They say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but that's only half the truth. In the face of our assembly-line obsession with efficiency and expendability, keystone species like mistletoe serve as powerful reminders of why individuality is so essential to abundance. True prosperity lies in the diversity of our communities and the ways that we support that diversity with our own unique gifts. It can be lonely, even a little frightening, to be different. But nature is messy. Nature is wild...
Keystones of the Sacred Land is in beta, and my guinea pigs have been plugging away at some pretty challenging exercises (and doing great, I might add!). We've been delving into an exploration of our local landscapes and preparing to meet the guardians and guides who will walk with us for the rest of this journey together. We concluded this week's work with a simple ritual to honor the land and to state our intention to seek our deepest soul, what wilderness guide Bill Plotkin calls our "truest place" in the world. In honor of the summer solstice (and the super moon), I wanted to share this simple little ritual with all of you.
Spring has definitely sprung here in the rainy emerald city of Seattle: the salmonberry is blooming and, believe it or not, the sun is shining! (For now, anyway.) This past weekend, Jeff and I enjoyed a somewhat belated equinox celebration — we spent all afternoon hiking through the city's largest park (while I indulged in some wildflower photography and rather clumsy bird-watching), we observed Earth Hour Saturday evening, and we visited the Seattle Aquarium for the first time, where we made the acquaintance of some very adorable, very playful sea otters. And speaking of sea otters (which happen to be a keystone species out here in the Pacific Northwest), two new articles of mine were also published this weekend, both of them exploring the role of keystones as guides and companions in earth-centered spiritual practice.
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.
During the winter holidays, I gorged myself on pie and hot chocolate and twinkling lights and solstice cheer. I hope you did, too! But while I was lolling about in my sugar-induced hibernative haze recovering from a busy and productive fall, two more of my articles were published — "Keystones of the Sacred Land," in Aontacht Magazine, and "Reading the Book of Nature," in The Witches' Voice. Both articles continue my exploration of ecological polytheism and the work I'm doing to blend my naturalist training more into my spiritual practice.