“All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.” – Helen Hayes
As spring gets into full swing in the Northern Hemisphere, it is a great time to get back in touch with the Earth. Winter’s short days and inclement weather can limit our contact with the natural world. How tempting it is to stay indoors where it’s warm and dry rather than wrap up and brave the elements. Yet now, as the days lengthen and the sun reappears from behind the clouds we are seized by the urge to get outside and feel the wind in our hair, the grass beneath our feet and the sun on our face.
This makes spring an excellent time to renew and deepen our connection with nature. Here are a few exercises that may help with that.
You are probably familiar with the standard ‘Tree of Life’ grounding, where you visualise yourself sending roots down into the ground and growing branches from your head that reach up into the stars. But have you ever done it barefoot on grass? This takes it to a whole new level of connection with the earth. You can also try lying face down on the grass and feeling the connection between your belly and the earth beneath you. And as you go about your daily business, try to be aware of your feet and their connection with the Earth. Does it feel any different in the spring? Can you feel the pulse of spring energy in the awakening soil?
It is good to practice all of these exercises if grounding is something you need to work on.
Talk to The Trees
Spring is a great time to initiate contact with the spirit of a tree. Winter is a period of withdrawal and rest for most tree species, and it can be hard to ‘talk’ to them then. But in spring, as their sap begins to rise and they come back into leaf they can be surprisingly receptive to contact.
Firstly, choose your tree. It is probably easiest to sit with your back to the tree’s trunk. Take a few moments to breathe, relax and open your senses. Then reach out with your mind, ‘asking’ if the tree is willing to make contact with you. If you feel that the tree is willing, you may begin. If the tree is unwilling to communicate, thank it and move on. Try another tree – just like humans they have different ‘personalities’ and not all of them are very sociable. But with a little persistence, you should be able to find one that is receptive. Then it is up to you – and the tree – what you ‘talk’ about, but remember to be polite and respectful. Listen carefully for any messages the tree may have for you, ask if there is anything the tree would like from you.
Consider leaving an offering when you have finished. Make sure it is something appropriate – biodegradable and beneficial to trees is best! Suitable offerings are a lock of your hair, some water from your home (tap-water, rainwater, pond water…) or a handful of compost. And remember that we breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, while trees breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, so even if you haven’t brought an offering with you, you could consciously exchange breaths with the tree.
Spring is a great time to begin a regular study of nature in your immediate neighbourhood. Often we think of nature as being exclusively a phenomenon of wilderness areas, but nature is all around us, wherever we are. Even in the heart of a city there are birds, insects, weeds peeping up from the cracks. It is wonderful to contact nature in the wild places, but it is just as important to find Her where we are in our every day lives. Try to take a regular walk through your neighbourhood, daily, weekly or at least fortnightly. Make notes of what you see as you walk. What new plants have pushed up through the earth, grown in size, flowered, produced seed or fruit, withered away? What birds or animals do you see, or hear, or notice signs of? Which trees grow in your neighbourhood? How do they change from week to week? When does the sun set in spring, summer, autumn, winter? Which insects are buzzing around or visiting plants? Which direction does the wind normally come from? When does the first blossom appear on the trees? How do the shadows change during the day, during the seasons? When do the rains come?
You may wish to write down your observations in a note book. It will be interesting to compare from year to year when the first leaves appear, when the migratory birds arrive and depart, where the useful herbs are to be found. You could also take weekly, fortnightly, or monthly photos of the same place so that you can clearly see how it changes through the seasons.
These are just a few ideas to bring you closer to nature, to help you feel the turn of the seasons and the heartbeat of the Earth. Spring is a great time to start, but I hope you will continue all year round, to feel, to paraphrase Helen Hayes, the energy of the soft earthand your own spirit soaring.