Acadia National Park on a rainy day

I’m fond of saying we all live under the same Sun and we all gaze up at the same Moon. While that’s true, it’s also true that different places in the natural world have different spiritual qualities about them. Whether that’s due to land spirits or ley lines or simply a by-product of the geography, each place has its own unique qualities over and above its physical characteristics.

My house sits about 300 miles from Galveston, which I think is the closest I’ve ever lived to the ocean. Although I’ve seen the ocean, sailed the ocean, and been in the ocean numerous times, I’ve lived my whole life inland. I am completely fascinated with oceans, coastlines and especially tides.

After spending four days in Boston with a mission to explore history, we drove to Bar Harbor, Maine with a mission to relax and enjoy Nature. Much of that time was spent in Acadia National Park on two very different days. On Wednesday it rained all day and between the rain and the fog, visibility was very limited. Thursday was warm and clear and you could see forever.

artist at work

On Thursday afternoon we stopped at Thunder Hole, so named because when the tide is coming in the waves hitting the rocks sounds like thunder. While I think there’s a little hype for the tourists in that name (or maybe the tides were unusually gentle the day we were there), it was still quite enjoyable to watch the waves hitting the rocks and see the water level steadily rising. There were close to a hundred people at the overlook, some watching intently, some enjoying the Sun, some taking pictures, and one either drawing or painting.

a Druid in his temple

I didn’t have to go far to find a quiet place. No more than 20 yards down the road was a small path leading to some open rocks. The sound of the ocean drowned out the noise of the crowd (who weren’t making that much noise anyway – everyone seemed to understand this was a special place), so I found a nice perch and started taking pictures.

After a few minutes, I heard an inaudible voice say “that’s enough pictures.” I put the lens cap on my camera, took off my sunglasses, and began a centering prayer. I poured a small libation to Manannán mac Lir. Don’t tell me this isn’t his ocean – once you get past Nova Scotia, the next stop is Ireland!

I had been following the “gods and superheroes” debate. I had also read several books with a magical emphasis – some fiction and some not. As I processed the ideas and concepts and inspirations, I was questioning my place in all of it. In particular, I was questioning my place in the Three Centers of Paganism. I’ll have more to say about that in my next post, but sitting there at the intersection of Land, Sky and Sea, the message could not have been clearer.

I am a Druid, a follower of wild wisdom. I am a priest of Nature and the gods of Nature. The outdoors is my temple. These gods have called me to assist them with their work toward the Greater Good. I’m not sure exactly what that is, though I have some pretty good ideas. In the end, though, I just need to do what I’m called to do and to do what I know in my heart is right.

This wasn’t a classical mystical experience. There were no visions or auditions, no loss of time, no melding of the self with the Whole. But it was strong, and it was real, and it was right. When I got up to continue our exploration of Acadia, I felt both peace and commitment.

All of Nature is beautiful, powerful and sacred. But whether they are especially powerful or if they are simply different from the places we are used to experiencing, some places make it easy to connect with the Source of Life itself.

Acadia helped me remember who I am.

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  • Rylin Mariel

    Beautiful, John! I felt almost like i was there (and of course I have been to the coast of New England before, too) – your writing is quite evocative! I really enjoyed your photos, too – nice large ones i can blow up and fill the screen with – i especially loved the one in the rain. There’s something about a rugged coastline in rain and mist that just makes me feel the mystical quality of place.
    Thank you!

    • Thanks, Rylin. Glad you enjoyed the photos. Photography keeps the experience of being there alive long after I’ve left. I just have to be careful not to get so obsessed with taking pictures I forget to _be_ in a place.

      • Rylin Mariel

        I do know what you mean there! I’m afraid this is something that has sometimes happened to me. I have to make sure I make time to just be there, and sometimes i have a little bit of a wrestle with myself to let go of the darn camera… 😉

  • Fearishowtheycontrolyou

    I live in Maine, about 45 minutes away from Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. 20 years ago, Thunder Hole was thunderous and magnificent to behold. Standing in the observation area at the right time was sure to get you soaked and smiling. Today, erosion of the rock has removed it’s previous magnificence, possibly (likely) as a result of pollution which tends to erode things more quickly. I am so glad though that you enjoyed your time here. From a fellow Pagan and a Lover of my home state, allow me to invite you back again soon.

    • Coastal erosion – that makes sense. Thanks for the info.

      Maine is a long way from Texas and there are other beautiful places I haven’t visited yet, but I would very much like to go back to Maine some time in the future.