I originally had written an essay for the nature awareness requirement* of ADF’s Dedicant’s Path (DP) that discussed the fact that I don’t feel like I have a spiritual connection to nature and this is due to medication and mental health issues. My DP mentor helped me recognize that a spiritual connection doesn’t necessarily mean that I “can hear the voices of the trees,” as she put it. I realized that I do have a spiritual connection to nature, even though I wasn’t defining it as such.
Up to this point, I was defining “spiritual connection” as some sort of mind-blowing and profound experience like having visions or being able to communicate directly with the Earth Mother. Now I realize that my spiritual connection with nature has a more subtle presence in my life, but it is definitely there.
A few weeks back, when the temperature was below freezing and there was a fair amount of snow on the ground, I saw a feral cat scampering quickly through the back yard. I instantly grew sad because I realized the poor creature was looking for a warm shelter. I might have even cried a bit, though I can’t remember. I so wished I could have helped it in some way.
Another example of this emotional connection to animals occurred just last night, when there was a story about videos captured by cameras on the dashboards of cars in Russia providing a form of entertainment. One of these videos showed a truck, hauling cows, coming from the opposite direction and veering in front of the car recording. The truck tipped over, and since the top of the container was open, the cows spilled out onto the roadway. I sincerely hoped that the cows weren’t seriously hurt, either from falling onto the road or from being hit by traffic.
The only way to explain this intense emotional connection to these animals would be my awareness of the changing seasons, my awareness of the tides of the sun and moon, noticing the animals and plants around me, and my love of spending time outside in the sun in warmer months. It doesn’t hurt that I make offerings to the Nature Spirits during longer rituals (not devotionals).
To maintain this connection, I recycle when I can. This is made easy at home by recycling pickup every other week by the same company that picks up the garbage every week. This service is provided at no additional charge. The recycling pickup takes cardboard, and plastics numbered 1 and 2, though I wish they also took glass. The recycling can gets pretty full sometimes, even without glass recycling! My family also recycles paper. When a large pile of paper has been collected, we load it in the trunk of my mom’s car and take it to the grocery, which has a large paper recycling bin in the parking lot. In addition, I pick up trash that I happen to see while camping or at the bus stop and dispose of it properly. I know that when I do these things, I won’t save the entire Earth Mother on my own. However, I am making my local “piece” of the Earth Mother a better place for the Nature Spirits in my area. That is something worth celebrating.
May you all connect with your local Nature Spirits, Victoria
*This requirement states: “An account of the Dedicant’s efforts to work with nature, honor the Earth, and understand the impacts and effects of the Dedicant’s lifestyle choices on the environment and/or the local ecosystem and how she or he could make a difference to the environment on a local level.” (Source: http://www.adf.org/members/training/dp/dp-manual-web/appendix-b.html [This webpage can only be accessed by members logged into ADF’s website.])