Happy World Wildlife Day!
It’s a day to celebrate all our relations, and to promote and protect biodiversity and wild habitat.
Wild Nature Heart believes that having a deep connection to all our relatives in this beautiful home of ours is one of the best ways to protect wildlife in the long run. It’s also the only way we will survive as well.
Today, there are a lot of pics of tigers, bears,and elephants (oh my!) on social media, all of which are facing particular challenges. This year’s World Wildlife Day theme is “Big Cats,” which are under unprecedented threats due to habitat loss, conflicts, and poaching.
Yet we also find that wild nature is always close by, right in our backyards and in the nearby faraway (to adopt and modify Rebecca Solnit’s phrase). We love the gorgeous big animals too (and we’ve had encounters with bears, lions, elephants), but we also love all the wildlife we share in our local ecosystems–how wonderful it is to slow down and connect with them.
Just in our area this week we have experienced rabbits, peregrine falcons, coyotes, foxes, 🦊, egrets, deer, owls 🦉, herons, snakes, toads, hummingbirds, fungi, wild herbs, finches, salamanders, hawks, pterodactyls, etc. Ok, maybe not that last one. And each one offers a wonderful opportunity for wisdom and communion, like the cormorant offering a night class on contemplative stillness.
What (who) do you connect with in your nearby faraway?
For Wild Nature Heart’s first winter retreat in the redwoods of Santa Cruz mountains, we specifically chose a site with a labyrinth.
We began our time together with an evening water ceremony and ended with a labyrinth walk at dawn on the final day, just as the sun was rising above the horizon. In between we shared dreams, council circle, singing, dancing, visioning, fire night, storytelling, and intention walks.
A labyrinth walk is a powerful and mysterious way to walk into the truth of what lives inside us, physically and soufully walking step by step in the non-linear way that informs all of life.
A labyrinth consists of a single path that leads from the outside to the center, in a circuitous way. Unlike a maze where there may be dead ends and you lose your way, the labyrinth is a soulful tool that can help you find your way. You arrive near the center and discover that you still have a long journey ahead. Similarly, you arrive towards the perimeter only to find that you are snaking your way deep within once again.
We find that what one finds in the labyrinth is what one carries in, but that it can open up what is there to be seen or heard in new and powerful ways, by quieting the mind, grounding the body, and opening the soul and heart. Stepping out of the walking meditation, one finds a new center. Or maybe it was the old one all along.
Shortly after our time on the land, we heard news that the world had lost one of the most brilliant, fierce, and compassionate writers, Ursula Le Guin.
Le Guin was not just a major voice in American fantasy fiction, but a voice for imagining deeply earth-centered and humane alternatives, exploring through her stories and essays themes about feminism, utopias, sexuality, gender, truth-telling, and societal mores.
Here we share one of Le Guin’s poem that also addresses a person’s unique voice, the creative spark, spinning the sacred thread that shows the way as she walks through the labyrinth of life.
I see her walking
On a path through a pathless forest
Or a maze, a labyrinth.
As she walks, she spins
And the fine threads fall behind her
following her way,
where she is going
where she has gone.
telling the story.
the line, the thread of voice,
the sentences saying the way.
(from “The Writer On, and At, Her Work”)
RIP Ursula, Earth Sorceress.
Our backpacking trip into the gorgeous Yosemite backcountry of Tuolumne was soul nourishing. We got to share this adventure with Ariana Candell, our intreprid ecotherapy certification trainer, and the person responsible for our meeting and beginning to dream into this work together in the first place.
The wilderness is an old friend, but I (Katie) was somewhat new to backpacking, so I was grateful to be traveling with my backpack experienced co-conspirator. Ryan is a trustworthy and grounded wilderness guide, and he helped us to feel comfortable and prepared to face the elements and the trail. We held sacred circle around a magical campfire, I sang and recited Robert Service’s Spell of the Yukon, we did solo medicine walks, and Ryan accompanied our hiking with his ukulele. We chose an enchanting trail to an enchanting lake called Polly Lake a few miles into the wilderness from Tioga Road.
We’re happily anticipating being able to take some of you with us next time we go!