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Finding Ritual Space in the Wild

Author: Juniper
Posted: January 20th. 2008
Times Viewed: 5,258

Many Pagans, especially those who follow a strongly Nature oriented path often enjoy practicing their rituals, meditations and spellwork outdoors. Often these outdoor rituals are held in the backyard or even on the apartment balcony, where we can be and feel safe and comfortable, and where we can quickly run indoors if it starts to rain.

Sometimes however, we feel the urge to get outside that comfort zone and head out into the more wild places on Earth. A national park, nature reserve, farmer’s fields and pastures, the local reforestation project are just a few places that can call a Pagan and/or Witch to come dance in a grove or find a special spot on a mountainside to mediate.

This can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience, but it can also be a total disaster as well. Especially when we are unprepared to face Nature in her full glory, poison ivy and all. Hikers getting lost in the woods or campers being attacked by wildlife are fairly commonplace; watching the news during the height of summer vacation time is proof enough of that.

Well, we Pagans are certainly no exception.

I will never forget on one occasion, while on a nice little nature hike with a local Pagan group, I got into quite the argument with the leader of said group. He just didn’t believe me that we had wandered off the hiking trail and turned onto a game trail. He felt the quick glance he had took at the map before heading out was enough to navigate his way through unfamiliar wilderness. Fortunately, once he has led to the edge of a ravine that shouldn’t have been there, he allowed me to bring the group back to the picnic area.

It is not wise to underestimate Mother Nature, especially when you are tramping through parts of Her that are barely touched by man, or even when walking through a cow pasture.

Here are a few tips on finding the right spot and making sure you have a safe and enjoyable time.

·Make sure someone knows where you are going to be if you are heading into the bush or wild. Make sure they know when you expect to be back.

·Pack a map, compass, flashlight, pocketknife, a change of clothes (or a warm and dry jacket), a field guide, plenty of water, a little food, and wear sturdy footwear.

·It is wise to get to know the park rangers and such if your chosen area has them. Talk to those park rangers, if you can, about unsafe areas to wander in.

·Remember an area that may have been safe for hiking last week may be flooded from a rainstorm this week. So checking up with local weather forecast, flooding warnings, and park officials is a good idea. Many larger parks, such as state/provincial and national parks have websites that can keep you updated on the current state of trails.

·Head home well before dark. Do not travel through the wild places on Earth at night alone unless you are an experienced outdoorsman.

·Know of and be aware of the predatory species in your area. Follow proper procedures for dealing with those animals. For example, when in bear country it is advisable to make noise (such as jingling keys) while walking through the bush.

·Game trails can look a lot like hiking trails; it is easy to get lost following game trails. Make sure you stick to the main hiking trails until you get to know an area well.

·Bringing a map along with you, or a GPS unit, is much better than relying on a quick glance at the big map posted at the trailhead.

·It never hurts to learn how to use a compass.

·Remember your cell phone may not work where you are going.

·Do not feed or approach the animals. In fact, it’s best to just leave the wildlife alone.

·It is easy to get disoriented and lost in the snow, as it can obscure landmarks and makes it difficult to navigate. Think twice before you venture into the bush during winter.

·Check the weather forecast before heading out.

·Only you can prevent forest fires. Obey fire related laws and warning in your area, be careful using candles and incense in wild areas.

·Do not litter. Bring a small garbage bag along in your pack and take your trash out of the bush with you.

·Make sure you will be able to find your way back! Do not allow yourself to become so absorbed in the beauty of Nature and the fun of a hike that you do not keep track of where you are going.

·Watching an episode of a survival TV show does not make you an expert outdoorsman.

·If you think you might be lost, you probably are. If you do get lost, stay together, do not wander about as it makes it harder to find you. Find a safe place to wait for rescue but do not choose a spot where you are hidden.

·If you are in a wild setting, be careful and respectful of the area. If you walk into a clearing and startle a duck away from her nest of eggs, this is not the right place for your ritual. You do not want to risk causing problems or damage to the environment and wildlife.

·Understand that if you are not on your own private property, others may find your special spot as well. Do not leave behind things you cannot bear to go missing or be broken.

·Once you have found a potential spot, make sure you have enough space to move around a little. If you cannot stretch both arms out to the sides, I suggest trying to find some place else.

·Check the area for rocks, twigs, holes and such that may trip you up during ritual, move only what is not going to cause a great disturbance to the area and those creatures that live there.

·If you are looking for a place in the wild, make sure it is a place you can get to with a backpack with your ritual tools and hiking supplies in it. Remember that backpack will get heavier the further you go.

·Obey trespassing signs and do not wander into other people’s private property without permission.

·Identify the plants in your chosen spot; you do not want to be walking on poison ivy. A Field Guide of local plant species is something that can be purchased at a bookstore for less than $25, it is well worth it to have one in your pack.

·If you have chosen a place on your own property and do not want family members or visitors disturbing the area, you may wish to mark the spot with a decorative fence, or a ring of stones, perhaps a sign asking people to stay out and so forth.

·Do not drink the water. (Unless you absolutely have to)

·If you have chosen a field or clearing to work in, watch out for animal droppings, barbwire, holes, and snakes underfoot.

·Do not allow yourself to get overheated or over tired. It is better to take a break during ritual, or a hike, and drink some water than to risk heat stroke or exhaustion.

·When choosing a spot, check the ground, check all around, and check above for any potential problems.

·Understand that Nature can kick your butt, literally and easily.

If we treat Nature with the respect She deserves, we can have a very spiritually satisfying experience practicing our Craft in the wild. All it really takes is a little common sense and a small dose of caution.

Happy hiking!

~ Juniper



Location: Ottawa, Ontario


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