Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Plugging Into Nature

I have an Ancestor Altar on top of a small bookshelf in my office. I use it as a place to leave offerings and prayers, and for doing spirit work. I use the construction of an altar as a meditation on creating a sacred space. The meditative intention, layered over the last one builds a history of sacred purpose and sacred energy. Nature is my temple, and immersing myself in it connects me to divine energy. Magic is all around us.
Once a year I go on retreat to a festival in the mountains. For a week I unplug from the electrical appliances of the industrial world and I plug into the mountain, into the stone, into the air, the stars and into the water. It is a spiritual balm unlike any other and reminds me of yearly childhood camping trips with my family. We spent our summers discovering the landscape of the state we lived in: the Finger Lakes, the Catskills, the Adirondacks, the 1,000 Islands, various creeks and gorges, all of the old-time re-enactment villages, the underground caverns, etc.
One of the places we took frequent family trips to was Arrowhead Campground, remembered most fondly for the crazy year the inchworms were literally raining from the treetops. On one trip, my brother and I were exploring the woods and we found a giant pine tree that had fallen during the winter. We saw something when we climbed beneath it, that it was something more than just a dying thing. We spent two afternoons together fleshing out its skeleton with sticks and rocks and moss until it resembled the other thing we saw. We disappeared under that tree and we slipped into a crack in the earth.
That spot was special and we both sensed it. Normally we would have wanted to show it off and I didn’t understand then what kept us silent. We even managed to stay quiet as our parents passed right beside us, wondering aloud at what we were up to that they hadn’t seen us around. We were safe in the bubble of that beautiful, dying pine tree, in both this world and another.
Have you ever found a spot in nature that feels that way to you? A place you like to escape to, to unplug from the world? A place you only reveal to people you feel close to? I have dozens of spots like this. Everywhere I go there is a place that speaks to me, something that pulls at me. Some tree, or rock or clearing.
I believe that I am drawn to these spots because other good energy has been laid down there before me. It could be as simple as the echo of every person who has stopped there and been momentarily spellbound. It could be an ancient place people used to gather. It could be the oldest spot in the woods and it could be the youngest. I don’t think it matters so much why those spots call to me. I think what matters, is that I can sense it, that my heart is open enough to hear it.
These places feel as sacred as altars to me. When I find them in the natural world, its more sense than sight. That sense feels kind of fuzzy and unclear. But I am drawn to add to it, to leave offerings as if it were a holy shrine. I think about bringing the shrine to life like creating a painting, by adding color and texture to create clarity.
I soft focus my senses so that I am taking in everything without any one thing pulling my focus and I walk around the space, feeling out what spots sing to me. Where do I feel the wonder? Where does the energy seem to concentrate? How can I make that more obvious to other eyes?
I take objects from the space itself, sticks, stones, feathers, the odd bone, and move them to another spot in the space where it feels better to me, and I’m no longer surprised to see patterns emerge. The more pieces I move, the sharper into focus the good feeling becomes, until it hums. When my skin hums I know it is good. I have laid another layer of good energy down in that space. I have acknowledged it as sacred and left behind a bit of magic for someone else to discover.

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