Nature is my church. It’s where I go to “worship.” Every step I take on Mother Earth is a healing blessing sent to her body. Whether I am in New York City, Minneapolis or Maui, I acknowledge the wisdom of the planet that is sometimes submerged well beneath the concrete, and sometimes in full bloom everywhere I look.
In the Earth-based spiritual paths, such as Native American Shamanism and Wicca, the Earth is honored as a living, breathing, feeling entity. The solstices, equinoxes and cross-quarter days are the Earth’s high holy days, times of celebration and honoring of the turning of the wheel of the year. Death and rebirth, endings and beginnings, and decay and renewal are annual themes. We can celebrate these times of power in whatever ways feel good to us. Ancient peoples lived their lives in tune with the Earth’s wisdom, and we can take our cues from some of the old traditions and create our own ceremonies to connect with nature.
As we head into Spring, moving past the Spring Equinox, we find ourselves at Beltane (May Day) on May 1. Beltane, which marks the end of winter, is a festival of rapturous gaiety as it joyfully heralds the arrival of summer in her full garb. Fires, celebrations and rituals were an important part of the Beltane festivities, to insure that the warmth of the Sun’s light would promote the fecundity of the earth.
Beltane marks the passage into a time when the pleasures of the Earth and the self are fully awakened. May is a time when flowers bloom, trees are green and life has again returned from the barren landscape of winter, to the hope of bountiful harvests, not too far away, and the lighthearted bliss that only summer can bring.
We don’t need a special day to celebrate our connection with nature. Every time we go outside, we can notice the beauty of the sky and clouds, the trees and plants, and the flowers that explode in their fantastic displays of color and beauty. It does not matter where we live or the time of year. Gaia supports our life with such graciousness and generosity, and her cycles mirror our own human cycles. Taking a deep breath and sending love into the Earth is a beautiful celebration anytime.