I took an overdue walk in the forest today. My bronchitis and some severe rain kept me inside for a week or so. I couldn't resist the pull any longer. It was raining a bit today, but not enough to soak me to the bone and obscure my vision. It was rather atmospheric actually. In the forest, the rain hardly got through the leaves. It was like a percussive mist.
I gave an offering to the local spirits and spoke a bit to them. I apologized for being away so long and declared how much I longed to visit. From that moment it was one gift/lesson after another. It started with the discovery of tiny bones near the shrine. At first I thought they were from a bird because they looked so light. Many of them were cracked, but some were still attached to their hinges. I moved a tiny bone in its socket and thought of my own body. I followed the trail, and eventually found the skull at left. It was some sort of rodent but I'm not sure what kind. Perhaps a chipmunk? I thanked the spirit of the animal, for the discovery reminded me just how fragile life is. I left the remaining bones for the mice and others to enjoy.
I found a few other things - some quartz fragments, a lovely white stone, orange jelly fungi, more jewelweed... I even got to see a flash of deer leaping through the woods!
And then I found the specimen at right: the skull of a small carnivore, perhaps a fox. I just happened upon it - a branch running through one of the eye sockets. The rest of the body was nowhere to be found save the left canine tooth. "What are you?" I asked aloud. "How did you get here? Where is the rest of you? ...How did you die?" What a mystery life is. These creatures had lives and then suddenly - death and decay. The trees themselves know the secret to this creature's death but they will never give up the story.
I delighted in finding these skulls and took great care in gathering them. I feel I was very respectful. I must seem like a strange vegetarian collecting animal skulls, but I gathered them out of reverence and a desire to learn from them. I'm bleaching them at the moment. They will undoubtedly end up on an altar dedicated to the nature spirits.
As my entry from earlier indicates, I do feel the absence of a strong human teacher in my life, but I am very lucky to be forming a closer bond with the Nature Spirits. For a Druid, witch, or shaman, nature is the best if not only real teacher.
( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )