Thinking About – The Book of Nature

Thinking About – The Book of Nature

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I came to Paganism through the path of nature. I was searching for a spiritual path whose foundation was a love of the natural world, and one that might be able to heal the disconnection I felt between my life as a human being and the rest of Nature. I had always felt that the constructs of the human world had done nothing but reinforce the idea that we were somehow separate, apart from, and in many ways superior to, all other life with which we shared this Earth. I could never adhere to that viewpoint and was quite desperate to find a spiritual way to help move my attention away from much of the human-constructed life as I could.

I found that in Paganism and Druidry.

Over the years my Path influenced my political actions informing my purchasing choices, my support of equality and the moves against discrimination, the threats to the land with road building and fracking, but throughout everything, my Path has been informed by Nature. It has never been politics that has led my Path, it’s always, and continues to be, the other way around.

I was so happy to discover the festivals of the Wheel of the Year. Here was a circle of rituals that celebrated the seasons of the natural world, and was a moving, circular opportunity to give thanks to the Sun and Earth, those two forces that sustain and gave me life. From the rebirth of the Sun at the Winter Solstice to planting, growing, harvesting, thanksgiving, and a return to the Earth through the growing darkness of Autumn and Samhain. Then rebirth once more at the Winter Solstice. To me, these festivals helped bridge the disconnection I had felt with the natural cycles of the Earth. I could acknowledge that life is brought into being by the joining of two forces, and those two forces created life, the berries, fruit, corn of the fields, bread and food on my plate. The Wheel of the Year to me has always been and continues to be, a celebration and thanksgiving of the fertility of the Earth. It reflects the cycles of birth, life, death and rebirth in all things. It is a year-long celebration of the harvest and what sustains life.

My Druidry has taught me much over the years and it has healed that disconnection. My journey through the OBOD Gwersi was supported by the Book of Nature and I now feel just as much at home walking the moors, or out on the peaks of a mountain, as I do in my garden. However, it seems to me that modern life is suffering a spiritual crisis. For two years many of us have been denied a connection to nature. It’s not been good for any of us. It’s led to the reactivity and judgement I see so much on social media. The insular lives many of us have been leading because of the pandemic for the past two years have altered perspectives that seem to go far inside, instead of being able to look outside, to how big the world is, how incredibly glorious and vast the universe is, how not everything revolves around us. As things begin to properly open up, and we can walk the moors, the mountain, the woodlands, and as Spring begins to turn the land a green that only happens in early Spring, hopefully, that too will change.

Spring always brings hope.

But I confess, I’m tired. I think a lot of us are. I’m tired of social media particularly. The one good thing for me has been it’s given me the opportunity to play live music for people, to have something to look forward to, a space to help us forget what is going on and be together. For that, I’m very grateful. Other than that though I’ve tried to limit my time looking at a screen. Some of the ways I’ve seen friends treat each other has not helped my mental health, and I know I’m not alone in this. It’s helped us keep in touch, but it’s also changed the way we communicate, and there have been times recently when I’ve experienced that toxicity bleed out into real life. It’s a little concerning, to be honest. But again, as things change so our reliance on social media will hopefully lessen, and the woodlands, hills, fields and valleys will call us out once more, to walk the land, to see the space, the green, life, and be healed.

The Book of Nature is a miracle. Life is a miracle. The Sun is shining today and the winds have died down. Time to look away from the screen again and head out with Oscar.

I think he’s ready to go…

7 responses to “Thinking About – The Book of Nature”

  1. Many people in the world are suffering from this mandatory distance from nature.
    We end up forgetting that connection, and everything becomes more gray and depressing.
    Returning my gaze to the natural world and its processes, brings me peace and serenity. Reading your texts and listening to your songs bring me the same feelings. Thanks for the online concerts. thank you for your presence, despite being on the other side of the ocean.
    We are all connected by love and nature!

    Love from Brazil

  2. Wonderful post Damh! I feel all of this, and I too am weary of it all. I will venture out today with the pooch for some nature time, my medicine. Greetings from California.

  3. Oscar sure does look ready. Ready and adorable 🙂
    I get that you are tired. I’ve heard that from a lot of people. Just remember that life is not linear. As Nature, humans live in circular shifts too, as you pointed out referencing the Wheel of the Year. This too shall pass.

    As for the social media. I’ve quit all of that almost five years ago. It truly is liberating. For you as a bard, that is not that easy. Yesterday’s taverns are today’s Facebooks and YouTubes.

    Stay blessed on your Path

  4. There has been so much emphasis on Movember, Veganuary, etc, in the past few years,
    so how about we now have NosocmediaMarch?
    and get out into the wonderful outdoors, alone or with friends.
    Just a thought.

  5. I’d be so lost without facebook and email. Haven’t bothered with other social media, but I need these two for my connection with the wider world. And yet I, too, have found myself sharply limiting my time there.

  6. Lovely post! I totally understand. If I didn’t have my Wiccan faith, the woods behind me, the hawthorns, apple, pussywillows, and gardens (in season) in the front yard, my herbs on my deck railing, and my squirrels and bird friends to feed and interact with every day, no matter the season, I would once more become the critical, harsh, unknowing-of-nature person I was about 20 years ago. Although I’ve always love animals and mountains, streams and valleys, I see it so differently now, and I don’t want to ever go back to the way I was.
    Thank you for your heartwarming blog posts, and especially for your online concerts, that allow me to spend time with like-minded folk. Blessings to you and yours, Damh.

  7. Damh,

    You have brought much joy to my life these past few years. I learnt of OBOD twenty odd years ago from my pagan aunty. I seemed to forget it during my early thirties and then, separate from OBOD, I found your music. In part, you brought me back to OBOD and I am now studying the Bardic Grade. A gift I gave myself for my 40th birthday.

    Yesterday, I received a little book on trees. I cancelled Amazon Prime a few weeks back so it came a few days after I bought it. Such a little thing but it game me so much more pleasure receiving that book in this way. It was a joy (a slight surprise) when it popped through my letter box. I no longer have social media. I do use YouTube for certain things (your concerts) but instead of browsing, I go looking for things when I need it. It makes me much more happier.

    Anyway, back to the trees. I have just finished studying my OBOD materials for the night. It dawned on me that the simple act of learning tree names is a first step in showing them the respect they deserve. So far, today, I have learnt what a Poplar and a Yew are. It is shameful and a mark of our society that I do not know these things. I was lucky to grow up with a Grandad who loved birdwatching and I know birds but trees, I have no idea … until now.

    I have began to embrace the natural world and already it is changing my life.

    Anyway, I came on here to see if you were doing any live concerts soon. I will stop rambling but I will say thankyou!

    SteveG

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