“We dream of space travel to distant planets, of the stars, all the while forgetting that the stuff that makes the stars, that makes the universe, makes us too.”
From Emma Kathryn
The world is a mysterious place.
It’s funny to think that so many go through their lives oblivious to the magical other-world that resides within this one (or perhaps it is this world that resides in the magical one), either way, so many people are unaware of it.
We’ve forgotten we are a part of it.
Instead of going out and living, truly living and connecting with this world, we watch films that take us to new and fantastical worlds, we watch nature via documentaries through our telly boxes. We dream of space travel to distant planets, of the stars, all the while forgetting that the stuff that makes the stars, that makes the universe, makes us too.
And in the forgetting of our real world and our real selves, we are sold false ones instead. We buy endless crap to try to fill the void, thinking that if we just buy this new phone or that brand of clothing or this new car, then we’ll feel better. Only it never works. We might feel better momentarily, that is until the novelty of the new stuff wears off and they just become things, like the rest of the things we buy. The circle is never-ending, at least until you take a step back and realise it’s all shit, all designed to keep us spending, to keep us docile. It’s time to break the cycle.
As I write this, it is the spring equinox, or if you follow the wheel of the year, Ostara. I’m outside, in my garden, or rather sitting on my porch. Sunrise is still ten minutes or so away. I love this time of day, there’s no one around, no sounds of traffic. It’s like you can actually really relax.
It’s cold still, though the last of the snow has melted and narcissus and crocus are almost ready to bloom, to unfurl their yellow and purple petals, providing the first splash of colour of the season.
The dawn chorus is in full swing as the birds begin to get ready for the mating season, pairing up and nesting. There’s a couple of blackbirds that nest in the wall of ivy that grows in my garden, just beside the house, as well as a quarrel of sparrows. Every morning, the male blackbird perches in the wild cherry tree that grows at the front of my garden and sings his little black heart out, marking his territory. His song is crystal clear and melodic. It cuts through the early morning air with the delicate clarity of a glass bell, combining with the rest of the feathered choir. Yes, the dawn chorus is truly one of my favourite things about spring time.
If Imbolc is a time for the unfurling of roots, of planning and scheming, then Ostara is the time for those plans, so carefully laid down, to be put into action. The season of fertility and growth is upon us, everything is beginning to awaken. Spring is a time of energy and activity, and so we too must take our cues from nature, from the season. It is time for us to begin our work.
Sometimes I think that we, as a species, have fallen out of sync with the natural cycles of earth and of nature. The modern technological world has made it so easy for us. We live in climate controlled homes all year round; our days stay remarkably (or perhaps unremarkably) the same, day in day out. We get up, we go to work for eight or more hours a day, too tired to pursue our own interests, and it’s the same with our children too, except they are in school for the best part of the day, and longer if the parents rely on the school for childcare.
I’m not proposing (here at least) that we shun the comforts of home, or that you quit your job tomorrow ( regular readers will know how I feel about the capitalist system and how we are enslaved to it), instead, I suggest that we make a start in reconnecting to the land, to nature.
To retune ourselves to the natural rhythms of life, to the cycles of nature and the land in our own locality means that we must be willing to put in at least a little effort. It’s not enough to visualise in meditation sitting out in nature, to imagine a deep connection to it. It’s certainly not enough if you never make an effort to get outside.
In mainstream paganism, I feel that the natural world is sometimes overly romanticised – think the earth mother offering us all of her gifts, her bounty. I guess you can tell that I’m going to disagree with this view of nature. Nature does indeed give us all that we need to live, but that does not mean that these things are easy to come by, that we don’t have to put in the work or effort. It doesn’t mean we can just do what we want, take what we want. Nature is not all love and light, and to go out without understanding this is to risk your own safety.
The pagan mythic of the wild wood and building a connection, a relationship with it or any other large natural formation, mountain, lake, whatever, is indeed romantic, and let’s face it, who wouldn’t want that. But for many, the reality is only a dream. For sometimes it can be hard for us pagans to realise that sometimes, quite often in fact, the wild wood, the mountain, the lake, do not want a relationship with us. It’s true. I have felt it myself.
I took my dogs out once, not to my normal woods, the ones I write about here, but to a larger one. I am a witch, and tracks are not for me, so off the track we went. It was such a nice walk, a warm spring day, the dogs were running through the trees, loving their freedom. We walked and walked until we came to a part of the woods I didn’t know. I was looking forward to exploring, always on the look out for plants to forage and what not, but then the atmosphere changed. I thought it was just me, spooking myself, and so I forced myself onwards. I looked back to find the dogs waiting about two or three metres back, and no matter how much I called, whistled and cajoled, they wouldn’t go any further. Instead we turned back the way we had come.
Sometimes we are just not wanted. I believe it’s because the land remembers, and though we as individuals may be innocent, the crimes committed against the land by humanity are too much and thus great effort is required to regain what we have lost. The land remembers.
So with all of that said, building a relationship with the land, with nature needs to start small, and the best way to do this is to start with where you live. It doesn’t matter where you reside either, just for the record, whether that be the city, town or countryside. Before, when I’ve written on the subject, I’ve had people say that it’s all well and good for us country folk to talk about building a connection to the land, but for those who live in cities, then to do so costs money and time. To that I say forging a connection does take time, of course, but I truly believe you do not have to spend a penny. You don’t need to transport yourself away from where you live. Every place has a spirit, and forming relationships with the genius loci, the spirit of the place where you live will be more than fulfilling, even if it’s a relationship with a stunted and lonely tree, a patch of wasteland where only weeds grow (of course the sorcerers and witches will know that really, there’s no such thing as a weed,an unwanted plant!).
Let the season of fertility and growth inspire you. Take yourself outside, go for a walk around your neighbourhood, learn the natural rhythms and cycles where you live, what grows where.
The best place to forge relationships with the land and spirits of place is the place where you live. Let Ostara be the time for action.
My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!
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