A Walk in the Woods

jason wizard

This week’s blog was written by a friend whom I have come to deeply trust over the years.  He has become more of a brother to me than just a friend.  We have grown together in the Craft and I have watched him delve into Shamanism with a passion and hunger that can’t  be matched.  His talent with the tarot is amazing and his readings have always been on point.  Sit back and take a walk into the wooded world of my dear friend, Owl Sundown.

leaves

This evening the woods are quiet. The rain earlier in the day, followed by the chilly air, has put a blanket of silence throughout the trees. All I can hear is the leaves crunching under my boots and the wind in the tree branches. I’m thankful for the chill in the air. It means winter is coming.

leafart

I make my way through the path only I and the deer know about. I see my grove up ahead. It’s a small area of trees by the creek that form a natural circle and is hidden from view from most directions by thorn bushes and the honey locust trees.

I walk around to the other side of the trees, carefully picking my way through the thorny branches, finding the small path into the circle. This is MY place.

time spent in the woods

I can feel the earth’s power radiating from the ground as I walk among the rocks I’ve placed as direction stones. I make my way to the center and close my eyes. I take deep breaths and smell the scents of the forest. I sit and feel the dirt in my fingers. Before long I sense THEM. Oh yes, they have made themselves known to me over the past 6 years.

fae

The spirits of place, the fae, nature spirits. They go by so many names but I just call them THEM. Before long I sense them move among my circle. They know that I honor them in this place. I have taken measures to make sure they are respected and honored in these woods. And in return they help and guide me. After communing with the Earth and them I leave honey, nuts, and bird seed among the stones and ruefully make my way back to civilization. Oh if I could just stay!

gifts

 Most of us who walk a pagan path honor the Earth. Some of us honor the Goddess and the God. We may even honor animal spirits and totems. But I think we often fail to connect with the land where we live.

The land I live on has been in my family for over 75 years. I have lived on it for 25 and visited it for ten before that. And yet even when I embraced this way of life it was a few years before I really connected with the place where I lived. I constantly found myself daydreaming of Ireland, Scotland, England, and other amazing places and yet I was failing to see the magic in my own backyard.

moreshadows

One day while I was walking through one of the paths on the back of the property (over 300 acres) I kept seeing something out of the corner of my eye. I thought maybe it was a deer or a bird flying between the trees. I kept walking and kept seeing it. I never could see it straight on but always from the corner of my eye. I felt like I was being watched. So, being the novice witch I was, I decided to call it in. I think I heard it laugh. Ha!

It wasn’t until a few months later that they made themselves known to me. Sometimes I see shadows, other times I see actual human-like figures, other times it’s just spirits. But they are there and they respect me as I respect them. It’s balance and give and take.

Now, by no means do I claim to know everything about these amazing people. This is just my experience and walking this path is definitely subjective. I usually turn and run if someone tells me, “It has to be this way!” No mam, it doesn’t. It’s how the Goddess, God, Great Spirit, Fae, Sprits of the Land, or whatever else comes to us and shows us.

handinwater

So here are some things that have helped me in my walk that allows me to commune with the spirits of the place.

1. Mindfulness of the land. Take initiative to take care of the Earth where you live. Pick up trash, plant flowers, help in whatever way you can.

2. Go out there, sit down, and just BE. If it’s in your apartment courtyard, your front yard, or even the potted plants on your patio. Put your hands in the dirt and allow yourself to just BE one with it.

3. Don’t force it. You will never know the spirit world by forcing yourself among it. Be respectful and let it happen in time.

4. Leave food and other things for the animals. Nuts, seeds, honey. Anything that they might like.

5. Fill your mind and spirit with the stories and myths of the area you live in. I live in an area that was populated by Cherokee and Choctaw tribes. Then my great grandmother and great aunt with their “old religion” from Ireland came and put there magic here as well. I fill my soul with the stories of those people. Give your mind and spirit something to draw upon as you continue to grow in magic.

ice

There is nothing more rewarding to me than spending time in my woods with “my people”. It is my hope that as winter comes on, wherever you may be, that you will find time to get quiet as the Earth goes quiet and touch the Otherworld. May you be blessed always.

