Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Writing a Nature Dictionary

(Note: This is a very old piece. I decided to share it here as it plays a role in my building a relationship with herbs)

Way back in ancient times (when I was still young & in my 20's. LOL) I took my first steps on the path of the Druids. My mentor Sparrowhawk introduced me to the language of nature. Strange thing was it sounded different to me than it did to her yet the message was still the same. Language you say? Well what I speak of is symbolic language. Those who keep a Dream Journal will understand what I'm talking about. My mentor didn't believe in books on dreams or Tarot interpretation. Said that it was someone elses interpretation. A tree may have a different meaning to you than it does to me. Symbolism is the language we use to speak to our sub-conscious and we all have our own symbolic language.

Much of my learning from Sparrowhawk came when we went on our
nature hikes around her cottage just outside of Boulder, CO. When ever I ask her a question she would point to a tree, plant, stone or some wildlife & ask me, "what do they say?" Afterwords she tell me what they say to her, always careful to let me get my own meaning first before giving me her own so as not to influence mine. After words her meaning only allow me to expand my own.

Shortly after moving in with her, she gave me a blank journal and sent me out on walks by myself & told me to meditate on different things in nature & write them down. I would come back & discuss them with her, then under my meanings I add Teacher's meanings.

When I left her a little over a year later, that journal was pretty full and kept adding to it long afterwards. Several years later I took that journal and expanded on it. I would list each thing, with my meaning, then her's (Later entries didn't have her meanings as she wasn't there), then I research each thing in a scientific context (text book stuff, this helps to expand ones own understanding of the object thereby redefining & expanding your own meaning of them), under that where available I would add spiritual meanings from Pagan books (like the Druidic meaning of the trees etc...). In time I not only evolved my own Nature language, but I new part of hers & learned Nature's language as understood by many Pagan traditions (the stuff written in Pagan books). My focus was my own language as she taught me that was the most important & most realiable one. Her's & the Pagan communities different interpretation were for reference only, so as to create a common language (the language of the Pagan community's collective-consciousness) we can all share when together (kinda like how the different Celtic tribes had their own dialects but also had a Traders dialect they used to communicate with the other tribes).

The biggest problem with Religion is people try to force their mentor/holy teacher's personal language onto others as the common language & vice versa. Religions tries to force you to accept their common language as your personal language. The Pagan community like to think they escape this but they don't. This is one of the very things that causes witch wars.

Over the years I moved alot (I lived a very nomadic life for most of my years) and somewhere along the way I lost it. But the majority of its lore is still locked away within my mind and when I visit the Nature areas (Each eco-system has its own dialect; forests, deserts, oceans/coasts, plains, wetlands, etc...) I've been to before I dust the cobwebs from my mind & remember how to read them.

Each forest for example have their own dialect.

This way of learning that my mentor gave me is now serving me well in my studies of herbalism.

~I hear herbalist talk about building a relationship with ones plant allies. To do that you need to know how to understand their language.~

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