Author Archives: treewiseblog

About treewiseblog

The Treewise community blog came together to contribute to positive and inclusive communication among Earth based spiritualities such as Druidry, Heathenry, Paganism, Shamanism, Wicca & Witchcraft. We value varied voices and opinions, and emphasize sharing ideas, experiences, and inspirations. Our initial goals include creating a consistent voice, adding to our community, and engaging with our peers.

Without Her

A little over three years ago I suffered a loss that took my breath away. It literally swept my feet from under me and changed the way I saw the world. Grief is like no other feeling on earth.  It is vast and deep and terrifying. Until you have lost someone who is so much a part of you, and so much a part of your world that the rooms in your soul echo after they leave, you cannot begin to imagine the coiling monster that is grief.

My sister passed away unexpectedly at the age of twenty four. The cause was not known at the time, and an autopsy took months, but still came back largely inconclusive. In the months between her death and the autopsy results, my family lived in limbo. There was no closure, no real explanation – just time passing, without her.

Losing my sister shook me to the core. It raised questions that I had never considered. It brought my own mortality into view. Whoever you are and however you view the world – at some point something is bound to turn your focus to the big questions. Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What happens after death? What is our purpose?

The big questions never baffled me when I was younger. I held easy and confident answers for all of them. Knowledge and experience are very different animals. All the philosophy in the world won’t bail you out when you are sinking.

For months I lived in a world of questions, platitudes and terrible advice. The things that people say in these circumstances are senseless and horrible. I was told to be glad I had her for that short while at least. They say that time heals all wounds. You need to put it behind you and go on living, people advised. It was her time to die.

Three years (and a bit) later, I can say with absolute certainty that time does not heal all wounds. The body is so much easier to heal than the spirit. When it is a matter of tissue and blood and bone, healing is a natural progression. The spirit does not simply clot and form a scar tissue by itself. You actually have to do the work.

It took me a long time to find the bottom of what I had thought was bottomless grief. Layer after layer I searched for answers, and only unearthed more questions.  When I finally made it through the sadness, hopelessness, bartering, guilt, rage and fury of the many stages of grief, I discovered the journey was directly into the center of my existence, and the road back was a process of examination of everything I knew. It was a road composed of the big questions.

Strangely enough, my answers to the big questions are the same now as I would have given a decade ago. They have not changed, just grown in perspective and conviction. Time has not healed my wounds. There are wounds that never heal. The nature of our existence is experience. What we believe in theory often holds true when we must live it. It is the living that matters.

I believe that when we die our bodies return to the earth. I believe that the essence of our being lives on. Energy does not cease to exist. She is in every sunrise, every blade of grass, every bird call and every star in the sky.

We live on, but never without her.

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kpKatie P is writer, reader, drummer and certifiable nature nut. She lives rural New Brunswick, where she spends far too much time frolicking in the bulrushes. She also blogs at Wyldwomyn.ca

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A Tragic Tale and a Noble Sacrifice

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So many times we read of distant heroes and beautiful places that are brimming with history and tragedy and fascinating events. It is easily forgotten that the land we live on is also full of stories.

Middle Island is located on the southern bank of the Miramichi River just outside of Chatham, NB. It stretches roughly 350 meters long and 100 meters wide. On the South Eastern side there are sandy beaches and calm shallow water. The opposite side faces out into the middle of the Miramichi River. The shoreline is rocky, with much deeper water and docks.

Perhaps just as interesting as the island itself is the fact that a mile or so inland, there is a lake that is roughly the same size and shape as Middle Island. This has lead to local stories about the two being related. Some people credit leprechauns magic with the creation of Middle Island, and thereby the large hole which was left to fill with water and become the Lake.

Middle Island has a fascinating and tragic history. From roughly 1827 to 1850 the island was used sometimes as a quarantine station. Often ships full of immigrants would arrive in the New World containing passengers who were ill or who had died during the voyage. Diseases such as cholera, typhus, small pox and dysentery were common. One infected passenger could carry a disease aboard that would spread throughout the ship affecting passengers and crew alike. Weeks spent in cramped and unsanitary conditions made illness almost unavoidable once it was present.

