and how you can, for the personal benefits or as an act of worship, but don’t mistake your reasons for nature’s purpose. And wear insect repellent as needed.
Each of us is a piece of the cosmos experiencing itself. We have always used our senses to do this, and our imaginations at least back to cave paintings, but in our world now, we have enhanced abilities so the piece of the cosmos we each represent can see more and experience more than our ancestors could dream of.
Zoom in and see the composition of nature.
Zoom out and see our earth from an impossible perspective.
Pan around the world and witness stories where you will never be.
Feed your inner divine cosmos with information and with imagination and with beauty at all scales.
In some desert areas, there are spectacular wildflower blooms after particularly wet winters. In the mountains, temporary waterfalls are created by spring snowmelt. Lunar and (especially) solar eclipses; meteor showers; comets, auroras, bird migrations, autumn foliage… there are marvels that come around us, and not too infrequently. We must not be “too busy” with quotidian affairs to experience them.
We can have as many natural holy days as we can notice. Where I live, in Vancouver, watch the flags and trees: when the wind starts blowing from the south, rain will arrive within a day. If we notice it coming – if we go outside to an open area away from wind tunnels and wind shadows every day – then we can celebrate both the last hours of sunshine and the return of the rains that nourish our temperate rainforest.
Maybe ideally we would celebrate every sunrise, every sunset, every sign of the changing seasons. The animist part of me knows that every piece of the world is sacred, so every day is a holy day. We’re surrounded by miracles and beauty every day, all the time, but we also need to pay the bills and visit the dentist and take out the recycling. And despite reading many cute articles about how to clean your house in a ritual or sacred way, I don’t feel like I’m connecting with a higher power while I’m crawling to vacuum under the couch. Though I’m lucky enough to have a day job that is aligned with my values, it is still work and my love of spreadsheets doesn’t make them sacred. I am not a monk.
I can’t live every moment in a state of awe or connectedness; that’s why we have rituals. If I try to make every day into a sacred day, I know that none of them will feel special. The full moon is beautiful to see, but seems remote and I’ve never quite got the habit of Esbats. But I am challenging myself to watch for the south wind coming in, and to honour those weather changes. And if they should bring with them one of Vancouver’s rare lightening storms, I’ll be thrilled to honour that too.
I had a beautiful weekend. On Friday evening, Silver Spiral had a belated Litha. It was a gorgeous ritual. In the power raising, the group was given a fairly simple poem to turn into a chant. It started as just rhythmic speaking, than acquired melody, then evolved into a call and response with a complex…
When I was a little one, one of my favourite things to spot was a dandelion growing through the road. Not in the cracks in the sidewalks, but seemingly breaking right through the sticky black asphalt. I still watch for those stubborn little weeds. I also love when vines climb houses and fences and hide…
My spine and brain is a frayed electrical cord, short circuiting and sending confused messages to my body. I lose connection to parts of me; sometimes I look at my fingers and toes to make sure they are still there. Broken connections to broken dishes: mixing bowls and glass measuring cups are the victims…
I’m trying to write a speech today, which naturally means that I want to write anything other than my speech. To be fair, the speech is three-quarters written, but when you are sending people off on a 5 kilometre walk for charity, you really want to nail the ending. In January of this year,…
I need an alley of graffiti art to passionately pace through, à la Rick Mercer. Picture that as you read, if you would.
I’m generally an “if it harm none, do whatever you want” person. If you want to invoke fairies and unicorns – more rainbow power to you. If you like to decorate with skulls and black candles – embrace your darkness. Tarot, crystals, herbs, fancy tools or a stick you picked off the sidewalk – have at them! Tree hugging, dancing naked around a fire, praying, fasting, meditating, elaborate ceremonial magic or a bit of kitchen witchery – go for it! Though I have a philosophical problem with the idea of weather magic, I don’t actually believe that it is possible, so, you know, as you will…
Mediumship, though, is a crystal of a different cut. People who claim to speak to the beloved dead and pass on their words or let their voice come through them are performing a fraud we should not tolerate.
The memories of our loved ones – what they actually said and did, and who they were when they lived and loved – are precious. But if someone claims to speak to them, they feed us new memories and put new words in the mouths of those who aren’t here. And that’s not right.
If your beloved dead visit you, that may create new memories of them for you; I respect that. But no one else should be allowed to tread on the legacy of other people, especially not for fame or profit. What is remembered, lives – don’t let anyone mess with your memories.