Seasonal Pilgrimage

Fall                                           Waning Harvest Moon

Each turn of the Celtic seasonal calendar I find ideas, personal reflections, astronomical or traditional lore to pass along.

This time I’ll pass along one from Waverly Fitzgerald who maintains a website, living in season.

She suggests a seasonal pilgrimage, a visit each turn of the year to a place that, for you, embodies the energies and essence of the new season.  This recommendation struck me because I have a place myself, next to the Carlos Avery Wildlife Refuge, the Bootlake Scientific and Natural Area.

To get to my sacred area I walk back through a field, it formerly held a house, now gone, traverse a crescent of young oak and birch to emerge in a circular meadow filled with furze.  Across the furze and to the northwest is a path back into the woods, not long, that takes me to a parcel of land between a pond on the south and the marshy edge of Bootlake on the north.

On this land between the waters stands an old growth white pine, a white pine with a crooked top, probably the main trunk broke off in a storm or lightning strike and a secondary branch took over, but at an angle from the main.  My guess is that this deformity allowed the old giant to survive the woodsman’s axe.

In a ring around this older tree are its offspring, a small grove of younger white pines who now stand sentinel around their older parent, a conversation now lasting at least a hundred years of more.

A portion of Tully’s ashes came with me one day.  I scattered them around the base of the tree, then sat down with my back to its trunk, snugged in between two great roots while I gave thanks for this Irish Wolfhound who had taken a special place in my heart.

At other times, often on New Year’s Day, I have visited this sacred grove, the air often below zero, snow crunching, black crows watching me from high atop leafless oak.

This small place, away from the city and the suburbs, a place intact, has been a refuge for me for over twenty years.  I visit it still, though less in the last few years.  It’s time to return.