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Project Conversion

Yesterday, it happened. It happens every month: A glimpse of understanding, a moment of Satori when suddenly, I connect and chaos briefly resembles order before dispersing again.

The first week of every month is about rituals and practices. Here is where I set the tone, establish a rhythm, that way I can break free later. I had a hard time with that so far this month because of the initial difficulty earning the trust of some within the Pagan and Wiccan community. Now that those fires have cooled some, I am able to focus and slip into the groove of my practice.

If you’ve followed me on Project Conversion for a while, you may notice a pattern. Although I have a Mentor each month, I typically wander off, inch by inch, from their overall particularities and explore the faith more independently. This is where the sparks fly and the magic (no pun intended) really happens. In my experience, this it one of the most crucial times for any spiritual explorer. This is when one sees truths and concepts for themselves instead of relying on what they are told. What’s so amazing about the numerous Pagan paths (particularly Wicca) is the concept of exploration.

Call upon the Goddess and God to protect you and teach you the secrets of magic. Ask stones and plants to reveal their powers – and listen.” –Scott Cunningham, Pagan and Wiccan author

Ask stones and plants…and listen. Wicca appears to be a spiritual path based on profound interaction between the God and Goddess, nature, and the learner. At some point, the practitioner might come to understand that there is an eternal bond between all three in the form of quantum energy. I’m not sure, but so far it looks like we can ask this question directly.

I have one Mentor but many teachers each month. Most of them are from the Congregation on the Facebook page, but I have never thought of the “stones and plants” themselves being teachers as well. Just as I pondered this idea, a Pagan friend and long-time follower of Project Conversion sent me a wonderful lesson plan for working with the elements. Much of this included not just recognizing and respecting the elements…but communing with them–most notably–a tree.

“Ask the stones and plants…and listen.”

Okay, I’m listening.

I thought this would be a great time to visit the Temple at the river. After all, this is where my most profound experiences have taken place this year. Trouble was, I didn’t have the fuel to get to the river and we’re pretty stretched financially right now (big reason all of my items are handmade this month), so I couldn’t even afford to go. Frustrated, I walked out into my back yard wondering what to do. Then, I looked up…and it happened.

 

The Blackjack Oak in my backyard saying, "Wassup?"

According to many sources, the oak tree is considered a symbol of the Horned God, a name common to Wiccans and the greater Pagan community alike. This tree towers above all others within a few blocks of our house and one of its branches shades a good third of our yard. I got the message. I don’t have to travel to a far off grove, temple, shrine, or so-called “sacred” place to commune with nature, the God, or the Goddess. They were right in front of me the whole time. Everything I needed to learn could be found within this half-acre lot. I ran inside, grabbed my camera, and spent the next two hours watching, listening, and tripping out over the enormity of such a small, seemingly insignificant space. Here are some of the lessons I learned…

Beauty is both simple and complex and can be found in every space, if we but stop for a moment, look and listen.

Can you spot the three insects in each of these photos? I had to get uncomfortably close to capture these, but would have never noticed these busy creatures had I not stopped cluttering my mind with noise and simply paid attention. What could we all see and be a part of within our own micro-environments if we acted as if we were a part of them?

Barriers are an illusion. In these two photos, plants break through the walls mankind sets up in order to “control” nature. There are few lines in nature, only curves, and by their nature curves bend around everything. To live as if we are nature’s master is a grave mistake and as these plants display, time and even the most gentle of consistent pressures surmounts any barrier. How can you become closer to your natural environment today?

See the squirrel? How about the lizard? I didn’t notice them until long after they noticed me. With the clutter and noise of our everyday lives, so much knowledge and beauty slips away. How much could we learn, how much more fulfilled might we be if we learned to reconnect with our natural space? We’ve convinced ourselves that we are somehow apart from nature. This is why we go camping or watch nature. At what point did we reach a place where we had to leave one space in order to be part of the natural world? What would our lives be like if we understood that we never left?

See the tiny mosquito on the middle of my knee? Just as I started getting a little too philosophical, a little too serious, this seemingly tiny, insignificant creature pulled me away from my daydream. The trip was over, but the lessons continue. This mosquito reminded me that no matter what we do, no matter how “advanced” we become, we will never be apart from nature. Our very bodies comprise of thousands of micro ecosystems–worlds only powerful microscopes can show us. We are a universe within a universe, and the God and Goddess are part of the rhythm and orchestra of life and nature which plays all around us, and within us.

From this point on, much of my posts will be about Wicca in general, however any aspects specific to a particular tradition will be noted as such. Fey Wicca then, becomes my base of exploration. This is how I am able to explore each faith each month without getting caught up with one particular sect, tradition, or denomination.

A wee child toddling in a wonder world,
I prefer to their dogma my excursions into the natural gardens 
where the voice of the Great Spirit is heard in the twittering of birds,
the rippling of mighty waters, and the sweet breathing of flowers
If this is Paganism, then at present, at least, I am a Pagan.
–Zitkala-Sa

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