In 1847 at the height of the Irish potato famine, immigrants were pouring in from Ireland, in search of food for hungry bellies and a way, ANY way to provide for their families. Cargo ships often sailed with a hold full of people rather than goods during this time. One such ship was the Looshtauk, which carried 462 passengers. Of these, it is estimated that 117 and possibly as many as 146 died at sea. Conditions were so bad that the captain was forced to head for the nearest port, which was Miramichi.

Port authorities in Miramichi did not know what to do with the Looshtauk. It was decided that Middle Island would be put to use once again as a quarantine station. Some temporary wooden buildings were erected, and three days after their arrival, the passengers and crew were finally allowed to land on the island.

Within a week two other ships also arrived and were directed there. Between the three ships over a hundred more people died on the island.

It is difficult in this day and age to imagine the conditions that these immigrants faced in 1847. Middle island had a couple of wooden buildings, and as people arrived and grew ill, makeshift shelters and canvas open air tents were set up to accommodate the sick. These very rough shelters were not comfortable, and they were definitely not sanitary. They would offer slight protection from the elements but no shelter at all from the mosquitoes and temperatures.

Supplies were dropped off on the mainland opposite the island and those who were healthy were able to row across and pick them up. A doctor was badly needed, to treat the suffering and dying immigrants. Some sources state that port medical officers had refused to travel to the island.

A young doctor named John Vondy volunteered to help. He was 28 years old. He agreed, knowing that once there, he must remain until the illness had passed. He was aware that this could take weeks or months.

When Vondy arrived at the island he found himself faced with over 300 patients. It is said that he worked tirelessly to relieve the suffering he found there, until finally falling ill himself. In the ultimate sacrifice, John Vondy died on Middle Island.

Today, the island is a recognized historical park. A stone cairn marks the place as an Irish burial ground, and a fifteen foot Celtic cross monument bears the words “bron bron mo bron.” (Sorrow sorrow my sorrow.) There is a walking path that circles the island and an interpretive center where visitors can learn more about the history of the place.

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kpKatie P is writer, reader, drummer and certifiable nature nut. She lives rural New Brunswick, where she spends far too much time frolicking in the bulrushes. She also blogs at Wyldwomyn.ca

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The Season of Faith

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” ~ Hal Borland

This has been a long winter. Though the snow did not really arrive until mid December, I have found the cold months colder than I have in many years. Snow still covers everything as far as the eye can see, and I am restless from too much time spent inside. A good friend of mine from Arkansas has been teasing me with photographs of spring gardens. Where he lives, the leaves are still falling from some trees while others are just beginning to bud, and what little snow they got this year, lasted only a few weeks. While we are shoveling, he is raking. While we are purchasing seed for our gardens, he is watching bulbs sprout beautiful flowers. It seems unfair.

This is a magical and meaningful time of year in many faith communities. There are calendars, such as the Baha’i and Iranian which begin on the spring equinox each year. Jewish Passover and the Christian holy day Easter, are also celebrated at this time. In Japan they celebrate a national holiday, Vernal Equinox Day. This day and season have been recognized by many cultures for thousands of years, with feasts, stories, local traditions and spiritual celebrations.

The vernal equinox takes place in March of each year, opposite the autumnal equinox which occurs in September. It is the date when day and night are believed to be equal in length, midway between Yule and the summer solstice. In fact, whether day and night are of equal length really depends on where you are. If you are in the far North, the vernal equinox is the beginning of approximately six months of light, but in the far South it is the beginning of an equal time of darkness. For us, here in New Brunswick, this is the time when the days, which have been lengthening since Yule, reach the midway point and begin to grow longer than the night. At this time the sun is directly over the equator. The Earth is not tilting toward or away from the sun.

This year in the Northern hemisphere, the vernal equinox fell on the 20th of March. Ironically, the sun rose on this day to reveal more than a foot of fresh fallen snow, in spite of nearly two weeks of warm temperatures. It appears, for all intents and purposes as though Mother Nature has decided to extend the deep freeze a little longer.

March can be a terrible month for snowstorms at a time when we are all craving spring and fresh air and green blooming things. After two weeks of feeling hot sun on our skin, smelling the thawing earth and hearing melting water, this seems especially harsh.

