Monthly Columns

The Modern Merlin’s Corner: Owls and Oaks: Wisdom of the Seen and Unseen

My personal spiritual journey has been zig-zagging lately, between different topics, practices, pantheons and spirits. Lately, I’ve been on a path of deepening my connection with the land, the animals that inhabit it, and the spirits, too. When I began reading Celtic Goddess Grimoire for my review, which you can read here, I began sensing an even deeper appreciation for nature than I already had. I felt a deep connection with the trees, animals and land that I see everyday, and I can only explain this as Nemetona’s presence, one of the Goddesses in that book that really came through, along with Melusine, as I live in a town that was literally built on the Cuyahoga River. Despite all the years and the deep connection I already have felt to this land, it deepened once more. At the time of writing this, I’m reading yet another book for review that discusses animistic witchcraft, its practice and the general worldview that an animist/animistic witch would generally imbibe. I won’t pretend that these two books aren’t influencing my path, and this article; they very much are. I hope that those in the season of warmth and growth will find the hidden treasures I have while partaking in these practices and magicks I’m about to describe in this article, and that it will inspire those in the Southern Hemisphere in their own practices once you reach Spring once more, while giving everyone a glimpse of the magick that’s all around us, if we only look. stock drawing of owl in tree

Nature doesn’t sugarcoat s**t

Waves of destruction, transformation, rebirth, life and growth, back to death, occur in all times of the year, and often fluctuate, especially for those in tune with the Earth, her seasons, and the the Moon’s cycles. Not long after the New Moon in Taurus, as she was waxing and in Cancer, her native home, there was a Raven (which are starting to appear once more in my area thanks to added preservation efforts over the years), that attacked a sparrow nest along with some Starlings. Ravens and Crows are birds that I hold in high esteem, especially as they’re a totem animal and familiar for me personally. Ravens and Starlings have been known to attack nests of smaller birds when there’s no other prey around, and with the influx of Hawks and Turkey Vultures in my area, the Ravens and Starlings chose to attack a nest with a few baby Sparrows and the mother and father, too. Defending the nest, one of the parents died, and fell to the sidewalk near my home. I heard its’ cries and went to comfort it in its’ final moments, asking for protection for the rest of the nest and for myself, as the Starlings were now attempting to attack me! The poor mama or daddy Sparrow eventually fell silent, comforted by my presence and assurances all would be okay (and they are, as the other parent relocated its nest and the babies, and I have seen them around recently). I was struck with a deep sadness, and anger, at my beloved totem doing such a thing. I knew logically, that it was the way of nature and at times it’s ugly. Walking back to my home, I felt down, when I heard a comforting voice ringing in my ear. She said “this is the way of things, the cycle. You were there at that time for the purpose of comforting the Sparrow and protecting the rest of her nest”.

A few nights later, I had a dream in which I was in a grove of Oak trees, under a crescent moon, when I heard an Owl hoot, and once I had turned back after finding the Owl, I was approached by a beautiful goddess with flowers, leaves and berries throughout her flowing brown hair, with green eyes and speaking to me in the same voice I had heard during the now infamous “Sparrow Incident”. She announced herself as Nemetona, and that she was going to take me on a journey of becoming one with the land, and the Owl was to be my guide on this path, as well as the Oak. I’ve loved Oak trees since I was young, with some of my formative memories being right by an old Oak tree at my grandparent’s house. That Oak tree is alive and well, hosting many animals including squirrels, woodpeckers, crows, and, recently, an Owl! The connections being made at this point (weeks later) were uncanny, and even I was having a hard time believing the synchronicities. Since this, I’ve seen both the beautiful, and not so beautiful aspects of nature, from beautiful Monarch butterflies, to Vultures searching for prey nearby, and everything in between. I’ve come to peace with the Sparrow Incident since; it made me go back to a lesson I received in my earliest years of being a witch: that everything that ends, is not over. That incident has since propelled me on a journey of communicating with all of nature, being connected to it.

