Rediscover your Pagan nature
Article from: The Daily Telegraph
By Bill Beattie
February 17, 2008 12:00am
GETTING back in touch with our natural surroundings is something that
has many benefits, according to the teaching of a new "pagan" movement.
One of the most successful children’s books of Australia’s bicentennial
year was Donna Rawlins and Nadia Wheatley’s My Place (Collins Dove),
which traces the history of a Sydney district from 1988 to just before
Life in each decade is seen through the eyes of a local child, all of
whom begin by announcing their names and saying, “This is my place”.
This pattern continues until the final pages, where we meet a pre-First
Fleet Aboriginal child who changes the formula by saying: "I belong to
The ancestors of many non-Aboriginal Australians once had similarly
powerful connections to the earth
Now, however, as Ly de Angeles, author and Witch, of Byron Bay,
observes: “White Australians, particularly those of British descent,
don’t think of ourselves as being ‘indigenous’ to anywhere.
"Waves of invasion have eradicated our sense of the land as sovereign
To de Angeles, and many practitioners of Wicca, Druidry and related
Pagan paths, one of life’s central challenges is to restore this connection.
For most of human history, we didn’t have any choice but to be aware of
the natural world. “But with the progression of western civilisation we
developed an attitude of separation from, and superiority to, nature,”
says Pagan priestess Amargi Woulf, of Queensland.
This, Pagans agree, doesn’t mean we should all retreat to the Middle Ages.
The movement is “about forging something new, rather than a
romanticisation of the past,” says Thom van Dooren of the Australian
National University, co-editor of Pagan Visions For A Sustainable Future
It’s primarily about regaining balance.
Making a connection
On any given day, a large percentage of nine-to-fivers would have no
idea what phase the moon was in, which seasonal flowers and fruits were
making their presence felt, or even what the weather was doing outside
the confines of their air-conditioned office.
They might even question whether such knowledge could be of any use.
Looking at these factors individually, they might have a point.
Collectively, though, these small omissions can build into a pervasive
sense of separation from the natural world that practising Pagans would
see as both globally and personally destructive.
On the personal level, Pagans feel that to be disconnected from nature
is to wilfully reject a major source of inspiration, sustenance and healing.
If that sounds a bit flowery, think about how often we instinctively
counter grief with gazing out at the ocean, feel the tension release at
the breaking of a thunderstorm, or have our concerns put into
perspective by a spectacular mountain view.
Strength returns to our flagging spirits in such moments of unplanned
reconnection. Pagans take the logical step of seeing what might happen
if those moments were cultivated.
"The first step towards re-establishing a bond with nature is to notice
it,” says Woulf.
For this reason, the majority of the neo-Pagan religious observances
centre around natural phenomena, such as the lunar cycle or the
unfolding of the seasons.
Most Pagans celebrate eight seasonal festivals each year, combining two
sacred calendars of earlier eras.
The first of these focuses on the solstices (the longest and shortest
days of the year) and equinoxes (the dates when daylight and night are
equal); the second on the traditional Celtic cross-quarter days,
approximate midpoints between the solstices and equinoxes.
Reconnecting to nature is something we should do daily, says Woulf.
“Indigenous cultures teach us the value of stillness – periods of quiet
awareness of our natural surroundings that help us to tune in to their
"A simple practice is to stop for a moment at sunrise, noon, sunset and
midnight to sense what the world is doing and reflect on how that
particular time corresponds to aspects of our lives: beginnings, peaks
of action, closure and preparation for the next day.”
Another Pagan technique is “grounding”. “When we go through times of
crisis,” says Sydney-based Witch, Shannon Rogers, “touching base with
nature helps to rebalance us.”
This process of grounding can be accomplished through a number of easy
Try these activities for 30 days:
• Meditate while leaning your back against a tree, feel your own energy
descending into the earth like the tree’s roots and tap into the
stabilising earth energy.
• Maintain a diet of healthy seasonal fruit and vegies, and drink lots
of water to help flush out toxins.
• Walk barefoot on the earth where possible.
