- Mountains And Waters
We came out of the bitter cold into two days above freezing. Today I walked out onto the land and was nourished. Came back two and a half hours later, not cold yet, and very warmed inside. Writing about it now is an invitation for you to do the same, however that may be in your time and place.
I dressed warmly knowing everything would be wet. Brought tobacco for making offerings. Followed intuition about which way to go, and it took me to the river, along a new path not blocked by fallen trees. I sat down in the old place where we always go, and looked and felt. Offered tobacco, but you know that’s not really enough. An offering should be something FROM me, not just bought. I hadn’t grown and dried that tobacco. I offered some song, some chanting. And gave my attention.
It seems to me that there are thousands of spirits in the wild land across the river. I feel them. The name is “water spirits” and the river is utterly alive – but it seems to me that the water spirits live over there in the trees and on the land. I offered wordless song that felt like it came from them. And then, feeling the earth and rocky bluff below me, a deeper chant that felt like that. It was all guessing, all made up, but their presence was very real, I could feel it humming in my body.
I stayed there a long time. Did I ask for anything? I don’t remember. During the last Advisory Council meeting, River suggested asking for help from the nonhuman beings – that asking that I’m always talking about. Then we had weeks of cold and snow, and today was my first real day outside on the land. I think I asked the spirits for help, and also thought of coming back to strengthen this relationship, especially with the rocky bluff which hasn’t been so easy to feel.
From there, following guidance, I left the river and walked toward the North Gate, making my way through fallen trees – all the old paths are changed. But I did reach that place, and felt its warmth, kindness, safety. Stayed there a long time too. Thought about cutting some paths so we can get here more easily.
I found the place where I dreamed of a meditation hut. Fallen trees have changed it, it was hard to recognize, and I imagined that building. Imagined what this forest and earth are asking from us, now.
Walked on to the East Gate, which I knew was covered by broken limbs and fallen trees. It was easy enough to come down from the road, and I found the spot immediately. The creeks were bubbling and lively, but the whole place was fallen limbs. I felt sad. Again, thought about offering care. The energy was so different! This is near two places where I’ve given a lot of energy, planting food trees and making spaces, stairs, paths – to be altered first by floods a couple of hears ago, now by the fallen trees. Perhaps my sadness was for the loss of what I’d done, perhaps the land itself feels broken. Either way, there’s healing work to do here.
Through the orchard, seeking the South Altar – but not sure where it is, and can’t easily get around the many fallen trees. Some were old and it was their time to come down. I just don’t know. Again, the creek was beautiful, bubbling and clear.
I went then to the Elders’ Circle – the Elders being two ancient cottonwood trees, much injured but still standing, and the circle is full of fallen limbs.
Then to the Jizo Garden, formerly an imaginary circle among the red pines by the driveway, now full of downed wood and firewood piles. I spoke with the spirit who lives there, and promised not to take down trees without asking her. Tried to promise to create a space that would be a safe home for her, even while it is offered to others as a place for mourning and remembrance.
Promised myself I wouldn’t wait so long next time.
At the Land Care Retreat we will do this visiting of sacred places. And how wonderful it would be to do healing work with the forests! Whatever actions we do that weekend, it will be about finding intimacy with the land.
So there we are.
That weekend is moved to May 17-19, so I can attend a retreat with my former teacher the following weekend. There’s a limit of ten people, and I’m hoping for a full group.
There may be some work weekends before then – which could be used as work exchange for the Land Care Retreat. Indoor construction; maple sugaring; firewood, fence building, garden preparation… the list goes on. If you’re interested in any of these projects, or are available on a particular date, please let me know.
Also there will be meditation retreats: February and March 22-24; April 26-27, and so forth. And there’s space for a couple more people in the potluck group. Please ask.
May you be safe, and warm enough, during the rest of this winter and spring. Or if you’re in summer, may you be safe from fire and drought.