Getting Right with Nature
GETTING RIGHT WITH NATURE
Written by Rachel Perez Wallerstedt
Storytime Psychic Alliance
Reverence for the rhythms of the Earth is a common point of unity among the wide world of witchcraft. What is nature, and why do witches think it’s so awesome?
The Story of Nature
Humans in the Western mindscape often conceive of themselves as distinct from nature. This distinctiveness used to be good, but now it’s usually thought of as bad.
Before the 1700s, philosophers were enchanted by the broad scope of human intellect and imagined that we held a special place in God’s heart because of it. Nature was mysterious and somewhat lethal, and humans were God’s cleverest creatures for figuring out how to escape the whole ordeal through agriculture. The advent of industry changes all this.
The 1700s gave us the first real jumps toward the mass industrialization that led us to the modern Western world. Now, humans aren’t escaping nature... we feel as though we’ve conquered it. We can work late into the night and deep into the winter because of our machines, and we are able to make and buy almost anything the human mind can imagine because of our factories. Unfortunately, along with these miracles, the machines and the factories bring the rigid factory schedule, the heavy soot, the lack of long-term wisdom for the sake of short-term market frenzy, and the indignity of selling labor for spare change (at least tenant farmers were close enough to their crops to sneak a bite here and there before feudal taxes). Industrialization invites more resources into our lives, and with them, the headache of managing the glut.
Suddenly, human intellect doesn’t seem so great after all. Romantic writers reacted by flinging themselves by the soul into the arms of the forest, hippies reacted by camping out in trees, but it is always too late. Technology rapidly industrializes at what seems to be a constant, grueling rhythm. Society loses pace with the rhythms of the seasons and starts to pace itself according to the industrial cycle. Today, our lives largely operate on a factory-like schedule, daily and annually. Even most farmers base their planting and harvesting on industrial needs rather than the demands of the land, to everybody’s detriment.
Every generation since the 1700s (the first big heave toward modern industrialization) has demanded a return to Nature, even though most of us are so divorced from natural cycles that starting to follow them can feel disorienting. Some cynics say our idea of nature is too idyllic, that we would suffer more than we realize without the comforts of industrial life. I challenge this idea; firstly, you can know something is good for you even if you don’t have a lot of direct experience with it. Secondly, discomfort does not go hand-in-hand with dissatisfaction; perhaps the cynic’s mindset is secretly the mindset of the lazy. But they aren’t wrong to point out a naïveté toward the challenges of living with the cycles of Earth. If we have so little direct experience of Nature and the rhythms of our planet, how do we navigate toward more integrated living with the Earth?
Getting closer to Earth
It may feel like some people have more access to the natural world than others. Forests, oceans, and mountains all fit in nicely with our mutual conceptions of “nature,” and not coincidentally, residential lots close to these impressive natural features are pricey real estate. Every place we are is a part of the Earth, though, even if we are in the middle of a concrete wasteland. How can we all begin to cultivate a healthy relationship with Earth?
5 Tips for Cultivating a Healthy Relationship with the Earth
One place to start a relationship with the Earth is to start noticing the cycles of the sky. The sun and moon are visible from everywhere on the surface of our planet, and we’ve been keeping an eye on them for a long time, so there’s a lot of good, research-backed information to support your observations. Taking notice of the sky is a way to attune ourselves to the rhythms of the seasons.
Plants and animals are all around us, even in city and suburban landscapes. Why is a field mouse a bucolic symbol of Natural Wholesomeness while a chonky rat eating pizza in the subway is gross? Why are pink and purple wildflowers growing in meadows prized in bouquets while playful yellow dandelions growing on suburban lawns are the scourge of every HOA? Pshaw! Let’s embrace the parts of the natural world that choose to follow us into our urban environments! Knowledge of the natural cycles of our home is crucial, so learning about the nature outside our doorstep is valuable. We can make friends with crows, learn about the trees we see every day, figure out what happens on our block before and after it rains. Paying attention to the natural world that exists everywhere around us enhances it, even in the city.
We can also invite life inside of our living spaces. Well cared-for pets offer us one of the easiest connections to nature there is. If we routinely make the attempt to understand things from the point of view of our pet, not only will we feel a stronger connection to nature, but our pets will thank us, too. Plants (and fungus!) are a more complicated project; don’t let that steer you away! The greenery seems to benefit from the same efforts toward empathy as do our pets. Succulent plants, like cactus and aloe, are particularly good teachers for the rookie indoor planter.
There are lots of benefits to keeping a weather diary, especially if you are interested in aligning it with the lunar calendar. Our planet is changing, so we will all need to learn its new weather patterns by observing them closely. Keeping a weather diary while tracking your body sensations and emotions can also be informative. We are likely to learn things about ourselves when we notice the weather; for instance, feelings of depression may coincide with cold snaps or anxiety might run high when it rains.
Take the time to offer gratitude for our resources. Many of us may have access to clean water, food which sustains us, people who support us. Even if all these things are too far removed from the natural cycles to feel like Nature to humanity, Earth still provides them for us. Offering our thanks for the life-sustaining resources we receive from the Earth is a small and effective way to engage with the planet on a personal level.
Earthly delights, or “What’s in it for me?”
We’ll conclude by discussing how a personal relationship with Earth can add value to our own lives.
Believe it or not, humans are completely and totally a part of the natural world already. The natural world is also a part of us. We have a lot of cognitive dissonance about it because humans are arrogant control freaks, but we come from nature, we live in nature, and our bodies will dissolve into nature when we die. Forming a healthy relationship with this fundamental aspect of our being helps us heal and grow. We learn about ourselves when we love the planet, and that can help us do the things we need to do to lead the lives we want to lead.
Getting right with Nature can bring us closer to our own bodies. We can appreciate our bodies not as mindless meat machines with access to capital (the industrial cycle’s basic view of humanity) but as organic vessels through which the universe experiences its own splendor. Experiencing reality through our senses, through our bodies, rather than through societal filters of judgy nonsense, can open our eyes to a quiet Truth that knows no words.