Johnathan and his mother really make me feel welcome in their home on Christmas. Beth made me a scarf and a beaded bracelet, and Johnathan got me a book on canning that I’ve been wanting for ages. After we exchanged gifts around noon, Johnathan went back to bed, and I went out to the Limpy Botanical Trail. And I got a little crazy.
At the top of the largest waterfall on the trail, there was a series of little pools leading up to the edge. And—I still can’t believe I did this—I stripped to nothing and stepped into the easiest pool to enter. That one was also the deepest—at the midpoint, it hit my hips—and made my way to the edge of the waterfall. I stood just behind the drop off and sort of channeled the element water. I felt its energy coursing around my legs, and I said a spontaneous invocation. I can’t remember the words at all now, but the essence of water grew stronger and sort of, well, became a part of me. I pushed that energy into the athame I held, then plunged the athame into the edge of the waterfall.
As I made my way back to my clothes, I sat down in the deeper pool and swam a bit. Which was fun, though really, really cold. My feet and legs were practically leaden weights by the time I got dressed and renewed my hike, but I pushed onward. Just before the forest trail broke to a clearing, I came across a large pine tree with branches that swooped down to the forest floor—a tree that reminded me of the East Coast pines I grew up with and under whom I began to learn grounding. And so I grounded and centered under this tree, and pulled up earth. My spontaneous invocation was so slow and measured—so unlike the water invocation—but fitting, given how slowly this element moves and how long it has shaped our planet. As with the water, I plunged the athame into the soft, moist ground and pushed that steady energy into the blade.
The clearing was a wonderful place to channel air. It was an open swath on the face of the mountain, so high the ground was dotted with snow, and overlooking miles of mountain tops, swirled with mist and cloud. I swirled my athame into the air like a flag corps twirler and breathed cool inspiration into the blade as I continued dancing in wide, swooping gestures.
Fire, I obviously omitted as I rather doubt that the lighting of fires is encouraged in a Botanical Trail, but I’ll start a cozy hearth fire when I go back to Eugene and spend a goodly amount of time harnessing and directing that energy. I got a reminder of fire, though, as I left the trail. I came across another family who had arrived after I had and had gone on a different trail direction. After I took their pictures and they took mine, we swapped e-mail addresses and the older woman gave me the book she’d handed me to lend my paper scrap some scribbling support. It was Barbara Tropp’s China Moon, a recipe compendium from her famed Chinese restaurant in San Francisco, and full of her trademark spicy sauces. I can’t wait to whip some up!