Pagans celebrate the vernal equinox with the sabbat of Ostara, dedicated to the turning of the wheel and the welcoming of spring. The themes at this time are those of fertility, rebirth, spring and resurrection. There are stories and myths from many cultures that involve the resurrection of prominent figures such as Jesus Christ, the Roman god Mithras and the Egyptian god Osiris. These individuals rise from the dead, at a time when the season is changing and plants and flowers are also rising. Soon the world will awaken, and the snow will melt. Our rivers will rise and spring flowers will begin to poke their heads upward from the frozen ground in search of sunlight.

This year, my family celebrated the equinox with a snow day. There was much shoveling to be done, supper to prepare, and no sign of the sun through heavy grey clouds. We are all gardeners and outdoor lovers. We are spring fanatics in this house, and we could not have felt further from spring. Since our families are a mix of Pagan and Christian backgrounds, we tend to double up on holidays. We celebrate our own days and also celebrate other holidays with family members. This means a lot of chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs.

Eggs are a common part of celebrations at this time, from egg rolling contests to Easter egg hunts. There is an old urban legend which states that at the exact moment of the equinox, an egg can be balanced on its end and will remain upright. This is mostly fiction however, as the right egg can be balanced, ANY day of the year. It has nothing to do with gravitational effects in relation to the equinox.

Some people dye eggs in beautiful colors, or tell tales of the Easter bunny, who in some versions of the tale lays eggs. The nocturnal hare was considered by some cultures to be connected with the moon, as its gestational cycle consists of 28 days, the same as a lunar cycle. In the wild these hares create nests. Sometimes when they abandon the nest Plovers move in and use it to lay eggs. The myth about the Easter bunny laying eggs may actually come from some confusion that arose when eggs were found in what was clearly a rabbit’s nest.

Our Ostara celebration is generally a simple observation. We have supper together and, well, this year, shovel snow. We save the chocolate and candy for Easter Sunday. On the equinox we are more concerned with frost charts, which varieties of beans to plant, and how to head off problems that arose in last year’s gardens. We are talking about things like drumming by the river and swimming in the lake.

It is hard to believe that such change is so close at hand, while the world is still blanketed in white, but this is the season of faith.

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kp

Katie P is writer, reader, drummer and certifiable nature nut. She lives rural New Brunswick, where she spends far too much time frolicking in the bulrushes. She also blogs at Wyldwomyn.ca

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Minimizing

I’ve been flirting with minimalism for a long time.

Minimalism is about having what you need. It’s about letting go of things that take up space and time that you would rather devote to something else. It’s a life style that encompasses everything from spiritual awakening to monitoring your carbon footprint. There is a form of minimalism for nearly anyone.

I consider minimalism to be a spiritual affair. Embracing empty spaces and keeping only the possessions that I use is an act of faith. I believe that I will be alright without truckloads of odds and ends. I am not afraid of wanting for anything because I believe I will have the opportunity to acquire things. I will get what I need when I need it.

Lots of people would call me a minimalist. I am not a person who hangs on to “things”. Even as a teenager, while other girls were filling scrapbooks with memento’s and photos and odds and ends I was rummaging through drawers to locate and annihilate anything I didn’t need. In my twenties I was as likely to live in a tent or a hut as a house, and paring down my possessions was a matter of necessity. As I have gotten more settled, my list of items has crept up.

These days, I have too much stuff. I live in a tiny house, with limited storage space. I chose this house on purpose – and I knew that it would severely limit the amount of stuff that I could expect to bring home. I prefer my possessions to be useful, decent looking, well maintained, multipurpose, properly stored and long lasting. I can guarantee that about half the things I own right now, do not fit those criteria.

When you settle into one residence and stay for a number of years, you bring things home. People give you things. Your junk drawer overflows and your closet suddenly houses shady characters you don’t quite recognize. I have lived in this house for long enough to have accumulated things I don’t use, don’t want or in some cases don’t even remember.

Over the past few weeks I have been doing some purging. I’ve been sorting various drawers and cabinets and really examining my possessions. I ask myself, if I charged this item rent for living here, would it have enough opportunity in any given year to work off the debt? In an embarrassing number of cases, the answer is no. If an item is not able to earn its keep, it must fall into one of two categories. It is either a sentimental item that makes me happy, or it is just “stuff” and can be removed. I am a big fan of donating unused and unsuitable possessions. I’ve practiced it most of my life.