• Observe the lunar phases and note how you feel at each stage.
Whether we view our earth as inherently sacred or simply the only home
we have, the message is gradually sinking in: we belong to this place.
(From Seasonally speaking by Linda Drummond)
Do the seasons pass you by with no more thought than, “Oh, time to put
on the winter sheets now”? If so, how about taking the time to stop and
crunch the falling leaves.
Â¿ Start by performing a welcome ritual for each season. Our
grandparents did this with a spring clean, so why not go retro and
revisit this practice? It’s the perfect way to sweep out the old season
and welcome the new.
Give the house a good clean, pass on unwanted goods to charity and swap
summery items for more cosy, winter accessories. Pop on the flannel
sheets and the winter quilt and drape a throw over the couch. Wash and
pack away your summer clothes and bring out your cool-weather fashions.
Â¿ Eating seasonally is a delicious way to embrace the change in
weather. Ditch summer salads for slow-cooked meals.
Fill the fruit bowl with new-season fruits such as crisp apples and
stock up on root vegies, rather than salad greens.
If in doubt about what’s in season, check out its country of origin –
strawberries from Mexico are not seasonal! Eating seasonally makes sense
– who’d want to eat a mango when it’s 10 degrees outside and you’re
sitting in front of the heater?
Â¿ Bring on the change of seasons and have a welcome autumn night on the
first day of autumn (March 1).
Visit your local farmers’ market to find the best range of fresh,
seasonal produce (go to www.farmersmarkets.com.au to find one near you),
buy a bunch of fresh flowers to decorate the table and as you eat your
meal, think about what autumn means to you.
Every season has its own unique beauty – you just need to acknowledge
what it is. Autumn is all about crisp air, the subtle changes in the
colour of the sky, walking on the beach at twilight and waiting for the
buds of camellias to start to bloom. It’s a gorgeous time.
Â¿ By acknowledging and living within the seasons we can ground
ourselves and feel as though we’re a part of something on this earth.
Rather than letting the years rush by, we’re compelling ourselves to
stop, slow down and appreciate every day and the unique gifts it has to
offer. What’s not to love?
To help you feel closer to the earth, why not perform a small ritual at
the start of each season to bid farewell to the old, and welcome the new.
Autumn: Buy a big bunch of flowers in warm, autumnal tones and display
them in the centre of the room. Give the room a seasonal clean,
vacuuming well and then mopping the floor with warm water with a few
drops of lemon essential oil.
Light a red candle and sit before it, thinking about all the warm,
lovely times you had over the summer. Now, imagine all the wonderful,
enriching activities you plan on doing in the colder months.
This is the perfect time to learn a language, start a book club or learn
to crochet. Plan it now, and act on it over the next few weeks. Make a
vow to become enriched, snuff out the candle and give thanks for the season.
Winter: is a time to feel nurtured, so what better time to do a day spa
Shower or bathe with essential oils, spend the day detoxing with fresh
broths and lots of warm water with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Perform yoga poses to really get your body active, yet rested. Pop on a
face and hair mask (yes, boys too!) and sit back and relax by reading
Spring: a time of new beginnings is perfect to nurture the earth. If you
don’t have a compost or worm farm start one now. Also, plant a vegie
patch, or herbs in pots if you’re an apartment dweller.
Open up your home to the fresh air – every window and door should be
flung open to let the breeze blow in and blow out all the mustiness of
Buy a massive bunch of seasonal, scented blooms and place them by your
bedside. Mark down in your diary your exercise plan for the week – aim
to get out daily to take advantage of the longer, warmer days.
Summer: is the time to come over all Aussie and get thee to a beach.
Nothing epitomises summer more than the beach, so if you don’t live
nearby, plan a holiday that goes near the beach.
Take a picnic down at dusk and walk along the shoreline in bare feet
feeling your skin connecting to the sand and the surf.
Sit down and meditate on the horizon, paying attention to the amazing
colours and shapes the moon creates on the surface of the water.
Breathe in deeply taking full advantage of the crisp, salty air.