I love the forest! I love her magic and medicine so much!!! For the past 8 months I’ve lived in the beautiful moss carpeted, dancing cedar tree forests of Our Sacred Acres blessed with the flowing waters of Panther Creek. The forest always gives. She is present. Are you? Am I? I enter her often; listen to her soft, silent calling and moist invitation, stepping into, onto the spongy forest floor with my eyes bright and wide. I listen, watch, absorb and give, pouring out love and awe from every pore of my being.
I love her beauty! I like stepping lightly, sometimes on all fours, slinking over and blending in with the soft and varied mounds of fallen trees. I follow the golden glow, stepping off trail and discovering sacred and secret sit spots, napping portals, places where forest spirits share their stories and reveal their enchantment. In each forest wander I discover new teachers and am renewed.
What calls you to the forest? How do you see and hear the trees? They are giving, constantly giving and sharing in their silent, noble, and powerful way.
Early morning qigong and movement sessions in the trees are one of my favorite things. Sometimes blankets of mist, fog and low clouds clothe the forest. This moist water brings the moss, ferns and lichen into their full plump, vibrant luminosity. And oh what a sight to behold, to kiss and caress
Other mornings the sun streams in through the tall cedars and maple vine arches casting the whole forest in golden streams of light. To soak my soles, my soul and body in this Beauty is such Medicine, such delight! As I breathe and move my body in my qigong movement forms, I feel the soil and the sacred Love and Joy of Life begin to flow up my legs, pour into my being, absorb through my pores and I feel tears of gratitude and love for this Land and all the magic she shares.
All it takes is for me to show up, to enter, and to be aware and open. As I open and am present, the gifts of the forest flood into my being and bathe me in beauty.
How do you enjoy connecting with the forests, the lands, waters, trees, or plains of your home? What terrains call to you, inspire you? They are calling you for a reason. The Earth has so much to teach. Now is the time to follow her calls. What she teaches is different for each of us. Beauty and Life, the richness and riches of life await us when we connect with the core of our matter, which is our Earth.
I am beginning to understand – to understand the alchemy of training, toning, musing with my muscles and what it means to grip, grin and ground and pull as one muscle.
So much time is spent floating…floating in our thoughts, floating in worries, floating down the roads in cars, floating over the earth in buildings, houses, or along in shoes. Where is the connection?
Qigong is one of my main tools of alchemy, of grounding and cultivating my Qi. Yet, my practice only began to blossom when I brought it back outside AND began to train my body and tone and tune with our Earth tools. This is a path I’ve been footing now for over 7 years and the teachings from the Earth grow stronger each season. I have come to integrate my learnings from the East in Qigong and Chinese Medicine with my training grounds in the West, our Wilderness wild lands.
The tools are simple and include barefooting, sticking with staffs, toning with stones, weaving with ropes, sacking and more. These simple tools strengthen, stretch, tone, open and shape my body and spirit into a more powerful temple, conduit to receive Nature’s flow of Life, Wisdom, Mystery.
Recently my dear friend and guide, Mick Dodge also known as Barefoot Sensei introduced the practice of Hammering to me. He had begun sharing some of this hammer training with me a while back, though it wasn’t until this past month, that I picked up the hammer and understood his passion for this talisman. My body responded and my passion ignited. The hammer is made of iron, like the core of the Earth. It teaches me to pull (it’s medicine) and grip deep into the Earth. Mick showed me some basic movement forms to build on and to then take the hammer into the forest to train and receive its alchemy. He said the hammer is a useful tool for releasing the power of the staff.
Yesterday I took my hammer upon my shoulder and footed a path into the forest. Allowing enchantment and awe to guide me, I came upon a circle of cedar trees and some powerful old growth stumps. I began to move with my hammer in some of the forms Mick had shown me, when a beautiful mossy staff – or wand – caught my eye. I picked it up and began to dance. I felt the wand had something to teach me. I danced, allowing the wand to guide and muse movements through my muscles. She showed me several simple katas and I danced and flowed in those movements as the evening golden light dabbled in the green mossy woods. Then it was time to these katas shown by the wand and bring it to my hammer. I did and at first moved rather clumsily…but then I felt the iron pull of the hammer and of the Earth. I felt the movements shape shift into a similar kata that the wand had shown, but this one now fit for the slinging, ringing and singing of the Hammer.
I moved and pulled and breathed and sang with the Hammer. I rang with the Hammer sending out my song while pulling in the Earth song.
One of the special alchemies of the Hammer is it pulls much stronger into Earth. It pulls down while my body also pulls up from Earth. This creates a simultaneous spiral movement we see so much in Nature, and also in Qigong. My home lineage of Qigong is a system called Zhong Yuan Qigong (中原气功) and one of our most powerful practices is Big Tree 大树功. Trees pull down into the Earth with their roots and also spiral and pull up towards the sky. As humans we can do this too and qigong augments this process. Many forms of both qigong and tai chi incorporate this “wood” element of spiraling down while at the same time feeling our spine elongate and our qi spiral up and out. This strong pulling into our Earth’s iron core is part of Hammer’s medicine. Its deep pull down creates an equally strong pull and spiral up — augmenting my body’s, my muscles’ natural ability to muse from our Earth, draw Her energy and teachings in.
Beauty. What is Beauty? Do we really know? I recently heard a talk on Beauty and Words in reference to the teachings of the Lord of the Rings. Our world has valued efficiency over Beauty….roads, cars, strip malls, oil rigs, cranes, tankers, concrete, gray, cement, tarmac, box buildings, plastic and packaging of chemicals and life-less, toxic foods. What is the cost? We know, our guts know, our bones know. You can see the lack of it in the numbers of people requiring medications, the rising numbers of people with depression, anxiety, the number of gun shootings….the hollow stares while in a grocery line, rage behind the driving wheel, weak bodies carrying too much weight either in body form or thought forms, or both.
