Ah, summertime! Warmth, flowers, fairies, what else do you need? I suspect a lot of us Pagans like to get out in nature in the summer, but how do we bring our spirituality with us?
I’m a sucker for learning, so one of my tips is to “learn more,” but keep in mind that learning doesn’t matter if you don’t act on what you learn. Even reading this article doesn’t matter if you don’t take the actual steps to bring your spirituality into nature this summer. May we all be aware of the blessings of the Earth Mother, and show her how thankful we are!
Tip #1: Honor the Numinous
From earth deities to land spirits to genius loci, there are a plethora of numinous beings out in nature and sharing this world with us. An easy way to bring your spirituality outdoors is to honor them wherever you go. Maybe there’s a lovely tree in your local park, or maybe you take a hike to your favorite lake. Perhaps, as you walk around a new area, you spot a boulder that feels blessed by the spirits.
The main issue, of course, is what to offer. Outdoor offerings are tricky because you don’t want to leave something harmful to plant or animal life. Some of the core issues about sustainable offerings are addressed in this article by The Druid’s Garden. However, sustainable lifestyles and offerings are an important and deep-rooted issue in paganism.
Tip #2: Meditate on the trail
Whether you go for day hikes, weekend camping, or an intense backpacking trip, take time to meditate on the trail. You know what I mean: it’s early afternoon and you’re eating lunch, or perhaps its late afternoon and you just got to your new campsite. Take a minute to find a nice rock or grove of trees. Sit and listen to the leaves rustling in the wind, or the squirrels skittering around you. Appreciate how small you are compared to the vast wilds. If you don’t meditate, then go explore, but whatever you do, revel in the natural world.
Tip #3: Go bird watching and hug a tree
Learn about your local plant and animal life! Grab a small field guide from an outdoors store or the visitor center at a park and see what you can find. There’s excitement in finding and recognizing species. There’s so much more for you to appreciate when you spend the time to notice individual flowers or a small lizard before it scurries away. And the best part? You don’t have to drive to a national park, you just have to look in your backyard.
Tip #4: Walk that “green” walk
If you don’t know all the recycling or composting laws in your area, go learn more about that. But this tip is about doing something to “go green.” Clean up trash at your local park. Get a group together to adopt a highway, and spend a few weekends beautifying your area. Call your representatives and tell them that boosting recycling programs and public transportation is important to you. Get your neighborhood or your city to walk the walk and be more eco-friendly. If you can, make your backyard a refuge for native plant and animal life. The “outdoors” is as much about your backyard and town as it is a national park.
Tip #5: Read up on animism
Lots of Pagans hold animist values, but they may not actually understand much about those values or how to incorporate them into their daily life. It’s important to note that animism is a spiritual concept, and anyone can be animist. You can be an atheist animist, a Christian animist, or a Pagan animist. (You can, of course, be a Pagan and not an animist, too.)
Add a book on animism to your summer reading list. Books like Graham Harvey’s Animism: Respecting the Living World, is an analysis on modern views of animism. There are also books on the coexistence of humans and animals such as Living with Herds by Natasha Fijn. You can even look to historical perspectives on the land spirits like Greek Nymphs by Jennifer Larson for inspiration. Pagans are writing about animism all the time, including John Beckett and Morgan Daimler.
Not a fan of reading? I got you. There are actually an interesting TED talk about animism, which you can watch on YouTube. There are also some interesting Pagan podcasts that discuss animism! The fifth episode of Gaulcast is about animism. And The Nordic Mythology Podcast also has an episode about animism.