By Spotted Toad
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you...whole cares will drop off like autumn leaves." (Muir) These words from John Muir eloquently describe why we as modern Druids still long for the natural world.
Requirement seven of the Dedicant program requires the student to account for their efforts to, among other things, work with nature. It is really up to the students to decide for themselves how they will accomplish this. Many members of ADF belong to organizations that work with the environment or work to protect the earth. This is not, however, a requirement. Some members choose to become vegetarians or only eat food they themselves have grown. This is not a requirement either. What is required of our members is that they experience nature and grow their connection with it. Many students of the Dedicant program bemoan the emphasis on scholarship. This is one of the areas where what is done is more important than what one reads or writes.
When most people think of nature, they think of wide-open spaces with green grasses waving in the breeze and the warm sun shining down. Or perhaps a shade dappled wood with the moss draped branches of the ancient trees heavy with the mists. The truth is, nature is surrounds us constantly. Whether one is in the middle of the most remote wilderness far from the works of humanity, or in the middle of the concrete jungle of the city. What?!? Nature in the city? Yes even there the natural world surrounds us. Nature is not only the pretty trees and babbling brooks, but the currents of the air and the rays of the sun as well. It can be found in the cycles of the moon and the turning of the seasons. Even in the largest, and, what would be considered sterile by most, of cities nature finds a way. In New York City, peregrine falcons build their nests high upon the ledges of skyscrapers (DEP). The question then is not where must one go to find a natural place, but rather how can one connect with the nature right outside their door, regardless of where that door is.
Ideally, when looking for a natural spot in which to reconnect with the natural world, the your job will be easier if a spot outside can be found, so much the better if this spot is untouched by man. However, if ADF Druidry was easy, everyone would finish their Dedicant program in a few weeks. Furthermore, many of us do not have access to pristine natural areas like those shown in the pages of National Geographic. How then can we connect with the natural world if the only nature we can see is out of our window in the middle of the city?
The answer is, in reality, quite simple. You connect with the nature that is present. This holds true wherever you are. Try this simple visualization:
Begin by grounding and centering yourself. The Two-Powers works very well for this. Once you are ready begin concentrating on your breathing, in and out. Realize that that with each breath, the molecules that make up the air are moving in and out of your body. The small bird chirping in the tree above you breathed these same molecules moments ago. Before that, the tree the bird is sitting in breathed them. Before that they were carried on the wind from far away, where they had been the breath of mighty stag in the woods. Or perhaps, the hot breath of the puma crouched the ledge above that same stag. Continue tracing those molecules back, in and out of each set of lungs, or leaves or blades of grass the molecules have traveled through on their journey. Come to the realization that you are, and will always be, inseparable from the natural world around you. And breathe.
The beauty of this visualization is that is allows you to reconnect with nature wherever and whenever you happen to be. It also strips away all of the perceived barriers between the natural world and ourselves. You only have to remember to do one thing, breathe.
DEP News: Peregrine Falcons in New York City. Department of Environmental Protection. .
Muir, John. Wisdom Quotes. Jone Johnson Lewis. 1995-2006. .