Today I went out on my nature meditation. In all honesty I have been avoiding this like the plague. In alpine it is so cold and snowy during the winter and i really don't feel like being out in it at all. Add that i have to bring my daughter out with me and well.... it is intimidating.
As i bundled us both up in our winter gear and got ready i tried to fill my mind with positive thoughts. Even so and overwhelming feeling of grumpiness started to set in. But I went out anyways and i am glad i did.
Firstly, it was a nice day out today. The snow gently drapes over the mountains and the fields. The air is still and clean (except for the occasional whiff of exhuast). I really got the chance to SEE winter in a new way. Also, to experience it. as I walked and looked around I thought about how the Celts and druids felt about winter.
At this time food would have been short, they would have been living off of stores from the harvest and the occasional animal slaughtered or hunted. It was to cold and snowy outside to do all that much, so no doubt a lot of winter was spent at home, with their families and short excursions outside for firewood, hunting and local gatherings for trade, festivals, and gossip.
Obviously, the druids didn't live here in Wyoming. But our long cold winters were not that different from those of the Celts.
During my meditation I also watched my daughter Rhiannon. She saw the snow and felt it and played! To her the snow is not symbolic of cold winters. To my one year old all of nature is beautiful and amazing. She sees the wonders of it without and ideas of what she is SUPPOSED to think. I felt a renewed sense of awe in winter by watching the joy my daughter had in experiencing it. As we played together and laughed at the snow I heard birds off in the distance. I looked towards th horizon and far over the feild I saw them... Two gorgeous large birds calling to one another that settled on some telephone poles.
My first thought was that these were red-tailed hawks... but they seemed so large! I watched them for a while as their call echoed over the valley. On closer inspection I was delighted to find out that these birds were two bald eagles! I was humbled to see these magnificent birds. Had I stayed in today I would not have been so lucky!
I showed Rhiannon and she thought they were fantastic. Beyond the eagles calling, all of nature was silent. It feels like it anxiously awaits the return of spring. All of the crops are still dormant yet there are those plants and animals that hold the promise of the return of spring. The evergreens are as beautiful as ever, each dusted with a light frosting of snow. And the grass is tall in the fields, and although it is golden yellow, it reminds me that it will be green again. Even the leafless trees, which now are just skeletons of their summer selves, remind me of spring.
The seasonal cultures of the past all marked the winter solstice. They held this turning of the seasons in great regard, with monuments align with the moment of the soltice. My daughter was born last year on the 24th of December, just after the solstice. in 3 days she will be one. Fore this reason, I felt like her birth was my personal marker. She was born, and like spring, she slowly grew and bloomed, beautiful and joyous. Although she cannot enter back into the womb... she is yet again spending long days at home with me and my husband, cuddling up with books next to the hearth (well electric heater) and awaiting the return of spring. She learned to crawl in the spring this last year and can now walk. This spring she will be able to experience nature in ways she never has. She will get to run in the fields and play in the dirt and feel the earth beneath her.
These things must have been how the ancients felt. They saw the gods in the land, in their own families, and in the seasons. Divinity is hard to find in a world ruled by science and technology. But is the rustle of leaves and the scent of pine it is easy. It is in the outside world, where things grow by the laws of nature... that life IS a ritual and nature HAS magic.