Nature awareness has three facets: the awareness of nature as it exists around us physically; the awareness of the spirits of nature and their relation to us; and the awareness of the Earth Mother herself, and the other deities who are also her children, and the relation of these beings to ourselves…
Find a place that connects you nature so you can visit on your lunch break or before work each day…. go to it at least once per week for a full hour. Sit, stand, or lie in your place and simply feel the world around you. (Dangler, “The ADF Dedicant Path Through The Wheel of the Year”)
Unsurprisingly to anyone who knows me, I chose the beach, Sunset Beach in particular. I was able to get there twice during the week; once to complete the hour-long meditation, and once to host a full moon drum circle. I don’t take a lunch break, and my before work time is consumed with other things, so I’ll need to approach this exercise in my own way.
The first day I went there just after lunch, and took a long walk before I stopped. The day was sunny, and I made the choice (which I later regretted) to walk barefoot. The walk towards my spot was purposeful. I wanted to get past most of the vacationing beachgoers and find a place where I could lay in the beach grass and tune in.
Once I found my spot, I headed away from the water, where my feet were cooled by the waves, through the deep sand and up to the side of the dune where the grass grows. I lay down in the warm sand, cushioned by the deep green blades that were surprisingly soft and Listened. I heard the waves and the occasional cry of the seagulls. I heard the wind rustling the grass around me, and felt as though the leaves were caressing me and welcoming me to relax. The more I relaxed, the more I felt as though I were part of a very lively and interconnected system, both seen and unseen. I pulled my tshirt up over my face to avoid sunburn, and for a time, I tranced. I forgot that I was separate, and my thoughts drifted further and further apart so that in the space between I could just breathe in exchange with the world around me.
When I decided to head back, I went back down to the water’s edge. The tide had come in just a bit, and Manannan left three intact sand dollars for me to find half-buried in the sand. I felt as though it were a blessing and an omen; a reward for my earlier dedication ritual on Sunday.
On Wednesday night, I revisited the beach with a small group of family and friends who drummed for the full moon. The light was incredible, as was the sound of the drums integrating with the waves and other sounds of the night. We had a fire and after a few hours, most people drifted away. I spent time in the waves, looking first for sand sprites (it was too bright), and watching the moon dance on the water. Finally I was there with one other friend and the fire, and as our conversation died off, I laid on the night brightened beach, watching the fog roll in.
Sunset Beach is definitely my spot, though I do hope to find a place relatively close to campus that I can also use. A more woody connection would be good as well.