If you were given a choice of having millions of dollars AND always being surrounded by ugliness and scenes of destruction, OR having little financial wealth BUT always being surrounded by immense, stunning natural beauty, what would you choose?
Our hearts already know. This is Nature’s way. It is the Dao. Beauty wins. Everything in Nature is beautiful, old and young and all between. A Forest is full of life and death; death is the cup and cradle for new life and it is all beautiful.
Beauty is often turned into moral issue. Being or showing too much beauty is on the edge of morality…at least for a woman. And goodness has gone drab…again, often equated with a puritan sense of morality. Yet in some languages, such as ancient Greek, there is a word that means both Good and Beautiful. It is an energy we inherently know and trust. We gravitate towards it and water our own seeds of Good and Beauty.
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty”- That is all
Ye know on earth and all ye need to know.
~ John Keats
Beauty. Beauty. Beauty. What does it mean to you?
I step outside in Nature and am surrounded by it. I can stand and stare, observe, feel, witness Beauty in its many forms for hours. The other day while in the Land of OM (Olympic Mountains), I enjoyed some morning training in a mossy forest and qigong by the flowing river waters. Coming to a clearing, I looked up and was mesmerized. White, misty, flowing clouds. Above the trees they flowed north, moving, morphing into different shapes. The clouds….living, creating, always changing, always traveling. I watched and became a cloud; I shape shifted into a cloud and traveled as water, mist rising high over the tree tops and I spread, expanded and felt into the ocean shores, the mountain peaks behind me, trees peering over the sea side cliffs. I felt the tall stones rising from the beach waters, small rounds stones being bathed in the rolling, crashing waves and the vapors rising along the long expansive beach. I became all these things at once and an observer of all.
Morphing into these vapors on the sand and pebbles, again I rose. I rose into the sky, ever changing form and came back into the mist of adoring tears in my own eyes, again in my body witnessing, experiencing life and the innate Beauty of Nature.
Beauty feeds me. Beauty inspires awe, creativity, joy, happiness. Beauty creates and is one with Goodness. Beauty can be our compass. Are my thoughts creating beauty? Is my work creating beauty? Are my words, communications with those around me creating beauty? Are my adventures creating beauty? Am I creating beauty? Am I Beauty? Yes. We just require saying Yes to Beauty; Yes to Nature. Yes to Life. Mother Nature and our Wilderness are my Greatest Teachers in Beauty and in the Wisdom and Joy we can all awaken to.
The sun dips over the Salish Sea towards the tips of the Misty Mountains in the West as I begin my evening walk into the Forest. I finished dinner early and the golden glow on the tree tops and in the high soft clouds, pale blue sky lured me outside as I anticipated another wonder venture in our verdant cedar trees nestled in the Snohomish River valley. Here at Our Sacred Acres, although we are fairly close to roads, other homes and Seattle, you can step into the woods and easily enter the land of the magical, the Enchanted Forest. Tonight was no exception. I entered into the soft leaf, needle and moss covered forest floor, weaving between trees with their low curved branches and climbing up and over green carpeted logs. “Which way shall I wonder tonight,” I wondered? Yet I know one of the forest’s secrets and I looked up to receive my answer.
Ahead was the gateway…I recognized it as an imperceptible breeze moved through the sword ferns under the tall stretched cedar. I recognized its happy greeting, its waving, dancing invitation to come, come come….come this way. This is the way for this magical night! “Oh Yay,” I feel delight rise in my heart and head that direction. I love my forest wanders,…so much presence, sacredness, joy and miracle of the beauty of living, moving natural life singing their songs. There is a palpable hum in the forest. I just require listening, my heart open, my eyes both pouring out love and drinking in beauty. This is how I walk. This is how I play. This is my pathway into Enchantment.
The last few days I find my feet and our forests guiding me off path. At Wilderness Awareness School the other week I learned some animal forms…ways of moving through the forest as various animals. My favorite currently is the cougar…getting down on all 4 paws and stalking, sneaking through the brush, climbing under and up over big mossy logs, jumping and moving off of stumps letting the wave of motion and impact onto the soft soil undulate up my spine through my neck and down my arms, out my hands as I move through the wooded terrain. The forest looks and feels different as I embody cougar…I see and experience with new eyes.
Other times I become Owl, jumping off logs silently, lightly and listening for my next move. I like the challenge of deliberately walking into areas of fallen trees, large stumps, undergrowth and feeling how to foot my way as animal, becoming familiar, at ease and eventually graceful with diversity.
The Forest awakens me. Awakens my shen 神(spirit in Chinese), an inner light to more fully sense and feel the Beauty of the life around me. The last 2 days, I’m feeling plants in a way I haven’t before. In a carpet of forest lilies, many new fiddle head ferns and bleeding heart greens were vibrating in a way that caught my eye. I crouched down and just observed and was in awe. The smoothness and perfection of the lilies’ lines, curves of their leaves and the delicate, so delicate lobed lacy leaves of the bleeding heart. I feel these plants as my teachers…I listened and felt, felt, felt with my body. They shined in presence and I will invite them into my dreams tonight.
My practice is Enchantment. When I enter into a state of enchantment, I enter “Narnia”, I enter a magical world, the Faerie world, or as JR Tolkien aptly named it, I enter into Middle Earth.