I have a secret that I must ‘fess up about. When I came to the state I now live in, many years ago, something called to me, unlike any other land. What was so odd was that where I was living had mountains and beauty, but something about it felt dead and dying. The land I live in now feels as though there is life beyond just the animals and trees.
I spoke to a friend of mine about this who is also a Native American shaman. He told me that the place where we live is one of the few places that still holds its wildness. He believes that there are spirits here that still reside with the land, similar to our land wights, and I could feel them. Granted, I’ve never seen a land wight or elf or disir or anything like that, but he had a point. And whether I truly believe in them or not doesn’t matter. They either exist or they don’t.
I remember one place in Colorado I thought was the perfect magical spot. I saw it when I was a teenager and shortly after I was married, I took my husband to see the place. It was ruined. Burnt up. The trees were dead and charred, and there was nothing left. I was horrified. There have been other places I’ve been to that have been run over by people or damaged beyond belief. When I’ve seen it happen, it has saddened me. And it makes me wonder if anything can be preserved.
Humans Aren’t Always to Blame
The place that I visited that had been ravaged by fire wasn’t necessarily human caused. In fact, it’s likely it was lightning caused, so we could blame something like Farbauti for that (I seriously doubt Thor is to blame for this). Fire is one of those terrible things we deal with out West that is both part of the ecosystem, and yet, can be devastating due to lack of control. I will never forget the dead feeling in that place in Colorado. How full of life it had been, and how dead it was.
But, to be fair, humans have done our share of damage. Even where I live now, it’s not unusual to see trash dumped along side of the road and other slob behavior. I’m sure you see that too, whether you live in an urban jungle, a forest, mountains, plains, or by the ocean. You may or may not do things that are particularly ecofriendly, but my guess is that you don’t go out of your way to ruin things either.
We Are Part of the Natural Order
One thing most people forget is that humans evolved with this planet. That makes us part of the ecosystem as much as the trees, wild animals, insects, and fungi. We came from the same matter that is on the earth, and that was originally forged in a star several billions of years ago.
Everything is interconnected in some way on our planet. What we are ends up getting recycled into new life of some variety. And if we can reincarnate, chances are we’ll experience our old selves a molecule at a time. Pretty deep shit, if you think about it.
We are part of the natural order, and it’s important to never forget that. As divorced as you might feel from the world sipping a latte in a local cafe, the world is still here. A big storm, earthquake, or other natural phenomena will remind you quickly how insignificant you are in the world and how much we simply can’t control. It’s hubris to think that humans hold more power than the gods — and we pay for it when things don’t go the way we intend.
Finding Right Feeling Places
I think the gods tell me that people have pretty much forgotten their link with the world. Oh, there are people out there who still feel the link every day — hikers, campers, hunters, explorers, seafarers — but those who live in cities don’t even see the stars. Sure, they have pets, and those pets bring some sanity in their overall insane lives, but for the most part, they have little contact with anything of the world. All around are man-made constructs and they have lost touch with what it takes to survive should the infrastructure go down. I’m not saying I’m perfect. Far from it. It was a hardship when my microwave died. (I didn’t think it would be an issue, but yeah, I rely on it pretty seriously).
But back to our links with with world. There are still right feeling places on this earth, but with so many people, sometimes it’s hard to find them. The Zen masters were great at creating their own little meditation spots; even when they were constructed, they had a natural feel. Japanese Shintoism is very much similar to Asatru in that it recognizes both tutelary spirits and ancestral spirits with the land. There are right feeling places just as there are wrong feeling places. You may be able to find, or even help establish them with links to the world, itself.
Plant a garden. Go to a park. Adopt a pet. Go somewhere quiet where there are trees and natural ground. Try to avoid the manicured areas and look for something less artificial. You may be able to find peace there.