Michael J. Dangler writes that “Druidry in general, and ADF Druidry in particular, is not only about scholarship, ritual and magic; it is also about connecting with the land and with the Earth Mother that birthed and sustains us. Druidry cannot be divorced from nature, not should it be”.
The reason I chose Druidry rather than another Pagan path was specifically because of its focus on nature. The Nature Awareness part of the Dedicant Path has been my favourite part of the course, and has become very important for my Druid practice.
I have tried to make time to practice some Nature Awareness each day. Usually this means going for a walk by the river over my lunch break during the week, and a longer walk in the local woods at weekends, as well as spending time putting food out for the garden birds (and squirrels) and observing the wildlife I see around me.
Over the course of the Dedicant Path, I have spent time in nature in this way for a full year, and seen the changes of the seasons from the frosts of winter through the budding of spring, the heat of summer and the golden leaf-fall of autumn. As well as the obvious seasonal changes, I have noticed the change in wildlife as the year turns and migratory birds arrive and leave, hedgehogs go into their winter hibernation and new fluffy chicks hatch in the spring.
This focused Nature Awareness has definitely strengthened my connection to the Earth and the landscape around me with all its other-than-human life. Taking part in activities such as the RSPB’s “Big Wild Sleepout” and “Big Garden Birdwatch” has helped me become much more aware of the diversity of species in my own back garden, and by recording what I spotted, has also contributed to citizen science and conservation efforts.
In practical terms, I recycle around 75-80% of my household waste (including composting all kitchen waste) and have recently switched to Ecotricity, a green energy supplier that uses renewable power for electricity. I cycle everywhere, or get public transport, and I keep a wildlife-friendly garden with overgrown “wilderness” areas, log piles and a meadow lawn to encourage local wildlife.
I am also a member of the Woodland Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Marine Conservation Society and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
I have also tried to learn more about nature, and my local area, during this year. I discovered that my rubbish goes to a Mechanical Biological Treatment plant housed around 6 miles away, which mechanically removes some items from the waste and then treats the rest in a huge composting hall. I learned that my region’s water comes from boreholes drilled into the chalk strata underground, before being treated and sent to taps. Once it is used, waste water goes into the sewers and is pumped to one of over 1,000 water recycling plants throughout the wider region. There it is cleaned, filtered and treated to an Environmental Services Agency standard that makes it safe to drink and re-use. I also found out that I live in one of the major arable agricultural areas of the UK. About half the local farmland is used for growing cereal crops such as wheat and barley, for both human and animal consumption. The rest of the land is divided between sugar beet, potatoes and pulses, all of which are climate-hardy crops that can grow well in the well-drained and often dry soil of the region.
There are other things I would like to do to increase my Nature Awareness and walk more lightly upon the Earth, including buying more local and seasonal food and growing some of my own vegetables and fruit. I would also love to keep chickens and bees in the future too.
Dangler, Michael J. The ADF Dedicant Path Through the Wheel of the Year. Garanus, 2010.