"Enchantment is the oldest form of medicine" -CG Jung
I don't know about you, but there are times when the suffering in the world overwhelms my capacity to respond with an open heart. It's easy to find a myriad of ways to distance myself from the pain. During these moments I remember the quote above, "enchantment is the oldest form of medicine". To help regain my grounded, connected self I seek out a regular dose of enchantment.
Recently the news in my sphere has been painful - enough to keep me awake at night. Two weeks ago, my soulful co-guides and I decided to cancel the Scar Clan ceremony. [More on that in next month's blog]. Then yesterday I read that since 2011 one-hundred and fifty thousand Adelie penguins died because they were unable to reach the sea after a Rome-sized iceberg blocked their path. There are now only 10,000 penguins left in this particular colony.
Between my own experience of painful (and necessary) change and feeling deeply connected to the global destruction of the planet, I've had to lean heavily on my practice of Deep Nature Connection. It's a simple practice that helps my body feel a sense of belonging to my surroundings. It doesn't require much skill but the more I practice the more I feel tuned into an underlying current of resiliency.
One way I practice is by mindful hiking - slowly walking through the woods while focusing on a particular sensation (touch, sound, etc.) and letting my breath be an anchor to the present moment. Slowing down like this sometimes leads to profound enchantment - an experience I can only describe as something between sheer delight and being spell bound.
During a recent walk in the woods the spectrum of enchantment inclined heavily towards the spell bound. As I rounded a corner of the trail a hypnotic sound engulfed my ears. I reached a shallow pond and had to sit down. It was dusk and some diminutive frogs called Spring Peepers were in a grand chorus. Their mating calls were so loud and rhythmic it sounded like I was sitting inside a dome of frog calls. The sounds dissolved all residue of distraction and I was completely immersed. I sat, enchanted, for a timeless time.
Eventually I returned to all my senses and continued walking only to then gaze upon a phenomenal sight. I didn't know what it was but my first impression was of seeing something cosmic. I picked it up, squeezed it's flesh and out puffed something powdery.
My walking partner joined me and said that this new-to-me mushroom is called an Earth Star. An Earth Star! It was like finding a treasure. In an instant this mushroom proved there is always more to discover, there are always unknown depths. Standing there with the squishy earth star in my cold hand, I was fascinated by how a seemingly familiar landscape became new again.
As I sat in my car after the walk, memories of the unchanged truths came into focus again. The penguins are still gone. The ceremony, still cancelled. But the distance I put between my heart and the pain shifted. The hypnosis of the frog dome and the mystery of the earth star softened my body, disarmed my defenses, and showed me that newness exists in the familiar.
As a global community and in my own life, we are continually in uncharted territory. Destruction, creation, death, and birth are the realities of life. In our modern world, meeting these dynamics with curiosity and openness is a radical act. An act that I strive to practice. I'm thanking my lucky earth stars for their support.
If you can't make it to a local pond, enjoy this video of Spring Peepers in their prime