There are things that I will never part with, even though I only enjoy them once a year – like certain Farley Mowat books I have been reading since I was in grade two. There are a few movies that I love and watch over and over. These are things I will always come back to, and consider worth having at my finger tips.

Over the next few weeks I will be continuing my purging project, and probably slipping in some spring cleaning. Most of the items I no longer wish to house will be donated to friends, family or charity or sold online. I will store a few very sentimental items that I can’t part with but don’t wish to display.

Minimalism does not have to be about creating a sterile existence and living like a monk. It can be, if you want – but in my case it is about accountability. I want to possess the things I need or enjoy, without being possessed by them. I believe that creating empty spaces encourages creativity. I know for a fact that a clean and uncluttered living space will triple my productivity, drastically boost my mood and increase my energy level.

What are you hanging on to?

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kp

Katie P is writer, reader, drummer and certifiable nature nut. She lives rural New Brunswick, where she spends far too much time frolicking in the bulrushes. She also blogs at Wyldwomyn.ca

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The Bubble Barrier Stigma

It’s amazing to think how important context is and how easily and often we disregard it.

As an example, any person who has truly felt overwhelmed knows how all encompassing it can be. In that raw state, reason often abandons us. We can’t concentrate on the thing in front of our nose, never mind focus enough to find ourselves an exit. It is a true feeling of helplessness, with no solutions in sight. In this vulnerable state, what a person needs most is a tool to help them get their feet back under them. One of the simplest ways to do this is to picture yourself in a bubble. Being inside a bubble creates a distance between you and whatever is overwhelming you. It allows you time to catch your breath, or for a moment remove yourself from the situation. Visualizing yourself inside a bubble is a very popular New Age technique to deal with stress, and therein lies the rub.

What was old becomes new again, and many New Age tricks and techniques are variations on spiritual or religious trappings. It’s perfectly normal for these practices to continuously change – or evolve, if you’re a “glass is half full” type – to suit the needs of the people of the time. Look at meditation, which has been practices for thousands of years by the wisest and most profound thinkers of all time…and which you can now learn at a local community centre for $5 a session. For many people, that simple half hour of quiet contemplation can change their entire outlook on life.

One challenge in the resurgence of Earth-based spirituality is how we are perceived by people outside our own circles. To be fair, not all of their criticisms are unfounded. Taken out of context, a lot of what we do would seem foolish. I think the same is true if you think of the ceremonies of any main stream religion. In our case, I think part of the blame lies in the commercialization of our spirituality – from false self proclaimed gurus to energy bending witches in television and movies. There is also a naive over-sharing enthusiasm in our community, as the exposure to our religion exceeds it’s maturity. These things don’t invalidate our choices, but the spotlight we are sometimes hit with can take them out of context. It can make others doubt us, and more dangerously it can make us doubt ourselves.

I have an old pagan friend, that in fact is among the first group of pagans I ever met. We haven’t celebrated much together lately, but we still sometimes talk about that first study group we belonged to. My friend often brings up that he misses the secrecy and privacy that used to surround Paganism. It’s great that a person in need can readily find a book that tells them to envision themselves inside a bubble to protect themselves, or encourages them to look for a local meditation class. What maybe is missing is a firm suggestion to keep these things to yourself. We all have vulnerable moments, and we are choosing our own spiritual tools to help us get through them…but perhaps we should save a piece of the strength we gain from them to keep our private lives private, so it can’t be taken from us when we need it again.

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Mike C

Mike C. is a geeky Pagan, living a quieter life with his loving wife in Riverview, NB

 

 

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Breathing In

While I sit at my computer, I gaze at the scene outside. Beautiful evergreens with a covering of snow stand tall upon a blanket of white. It all appears so fresh, so new. Stepping out of the old year and into the new can be overwhelming. Soon I’ll be another year older, inching my mortality away while breathing it all in deeply.

It is a beautiful sunshine filled day. The wind is cold; we have a fire burning in our woodstove. In the coming weeks my days will be filled with appointments, drum lessons, karate, ringette, and hockey. There will be tournaments, birthdays, homework, and tests. A crush of life. As anxiety filled as it can be, I look forward to it. The sound of my children’s laughter as it floats through the house, the smell of something delicious baking in the oven, bubbling over on the stove as I left it to let the dogs out. THIS to me is life.

