Forest Bathing

There is a name for something that I and many other folks have been doing our whole lives…Forest Bathing, Friluftsliv, Shinrin-Yoku…and it is enchanting. When you forest bathe, you leave your worries at the edge of the forest and enter for a slow meditative walk under the canopy. Understanding that we are not separate from nature, but that we are nature, we open to sensory invitations. There is nothing to think about, there is no ego…there is only the sound of cicadas in the leaves, the rustle of fallen leaves under our feet, a squirrel fussing from the tree tops. Close your eyes and feel the breeze on your skin, the movement of leaves all around you…open your eyes and focus on one thing in front of you…the tiled beauty of tree bark and a spider beginning her web on a branch. Bathe in the sensory realities of the natural world, of this forest that breathes and dances in the wind just like we do. 

I grew up running wild through the woods and have never stopped, blessed to live in a forest that stretches out all around my house. With the blessing and encouragement of this forest that I call home, I am beginning to think that I could share the beauty and sensory wholeness of forest bathing with other like minded folks. We could meet and together take a slow sensory walk through the woods, allowing our human minds and egos to rest for a bit in the cradle of the forest loam. And maybe afterwards, we could have tea, a gentle sharing of thankfulness for the forest and a short oracle meditation for messages to carry with you from your Guides.

Forest Witch Tarot: Eight of Air

Eight of Swords or Eight of Air in my deck is a card that is about feeling trapped in a situation or mindset but in reality you have free will and the ability to find your way free.

From The Forest Witch Tarot

“The day had already started out wrong. The rabbits’ ear mites had returned even after a week of diligent treatment and two of them had gotten loose while I was trying to wrangle the matriarch. As I was running around trying to catch them, I noticed that the garden was infested again and one of my chickens had died during the night. Suddenly, I had this overwhelming urge to just sit down in the dirt and cry. I felt trapped in an unending cycle of chores and duties and tending to the needs of others…when would I have time for myself, to do the things that made my heart sing? My skirts had gotten tangled in the brambles next to where I sat and as I was pulling the thorns out of the hem, I noticed an indigo bunting flying out of the hedge. A single feather floated down from her ascent. I realized that I wasn’t trapped, I had chosen this life. This life brought meaning, it brought a satisfaction and a fullness that fed my soul. Some days were hard, that was true, but most days were good. I was the creator of my own life…I had the freedom to make it however I chose and I chose this, the good and the bad.

Forest Witch Tarot: Six of Water

Six of water…friendship, nostalgia, the sweet ease of being with someone who gets you.

From the Forest Witch:

It was a restless night and I couldn’t sleep. The rain was dripping down through a hole in the roof and it pattered relentlessly in the bowl I had placed on the kitchen floor. I decided to go for a walk. The crescent moon lit a small strip of the path and silver light played among the leaves of summer. I stepped carefully in the darkness, not sure how far I wanted to go. Ahead of me, I saw a patch of rather large mushrooms, their white faces turned up to the moon. Two rats sat together, their backs to me. They were so engrossed in their conversation that they forgot to listen for footsteps in the night. I stopped, gazing upon them happily. The way that they leaned towards each other, their soft tones reminded me of the days of my youth when I used to sit under the stars with my sisters. We would talk of anything that pleased us and we never needed to worry if our words would be taken the wrong way. Being alone in the world is a relief for that, but I do remember what it was like to feel complete ease of body and mind in the presence of others.

A Sample Mabon Reading

I am sharing this reading with persmission from my client. My readings also include photos, the moon phase we are in as well as any crystal guides or other guides that come through.

“Happy Mabon my Dear!

This is a wonderful time of the year when the weather starts to cool and the leaves begin to turn…oranges and reds and pumpkin spice everything! Mabon is a harvest sabbat, a time for reflection, release and transformation…we turn our hearts towards a gentle gratitude for where we are and contemplation for where we want to go next.

Your overall Guide and message for this reading is Awareness and Mindfulness. Fox sees everything around them, hears even the smallest turn of a leaf and knows themselves well. Fox is with you to help you develop mindfulness so that you can be aware of your body and your place in the world.

This season you are focused on understanding your place in the world with more clarity. You are seeing and noticing aspects of your life that may have seemed murky or confusing before. You see with sharper eyes, your understanding is focused. This is your harvest, something that you have been working hard on and you are reaping the benefits. This clarity and sharp focus is allowing you to make good decisions so that you can reach your goals and live in the world with more ease. You have been working with Daughter of Swords energy here. 

Although you have worked hard and have made so much progress with this, please know that you are still journeying…your ability to manifest your goals still needs to be nurtured and still needs time to grow further. You have the abilities and the talent to manifest your goals…you are on the right path…but if you feel like you aren’t quite there yet, just know that you need to keep the flow, keep the work going because you are heading in that direction. You are the Magician and have everything inside that you need!

This season you have much to be grateful for…but there is one aspect that shines about you. Your focus and your strong will are leading you to beautiful things. You don’t back down from challenges and this will lead you to victory. The Chariot is in your gratitude position, you have a strong will!

Seek balance in your quest for knowledge. You have a hunger for knowledge and thrive when you are able to learn new things. Be mindful of how this balances with your everyday life and celebrate this beautiful part of your nature. The Hierophant is where you should strive for balance this season. 

Your life is changing in a gentle way, you are becoming more content in the rhythms of your life and more self sufficient in a balanced and healthy way. This really is a time of harvest for you…you have been working so hard on your own health and happiness as well as the health and happiness of your family. Your sight has become clear and trustworthy from this work. The benefits of this are beginning to show in a confident, rooted way. The Nine of Pentacles is in the transformation position here. 

