I try to bring a little bit of the sacred into my everyday existence, even if it’s just taking a 5 minute walk through Tappan Square and visiting with the glorious Beech tree, the ever-so-magical Dawn Redwood trio, or any of the other lovely beings residing there. It doesn’t have to be long or complex to be meaningful, and there are no special tools required — just me, and a willingness to connect with the lives around me, human and otherwise.
Connection is a word I use tirelessly because, for me, it is absolute necessity. Connection is everything, and behind nearly everything I do. If I do not feel connected to what I am doing, the home I live in, the land I occupy, the people I am spending time with, or the things I surround myself with, then what’s the point? Where’s the actual magic, if not living within the connections we foster?
Over the last several months, I have been working to define my values as an animist by way of a course of study with the oh-so-wonderful, magical Cyrene Krey of Shadow Animism. I have talked a bit about some of my foundational beliefs in past posts, but I want to take a little time to highlight what I have come up with thus far, as this exercise in definition has really helped me to deepen my experiences and increase the depth of connection I feel to the world. These may shift a little as I continue to cultivate my path, but the bones are here and ready for the flesh.
- Allowance – I honor other beings without the expectation that they conform to my ways of expression and behavior. I allow them to exist as they are, rather than as I am. I lower my demands on their existence, as they are not mine to rule or preside over.
- Connection & Communication – I understand that communication and expression are not limited to my human ways. I allow myself to connect from a deeper source of understanding beyond my oral language; and to be moved and changed by releasing, at times, my modern human logic and desire to explain away my experiences.
- Creativity & Deference – As I belong to the Earth, I offer my deference to Nature as greater than myself. I use creativity to move through challenges presented to my person. I pay tribute to my experience of other beings through creative means.
- Equality – I hold all beings as equal to myself with the recognition that they each have spirit, consciousness, intellect, wisdom, and emotion — even when their expression differs from my own. All beings are valuable by merely existing. All beings deserve respect. I actively work to shift my language to foster inclusivity among human and nonhuman beings alike.
- Gratitude – I hold high the intricacy and beauty of life, even when it proposes an inconvenience to me. I express my gratitude to the land I occupy, and the beings I share it with.
Of course, this is my pathway and my set of values. Defining them, for me, has brought a greater sense of peace and meaning to my life and all the encounters in the natural world that I have been blessed with (I have several stories that I’ll share down the road), deepening my sense of connection to my world. Your values may look a little or maybe a lot different, but I would encourage you to take a look at them and try to define them clearly for yourself. The truth is we are all here on the Earth doing the best we can to live our lives. We all arrive at our understanding of life and the divine at different times and experience it in different ways. Regardless of these differences, I think we can agree that a life without connection is no better than an empty, obligatory handshake.