Distractions have been aplenty for me in the past year. My life always seems to be a mix of chaos and order, and all shades of the rainbow. As a mother, this time of year has always been a mixed bag for me. My children return to school after the holiday break, I have to return to work, bills need to be paid. It can be a depressing time. But it doesn’t have to be this way. It can be every bit as beautiful and wondrous as any other day in any other season.

Breathing in deep and inhaling all the abundance is refreshing. Sometimes life can be daunting. The challenges life brings and drama that accompanies it can be draining. As a parent, taking a step back and looking at the entire picture as opposed to the moment at hand can not only help, but bring things back into view. One of the most important things delving into Paganism has taught me – breathe deep, meditate. For a busy, stressed out parent (especially this time of year), these are two of the most important lessons. Breath deep – literally expand your lungs, bringing in more life giving oxygen, gather in the life around you. Clear your mind, your heart, and your body. Only then move on to the next challenge.

My challenge this season is to continue to remember to breathe deep, taking in all the nuances around me and not allow myself to be overwhelmed. My challenge is to remember that nothing will cause the end of the world. As my gaze floats back to the trees and wind outside, my mind fills with the possibilities of what will be and can be. I breathe it in. Do you?

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Reverse Tattoo

Crowwitch is a spectacular balance of chaos and order. This energetic hockey, soccer, ringette, karate, mom works hard to keep up with her two brilliantly funny children, and enjoy some quiet time with her devoted partner in the evenings. She also maintains a personal website called Crowwitch.

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My Life, Unplugged

From mid 2005 to 2008 I lived in a half built house in the woods with no electricity, no running water and no plumbing. Learning to live unplugged is an experience I think everyone should have at least once, and preferably for a couple of full cycles of the seasons.

I felt vividly alive swinging my feet from the tailgate of a pickup truck parked in the back field. I learned things with a hot coffee warming my fingers and coyote songs raising the hair on the back of my neck that they don’t teach in books.

Modern life is built around electricity. We use it to cook and clean, to charge our gadgets, to run our wifi, computers, televisions and cordless phones. We rely on electricity for entertainment, convenience and comfort. People lose count of the number of appliances that are plugged in and standing by at any given moment. Nobody notices the humming of the refrigerator. We take these luxuries for granted, and then we complain that we feel disconnected from the natural world.

When there is no fridge to keep your perishables from perishing and a hand pump is required to get water from the well, you invent all kinds of new ways to manage day to day necessities. Tasks like cooking, bathing, laundry, food handling and dish washing are no longer simple affairs. There is no time to sit around. This lifestyle requires work, and when the work is done it requires maintenance.

Life doesn’t happen the same way when you live in a shack in the woods without modern conveniences. There is no hot water tank in a house without electricity. There is a wood stove in the winter, the sun or a cook fire in the summer. Tooth brushing is not as simple as turning a tap. Making coffee involves pumping water out of the well, heating it by whichever means is available and drinking it or pouring it into a thermos to keep warm. Breakfast doesn’t come from a toaster. It comes from a chicken, or a garden, or a handful of oatmeal on the wood stove.

The food you eat is less processed when you don’t have a microwave or a freezer. Learning to shop for foods that store well and can be prepared in a variety of ways becomes very important. Growing and raising as much of your food as possible makes sense.

Contrary to popular belief, it is easier to live without electricity in the winter, when cold storage is found on the back step or in a snow bank and the wood stove that warms your house is always available to heat food or water.

Something happens. It’s not all heavy lifting and hard work. You get in touch with the seasons. You become more aware of sunrise and sunset – and if you are like me, you take twenty minutes in the morning and at night to watch them happen. You begin to pay attention to the temperatures, not the weather network. You actually notice the signs of a big frost in the days leading up to it, rather than being told. Extending the growing season becomes a matter of survival and common sense, instead of idealistic puttering and relaxation.

It makes sense to go to sleep a little while after the sun goes down. The light is gone. The day has been exhausting and rewarding. It’s time to climb into bed and rest. When you wake up the sky will be starting to turn a dark sapphire blue. It’s a colour that only happens right before the sun begins to rise. It’s the signal that a new day is fast approaching and there is work to be done.