Oak leaf stock photo

The Seen and Unseen

After seeing the Owl sitting in the very Oak tree I love so much, I went on a trance journey to speak with the Owl and Oak, to see what my next steps should be. Immediately, a white Owl appeared from the shadows in the same Grove I met Nemetona in. It spoke, and said that everything I needed was within me, and that my own inner knowledge will guide me where I need to go, and what I need to do. The Oaks were silent, save for one, the oldest one in the Grove then spoke, affirming what the Owl had already told me, adding that my inner wisdom, if tapped, would guide me even farther than I could imagine. Harnessing it was the task at hand, it seemed. All witches, pagans, or whatever you consider yourself, lose touch with that inner wisdom. I can say that my connection had run amuck for a couple of weeks, lining up with the Sparrow Incident, which, coincidentally, had re-connected me back to it. Things were starting to come full circle again, with revelations abound surrounding certain trials and tribulations I had been facing recently. Once I had tapped into my inner wisdom, both seen (Oak, Sun) and unseen (Owl, Moon), the whole picture became clear about those issues, and forward progress started being made once more.

The book that I’m reading for my forthcoming review makes note of two concepts: transcendence, and inscendence. Transcendence is essentially having an existence above nature and the world around you, while inscendence is the act of having an existence which embodies and befriends the land, becoming one with it. Perhaps I’m on a much needed journey of inscendence, and if so, it’s been a wonderful and beautiful journey.

The mysteries that are seen like the interplay of the seasons and the flora and fauna are obvious to anyone on a nature-based path; the unseen mysteries are those that we see in the moonlit nights in a grove or wooded area. The different animals that surround you (provided you are safe) can give you clues as to what path or paths you need to undertake, or maybe a type of magick you could benefit from learning about or practicing. As pagans, and witches, our connection to the land, Earth, nature and the plants and animals is vital to our beliefs. I know I’m stating the obvious for a lot of you, but I think that sometimes we can get so lost in the pop-culture crap, that we forget what its really about. A witch’s power in part comes from the land; do you call to Water in the West? Or do you call Water in the direction of the nearest source of water to your home? One size doesn’t fit all, and that applies to your craft, too. For me, Water, the River, is in the northwest, and that is where I call to water when I cast my circles, calling on the elements. I won’t say where the others fall, as I prefer keeping those secrets to myself, but I hope you see the point I’m illustrating here: the land is a large part of a witch’s power. I encourage you to develop or deepen a relationship with the land around you, the animals, and all the spirits (so long as it’s safe) around you. The potential is limitless, and the peace I’ve found in it is unmatched. In the section Below I’ll give you an invaluable correspondence resource for you journey with the land around you, giving correspondences to animals, plants, etc.

How to Connect

Connecting with the Land, Animals, and spirits around you is as simple or complicated as you need it to be. For me, going outside, and seeing the different flora and fauna around me, listening to the ever present thrumming of nature just beyond the sounds of our artificial human world, is how I connect. I connect in trance and meditation states, as well as in my dreams. I’ve taken a lot of the more ritualistic parts I usually prefer out, instead allowing my inner wisdom and intuition to guide me, just as the Oak and the Owl instructed. I’ll pass that same wisdom on to you, as I don’t think there is one way to connect to the Land and its spirits, animals, etc. Find your inner wisdom, trust your intuition, and do what feels right, so long as you do so safely and with consideration to other living beings, on either side of the veil.


As promised, my favorite correspondence resource is listed below, for your benefit on this journey

Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Correspondences: A Comprehensive & Cross-Referenced Resource for Pagans & Wiccans by Sandra Kynes

Wishing you the best in your journey to come back into connection with the Land, its spirits, and the animals within.

The Modern Merlin


About the Author:

Hello there! I’m the Modern Merlin, and I’ve been a Polytheist Pagan, Witch, Sorcerer, Wizard, Mystic, Ceremonial Magician, Shaman and Soothsayer for 15 years, worshipping and working with deities and spirits from many cultures, including Ancient Greece, Rome, Norse & Germanic, Celtic, Egyptian, Sumerian, as well as Yoruba & Voodoo deities. I study and practice Astrology as well as Tarot and other forms of divination. I give readings and spiritual services on my Facebook Page, The Modern Merlin, as well other free informational posts for everyone to see!