Owl Sundown

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The Scent of Wild Air

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Yesterday morning was an early morning for me.  My partner has been working all weekend, so to be nice…I volunteered to get the dogs up, feed, and walk them by myself.  I was pretty much still halfway asleep through the process, but as I finished walking Bella (who always takes the longest), I walked over to the pot where my mandrake root is planted.  This plant has been hidden for the whole summer.  They don’t tend to like the horrendously hot summer days that Georgia is known for.  When I looked down into the pot, I saw three tiny little green leaves.  My four year old mandrake root was showing itself!  I hurried inside to drop off my canine bundle and rushed back out to the courtyard.  I knew for a fact that if my mandrake was surfacing, that cooler weather was on its way.

I heard the french doors creak open and looked up to see my partner sleepily pushing Friz out the door with a “He was whining to come out.”  I picked Friz up and we slowly made our way around the property.  Friz lifted his head into the air and sniffed repeatedly.  “You smell it too, don’t you?”  Just every fleeting so often, you could feel and smell coolness right in front of you.  I could feel myself shiver at the prospect of brisk air, breezes, and jackets.

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My heart skipped a beat as we walked over to where the pond used to be and I saw a partially yellow leaf lying in the grass.  I know that most look at fall as a time when things die, but to me it has always signified new beginnings.  I use this time as a chance to clean house.  I clean out the closets and anything that hasn’t been touched or used in a year either goes to Goodwill or some other charity.  I even do this with the animals things.  The local shelters are always in need of something.

Autumn is always the time of year that seems to bring out the pup in Friz.  He becomes more playful, more active.  He runs through the house and patio like a wild man…but then again, fall tends to do that same thing to me.  In autumn, I crave time outside.  On weekends, I am typically outside from before the sun rises to well after it sets.  If I could, I would sleep outside every night and use the stars and moon as my nightlight.  Autumn stirs something in me.  That is when my magick feels strongest.

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With the seasons moving toward fall, I feel closer to nature and all the things it encompasses.  When I walk past the trees, it is as if I can hear them singing in preparation of shedding what they have carried through the first part of the year.  Like me, they are anxious to release the things that they have carried through the first part of the year.  It is almost as if you can hear them sigh in relief as they slowly start to release their leaves and then as if they are too tired to hold them one more moment, they purge themselves of the remaining leaves so that they too might feel the freedom and simplicity of being burdened no more.

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When Friz and I got back into the house yesterday morning, I felt that ‘hibernation’ mode start to wash over me. I pulled the ottoman in front of my big chair, pulled a couple of cookbooks and my coffee over toward me, grabbed a blanket and nestled in with Friz.  We read for a bit, and then drifted off into dreams of colored leaves and brisk breezes.

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Autumn is my time for reading and pouring myself into every kind of book imaginable.  I read everything from books on the Craft, to cookbooks, to fiction, to magazines, to seed catalogs for Spring.  I pull even more into myself and relish the simplicity of everything around me.  It is my time to keep things simple.  Life is far too complicated already.  Fall is a time of comfort food and warm drinks.  It is nesting time for humans.  We spend Spring and Summer going non-stop.  Fall and Winter are the seasons of reflection, introspection, and clearing out the cobwebs that the rest of the year leaves behind.

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As we approach Autumn, I envision the Fae hunting and gathering for the upcoming weather changes and make sure to leave extras in the courtyard.  I add small pieces of flannel that I have cut up for them to use as blankets, matches, milk, bread…anything that they might need for their own comfort.  In my mind, I see them curled up in their own version of a comfy chair reading or sewing with an acorn cap full of warmed milk and a toasted piece of my homemade bread.

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When I walked Friz this evening, I was jarred back into reality.  I felt that balmy late summer breeze lick at my skin and I smelled one of the neighbors grilling out.  As we walked through the haze of hamburger and hotdog smoke, I closed my eyes to try to get back that feeling I had yesterday but try as I might, I was hurled back into late summer.  The little mandrake is holding its own, waiting for the cooler temperatures right around the corner…with each new leaf sprouting, hope for Fall.

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As we walked back toward the condo and my mind is racing toward work tomorrow and all of the challenges it will bring, I take a deep breath.  I can already taste small amounts of stress starting to surface.  I have to be reminded that I have to keep my life simple.  Worrying about things won’t add one more minute to my life.  I watch Mama Crow on the sidewalk fighting with the remains of a cicada.  I laugh out loud.  As Friz and I go through the french doors into the house, I hear my cuckoo clock in the back bedroom.  For some reason, it reminds me to take a deeper breath and not be so serious….and to always smell the breez for that hint of wild air.

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