All this might sound like malarkey to someone who has never had such experiences, or more likely, has had them and didn't notice them or blew them off as mere moods and fancies. So I want to suggest a brief exercise, one my readers in snowy realms will find a lot easier to do than those of us on the California coast or in some similar place.

In my healing workshops, like the one I will give next month at Pantheacon, I teach people how to see the densest of the energy fields around their hands. It's no big secret. I wrote how a person could learn to see this energy in a blog celebrating Earth Day over at Beliefnet. No reason to describe what to do here, just go there.

(In my experience ,most people can learn to see this, although there are some who apparently can't. On the other hand, some have seen them from childhood. I suspect like so much else the ease of being able to see this forms a bell shaped curve.)

Once you can see this energy film, go outside and look at tree trunks in the same way—with what I call a "permissive gaze"—being sure to keep them in focus but not staring. You will see similar but different energy fields emanating from the trunks. This is much easier when there is a plain background behind them, such as snow, and far more difficult when the background is broken up by plants and rocks and such, each with its own field. But where there is no snow even a blank wall will help. Some people say they feel these fields more easily than they see them.

Consider that as we walk through a forest, or just stroll upon the land, we are continually intersecting and meshing our personal fields with those of the more-than-human world within which we live. Just as these fields impact us, so ours impact the land around us. It is sad that in this society the chief human impact is destructive even as we try and get into wild nature to help attain some inner peace and greater perspective on our lives. But it needn't be so, and while this insight is particularly in tune with a Pagan sensibility, it is hardly confined to one.

If we are immersed in changing gestalts of energy fields, some small and temporary, some generated by plate tectonics and other titanic sources, and most in between, the idea of gateways gains credence. This is particularly the case if those fields spill over into other dimensions, as I believe they do.

When a place, big or small, fleeting or long-lived, attracts your attention as particularly important for you, honor it. In doing so you add your own energy to that spot in a respectful way. This strengthens your own connections to the powers of the earth.

Perhaps walking in this thoughtful and aware way is the insight about "beauty" expressed so wonderfully in the Navajo Blessing Way chant:

In beauty (hózh'q) I walk

With beauty before me I walk

With beauty behind me I walk

With beauty above me I walk

With beauty around me I walk

It has become beauty again

It has become beauty again

It has become beauty again

It has become beauty again