Thursday, March 19, 2015

Looking for Ostara

March can be a treacherous month in Minnesota. We can be below zero and buried in snow. We can have highs in the 70s. Today is a moderate Minnesota day, high predicted to get to about 50, I am guessing its 45 right now, mid afternoon on a Thursday, the day before Ostara.
For Ostara , the coming of life and Spring, I've always felt one must celebrate outdoors. Being as I live smack dab in the middle of a suburban neighborhood, I must head for one of the local parks when its time for outdoor ritual or nature communing. 20 minutes west of here is one of my favorite parks, Carver Park Nature Reserve. Its a dreary, grayish day, the Air element is aroused and cracking its whip. I park my car and set off down one of the familiar trails. I pass a clean up crew sitting in their van eating sandwiches, one of their member is alone at a picnic table near the portapotty, sullenly eating what looks like a McDonald's hamburger, the hood of his sweatshirt half covering his face. Out on the trail, I am happy to see I am the only one walking it today. The wind lashes me time after time, I fear I am not properly dressed for the weather. I think of turning back but there's work to do. I find a favorite cedar tree along the trail and pour out a small amount of coffee as an offering, inviting the native land to partake of its energy. I walk on and decide to seek shelter where I can meditate out of the relentless wind. I turn off the trail and follow a deer trail that leads up a gentle slope to a stand of small cedar trees. I am aware I am not supposed to venture off the paved trail so there is that added adrenaline of doing something "not allowed". I rationalize, its not a fragile ecosystem, its a prairie field bordering a woods in mid March. Nothing will grow for another couple weeks yet. I find my way into the stand of trees and sit on the ground beneath them. Maybe a hundred yards away, there is a small lake that must be crowded with geese and ducks. I can hear their calls, loud, anxious sounding.  Have they spotted me although I cannot see them? I go into meditation and ask for an animal totem to make itself known. Immediately, almost before my thought is done, I hear a lone goose call. I have known the Canadian goose was my totem for some time, the same as I know reindeer are. With that acknowledgement, I continue my meditation. Instantly a turkey flashes in my mind's eye. Expecting to see a wild turkey, I open my eyes, nothing. Gently waving brown prairie grasses and naked tree branches on the horizon. The turkey vision seems quite vivid and repeats itself. I listen carefully for the purr of a turkey nearby but hear nothing except the geese on the lake and the wind. I honor the ground beneath me and try to connect to the spirit of place. I imagine myself rooted to the earth beneath me, going down into the damp,ripening soil. I am part of the landscape, I give of myself to it.A tiny chickadee bravely settles on a branch just a couple feet away, curious of me. I must seem very out of context sitting beneath these trees in the dead grass. I notice green cedar tips interspersed in the dry grass around me and briefly think of collecting it, taking it home and drying it to use in an incense blend. I decide against it. Today it isn't right to take of the land. Maybe it will be later this spring.
After a time of contemplation, I get up and head back to the paved trail. No one has interrupted my wild haunt today.
A huge tree looms in front of me, to the east side of the trail. Its a giant boxelder. When I was at Paganicon this past weekend, I took a workshop from a magician who told me even tree spirits have names. I remember this and immediately the name (?) Druseth comes to mind. "Druseth you are", I proclaim and carefully make my way through the growth to touch the tree trunks, two of them split low from the ground, giving the appearance of Siamese twins. Sensing the fork in the trunk as a powerful portal, I put a foot to it, and later lean my head into the space between. I feel the slow rising movement of the sap in the tree. I thank the tree for its magnificence and for its anchoring of the powers of place. Later on I see two similar trees that stand out for their extreme commanding presence. One of them is next to a boat landing and it occurs to me a spirit of the lake is residing in the tree. I am given names for both trees.
Driving home, I reflect on Ostara and the return of life to the once frigid brown landscape. I decide to enjoy nature awhile longer and turn off onto a byroad to continue home. A mile down the road, I see a flock of wild turkeys scratching in a field. I feel confirmed, turkey spirit was, indeed, speaking to me. A bit further down the road, I see a robin, a personal symbol of Spring to me. Its the first one I've seen this year. Nature keeps her own calendar and the robins always show up within a couple days of Ostara. I feel an inward smile. The cycle begins again.