Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Emily Carding, author Faery Craft.
I am not long back from the most wonderful trip, leaving my beloved Cornwall behind for a short few weeks to explore Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. My family and I witnessed stunning primal landscapes; saw bears, orcas, and bald eagles in the wild for the first time; and admired the beautiful carvings of the First Nation tribes. We took a walk through a rainforest, flew over a majestic glacier in a sea-plane, and marveled at the incredible beauty of what seemed an almost unspoilt landscape. Forests stretched on as far as the eye could see, and the peaks of snow-topped mountains disappeared into ever-shifting clouds and mist.
The second half of our holiday was spent on beautiful Vancouver Island. One of the things that had drawn me to this area was hearing of a famous Canadian artist called Emily Carr, whom (aside from the obvious name similarity), I discovered I had much in common with. As her work progressed, she became more and more compelled by the idea of expressing the inherent divinity within nature through her art, a concept most sympathetic with Pagan beliefs, particularly those of us with animistic, pantheistic or panentheistic tendencies. After a short stop-off to visit her house in Victoria, now a museum, we drove up through nearly two hundred miles of utterly stunning scenery to the delightful Tofino, a true artist’s community nestled between the sea and the mountains, where we spent a blissful few (too few) days.
Vancouver itself, bustling urban metropolis that it is, came as something of a shock after such peace and tranquillity. However, we did have one full day to enjoy it before we caught our flight home. I was excited at the opportunity to visit Vancouver Art Gallery and see their collection of Emily Carr’s paintings in the flesh, and so as soon as the gallery opened (I was happy to find our hotel was a short trot away from the gallery), I found myself face to face with a small selection of her powerful and vital landscapes. I was deeply moved by her work, but there was one other thing that struck me and has stuck like a bug in my throat since then. The very thing that inspired me to write this post. Alongside her work, on the opposite wall, was the customary prose introducing the artist, her aims, a short biography and so on. I don’t recall the exact wording (I had no notebook on me and photography was not permitted), but as though her devotion to nature and wish to express the spirit within the landscape through her work was a luxury of a mystical, bygone age, it commented that such an opportunity to connect with nature was “radically diminished” in our current time. Really? Had I not just spent the most incredible couple of weeks surrounded by wilds in which there is no doubt the spirits still have voice? Did I not myself live in such a landscape back in ancient Kernow?
I was taken aback. I remembered a brief phrase from the introduction of my book, Faery Craft: “…[W]e need no longer dwell in the damaging and painful illusion of disconnection.” Why should people who live in cities feel that they are somehow disconnected from the forces and spirit of nature? The power of earthquakes and tsunami have frequently and dramatically illustrated that no amount of man-made structure can disconnect humanity from the physical power of nature. Does that not go hand in hand with the spiritual power? We talk a lot in spiritual work with the hidden realms about ‘building connection’, and rightly so, but first we need to break down the illusion of disconnection. We are all connected, not only to each other, but with the land itself, and intimately. The physical walls of a city are far less consequential than the mental walls that people have built around themselves to deny the real and powerful truth of connection. Nature is everywhere, around us and within us. It is the weeds that peek out through the cracks in concrete as much as it is the mighty forest. It is the urban fox as much as it is the wild stag. Its spirit surrounds and inhabits us. Disconnection is nothing more than a terrible nightmare that persists upon waking that we feed with our own fears, preoccupations and delusions. We ARE nature.
Our thanks to Emily for her guest post! For more from Emily Carding, read her article “The Septagram: Seven Directions and Seven Qualities.”