We set free that part of ourselves that longs for a direct relationship with the natural world. It is that part of us that longs to walk barefoot in the grass, swim naked in a river, lie beneath the sun, sense the deep earth beneath us and feel the cool breeze across our skin. We learn to inhabit the natural world in a loving relationship with the stars, moon, mountains, animals, trees and plants.
Ah, not to be cut off
Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.
The inner—what is it?
if not intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.
— Rainer Maria Rilke
David Abram is an American philosopher, cultural ecologist and performance artist, best known for his work bridging the philosophical tradition of phenomenology with environmental and ecological issues. He is the author of the The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World and Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology for which he received, among other prizes, the international Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction. Abram is founder and creative director of the Alliance of Wild Ethics (AWE); his essays on the cultural causes and consequences of ecological disarray have appeared often in such journals as Orion, Environmental Ethics, Parabola, Tikkun, and The Ecologist, as well as numerous anthologies.
Practice ideas for developing a direct relationship with nature.
Practice: We use this trance journey to ground our body in the energies that flow upward from the center of the earth and downward from the heavens. The trance journey was created by Storm Faerywolf, the author of Betwixt & Between: Exploring the Faery Tradition of Witchcraft.
The Solar Festivals
Practice: We attune our lives with the natural rhythm of life forces by sharing rituals together during the seasonal quarters and cross-quarters marked by the movement of the sun through the heavens.
Imbolc marks the first of three spring festivals in the pagan tradition. It is difficult for us to imagine spring in what feels like the…
Ostara arrives between Imbolc and Beltane and marks the second of three spring festivals in the pagan tradition. Ostara marks the Spring Equinox when the…
Beltane marks the third of three spring festivals in the Pagan tradition. As the days grow longer, Beltane is a time to celebrate the arrival…
When the Earth’s axis tilts the Northern Hemisphere farthest from the warmth of the sun, we experience the Winter Solstice. Yule, the pagan name for…
Phases of the Moon
Practice: We attune our lives with the natural rhythm of life forces by allowing the phases of the moon to time and guide our rituals.
How the phases of the moon can guide rituals:
- The new moon is the time of the dark moon, the period of death and rebirth. A time of incubation between cycles. An ideal time to rid yourself of things that no longer serve you, a time of transformation.
- The waxing moon is considered a good time start new endeavors, or to plant the seed of an idea or activity.
- The full moon is a time of fruition, of achievement, of illumination. The full moon is the ideal time for celebration of achievements.
- The waning moon is a time to reap what was sown, the harvest. But also of preparation for the coming winter, for death, for the next cycle.
Practice: We craft powerful and meaningful rituals for our circles by skillfully using correspondences, timing, environment, attitude, music, mediation, altars, tools, costumes and safety. We also use original and borrowed written materials.
A Ritual to Work with Fear
We use the energy that flows into our senses to work with emotion. For example, after identifying a situation that brings us fear, we bring the fear in our bodies into compassionate contact with the sound of the meditation mantra below, the scent of Frankincense and the light of a candle. Frankincense (resin of the Boswellia tree) has psychoactive properties that helps alleviate anxiety.
This mantra helps us work with fear. It calls on the powerful archetypal feminine energy in the form of Maha Kali—known as the mother of creation and destruction, the mother beyond time and space. She is a force of awakening, eternally devouring what is false and moving us only towards true reality. She illuminates for us how all darkness can be transformed.
Prepare by placing a censer with a charcoal tablet and enough candles for all participants on an altar at the center of the circle. Light all of the candles.
The facilitator guides the group through these steps:
- Hold a flame to the edge of a charcoal tablet on a censer until the edge glows red.
- Close your eyes and identify a situation in your life that makes you fearful. (Three minutes)
- Stay present with the fear energy within your body. Simply hold it compassionately. (Three minutes)
- Start playing the meditation mantra above.
