Being in nature

Being in nature June 14, 2013

My Paganism is very much a ‘nature’ religion. I find my connection with myself, other beings, and Life through what most of us think of as ‘natural’ environments. Regardless of my desire to become an urban as well as a rural Witch, I can’t see that changing any time soon. But why?

I gained some insight into that question this morning.

We’ve been in our ‘temporary’ accommodation for well over a year now, but I’ve only just discovered a good spot for my devotions: through a gate, up a path, and down in the horse paddock, there’s a small watercourse with a hollow in its bank just right for sitting down and being.

I’ve begun to go there as often as I can, not waiting to feel ‘spiritual’, or until there’s a crisis, to connect, just taking myself there, with all my thoughts and feelings, exactly as I am in the moment. I sit, and I breathe, with the water and the plants, the insects and the birds, the earth and the heavens.

Sometimes I get a very diffuse sense of connection with Life, feeling all the individual beings around me as parts of a tapestry, telling a far bigger story than their own life and times. Other times, like this morning, my attention is drawn more to those individual beings.

Common carder bee (Bombus pascuorum). Image by JerryL2008 used under Creative Commons License.

A bumble bee flew next to me on the bank, investigating under tufts of grass, poking her head into little holes in the earth; the holes looked like she’d made them herself earlier, fitting her head. Mayflies rose and fell over the water, some of them mating. The water itself sparkled in the sun, and kept up a constant chatter as it flowed over the rocks on its bed.

And the knowledge crept up on me: that I love being in nature, find it soothing, calming and connecting, not because it’s more beautiful, or more ‘authentic’, or better than obviously human environments, but because it doesn’t ask anything of me: it simply is.

It was a startling realisation – as obvious as it probably should have been – one I’m going to be exploring for a long while to come.

On the one hand, yes, of course: I am able to relax and connect because, being in the presence of Being, I myself am able to Be. This is valuable information, and will help me to look after myself better in future.

On the other hand, oh dear: does this mean I see the human world and human beings as inevitably hostile, making demands on me simply by existing? And does that imply that I see every interaction with my fellow humans – including simply walking through a built environment – as a power struggle?

There’s a lot there for me think on.

But right now, I’m simply grateful to the bumble bee, and the mayflies, and the water, for their Being, in which I saw a new facet of myself reflected.

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