Working With Nature Spirits
Nature spirits are all around us whether in potted plants and park trees, tended gardens, or wilderness forests. Once you become aware of them, you will find that is normal to greet trees, rocks, butterflies, birds, and so forth, and you will sense their response. It is a feeling of connection and peace that is hard to describe until it is felt. When you do an outdoor ritual and are attended by a butterfly, for example, you are seeing the evidence of Spiritual presence. By extending your aura to embrace Nature, the spirits of Nature will embrace you in return, and soon you will become aware that they leave little tokens for you so you are reminded of their presence and favor.
Found most often around herbs, flowers, and smaller shrubs, these entities tend to stay close to their chosen home, but can be enticed to move in with you by regularly leaving a little bowl of milk out for them at night. A spoken invitation followed up with a gift of milk, whiskey, brandy, or spring water, and perhaps a cornmeal or multi-grain muffin will usually suffice. Do this on the night of a Full Moon since this is when they like to come out into a clearing to dance. If you start finding "Fairy Rings" in your yard -- a circle of mushrooms -- you know they have been there. Respectfully set another offering gift of drink and food in the center of the ring, for they will usually dance for 3 nights. When you have Fairies around your home, you may want to create an Altar in a wild section of the yard where you can leave them offerings on a stone. Certain nights of the year are particularly important to them, with Midsummerís Eve being famous for Fairy activity, and the Fairy Rade when they fly great distances to socialize with their kin. Trooping Fairies are part of this phenomenon, and usually associated with the energy fields of the Earth called Ley Lines. Crossing the line when the Fairies are coming through is not a good idea, and building a structure on these lines can result in discomfort from "hauntings" to excessive psychic experiences.
I talk about the Sidhe Moon in Green Witchcraft II and Grimoire for the Green Witch and how to connect with Otherworld during the second Dark Moon in a Solar month, but the Sidhe for some folk are not always considered Fairies, so much as Faeries. In Scandinavian countries, the Sidhe are called Elves. There are many theories about who and what the Other People, or Good Neighbors, are, and whether diminutive Fairies were really ancient deities, or if they can change their size to suit the occasion, or if there are different types of Fairies, etc. Much of the original European folklore has been distorted over time, making it difficult to envision aught but a picture full of contradictions, and that seems to suit them just fine -- they prefer their privacy. However, there are legends and beliefs in Fairies all over the world, including among the Native Americans, so their influence has been felt in diverse cultures and religious systems.
These are the spirits within the trees and the shining forms that flit through Nature, sometimes pausing to watch you as you pass, or even to speak with you. The term in India refers to a good spirit, while the term in the later Zoroastrian religion turns them into evil spirits. My mother always said, "The spirits are good." and she made no exceptions, nor gave any qualifications. I feel that the good/evil thing is the mark of a new religion at the time of its inception trying to demonize aspects of rival popular belief. Devas can be invoked by walking gently upon the Earth and feeling kinship with the plants, trees, and animals of Nature. Sometimes the Devas will look after someone who exudes an aura of calm and unity with the trees and wildlife.
I love the Dragon Tarot deck for the insightful depictions of the various types of Dragons and their different natures. Dragons are well-springs of wisdom, but they donít tolerate the foolish lightly. If you are approached by a dragon, perhaps in lucid dreaming or meditation, donít grovel and get subservient or they will feel insulted for having mistakenly thought better of you. But donít get arrogant, either, they WILL find you crunchy and tasty (with or without ketchup!). This will affect you when you awaken, perhaps subtly or more dramatically with sudden unexplained physical problems. I am not trying to scare anyone, but I am trying to instill the understanding that respect and care are needed in approaching dragons. A successful encounter will open doorways to wisdom you never expected, and assure you of a protective wing when you need it, so try not to blow it when you get the opportunity for an encounter.
Just for information -- a dream of experiencing one's own death happens in the Shamanic Death, but with the Shamanic Death, you go through the paces again and over-come the death. In this way, you can help the sick to overcome illness, or assist the dying with their safe passage into the spirit realm.
These beautiful creatures are emblems of purity and can be encountered in various ways. In lucid dreaming, a unicorn may have a message to impart or an insight to some special understanding. They are magnificent, gentle to those who approach them with the openness of a child, but can be dangerous to those who come to them with malice or disregard in their hearts. In the physical plane, seeing unicorns is unusual, but not impossible. Years ago I was watching my little girl playing with her stuffed toy unicorn, running around on a wide, open lawn. I looked away for only an instant, and in that moment she vanished. I did not feel alarmed, however, and kept watching for her, sweeping the lawn for her with my eyes. A moment later, there she was. Years later, she told me she had encountered white unicorns and ran to play with them, but when she looked back, I was gone. She played with them awhile then said she had to go home, and suddenly I was back, but they were gone. This episode tells me that a person can wholly slip in and out of the physical world, and enter into Otherworld, rather like entering a parallel dimension. Together she and I have seen the white unicorns flying past in windy clouds, and known that where they were going the weather would be fair. Once, when the sky was filled with black unicorns racing about -- and I am not talking about the ordinary black clouds you would see in an approaching storm -- we called upon the white unicorns to herd the black ones away. The white unicorns came, peace was restored, but we knew that severe weather had traveled elsewhere with the black unicorns. In some ways, they are a kind of entourage to the Wild Hunt, but you may not see both together.
The Dark Aspects of the Divine
Which neatly takes us to the Dark Powers. Many people are fine with the path of the Old Religion until they come face to face with the true balance of Light and Shadow. The Dark Powers have become associated through mainstream culture as "Evil" rather than what they actually are -- the balance that simply IS. "Denial is not a river in Egypt" is one of those famous one-liners that so often apply where you least expect it. For those who say there is only Light, denial wonít make the Dark go away, for without Dark, there is no Light, for how would you know what it is? The Energy and Spirit of Nature, of Gaia, is both creative and destructive, but by understanding and "knowing" the interconnection and immortal condition of energy and spirit, you begin to grasp the true meaning of the Cycle of Life.
To be a cycle, there must be passage from one type of being to another and back again -- what may be called reincarnation, although not all Spirits choose to return to incarnation, but may go through the death passage into a non-corporeal condition to aid others in their life passages or to add their knowledge, energy, and empathy to the cosmos or to the Earth. The basic theme of Green Witchcraft II: Balancing Light and Shadow is that we need to confront the Dark Power and come to terms with it.
There is a meditation in that book based upon my experience when driving to the hospital where my mother lay dying and I feared I would not arrive in time to speak with her one last time while she remained in this life. A billowing cloud of black smoke from a roadside burn of trees and shrubs cleared from the highwayís edge suddenly loomed into the form of the Crone -- hideously ugly and malignant, she turned her face to me and croaked in my mindís ear as I was driving, "I am going for your mother, but I will wait for you." The image and words gave me quite a start, yet although I was alerted that my mother would indeed die, I was also put at ease to know that I would be able to visit with her before she passed. Taking this in, I replied in a whisper, "I am not afraid of You, for I know that You are also the Mother." The black smoke turned white and the Hag instantly turned into most radiantly beautiful woman I have ever seen, smiling down at me, and she said, "Only those who do not know me, fear me." Then the image vanished. This is the kind of understanding one must acquire to grasp the meaning of the Dark Aspects of the Divine.