I live in a different house now. It’s a modern house, on the grid. I enjoy my luxuries as much as the next girl and I understand the impact they have on my life. I still do a lot of the things I did when I didn’t have electricity. I enjoy a lot of the same hobbies and I still grow a lot of my food. Spending time outside and watching the weather and temperatures are high priorities for me.

Since living in the woods I pay more attention to what is plugged in and why. I understand how noisy a house is when you have electricity and appliances plugged in and what a quiet house sounds like.  Every once in a while when the power goes out and the incessant white noise stops I close my eyes and hear coyotes.

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kp

Katie P is writer, reader, drummer and certifiable nature nut. She lives rural New Brunswick, where she spends far too much time frolicking in the bulrushes. She also blogs at Wyldwomyn.ca

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Take a Dose of Nature and Call Me in the Morning

As a new mother and Pagan, I often find myself worrying about how my actions and inactions will affect my child’s future. Like many parents do, Doug and I often talk for hours about how we want to raise our son, and what we consider the most important lessons for him to learn from us. We are both firm believers in the concept of Wyrd (well, Wyrd as we understand it) – all things are interconnected, and our individual threads weave together to shape our fates and the fates of everyone and everything around us. With this knowledge in mind, I am keenly aware that I want to set a good example for our son and the best way to teach him strong, noble values and how to be a good human being is to embody those values and be a good person myself.

One thing that Doug and I are very concerned about is our family’s connection with nature. Doug, a long-time member of the Scouting movement, loves the outdoors and is nowhere happier than in the woods. I am a fierce lover of wildlife and I am endlessly fascinated by the biology and chemistry of living things. Nothing brings me such peace as I feel in the forest or on the beach, surrounded by trees or waves and hidden creatures. Nature is an important part of our spirituality – for us, it is the basis of our spiritual beliefs. And yet, despite considering ourselves nature-loving pagans, we are as guilty of crimes against nature as much of humanity. We drive a gas-guzzling minivan, we don’t recycle enough, we spend more time surrounded by technology than surrounded by nature, we aren’t active enough in environmental conservationist efforts, we don’t always buy local and support good farming practices….the list goes on. Every now and then we are reminded that we must become part of the solution, not the problem, and nothing has driven this point home to us more than becoming parents.

I’m not just a new mom and Pagan – I’m also a registered nurse. At work, I see suffering, sickness, despair and death on a daily basis. I also see extraordinary love, strength, kindness and compassion. The hospital where I work has a healing garden – a beautiful outdoor space accessible to patients and their families which serves as a place for them to “recharge” and, well, heal. I see it in patient’s faces when they come back from a trip to the healing garden – they have just a little more hope, a bit more strength, a happier glint in their eyes. It makes me wonder how much healthier we all would be if our doctors prescribed more nature in our lives. Take a dose of Nature and call me in the morning.

We’ve decided that, to start incorporating more nature in our lives and impart a love of it to our son, we are going to take one dose of Nature per day. Ideally, we would get outside every day and appreciate the land firsthand. We could take a hike, sit on our back porch and watch the clouds, feed the birds, plant a garden, visit the zoo, or clean up a park or roadside. At times when being outside might not be possible or desirable (I can hardly be expected to take my 3 1/2 month old outdoors in a blizzard), we will try to incorporate nature into our daily routine in other ways: watch a documentary, read about nature, buy local produce or meat, recycle, donate to nature conserving organizations, or talk/write about it. I will be documenting our progress in a special family journal, describing our daily doses of Nature as well as how this challenge is affecting our family. I welcome any of you who choose to join us in this challenge.

How do you incorporate nature into your lives as followers of earth-based spiritualities? How do you teach love and understanding of nature to your children? Share some ideas with us about ways to get our daily dose of Nature.

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Natasha D

Natasha is a busy new mom, nurse and down-to-earth Pagan living in Dieppe, NB with her family. She also blogs at Planting Seeds.

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A New Beginning

I have never been one for resolutions.

I usually choose a theme word to sum up my coming year. Some years the word has been health, adventure, creativity or independence. The word is generally accompanied by a vague idea of how I will accomplish this intent. Perhaps I will eat more vegetables, take more trips, or decorate my space with more colours and textures. The path is never clear, but I choose my theme each year and put my best foot forward.

Today a brand new year calendar year is beginning.

