We live in a land of magic and deep roots, with a history of native spirituality, spells and folk charms than can be found all across the British Isles. Since ancient times, our traditional healers and spirit workers, known as Cunning Men and Wisewomen, have continued to evolve and practise their skills in league with the spirits of the landscape, of river, mountain or wood. Our connection to our ancestors and the genius loci, the “local gods” of our landscapes, are there to be rekindled at any time.
This year I hope many of us have renewed our relationships with nature and its healing regenerative powers. Our collective change of pace has allowed a chance to reconnect both with nature and ourselves. Our connection to the natural world sustains our spirits and is so vital to remaining resilient and whole. We are never truly separate from nature, no matter how far we feel we have strayed from its green paths. This is true as much in the city as it is in the village. All the wild ever needs is opportunity.
Explore our relationship to nature
Our relationship to nature and the land we live on goes far deeper than our physical and biological connections: it is also a spiritual connection, that holds great power and potential if we realign with its generous heart. The Celts of the past knew this, and held the natural world with especial reverence, a belief which to this day has endured in many forms in our wilder places.
In Scotland and the Hebrides, there was a tradition that still survives of drawing wisdom from nature, of divining the future or the answer to a question from the landscape. This is called making a Frith, sometimes used over the 12 days of Christmas to draw clues as to the nature of each of the 12 months ahead, although it can be used at any time.
Experience nature’s wisdom
Go out into nature, and close your eyes. Breathe for a moment, perhaps asking a question of the land about you, “What wisdom do you hold for me today?” Turn slowly on the spot, eyes closed, and then randomly stop and open your eyes. The first thing you see is your answer. Some answers that nature provides can take poetic thinking, but others are obvious and strikingly bold: a lightning-struck tree, a bird’s nest, a farmer harvesting a field. Others such as the flight of birds or the shapes in the clouds may take more thought, but the answer will be there for you to unpack with a little contemplation.
Try this exercise from my new book to learn your landscape and rebuild your relationship with nature, and your own inner self.
Nature awareness ritual
Sit out in a spot in nature and try just being there in silence for 20 minutes. Take that time to be still, and notice every living thing around you. Every plant and tree, but also every animal and insect. Repeat this once a week, or once a day if you can, and repeat the exercise throughout a whole season, and even better a whole year.
The longer you sit still and quiet, the more animals and birds will begin to relax and reveal themselves. Gradually you will notice the shifts and changes, and the things which remain unchanged. Certain features will show themselves as central points in an area, ecologically or energetically, and others will gain a prominence for a certain period of time.
For example, you will notice certain birds will love a certain tree, while in another a particular insect will swarm, but just for the season. Try this at dawn and dusk, and notice the change between the creatures of the day and the creatures of the night.
Every moment we spend in nature can be a moment spent in contemplation, and in living prayer, should we wish it. Just as every moment between a mother and her child builds an ever-growing bond, so we may find more meaning there than we ever realised was possible, revealing we do indeed live a magical life, in a magical land, if we only take the time to notice.
©danuforest2020 Danu Forest is a druid and traditional Celtic wisewoman. She is the author of several books, and offers regular ceremonies, readings, consultations and courses. www.danuforest.co.uk