With the spring equinox, the powers of light and dark are brought into a temporary state of equilibrium. Here in the northern hemisphere, the darkness of night is slowly vanquished through the steady increase of daylight. In response to the growing light and the gradual increase in temperature, an exciting process of renewal unfolds. Rosy buds form at the tip of bare cherry and plum twigs and within days explode into riotous color. Thirsty suckers appear on trees eager for growth. Daffodils and tulips emerge from the earth in a parade of colors.
It is a magical time, and for some cultures, the spring equinox marks the start of the new year. For others, the time had more practical associations with the start of the busy planting season and a need to ensure that the fields and tools were made ready to work once more.
Similarly, we too may feel called to emerge from our winter dormancy. There may be a certain restlessness to begin new projects, to clean house, or to commit to new ventures. Many of us no longer live lives dictated by an agricultural cycle, yet we still find ourselves wanting to plant seeds of intent and ensure that our metaphorical fields are ready to be worked.
The simple act of going outdoors and rejuvenating the garden, or taking a walk through the woods in the midst of this stunning transformation, can be greatly restorative and can help us feel resolved on our path. We pull away the weeds that may have gathered, we clean out the shed. We see the world with fresh eyes and feel the still-cool breeze against our skin. There is such promise, such potential.
As we emerge, we encounter the wild threshold between ourselves and nature. For the past few months, we may have huddled and taken shelter against the elements and felt some disconnect from that non-human world just beyond the doorstep. Now we find ourselves taking tentative first steps into the enchanted green world, perhaps for the first time, and feelings of both wonder and alien-ness may occur. It is at this threshold that we encounter the true living enchanted world.
Our ancestors understood the enchantedness that dwelled just beyond the tilled field or the town wall. They both revered and feared it, for it contained both wonders and great danger. Today, that great wild may feel quite distant- yet it has never truly left. We may need to venture further to encounter ‘the wilderness’, yet more approachable thresholds are scarcely more than a few yards away.
When we spend some time in the garden, or at a quiet section of city park, we can still feel the wild pulse of the land. If we consciously recognize that the land is living and enspirited, we can feel it resonate within ourselves. We begin to see ourselves in the land, to form a sense of kinship. Over time, this can feel like a sort of belonging, and even of responsibility to the land itself.
Once we have allowed ourselves to emerge to the point that we feel the need for deeper connection with the renewing world of green around us, it is then we are ready to encounter the Other Folk. Far too often in our culture, the term “fairy” has been abused to mean a diminutive sprite with gossamer wings, a frivolous being lacking substance or any sense of wildness. This couldn’t be further from the truth in the original conception of the term. The original Fae were- and are- in a variety of forms, almost never small and winged, and were a product of the great and enchanted wild. They could be wonderful and fearful all at once.
The spring, especially as the season rolls on, is a good time to approach the Other Folk with due caution and respect. It is at this time that the Seelie, or Summer Court begins to emerge. In contrast to the more hostile Unseelie, or Winter Court, the Seelie are far more likely to interact in a neutral or kindly manner to good-intentioned humans seeking to build rapport. This is not to say that they are safe or docile, by any means.
Why would we want to work with the Fae, Seelie or not? This is a more interesting question, and I trace it back to the desire to emerge and to encounter enchantment as a natural longing. The human race has drifted away from these realms, and in doing so, the separation has caused us to become wounded and has caused us to have trouble seeing how we relate with the nonhuman world as a whole. The damage that our species has caused to the environment is a natural consequence of this separation.
When we venture to build relation with the Other Folk, we help to bridge the gap between humanity and nature. We humble ourselves to realize that we are parts of a greater whole, and that humanity does not reside at the center of the living universe. We also heal and empower ourselves at the same time, knowing that we can create positive change and be inspired by the living growing world. Every action of reconnection, no matter how small, is an act toward healing the wounding of our species.
How can we begin a relationship with the Other Folk, or Good Neighbors as they are often called? Listen always to your intuition, and likewise always approach the Fae with respect. Honor them, and also be sure to honor yourself. Here are some suggestions for getting started:
Begin with stillness. Sit quietly with a particular rose bush or oak tree- whatever natural feature that you feel drawn to work with. It could be a large rock or a streamside. Focus on your breathing and observe without attachment all of the many living things around you.
Develop a habit. Return to this location frequently, if not daily, then at least every week. Each time you return, greet the area fondly and return to a state of stillness.
Give gifts. After you have built this simple practice, you may begin to intuit something about the spirit of the place. Does it have certain preferences? Does it seem to have a personality? You are building a friendship with the spirits of the place, which includes the Other Folk, and in doing so it helps to give gifts which will be well received. You may be able to sense what the spirit of place desires, or you may rely on tried-and-true offerings like milk and honey.
Be a good friend. There is more to a friendship than giving gifts. Show your support for the land, be attentive to the place, allow yourself to feel a deep sense of connection. If you see trash, pick it up. Similarly, expect to be respected in turn and set up boundaries if you ever feel uncomfortable.
Once these steps are followed, it is very likely that the Other Folk will begin to reveal themselves to you. If you never encounter them, as some never do, you will at the very least have developed an important practice of relationship-building with nature and the land itself. You will be doing what is perhaps some of the most important work our species can do to help remember where we belong, and the sacred aliveness found in all corners of existence. You may likely find that you come to know yourself better in the process, through this intimate connection with Other.
Through this sacred emergence, we find ourselves and remember what it is to be human. So step forth, emerge, and celebrate with the renewed and growing green world!
May you be filled with the breath of life, joy and magic! ~Sara