Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Found magic

"Human creativity and craft, when practiced in attentive, participatory attunement with the earthly locale, can also be deeply wild." --The Alliance for Wild Ethics

After the rains of last week, the last of the leaves were down. The silver flash of aluminum beer cans against November-brown leaves caught my eye as I jogged at street level a few days ago. Picking up trash thrown in natural areas is an avocation (some might say obsession) with me so today, Samhain, I headed down to our local creek with a trash bag. What better way to honor the old gods of earth, fire, tree and sky?

Diligently I hunted down and wheedled cans and bottles from their resting spots and tucked them away in my white trash bag. There was one small blood offering, courtesy of a sharp stick to the palm; and a bit of an unexpected slide down a steep hill on my backside. But finally I hauled a full bag up the hill to my car, feeling virtuous about a job well done. Except for those last dozen cans that hadn't fit into my trash bag. So back into the little wood I ventured.

As I wove through tangles of branches that caught at my jacket, the crows vigorously objected from the bare treetops. The mallards, gathered in the open water near shore, also voiced their thoughts on my presence. So I was a little distracted, and suddenly, there it was: A magic bower fashioned of deadfall.

Delight took me by surprise. Pure, childlike enchantment. A fairy house open to the sky! Made to bewitch lovers of the whimsical, the creative and unexpected--and clearly, lovers of the wild.  

It had a threshold, and a kind of hearth in the center, and fallen-log furniture...

...even ornaments, of the found variety...

And walls and a roof that will keep out no air or rain, but that shape stretched, crisscrossing shadows on the woodland floor, in echo of the trees from which each branch was grown over the long years. Or in echo of our own human silhouettes, with our branching arms and fluid gestures.

I felt magic in the care with which these branches were woven, propped and tied together. It spoke of love for this small wilderness in the midst of the city. The creation and presence of this structure, shaped by anonymous hands, stood in bright counterbalance to another aspect of humanity, symbolized by the trash I had picked up for the past hour. 

In gratitude, I wove an offering of dried flowers over the entryway before I left; I am only one among a greater community who practices honoring wild things.  

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