What makes your heart sing? I mean, what is it that you love more than anything? Not something that makes time pass or something that makes you money. I’m talking about something that calls you into present time, builds your awareness, and makes you feel humble and grateful. For me, this is going out into nature and seeing what I can find. This morning, I went on an autumn nature walk. And oh, I found more than I ever thought.
This park doesn’t look like much. It’s at the corner of a busy intersection, and it does not boast a playground or anything to attract families. In fact, it’s little more than a parking lot, grassy field, and a picnic table. A few trees dot the field. I’ve driven past it a few times and never really gave it much notice. But today, I decided to pull into the parking lot and see what I could discover.
Oh the things you can find!
The first thing I noticed was an osage orange lying on the ground. These brain-looking fruits are not really oranges, though they do have a nice, citrusy smell. I’ve seen it touted online that these fruits repel spiders from your home . . . that’s not true. I once found one with a spider perched right on top! Still, I like the way they look. Sometimes you can find one that’s not too bruised to bring home to set on your altar. You could even bury it in your backyard (if you have one) and see if it grows!
As I moved on through the overgrown paths, I walked through a bunch of spider webs. Leaves crunched underfoot. I saw a lot of poison ivy, honeysuckle bushes, and leaves on the ground. Even though a lot of the trees are still green, there are some that are beginning to turn and lose their leaves. If you’re someone who likes to go out in the colors of autumn, October is really the best month to go out and see all the bright colors (at least, that’s the way it is here in the Midwest). Personally, I like to go out in late August. That’s the perfect time to gather acorns, hickory nuts, wild grapes, and black walnuts.
The farther I walked, the more I felt the strong earth energy of the place. More than once I heard a noise behind me; a squirrel falling from a tree (perhaps) and I definitely got the sense that the trees were watching me. I wasn’t worried; I was doing my best to be respectful of the space by staying on the path.
Then I found him, and I knew why there were so many fae.
This picture doesn’t do any justice to this massive old oak tree. His limbs had been cut off but had regrown in defiance of mankind’s wishes. He stands tall and proud overlooking a small stream bed. I could feel the energy just rolling off of him. This beautiful tree spirit is the protector of these woods. He stands guard over all the fae who make their homes here. I could not help but reach out to touch him and wish that I had brought some honey with me to leave as an offering.
Instead, I wished him well and sent many blessings and good energy. All across the ground were hundreds and thousands of acorns that this tree had dropped this year. Normally I would collect as many as I could in order to put them on my autumn faery altar, but that just didn’t feel right to do with these. I got the feeling that I wasn’t supposed to have these acorns. It was more important that I leave them there; the King Oak wanted them to be food for birds and squirrels and his fae friends. Not one to argue with a mighty tree spirit, I left them there on the trail as I continued on.
When dealing with nature spirits, it is important to note that some are wary of humans. These spirits have seen some good people come through, but I got the feeling that they had seen more disinterested people lately. Always go into the woods with a healthy respect for them, and if you get the feeling that something is not meant for you, don’t take it.
Faeries reward those who care.
As we get closer and closer to Halloween, the faeries are becoming more and more active. They are gearing up for the biggest party of the year. The veil between worlds is thinning, and their influence is more easily felt in the mortal world. It is important to remember to leave offerings for faeries, especially at this time of the year, because an irked faery is not something you want to experience.
I walked out of the woods and back into the field, feeling a bit deflated that I hadn’t remembered to bring an offering. But then I saw that the field was littered with trash; obviously a raccoon had gotten into the trash can and scattered plastic wrappers all over. So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work picking up everything that I could see. It’s important to clean up after yourself, but it’s also important to pick up any trash you might see on the path. That’s what faeries want to see; they want to see humans taking responsibility for keeping the planet a beautiful, green place.
As I turned to leave, something caught my eye. I wandered across the field, and saw two perfect osage oranges lying at the foot of a tree, at the very edge of the woods. There was more trash over there, so I picked all that up as well, and asked if I could have the two osage oranges. Yes, I was allowed to have them, but they were not to be just thrown in the trash when they began to rot; they need to be returned to the earth. I am so grateful to have been offered the fruit of that special place.