I have a confession to make. I have not been taking the proper time to connect to the land this summer. I can use the busy nature of being a co-owner of two businesses as an excuse, but it’s not a really good one. It’s not that I have dropped my practice. I meditate every day, and I try to get in rattling everyday. I greet the morning with prayer and gratitude. I do my best to cultivate awareness about what is happening inside of me as well as outside. I just haven’t made proper time to listen to the conversation that’s happening outside between the land and the living things every day… and that is one of my jobs as a budding shaman.
I can try and use the death of my burden tree as another excuse. My burden tree was an old maple that was around 150 to 200 years old. She has been missing half her trunk for my entire life. She was my point of contact with nature, as well as a way to find balance. I would go out and hang out with her as often as I could. I even made a rattle that I often use from a branch that she had lost. It was about a year ago that I noticed that she would put out a stressed vibe before a good wind storm blew over our hill. She even had some weird, apocalyptic messages about having only so much time that she would give me.
So, when my husband called me as I enjoyed a hike with some college friends to tell me that a wind storm had come through and toppled my tree, I wasn’t surprised. I remember the weird emptiness of the spot where she once stood as I first returned home. It was as if the landscape was somehow a little… less. That was my last major hike of the season, and, without my burden tree to get me outside to check in on everything, my practice slipped.
In the end, though, my excuses fall apart. The responsibility falls square on my shoulders. That’s one of those interesting side effects of magical work. You lose some room to complain about what’s happening to you. It begins to present you with the work to change your life. It becomes your choice to use those tools or not.
These are the thoughts that swirled around in my head this morning as I was stranded in the Walmart parking lot. For those of you who don’t know, I work for a local newspaper once a week. Every Wednesday, I deliver stacks of papers to stores. Walmart is one of those stores. As I returned to my car, filling in the numbers of papers left over from the week before, I noticed something wrong. Specifically, my car didn’t start. The vehicle no longer recognized the signal that my key makes. As Josh was in the middle of a project, he wouldn’t be able to get me for a little while.
There I was, sitting in the parking lot, wondering what I should do with my newfound time. My phone’s battery was running low, so I couldn’t do any computer work. Any of the other stores I had to deliver to were certainly not within walking distance. There was just me, Walmart, and it’s vast sea of vehicles.
That wasn’t entirely true, though. To my left was a wetland. To my right was a river hiding behind a strip of trees. I walked up to the wetlands, and breathed in. I don’t know what it is about certain wetlands, but some have this intoxicating smell that I can’t put a finger on. Cattails, perhaps? For all I know, I could be in love with the smell of a certain swamp slime, but there is a smell that I wish I could replicate with an oil mix.
As happy as the smell made me, it still was an untraversable wetland. So, all I had left was the river. I found a hint of a trail through the weeds and trees that eventually led to the winding river that flows next to the Walmart. I sat down, and began my meditation practice to slow my brain down. As I felt my brain reach that sweet spot where everything slows down, I opened my eyes. I could feel the way that the river carried its energy with it. A kingfisher flew over me as he landed behind a rock on the island across from me. The sounds of the parking lot behind me began to fade as I listened and watched the interactions of the plants, the water, and the birds. I looked to the riverbank and saw wild mint growing at my feet. As I saw the tell-tale square stems reach out from their sprawling root system, they brought my thoughts back to what brought me to the river… connection.
Sometimes, it takes a car malfunction to sit us down and pay attention to the world around us. Sometimes, it takes a little disturbance in our life to make us listen to the conversation happening around us. Sometimes, we get caught up in our own world and forget to connect the rest of the world. Sometimes, I need the universe to sit me down and tell me to be silent. Sometimes, I need that reminder to shut up and listen.
I invite you to take some time and connect with the natural world. It’s amazing what a little quiet time and connection to the larger living world around us can do for you.
Talking about listening, if you want to listen to my friend Kassie interview me on what I do, look up The Bitter And Sweet Podcast on Google Play, iTunes, or whatever other way you get your podcasts. We had a fun conversation and I look forward to doing it again sometime in the future. Her website is https://www.bitterandsweetpod.com/ , but it doesn’t look like she’s uploaded the podcast there yet. I look forward to seeing where her podcast goes from here.
Until next time
-The Green Mountain Mage