A slap to the face
Leaves a red mark
Obvious, critical, easily criticised
So we shun
A heart racing
Throat popping and retching
Tired, old guitar strings
Tired of being played;
Not so obvious
Not so easily received
You don’t have to understand
But a slap to the mind
Is still a slap.
Seen and unseen
Felt, always felt
Trailing thoughts like fingers
The blackbird in the fence
Guardian at the gates
Of heart and mind
Turning energy into matter
Words into action
Bathe in the white warmth
Of words well met, for even
The hermit has friends.
Global Recycling Day is tomorrow and the international event offers folks a chance to nominate their recycling heroes and give a shout out to those who have kept up their work for the planet during the pandemic.
In honour of this, I will be taking a very short, local walk to a copse of alder trees by some council offices, with the aims of cleaning the area up and recycling as much of the rubbish as possible. The offices have been empty since last year, with the amazing staff now working diligently from home. The area has, in their absence, become something of a dumping ground and isn’t visible enough to warrant any attention from the refuse collectors.
Litter can be very harmful to local wildlife, and it’s an important part of my spiritual practice to do what I can for wildlife, local plants, and the environment at large. I’m currently working (very slowly) through an amazing Ogham course with the Irish Pagan School. It involves journeying to try and communicate with the spirits of Ogham, which of course have some strong tree associations – and many other associations, too! My journey with the fid, Fern, led me to a discussion about Alder trees, and a commitment to help them – although at the time, I didn’t grasp quite what this meant.
One sunny Sunday, I was out with the kids and we were all taking our government-sanctioned exercise. I’d long known that the grounds of the council offices were full of interesting trees: an apple, rowans, and birches. This day, I discovered that at the path side of the building, there are some old and beautifully gnarled alders. I decided there and then that the area needed cleaning up, as it’s currently full of litter which will not only discourage wildlife but actively harm it. As I made this commitment, a crow flew down and sat in the top branches of one of the tallest alder trees. Although no stranger to coincidence, in this moment I felt like this offering of service had been accepted.
Learn more about following an environmentally-kind spiritual path in my upcoming book, Practically Pagan: An Alternative Guide to Planet Friendly Living
Have you ever wondered about introducing the elements to your children? Or how to get them enthused with nature? I don’t expect my kids to follow in my footsteps religiously, but I’d love for them to develop an appreciation for the world around them, and for their own sense of spirituality, as a source of comfort and resilience – which we need now more than ever!
That’s why I was so thrilled to read Debi Gregory’s book, The Elemenpals: Meet the ‘Pals!, and discover that this beautifully illustrated and gorgeously written volume introduces children to elements of nature both large and small, plus emotions, playfulness, and a sense of inclusivity that’s rare if not non-existent in most other books for children.
Here’s what I had to say in my initial review:
“Quality books for Pagan children or children growing up in Pagan families are a little thin on the ground, especially when it comes to early readers. This imaginative and adorable creation fills that gap beautifully, with a gang of elemental beings who spark the desire to learn about the world and nature. I showed this book to my nine-year-old and my one-year-old, and they both loved it. The nine-year-old related to the emotions displayed by the Elemenpals, and was immediately excited to know what further adventures they would be embarking on. My one-year-old found it soothing and was very interested in the pictures; it was a lovely way for us to bond together. This beautifully illustrated and engagingly written book is for any parent who wants to gently introduce the ideas of the elements, nature, reverence for our planet and even healthy expression of emotions.”
I wrote this last year, after being lucky enough (thanks Debi!) to get a sneak peek at the book. I now have two copies; the now ten-year-old has stolen one, and my toddler insists it’s “MY STORY” every time I pick it up. She loves the emotions, and is always telling me which ‘Pal is grumpy, or happy, and I think she knows the book off by heart now.
I’m hoping to do a reading of the story on the Pagan Federation Children and Families Group towards the end of this month. The group runs weekly threads for kids and families, promoting the sharing of resources for Pagan families and suggesting fun ideas, so come along and join in!
Above all, get your copy of Elemenpals if you have kids, know kids, are a kid, or are involved in any groups or settings involving youngsters who would benefit from a fresh and inclusive introduction to nature, the elements, and the world around us.
Did I mention you can colour the pages in? Because you can!
I was delighted to have a guest blog over at Nimue Brown’s fascinating blog, Druid Life. Here’s a little snippet, but do head on over to Druid Life for the full piece.
I believe there is a spirit in everything. My animism is not exclusionary. I honour the spirits of the land, or try to, but I am aware of spirits in other things too. My favourite teacup. The pen I scribble my notes with. Even my laptop.
I think it’s very common to dismiss the possibility that things which aren’t “natural” are somehow excluded from animism. But natural is a strange word when we think about humanity. If we mean natural to means the state of things before humans got involved, then most areas of woodland are not natural – yet plenty of people feel a connection to them. Most fields and meadows aren’t truly natural, yet they veritably hum with life, from the tiniest aphid to the great, surging seas of grass.
To turn this idea on its head, everything is natural at some point. The keys I’m tapping on are made of plastic, which at some point was oil, which at some point was probably prehistoric trees or animals. It’s not too hyperbolic to say I’m tapping on dinosaur bones…
Read the rest of my wonderings on technological animism here.
Celebrate the coming season from the comfort of your own home!
The Pagan Federation Online Imbolc Festival starts soon, intro at 11 am then full range of activities between 1 and 3 pm, all on Facebook so content will stay up all day too. Lots of child friendly content including info about the coming season and a quick and easy scavenger hunt.
I’ve been a bit quieter in here over the last few months, mostly because I’ve been busy finishing off my latest project. Here’s a sneak peek, more to come soon, look out for excerpts and a publication date in the next few weeks!
This year, Samhain might be quite different for many folks. As you celebrate summer’s end and the move into winter, please be safe, stay warm, and enjoy this time if you can. The full moon, a late hunter’s moon and a blue moon by one definition, is full of significance and wonder, so I will be hoping for a moment of clear skies to view it rather than the current (and to be fair seasonal!) torrential rain.