I've noticed something lately about my outlook on life.
I am an observant individual. I do not mean this in the way of "I know what you had for breakfast because your right foot is slightly smaller than your left". I simply mean that I enjoy watching what's around me. Sometimes, as a result of constantly watching, I notice things. I notice that many people, when practicing a spiritual path that involves nonphysical entities, tend to overdo it. I do not mean they work too hard. I mean they overcomplicate what a spirit is in the grand scheme of things. Let me provide an example.
When I go outside, I am surrounded by the spiritual. The wind blows, and I think "ah, wind spirits, dancing all around me." When I go into the woods I think "ah, such life here, all these spirits. The trees, the rocks, the seeds, the flowers, the animals, the forest itself." When I walk down the road to the store, I feel the community around me, and think "ah, such a strong spirit this community has". When I send my thoughts downward, I think "so many spirits below me." When I send my thoughts upward, I think "so many spirits above me". When I feel those that have passed on, I think "spirits with physical memories". When I feel malicious spirits, I think "spirits with anger or cruelty". I don't assign value to these spirits beyond themselves. I don't think "this is a pixie, this is an animal guardian, this is a ghost, this is a demon". Every time I've used one of those classifications in my speech, it's to provide clarity for the person I'm speaking to (although nine times out of ten it tends to confuse, due to differing definitions).
When I hunt clams, I give thanks to the clams. I am giving thanks both to them physically, and their spirits, for providing sustenance and allowing me to connect to my past. They've sacrificed, they've provided, and in turn I will provide. I see no separation of them, physical from spiritual. They exist as both, and I give thanks to both. When I see a wolf in the wild, I understand its spirit. I don't provoke it, I don't treat it like "a nice little spirit", because it's a hunter, it has a pack, it has instincts, it has territory to protect, and just then it's incredibly afraid of me. It is a spirit, and it is physical. I must acknowledge both in honesty, and act accordingly.
I see that some people change their perception of "spirit" when they go inside. There is the hearth spirit, the ancestor spirit, the invading spirit. Their home must be protected and maintained, so their attitude toward the spiritual changes. This confuses me. When you were outside, you respected this spirits viciousness and fierce nature as an aspect of nature. Inside, that aspect of nature becomes a nuisance or threat, and it is treated almost as a monster. To me, there is no difference outside or inside. Inside, I feel my home and think "this is the spirit of my home, it welcomes me". I feel the spirits around me and think "ah, these are who I share my environment with. This is harmony". True, if something malicious or destructive comes into my home, and cannot find harmony, I take action. But I do not think "they have invaded, this is against nature, it is my duty to stop them". I think "this is my territory. I must protect my territory, as is my nature. I will take action". Although I admit, I don't actually think those words. I just understand the reality of the situation. My action is based on that motivation, rather than the other.
When I work with herbs, I can clearly see the interconnectedness I share with all things. In both physical and spiritual ways, the herbs have an impact on me. Their spirits reflect their physicality. Healing, changing, poisoning, creating clarity, creating confusion. The spirits of the plants provide these things as directly as their bodies. They change my body. They change my spirit, bringing health or illness. They change my outlook, my responses, how I interact with my community, and through this they change my community. Eating the clams that I hunt does the same thing. Feeling the spirits around me, and working with them, changes things.
I think this may be why I don't need a lot of ceremony in my life. Ceremony is fantastic, don't get me wrong. I can think of any number of ways ceremony and ritual can change things, can demonstrate the same interconnectedness I'm talking about here. But a lot of the time, ceremony is a means of establishing connection. I don't need to. I live and breathe within my connection. I am aware of the physical and spiritual together, and my place in nature. When working with spirits, or herbs, or animals, I don't need to "go through the motions" and change my way of thinking. I simply be as I am, who I am, and continue.
Sometimes, what I observe confuses me. I wonder how so many people that try so hard to connect to nature go against their own nature. I wonder why they need so many methods and techniques to create a connection with nature, when they already have one, simply by being alive. I wonder why they don't see what I see, though I admit that's something of arrogance coming from me. It's arrogant of me to assume they SHOULD see what I see, or that they DON'T in their own way. This demonstrates my own need to improve.
Still, I like where I am at right now. I am aware, if not skillful. I know what my path is, even if I can't give it a definite name or shape. I know what I do, and what I am, even if I can't properly articulate it here. I am in harmony, and I find it to be a beautiful thing.
Just a thought.