“To dishonor the Land is to dishonor Me”
– Message channeled by a friend during a 2013 Samhain ritual
I sit on the old but sturdy wooden deck on the cabin I will be calling home for the weekend. My feet are barefoot, a cup of tea in my hands. The air is finally warm, almost all traces of an exceptionally long and harsh winter fading away from the landscape. And my usually hectic life has stilled to silence and quiet serenity. Other than the sound of the wind blowing through the pine trees, there is nothing but blessed, blessed, silence. This is one of the many reasons I love the woods. When I enter the woods or some wild place it as if the burden of the world drops away like a heavy cloak. All the many things running through my head on a normal day – there are always things to do, things to plan, emails to catch up on, friends to catch up with, work to finish, on and on the list goes – vanish. There is only the sounds of the woods around me, the feel the earth, not pavement, under my feet. I always feel more grounded in my body and in the heart of myself. I am usually out hiking the trails in the state parks nearest me as much as possible during the summer months. It’s something I’ve missed during the long winter months.
In a few short weeks this cabin and all others at Temenos will be filled with people coming to honor the Morrigan, for the Morrigan’s Call Retreat. It will be filled with the voice of some of my Sisters, friends, and fellow devotees of the Queen. But now all I can think about is the blissful silence around me and the stillness within me. I had planned on doing some ritual work and journey work, but finding the silence within has become its own kind of ritual over the weekend. I haven’t spoken a word or seen another person since the director showed me around the cabin. And it feels as if there nothing else exists save for myself and the presence of the land that fills my vision, that I feel beneath my feet and sense in my heart.
Part of the point of coming to this place was to, as I like to call it, “make friends with the land”. If I am doing ritual work in an unfamiliar place I like to take some time connecting to the land. At times it may only be a few short minutes in meditation before a ritual, in this case it is a weekend spent in the woods, away from the business and drama of life, far away from cell service and without electricity.
Each morning I make offerings to the spirits of this place. When I come back from hiking the trails and feel the unseen eyes of the Sidhe watching me curiously I leave them offerings on a moss covered tree stump next to the cabin. I sit by an old mineral spring and think of my ancestors leaving offerings at the wells sacred to Brighid in Ireland. There is a tree by the spring with ribbons hanging on it, left by others coming to this place. I tie my own ribbons on a branch, one for the Morrigan, one for Dagda, and one for Brighid.
When I first arrived at Temenos the retreat director spoke of how she feels this place is sacred. And I think about part of a message a friend channeled this past Samhain “To dishonor the Land is to dishonor Me” And I think it is no wonder that I feel the closest to Her when I am in the wild places of the world. That I feel the most content in a grove of trees, or here on the deck of a cabin that lacks any modern amenities, listening to the wind move through the pines.
By the end of the weekend I am sad that I am leaving this place for my busy life. But I know there will be other days spent in the woods, other hours spent on more familiar trails. And in a few short weeks we will make offerings to the land, to the Sidhe, and of course to the Morrigan.