By some accounts it is the year that was not meant to happen. By others, it is the dawning of a new age for humankind. The only thing that experts seem to agree on is that this year will bring a shift in consciousness. The great minds of our time predict all kinds of things for this next phase in our existence – and all roads lead to massive change and renewal.

We see this theme constantly in earth based spirituality, and it’s only right. A belief system that is based on cycles that revolve around constant renewal should naturally pattern itself similarly. There is a plethora of new beginnings in paganism. We see this in the turning of the wheel, the phases of the moon, the seasons and the path of the sun and moon across the sky.

If our spirituality has taught us anything, it has told us to be patient. We have witnessed periods of change, great and small. We know that these things take time. We celebrate these changes and have learned to treat each ending as a new beginning.

With the recent publicity surrounding the end of the Mayan calendar there has been a lot of hype, mass hysteria even. For months we have been told that something is coming. Predictions ranged from natural disasters to global mass destruction in the form of an apocalypse.

I remember the year 2000 – yet another date associated, at least in some minds, with disaster and monumental change. It was preceded by weeks of media coverage and dire predictions about global catastrophe. The computers will all crash, they told us, there will be chaos and the world will be plunged into darkness.

Now here we stand, on the very edge of 2013.

There was no great explosion. We are all still here, and life has continued. This seems to be the most constant part of our faith. Life does go on, no matter what happens. The sun will rise, whether we are here to appreciate it or not, and it will make its way across the sky.

I propose that this year, our theme is a new beginning.

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kp

Katie P is writer, reader, drummer and certifiable nature nut. She lives rural New Brunswick, where she spends far too much time frolicking in the bulrushes. She also blogs at http://wyldwomyn.ca

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Reflection on Renewal

The invigorating smell of cool, crisp air you take in deep and let out in a warm haze… Snow crackling under foot as you walk down a darkened path… The ticking of a clock as it nears midnight… A glass raised in a toast… A warm kiss with the one you love to welcome a new time…

New Year’s Eve is all of these and more. Whether celebrating with a group or alone, this season always brings about thoughts of the year to come and those that have passed. As one year turns into another, thoughts of renewal come to mind. There is a stripping of the old, worn facade and a building of a new, stronger, more resilient one.

What is renewal? According to Miriam-Webster, Renewal is “the act of saying or doing over again” or “the act or an instance of bringing something back to life, public attention, or vigorous activity.” It can also be said to be a reanimation, rebirth or revitalization.

Renewal is only a single piece of the puzzle that is you.  What was once strong can become pitted over time by stress both physical and emotional, by illness both physical and mental, and by a variety of other factors.  Sometimes you can’t control those factors, but there is always a chance, a rebirth of what once was, no matter how defeated you feel. The spark has always been there; one only need identify it, and re-grow it. One only needs fight to rekindle those embers of desire – burn down those self-imposed prisons of rejection and dejection and burn brighter than ever before.

There was a time when I was a strong, able bodied woman. I had a wonderful connection to everything around me.  I could walk down a busy city sidewalk and hear nothing but the trees whispering in the breeze, birds singing a storm. I could meditate and focus on the now and rarely feel anxiety or stress. That time has passed but needs renewing.  In a time of fast food, fast diets, fast exercise, it can be difficult to get back to basics, but restarting that energy is a necessary and healthy undertaking.

Renewal has been in the forefront of my mind for most of this year, but more so now than ever.  Not only is this year coming to a close, but so is my last year in my thirties.  As I age, I feel time more then ever whilst sensing its fluidity.  I’ve allowed life to overtake my spirit and my body. Both are in need of a rebirth of their own.  Many see this time of year as a spiritual opening to renewal of vows made, oaths taken, promises to be kept.  It is the inner and outer temples that must be renewed.

As I head into the New Year, a desire for renewal leads me. I feel called to delve deeper into my own reflection and the reflection of the world I create. It will be a revitalization that will strengthen and enlighten me, as it has before. For me, it is a reanimation of myself to strengthen my body, to sharpen my mind, and by extension renew that spirit that burned so bright – a phoenix raised from the ashes.

What reflection has renewal brought to you?

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Crowwitch is a spectacular balance of chaos and order. This energetic hockey, soccer, ringette, karate, mom works hard to keep up with her two brilliantly funny children, and enjoy some quiet time with her devoted partner in the evenings. She also maintains a personal website called Crowwitch.

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