Enchantment, Fungi, Nature & Healing

An Enchanted Autumn

It was a crisp morning when I declared to my husband and son, “I really want to reconnect with nature today.” Underneath this longing was a desire to reconnect with myself.

Lately I had fallen into a familiar pattern of overanalyzing—too much research and Googling, too much social media scrolling, and reading too many books on all the things. The more information I consumed, the less clarity and inspiration I found.

That morning I followed my intuition and footsteps, which led me on a path to an antidote. Enchantment. As I ventured into the woods, I unexpectedly found a living field guide of fungi on the forest floor at a local park. At every turn there was novelty and delight. All sorts of mushrooms burst forth from earth’s soulful soil. An autumn rainbow of oranges, browns, reds, and whites peeped out from a bed of pine straw.

I took photos as I often do as a contemplative practice, receiving these images as a gift. Stooping down to get close, I changed perspective. And at ground level I inhaled the earthy scents created by the decay and regeneration process. I was amazed at nature’s art work in these tiny wonders. The colors. The textures. The designs. And I was reminded of the mystery and enchantment that lies beneath as fungal networks stretch out in vast webs. The mycelia of these mushrooms intertwine with tree roots to send nutrients and water to trees in a spirit of reciprocity.

What about this experience enchanted me? There was an element of surprise as I discovered secrets of the autumn forest. It felt pure. Just me and nature. It was a sensory feast that activated my sense of wonder and creativity. And I felt rooted as I connected to beauty and seasonal rhythms.

Words often associated with enchantment include delight, wonder, and magic. It has etymological roots in the Old French encantement meaning “magical spell; song, chorus.” And it is fitting that so many fairy tales take place in the woods—a landscape teeming with life and possibility. A setting to get lost and be found. By opening to nature’s song, it cast its spell on me. And I discovered my own notes.

Enchantment is unique to everyone. For me it is cozy and intimate, yet expansive. It glimmers and sparkles. It is both meaningful and playful. Novel and familiar. Enchantment is a dewy spiderweb. A bunny lounging in a patch of clover. A snail nibbling on a mushroom. A simmering pot of soup. A wren’s morning song. A child’s kiss.

I believe enchantment is an alchemy of curiosity, connection, and imagination. These gifts are available to us on a daily basis if we slow down enough to attune to ourselves and the world around us. And it is a practice that can be nurtured and cultivated. A dose of enchantment may just be what’s needed to soothe what ails us.

For Reflection

Do you remember the last time you felt a sense of enchantment? Was it unexpected or did you seek it out?

Is there a person in your life (now or from your past) who embraces an enchanted way of being that inspires you? One who seeks out wonder in simplicity, the every day, or the small things?

You may want to take a moment to explore your own recipe for enchantment.

Write “Enchantment is…” at the top of a blank page and then write freely without overthinking. It could be in the form of a list, notes, a poem, or prose. Ponder what delights the senses. Tickles the imagination. Warms the heart. And creates a sense of belonging. You may want to incorporate visuals such as colors that evoke enchantment in you or a sketch that symbolizes enchantment.

Consider venturing outside to discover a few special ingredients as I did that October morning.

Ecotherapy, Nature & Healing, Summer, Water

Water’s Edge: Refresh

Water is Elemental

Summer can be hot, dry, and stagnant here in North Carolina. The contrast of cool water reminds me of how elemental and essential water is to both our bodies and souls.

The quenching rainfall after the monotony of hot, dry days. The mist off a beautiful waterfall. Putting your feet in the cool flowing water and feeling the river rocks of a mountain creek. And, of course, walking along the threshold of sand and sea at the beach.

All of these experiences replenish my body and nourish my spirit. The cool touch of water on my skin, the sound of running water to my ears, and the flow of water shift my inner rhythms. What was once still and stagnant now has movement.

Sometimes the soul’s remedy is simply flowing water.

Each of us is drawn to particular elements and landscapes that soothe or speak to us in perhaps sacred ways. For me it has always been the water. As a child, I was drawn to the sea and would crawl to the shoreline before I could walk.

When I’m in the mountains, I seek out waterfalls. And when I’m in the woods, I get giddy when I find a small creek or stream.

Water’s Invitation

We can explore more deeply the wisdom and wonder of water with our heads, hands and heart.

When you are feeling parched, stagnant, or disheartened, I invite you to seek the water’s edge—this could be a lake, a creek, a waterfall, or beach. Or a puddle after rain.

Be in this space however you’d like—maybe it’s sitting, walking, observing, or playing. Maybe it’s a “dip your toe in” experience or a deep dive.

What do you notice about your external environment?

Does anything shift for you internally? What thoughts, memories or feelings arise? Maybe you are soothed or energized.

Does the water whisper any wisdom to you?

Feel free to write down any thoughts.

You may even want to create art …

Perhaps by exploring the shades of blue or green in the water with crayons, pastels or watercolors.

Or taking a photo.

Or sketching a flora or fauna you encounter while there.

Or creating an image that represents the way you feel at the water’s edge.

If you are inclined, take a moment to offer gratitude for the water. You may be moved to write a hope or blessing for it.

I offer thanks to the quenching water for earth’s creatures and flora. I am eternally grateful for the way flowing water buoys my soul. May we treat this precious natural resource with wisdom, kindness and tenderness.

“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years…is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.”

~ Rachel Carson, Marine Biologist & Conservationist