Honouring Nature through Ceremony

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About this time last year, I had a profoundly powerful dream: one which I am still unpacking, and have every reason to believe I will continue to unpack for quite a long time to come.  At the time of the dream, I was reading Bill Plotkin’s Soulcraft- Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche and had begun learning about the different ways to live a more soul-guided life.  As a result of my reading, I began to work on my dream, while simultaneously cultivating an appreciation for ceremony and ritual; practices that Plotkin puts forward as symbolic ways to communicate with the sacred other.  I performed my first, self-designed ceremony in response to the dream I had, as a means to bring the symbolism of the dream into my waking life, and to send a message back to the source of the dream: the unconscious, or the realm of the soul.  The experience was incredibly moving, and even today, continues to guide me in the direction of soul.  I believe ceremony is a powerful way of dialoguing with the sacred other, and a means to express something that is otherwise not tangible: almost as a way of completing a circle.

 

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Today I performed another personal ceremony: although this time it was not in response to a dream.  Lately, on my regular walks though the forest, I have been highly attuned to the sacredness of nature, almost as though experiencing it in a heightened state of awareness.  These experiences have been dominated by intense feelings of awe and wonder at the magnificence of all that surrounds me, to the extent that I almost feel as though I am wandering through a magical forest on a planet never previously seen by the human eye.  I have felt a strong spiritual connection with the natural world and today I felt the need to open a dialogue with it, by performing a ceremony to honour its sacredness.

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So I set off through the forest along a scant kangaroo trail, and along the way I picked up things that I was drawn to: although I was not entirely sure what I was going to do with them.  I gathered up a long, narrow paddle of sun-hardened bark from a messmate gum, followed soon after by a slightly curved scroll of manna gum bark, and two fine-grained sticks: bent in an arc and worn smooth by the forces of nature and the passage of time.  All the while, I stopped here and there, feeling the forest through all my senses and marvelling at the lavish display of fecundity spread out all around me.  I came to a clearing, of sorts, where tall stands of grass were in places bent over in waves, and where they fell, at the base, they were matted and moulded smooth by the bodily contours of kangaroos, when they nestled there, resting in the warmth of the sun.

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It was here that I stopped, threw off my pack, and lay my findings down across the width of two long, weathered logs, bleached almost bone-white by the sun.  I knew then that I was going to make a wrapped bundle with my findings: a sacred offering of nature’s bounty to be sent back to the source, encased with prayers of gratitude and exaltation.  I lay the rigid bark-paddle down first, then placed the scroll of bark on top.  On to that, I lay the curved sticks, followed by a bunch of Lomandra stems: their tips the colour of early Spring, and their ends white and bulby like Spring onions.

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I snapped off a small branchlet of eucalyptus, its soft new growth attracting the first caterpillars of the season, then wandered off through the trees to find an offering of wattle and a sprig of cassinia.

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Lastly, I added a dainty little spray of hovea: the vibrant purple bouncing off the glow of the wattle.  I gathered some long strands of grass and began saying my prayers of thanks as I bound my little parcel together, securing my words firmly into the fibres as I went.

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When my bundle was complete, I marked off a quadrant of ground: as flat as I could find, and bordered it with some weathered logs: each corner facing a cardinal direction.

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I stepped inside the quadrant and began a slow, moving meditation (almost like Qi Gong), to the sound of Native American Indian chanting from my ipod.  My movements were fluid and sensual: an expression of how I felt about the wildness and sacredness of nature, and I felt myself unleashing my desire to interact with it on an almost primordial level.  As I danced, I gave thanks to all things around me that were other-than-human, and acknowledged how truly precious nature is, and how much it nourishes my soul.

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When I was done, I gathered up my wrapped bundle and placed it gently in the fork of a weathered gum tree: in a slightly cavernous space where the trunk split in two, and where darkness spilled forth into the light.

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Rewilding Through Learning the Land

Lionel Lauch Living Culture website
Logo from Lionel Lauch Living Culture website.

I admit to spending a good deal of time thinking about different ways to rewild that will strengthen my connection to the natural world.  Ways in which I might learn how to become a part of the wild landscape that I am so drawn to, and in so doing, discover how it might change me; make me a little wilder, a little wiser, and allow my roots to anchor a little more deeply into the earth beneath my feet in such a way that I might begin to remember from where I did come.   Today, I was privileged to engage in such an opportunity, with the help of Lionel Lauch Living Culture. (more…)

Invitations From Nature

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Ephemeral Stick Art on Drooping Sheoak

 

Playing with sticks is something that I never quite packed away with the rest of my childhood activities.  On my wanderings through the wilds, I’m always foraging along the forest floor looking for sticks that have fallen from the bough of a nearby Eucalypt or Blackwood.  Weathered, gnarled, smooth, or bleached by rays of the sun to resemble the texture of bone, sticks for me, are something to be admired, touched, played with, and collected.  (more…)

Invitations From Nature

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Oxalis on Fungi

 

Connecting with nature is a way for us to understand more about ourselves, and delve deeper into who we are and how we fit in to the natural world around us.  There are various practices that help facilitate this process, from the spiritual through to the ritual, but how often do we consider that engaging with nature on a creative level can bring about profound understanding of our own nature, as well as that of the other-than-human world that we share. (more…)

Of Wild & Wildness

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“Wild things prefer to remain wild. To honour a wild thing, converse with it on its terms, in its language, on its territory.  Its gift might be to make you wilder.”

Bill Plotkin; Soulcraft – Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche

I am drawn to the words wild and wildness; intrigued by the number of different ways they are used in everyday language. But I have come to realise that they have a certain enigmatic quality to them that can make their meaning somewhat ambiguous, to my way of thinking.  In the context of delving into the human-nature connection, I decided to seek out a more personal understanding of what wild and wildness entailed. (more…)

Solo In The Wild: Day 3

Little Waterloo Bay, Wilsons Promontory
Morning in camp, Little Waterloo Bay

Below is my recount of Day Three on my first 3-day solo hike, in Wisons Promontory National Park.  You can catch up on Day One here, and Day Two, here.

DAY THREE:  The Power of Porridge, and Powdered Milk

I awoke to the sound of chatter in the school camp next to me. Porridge was on the menu from what I could gather, from the conversations that wafted over the noise of clanging pots and pans.  I lay in bed, content, watching beads of rain occasionally roll down the outside of the tent fly.  Rain had fallen on and off during the night, droplets of water pinging on the tent sounding like the twang of a rubber-band flicking on taut plastic.

I had no idea what time it was, only that it was morning. I sensed an overcast sky, but was too comfortable lying in my sleeping bag to contemplate unzipping it and opening the tent to find out.  So I lay there, dozing occasionally, until I heard the words I had been waiting to hear: “OK guys, let’s go”.  I waited, until all I could hear was the silence, tip-toeing back into camp and filling up all the empty spaces.  Only then did I emerge from my tent, rustling leaves underfoot as I shuffled over to the Trangia to make my breakfast, with solitude, my only companion. (more…)