Signs from nature

I recently read a rather new agey book, which talked a lot about the presence of angels (author William Bloom, if anyone was wondering). It included such notions as nature being the face of spirit and that if we pay attention to nature, it will give messages to us. I’ve also recently read a Ross Heaven book on shamanic healing, and that too offered the idea of messages from nature. Now, on one hand I do divination and the idea of simple things that give inspiration and prompt insight works fine for me. But on the other hand…

I spend a lot of time close to nature. I’m living on a small boat on a large canal, there’s a lot of water, trees and wildlife right outside my window and I’m out there in it every day. I see a lot of nature. I’ve watched the grebes diving at twilight, and seen them enough to know perfectly well that they aren’t there for me; they are there for the spot they like to fish in at sunset. I know when the bats and badgers are likely to come out, which bit of towpath the toads favour, where the owls like to perch, and where to hear a cuckoo in the spring.

Encountering any of these things as a one off, they might feel mystical and magical in the sense of conveying specific meaning to me. Living with them every day, I can’t take them as personal omens. I can see how the weather impacts on some of them, seasons, times of day. I see that all the living things around me have their own needs, communities, habits. I will gasp with the sheer pleasure of seeing a tern, I am delighted by the badgers. I know where to find them, and I know I won’t see any of them so much in really bad weather, or at the season when they are elsewhere. There is a magic in experiencing nature.

It seems a touch arrogant, to me, to imagine that the natural world has nothing better to do than run round bringing us messages about whether to apply for that job, or whether to ditch a lover. My honest impression is that unless I am directly interacting with it in some way, the rest of nature couldn’t care less whether I live or die, succeed or fail. If I have bread crusts, the swans will love me, for a little while. If I am noisy, the birds will fly away from me. The more time I spend with them, the less able I am to see patterns of meaning in nature that do not pertain to the other living entities. I am also ever more conscious that these are spirits too, all of them from the tiniest bug on my finger tip to the big fish that occasionally leap at dusk. They are all spirits. They all have their own paths to follow. Do any of them taking my coming and going for an omen?

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

5 responses to “Signs from nature

  • Alex Jones

    I see both sides of the argument. Like the ancient Celts I can move between two worlds. These worlds, the one that we see, and the spiritual world of patterns and archetypes, co-exist, overlap each other. All ancient Druidic magic depends upon the ability to be able to see, move and communicate with the spiritual world.

    On a mundane level nature reacts before changes in weather, or before a major earthquake. There is an idea along the lines of one beat of a butterfly wing in Africa can cause a killer hurricane in Florida. Everything is interconnected, every thought and action creates a weird ripple effect that flows outwards and backwards, which one by various methods can get a sense of to predict an outcome or a good action.

  • Natalie Reed

    I think there are occasions when acts of Nature are meant as messages for us, I have had this happen on occasion. I do not, however, think this is an every day occurance. It may be more that, if our minds are open, we will interpret the actions of Nature in a way that has meaning in our own life.

  • greycatsidhe

    I’ve been thinking about just this a lot recently. My study group touched on divination last class, and I’ve been researching it more for my ADF study programs and personal interest – so of course augury came up! Like you, the more time I spend in nature, the more I’ve become familiar with certain patterns. Go into the forest around dusk and of course there’s going to be a little more activity than usual. Go out at night and of course you’ll see a bat. Look out at your bird feeder in winter and you’ll probably see song birds.

    I do think, like the previous commenters, that there are times when a natural occurrence could have a message for us. The trick is knowing when something is truly out of the ordinary and when it’s not just a rabid animal. 😛 I think it’s best to approach augury as you would most divination – get into the right mindset, offer up prayers and possibly offerings, and *then* see what crosses your path so to speak. Without making a ritual of it, certain personalities could perceive just about everything as having a sign. It’s not only obnoxious but potentially dangerous!

  • Iodhan Silverbear

    I guess I see it rather differently. To me, our interactions, however small they may be, are reflected at times in nature. There are animals everywhere around where I live. Sometimes they allow me to approach more closely, sometimes they just happen to be there. Dragonflies routinely land on me and will stay with me for long periods of time (for dragonflies). I think that the message is not “Nature is showing me something” but rather “This is what it means to me” that becomes the message. If it’s all connected, and I believe it is, then I don’t really believe in coincidence and if coincidence does not exist, then those birds on my lawn might be there to tell me something or not, it is up to me to interpret. Those birds on my lawn might be there for me and every person that passes on the road, maybe to spur a memory or to make one. I don’t always know and don’t pretend to but I always wonder…

  • Nimue Brown

    I like your thoghts Alex, and those kinds of observations depend on knowing what the rest of nature normally does. I think there is alwas the scope to find personal meaning to have awareness opened, to be inspired – but tha’s about what we do with what comes in, not the idea of badgers coming towards us bearing tidings 🙂

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