- Add two or three pieces of Frankincense resin to the hot charcoal tablet.
- Stay present with the sound of the mantra entering your ears. If your thoughts take over, simply return to the sound of the mantra in your senses. (Three minutes)
- As you breath in, imagine the sound of the mantra traveling from the base of your spine through your abdomen to your heart, infusing and touching your fear energy (Three minutes)
- Stay present with the scent energy of Frankincense flowing into your nostrils. If your thoughts take over, simply return to the scent of Frankincense in your senses. (Three minutes)
- As you breath in, imagine the scent of Frankincense traveling from the base of your spine through your abdomen to your heart, infusing and touching your fear energy. (Three minutes)
- Ask participants to get a lit candle from the altar.
- Stare into the flame of the candle. Stay present with the warm light flowing into your eyes. If your thoughts take over, simply return to the light energy in your senses. (Three minutes)
- As you breath in, imagine the warm light of the candle traveling from the base of your spine through your abdomen to your heart, infusing and touching your fear energy. (Three minutes)
- Once the mantra is over, add a few drops of Cedar or Pine essential oil to the charcoal tablet on the censer.
This practice can be used with other emotions. The craft in this practice is to learn how to pair the right essential oil or incense with an emotion.
Practice: We engage all the senses in our rituals by making oils, using incense and candles, engaging the body and preparing music.
An elemental oil to invoke the power of the air.
Base: 1/8th cup of Jojoba oil
5 drops Lavender
3 drops Sandalwood
1 drop Neroli
Living With the Natural World
Practice: The natural world is our soul. We develop a direct relationship with the natural world by spending time in nature, learning about the natural world, recording our journey in a journal and cultivating an indigenous spiritual path like Druidry.
Resources for developing a direct relationship with the natural world:
- The curriculum at the Ancient Order of Druids in America
- The curriculum at the The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids
- The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World (pdf) by David Abram
Resources for exploring wilderness.
- Alliance for Wild Ethics
- The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World by David Abram
- Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram
- Essence of Permaculture by David Holmgren (free download)
- Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability by David Holmgren
- The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy — and Why They Matter by Marc Bekoff
- The Secret Life of Plants: a Fascinating Account of the Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Relations Between Plants and Man by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird
- Intelligent Trees Film
- Forest Bathing (Shinrin-yoku)
- Inner Mammal Institute
- Oklahoma Nature Set: Field Guides to Wildlife, Birds, Trees & Wildflowers of Oklahoma
- Herbal Healing for Men: Remedies & Recipes, Rosemary Gladstar
- Mountain Rose Herbs (supplies)
- How to Make Teas with Loose Herbs
- How to Make Herbal Infusions
- How to Make Herbal Tinctures
- Echinacea Tincture
- The Wholistic Healing Guide to Cannabis: Understanding the Endocannabinoid System, Addressing Specific Ailments and Conditions, and Making Cannabis-Based Remedies, Tammi Sweet
The Pagan Tradition
- The Spiral Dance: The Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess, Starhawk.
- Betwixt & Between: Exploring the Faery Tradition of Witchcraft, Storm Faerywolf.
- Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans In America, Margot Adler.
- Lessons in Magic: How to Use Magic Creatively to Transform Your Life, Philip Carr-Gomm.
- Transformation Through Tarot, Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm and Will Worthington.
- Ancient Order of the Druids in America
- The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids
- Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune by Chris Brennan
- RitualCraft: Creating Rites for Transformation and Celebration, Azrael Arynn K, Amber K.
- Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Correspondences, Sandra Kynes.
- Burning Incense on Charcoal.
- The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews, Scott Cunningham.
- Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Scott Cunningham.
- The Magic of Flowers, Tess Whitehurst.
- The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils, Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D.
- Mountain Maus Remedies (supplies).
- Tru Elements Essential Oils (supplies).
- Original Swiss Aromatics (supplies).
- Starwest Botanicals (supplies).