Be the Course

I will call the water
And I will be the course
And I will call the rain
I will call the rain

– Ayla Nereo, The Course


A few of you know that I have been “spiritually rehabilitating” the new development I moved into. I have great news to report! 😀

First, though, what is it exactly that I’ve been doing? I noticed when I moved in (late May) that aside from the ducks and squirrels, there were very few other animals species. I was used to the many birds honking, cawing, and singing at my mom’s place before, and I remembered that they had “arrived” slowly. First to arrive were the ever-present ducks and grackles, then the ibises, and then all manner of others. They became a semi-permanent fixture, even though no one was specifically feeding them and there weren’t any special native plants in the landscaping design.

I recalled the story of the a Daoist sage who is brought to help a village with drought, and all he does is live just outside the village until the rains come. When asked what he did by the elated villages, he said, “Nothing. I walk with the Dao and the Dao is natural balanced and bountifulness. It simply followed me.”

So, I settled in to make a very intentional start to this project. I contacted the local land spirit and brought it assistance from one of my ancestral guides linked to flowing waters and rejuvenation. I found dealt with the oldest tree nearest to my house–a 50 year old, give or take–and did a brief ritual to connect its roots to the Underworld and its branches to the Upperworld–essentially honoring it as the omphalos or center of the larger spiritual working. Then I listened and payed close attention: when the grass was mowed, when the rains fell and swelled the pond/moat around the development, how the banks would be flooded and then uncovered as the canals drained it. Which birds came and went.

I knew that I had to start by luring in the ibises for a visit first, that their long beaks rummaging through the earth loosened it and turned up trails for smaller birds to follow. At least, that was my instinct. On a visit to my mom’s house, I spoke and dealt with the flock there to negotiate a visit and possible migration. Every new bird species that is common around here I spoke with and invited to my new place. “Come join us. We will feed you.” So, to make good on that promise, I bought a large bird feeder and seeds. But I waited to put them out until I could hear their singing–their unique knock on my door, so to speak. I listened every morning I left for work, every afternoon when I got home, and whenever I went or came by night. I listened hard.

Slowly, I noticed visitors arrive and greeted them, then I saw them depart. Then, the ibises came for good. I knew I did not have to feed them, that hadn’t been the bargain. They had all the food they needed in the ground, unclaimed, and ready to continue the cycles of life it lacked. When the singing started, I was elated. I wasted no time in readying the bird feeder and asking permission of the oak to hang it near it. (For practical purposes, I had already asked permission to put this out, along with three very cute faery houses at the base of the tree, just for decoration.) The odd lizard or iguana also came by as well and seemed to make a home among the mowed grass.

One of the tiny “faery houses” I put up almost immediately after moving in.

The joyous occasion was today, September 18, when I arrived home from work and heard the ruckus/chorus of several singing birds and the caws of others and the honks of even more. Everywhere I looked, there was a new and different creature to greet my eye, even a blood-red dragonfly! Nature seemed a-riot all around me, celebrating their place in this place.

I won’t claim credit for any of this. All I have effectively done is put out a bird feeder, and only once it was all started. But the Daoist sage’s story comes back to me and all these elements of the experience joined together in beauty. Regardless of the machinations of animals, spirits, and Nature behind the scenes, I was uplifted and accept this blessing.

Now to see what I can do about landscaping practices in the rental condos I live in. The work is far from over. Florida’s bounty can yet manifest more fully and sovereign!

I will call the water
And I will be the course
And I will call the rain
I will call the rain

– Ayla Nereo, The Course

One thought on “Be the Course

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