Today I went for a hike at the Allan Park Conservation Area located just east of Hanover, Ontario. I have not been here for several years now and I was quite pleased to see that very little has changed.
The objective of my hike, which I feel I achieved today (unlike yesterday which I’ll explain below) was to re-connect with nature. As you may have figured out during the past several months, since about March to be exact, I’ve been experiencing a real separation of myself from my natural surroundings.
Now for the average person this might not seem like such a big deal but those who are neo-pagan or pantheist such as myself will understand. We, as individuals, feel a part of something much bigger than ourselves when we are connected with nature, or the Gaia as some will refer to it as.
The Gaia is, in its simplest forms, Mother Earth, all that surrounds us, that feeds us, clothes us, shelters and entertains us. As a Pantheist I believe that everything is interconnected including those items we define as “man made”.
But from time to time, or months at a time, we find ourselves consumed by the world around us. The world that our consciousness and personal intentions construct. It is a cruel, cold, harsh world. I know some of you will debate that while others will deny it entirely. I don’t really care what you believe or don’t believe so long as it does not affect me.
Many people nowadays, when they take a walk in the forest, find it the best time to catch up on emails or to share photos of something weird with their followers. While I don’t condemn this action, since the sharing of knowledge and experience advances any society, I remind people that this is not the reason you went out there.
There is a sort of philosophical ritual I have learned back around the time I owned a bookstore, and I have shared it with several people in the past. It is called, quite simply, “pet the moss” and it means exactly that.
We are becoming more and more disconnected from nature, from Gaia, from the very thing that makes us who we are – humanity. I have met a few people in my life who have been consumed by the world, drowning in debt, in family dramas, in health issues, and they have forgotten the importance of connecting with the energy that surrounds them.
The ritual is quite simple and can be done almost anywhere. For example, today I went for a walk through several of the trails here at Allan Park, up small hills, through massive stands of trees and past more than a dozen rocks and stumps covered in green moss. The ritual involves stopping whatever you are doing, bending down, extending your fingers and – touching the moss.
Yes, that’s basically it. I know, easy eh. There is more to it, of course, and that is that you must feel the living organism that you are touching. It is one thing to plunk your fingers down on it and say “ok, done, now what”, it is quite another to take the time to experience and live in the moment.
And that is truly what the ritual is about. To stop everything you are doing and just live in the moment. Put the phone down, stop talking, or tweeting or snapping photos and just connect with something that you believe is not a part of who you are. I think you will find, the more you do this, that you are more connected to the world around you.
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