Any fears and anxiety about survival that might still be lingering need to be released. Any insecurity or fears of not being safe should also be released. Let these fears go with love and compassion. Your life is stable and dependable, you have a safe foundation on which to grow…allow your soul to expand into its sun cycle. Glowing, vibrant, confident. Gentle Daughter of Pentacles will help you release energy you no longer need. 

Your energy is bright with power and love…it shines out to the people around you, the people who love you. You have a magnetic personality and draw people to you with your vibrance and beauty. The Universe wants you to be happy so you can shine your light out into the world, making it a more beautiful and brighter place. This is part of your soul purpose… just being beautiful, wonderful you. Expressing yourself through your writing and art is an inspiration to many people. You are the gorgeous and powerful Mother of Wands!”

Journal: Waterfall

For two nights in a row I have dreamed of a specific waterfall.

It was on the side of a small mountain. It seemed to spring from the mountain itself, fell in a running cascade for a bit then sideways ran down the rocks. I was in a place like the Pacific Northwest, where it rained a lot and the trees grew tall and cone shaped. The waterfall was surrounded by dark green, on a charcoal grey rock face.

The sight of it brought me to tears and both times I saw it from the view of a wealthy woman’s house.

Journal: Black and white horses

I dreamed about a divine horse pair. The stallion was a large black friesen Percheron . The mare was a little smaller and white. I was walking them on a grass strip along a small road. They were wonderful. At one point, I could see my own hands reaching up as both muzzles crossed in front of me in an embrace.

Journal: War dream

I dreamed about being a large house, I think it was an orphanage or children’s home because all the children lived upstairs. An invading army came through, went upstairs and attacked the children. We couldn’t stop them. Many of the children were mutilated, in particular their legs. They had killed our horses too.

We helped the surviving children as well as we could. Bandaging them up, teaching them how to ride horses again so we could flee. This happened over a period of months so I think we were in hiding somewhere.

Many years later, I was working undercover for a company that was secretly funding the invading country. I was there with my best friend and confidante, a cranky skinny old woman. we were both very skinny. We only ate what we had to, and saved the rest for those who needed it. I was fussing at her, “have you eaten anything today at all?” and she would say yes, yes i have. “I don’t believe you, what have you eaten?” it was the end of the day, in the evening. “I had two stewed tomatoes earlier in the day!” she said hotly and i just shook my head because who can live on only two stewed tomatoes for the whole day?

At one point, I walked outside the building I worked in and there were gently rolling green hills all around and I remember thinking so this is what this area looked like before industrialization. So, I must have been lucid at this point. I saw a delivery truck pulling in and thought, maybe 1930s?

I woke up confused and realized I had been biting the inside of my cheek.

Reading oracle decks

I may not the best person to teach beginners on how to use an oracle deck. I often break the rules and make it up as I go along but I do know and practice a few basics. To begin, oracle decks are different than tarot decks in that they are often the product of wild creativity. The authors of oracle decks have free will when creating the art of the cards and the meaning behind them. Generally, tarot decks follow a system of 78 cards, major and minor arcana with an idea of each what each card means.

I first began working with oracle cards when my cousin gifted me The Faeries’ Oracle by Brian Froud and Jessica Macbeth, but I had been studying the tarot since my first deck The Haindl Tarot in my early 20’s. There are a ton of “rules” around reading the cards, whether oracle or tarot but the only ones that I really follow are:

Avoid working with tarot when you are really stressed out and experiencing anxiety. Oracle cards are often kinder and can actually be a great source of comfort during these times.

Create sacred space when you work with the cards. This is completely up to interpretation because sacred space can be as elaborate as meditating, cleansing your energy and space, praying and ritual or as simple as taking a deep breath and patting the cards lovingly before you lay them out on your lap. Personally, I always say a prayer of protection and cut the cards three times for the Triple Goddess before readings. Afterwards, I say thank you to my Guides and close the connection. I believe that closing the connection is important so that you are not drained for the rest of the day by lingering in the spirit world.

Ask questions that the cards and Guides can answer. Yes or no questions are hard, as are questions that deal with time. For a general reading, ask “What do I need to know right now?” For more specific questions, “What do I need to know about (my situation) right now?” Stay out of other folks’ business though, that is generally a taboo route to go.

Read the authors interpretations if you choose but always go with your own intuition.

Its been a while since I’ve read the book that accompanied The Faeries’ Oracle but I remember an exercise where you went through all the cards to get to know them. Lay them out in front of you, shuffle through them with a quiet open mind and just observe. As you do so, ask yourself, are there any cards that stand out in their beauty to you? Which cards are either repulsive to you, frightening or just not interesting? The first set of cards are Guides who are working with you right now, they are your shining lights of guidance and love. The second set of cards are your challenging guides, they also have your best interest at heart but are pointing out areas in your life that you need to work on. This can change over time, our Guides may come and go, but some will always stay with you.

Kindred Fauna Oracle is available for Preorder

Kindred Fauna Oracle is a 52 card oracle deck with original mixed media paintings by me. I have an estimated ship date from the printer and should be able to ship decks out by this December or January of 2021.

I have two sizes available to purchase. The larger sized deck is 3.5″x5.5″ and the tarot sized deck is 2.75″x4.75″. All cards are printed on high quality black core card stock. These cards shuffle beautifully, with a high quality silky feel as well as excellent art reproduction with vibrant colors and detail. Each painting was created lovingly by me with input and help from the Animal Guides through meditation, visions and everyday life. The cards are vibrant and energetic, wonderful for readings…on their own or mixed with other cards as well as for altar cards and daily meditation tools. For more details, please visit my Etsy shop, Wildwood Hollow Studio