19 May, 2014

Honoring the Spirits of Place in Nature (or, Finding your own Sanctuary)

Ahhhh I love this weather!

The past few weeks has been sunny, not too hot or humid, and cool breezes. Sometimes those breezes bring pollen, but everything is very welcome after the long Winter. It was the perfect type of weather for the PanDruid Retreat.

As I've written before, the Land that the retreat is held on is full of Spirits, full of healing, and full of sacredness. However, this year, the Land continued a deep and profound conversation with the Druids on how it wishes to be honored back (with offerings & sacrifice (ghosti, not animal/human sacrifice!)). This honoring of the relationship between the Land Spirits and us humans that live on the Land is extremely important, and continues to fade away as we evolve in a capitalist society (discussion for a different time). 

The amazing John Beckett (named one of the 10 most important Druids!) wrote an excellent blog article regarding the weekend (with pictures!), so I will not re-create it here. I will be writing about the importance of beginning relationships with the Land Spirits, for mutual healing and Sanctuary.

Secret Waterfall in Gunpowder State Park!
In my shamanic healing practice, I see many clients (and even myself, sometimes!) with blockages along the Root Chakra, which usually points to a great instability in working within this American culture, or a difficult living situation, or a disconnect from the Earth/Natural World. I often ask clients about the types of secret places that foster a sense of "Sanctuary" and comfortable alone-time. Many of us don't have a place for that.

Sadly, we don't have a place in which we can "retreat" when we feel crappy, or find an "escape" when we are sick of being around people (and a bathtub doesn't count!).

The greatest and most profound treatment for the healing of this Chakra (if someone can't create a private Sanctuary at home) is finding a retreat in Nature (must be safe, and must be somewhat secluded).

As we all work on increasing our spirituality and meditation practices, this natural, peaceful place will help with integrating the different lessons of our life. Also, Nature has a subtle-yet-profound Grounding effect, releases stress, and is healing for all of the senses.

However, it can be difficult to find a little slice of Nature that one feels safe enough to use as a Personal Retreat. When I lived in NYC, I was surrounded by a different kind of Nature, and my own personal safety was of paramount importance (one cannot relax and de-stress if one is looking over the shoulder all the time!). The Ramble in Central Park became my Sanctuary, and because of all of the crime within that area, I began a strong and loving relationship with the Land Spirits there. Eight years of communication and offerings helped me to always feel safe, protected, and loved.

So how does one find a Nature Retreat for their own spiritual use? Here are a few steps that I follow, when going out into the Natural World:

  1. Upon arriving at a new park, wooded area, playground, etc., lock up the car (or bike!) and make offerings to the Nature Spirits
  2. Say a prayer, or state your intent, out loud*, to find a quiet, peaceful place that you can use for rest and reflection.
  3. Begin your walk/hike, paying attention to how things look, smell, feel, etc. Pay attention to the paths, and what is "just off" of them (be careful for poison ivy, thorns, etc.--> these are warnings from Nature that humans need to give space and leave things be).
  4. Pay attention to when you feel as though you need a rest, or a quick break, or a place to sit. This may be a small intuition that you've found your place.
  5. Carefully clear a place to sit, make another offering to Nature, and just sit & relax.
  6. Notice if the space makes you feel relaxed & protected, or nervous and anxious.
  7. Return to the space when you can (or find a different one), and each time, make more offerings. 
    1. Offerings can be birdseed, water for plants, a song/dance, and my personal favorite, Picking Up Trash Found Along Paths.
  8. Many times, the Land Spirits are wary of humans, because we bring so much pollution, trash, noise, waste, disease, etc. Show your respect for them via offerings, and respect their wishes if you feel like you are NOT welcome in an area.
  9. Eventually, you will find yourself feeling safe & comforted in the Natural Area, and will begin to crave its presence when you feel too stressed, tired, and worn out.
This type of work is invaluable to re-creating the relationships between humans and Nature, and is very healing to the mind & spirit. And anyone can do this!

Meditation Time!
What are your secret Nature places? How do you honor the Spirits of Nature?

1 comment:

  1. Nicely said. Fortunately for me, I have several spots in our yard (along the creek, in the woods, in the field). When I really need a day away, I head up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and sit on a cliff that overlooks The Priest Natural Area (all of 10 minutes away). Just lucky to have those things in my daily life.

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