(Originally published in Druid's Progress 11)
Surprised by the first frosts of autumn, I was unprepared for the chill. Overwhelmed by the sudden falling of leaves and the crunch of deadlines, I found myself confronted with the unexpected loss of a life and, also, a memory of my first Pagan impulses.
Our groves' autumn equinox ritual had been preceded by a sleepless night and failed efforts to save a family pet. Elroy the ferret had taken ill the evening before, and he died in our arms as we were rushing to the veterinarian.
At first, death seems like a simple pause in breath. How can these same eyes no longer see? How can this same heart no longer beat? Even with his body buried, I see his familiar face in a house that seems hollow.
I had felt this loss before, as a child, when my parents prepared my pet for a burial -- that I insisted be accompanied by a funeral. It was then that I was told that the Bible teaches that animals have no souls, no heaven and no savior. I thought: if God's heaven didn't allow animals then I didn't want any part of it!
If the Bible teaches that humans are the only form of life with spirit, then the Bible is wrong. It was then that I tossed the book aside and went to the source -- the Earth, the Mother of All Life.
Flowers and simple cairns of stones mark offerings from the hearts of children in yards and parks all across the world, and they stand as a testament to the truth of our faith. The monuments may not be large, but they are many, and they are sincere. The practice has been carried on by children, Pagans and people true to their hearts since there has been love and loss. The spirits of nature have a home in my heart and my religion as kindred spirits of the Earth.