This post is about small things. It's about moments that we take for granted. There is no big revelation here. I took a bunch of pictures of my cat and put them on the internet. I write this post in defiance of the expectation that only big revelations matter. I write in homage to the repetition of small rituals, in honor of grounding and self-care. This post is about the simple companionship of ordinary objects and creatures and beings, and the way their presence shapes our lives even when we think we're not paying attention. A part of us is always paying attention.
Not all of our companions will elbow their way into our lives and demand our attention. Some of them linger beyond the limits of our ordinary experiences, leaving only footprints and snapped twigs as traces of their presence. These are our guides to the depths of mystery and wilderness. They are dark wanderers who cross our paths only in the obscurity of a moonless night, whose form we seem to see only just on the periphery of our vision before it dissolves again into the tangled undergrowth of the unknown. They are the companions whose presence we sense with the thrill of uncertainty, that mixture of excitement and terror that gives rise to awe. Their breath is the sound on the edge of hearing that we catch just when we think we are alone. Lest we forget that nature is not only familiar and intimate, but deeply wild and strange. Lest we forget that some things are hidden, and will remain hidden. The bear is, for me, this kind of companion.
Sometimes I get sick of the flat, bright rectangles of computer screens and book pages. When that happens, I go on crafting binges. My latest was inspired by the steampunk aesthetic and my recent spiritual work with the local flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest. This little guy was the result.
For me, Salmon has claimed her place along the year's wheel at Samhain-tide. The salmon run at Piper's Creek begins by the first day of November and lasts as late as the winter solstice. It is a time of cool, steady rain, a time of death and consummation. It is the in-between time, just after the Celtic New Year, but before the dawn of lengthening days. A time when new life begins in the dark, buried beneath the gravel of the streambed, invisible and silent. I think in many ways, modern Paganism is in this twilight time before rebirth as well. Seeded and kept alive from generation to generation after two millennia of broken traditions and scattered, assimilated cultures. We strive to root our traditions in the land, in a sense of place and in the presence of earth, but the social systems upstream don't make it easy.