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.

Autumn Leaves, Ecospirituality, Ecotherapy, Nature & Me

The Wisdom of Leaf Skeletons

Most of our attention goes to the brilliant leaf color this time of year. However, I’d like to recognize and honor an often unnoticed gift of the season. As we move deeper into autumn, leaf skeletons become scattered amongst crunchy and colorful leaves on the forest floor.

When I first became aware of a leaf skeleton, I was struck by its beauty – its starkness, delicate nature, and intricacy. The skeleton reveals the structure of the leaf and the veins that supported it with nutrients and water in previous seasons.

Though now delicate, those veins nurtured and nourished the leaf until energy was sent into the tree roots to prepare for cold weather ahead. Some fallen leaves become leaf skeletons. But not all do. The process requires a harmony of exposure and shelter. (Ultimately, all leaves join together as leaf litter that nourish the soil, trees, and creatures below it.)

The leaf skeleton is a gentle, yet poignant, visual reminder of what is life giving and spirit sustaining. Of what supports us when everything else is removed—the superficial comforts and distractions. When all else falls away, the essence remains. The life lines and supports that sustain us are revealed.

Sometimes it takes a shedding, a decomposing, a falling away to reveal what is vital. Just as food, water, shelter and sleep are essential for the body, there are essential elements for the spirit.

My Soulful Leaf Skeleton

Just as each human is imprinted with a unique and precious spirit, what sustains each spirit will be unique.

I researched leaf skeletons online to learn more about the biological processes. And I was surprised that the majority of results were how to create your own leaf skeletons artificially (as they have been treasured for their beauty for many years). However, I’d prefer to find, observe, and treasure them in their natural environment.

If you happen upon one, delight in the botanical wonder you have found. Invite it to remind you of the essence of what’s needed for your soul.

When everything else falls away—whether by choice or circumstance—what is there to uphold and sustain you? Embrace what nurtures your spirit this autumnal season.

And when you venture into the woods this fall, take comfort in the leaf skeletons and leaf litter that nourish the earth you walk upon.

To delve deeper into the gifts that autumn offers, explore the wisdom of autumn trees.



Nature Notes

A Wren Roost

It is November, the heart of fall, and Jack Frost had his first visit recently. The days are shorter, the nights are colder, and clocks are set back. Animals have taken the season’s cues and are preparing for the winter ahead. Birds flock in droves. Turtles take cover under leaves. Squirrels fluff up their dreys. And frogs find shelter in holes, under leaves or mud.

A pair of Carolina Wrens are frequently seen singing on my deck and recently starting sleeping in this little roost house on my front porch. Other birds may find warmth in bushes and trees, but wrens like to be near the house.

I’ve also been roosting. I’ve gotten out extra blankets and made soups, muffins and hot tea.

Roost:  a support on which birds rest; to settle down for rest or sleep ~ Merriam Webster


Squirrel dreys look messy but are excellently engineered and very warm. Squirrels do not hibernate but will rest for long periods in a drey during cold weather.

You may want to think about a space that comforts and nourishes you. It will be very particular to you – your tastes, desires, and personal creature comforts. It may include your favorite books, a candle, or objects with special meaning for you. You can think of this as your own roost, or safe space for resting and retreating as the days grow colder.

~ When I think about creating a place where I will be restored, I imagine. . .
~ Is it spacious or small?
~ The colors that provide me with comfort are. . . 
~ Objects that have special meaning for me . . .
~ Other elements that help me to feel safe or cozy (warmth, light, natural elements, etc)


Carolina Wren

If you feel inclined, you could explore this further by making your own “roost” that will support and nourish you as we enter the last weeks of fall and prepare for winter. Using art materials that you enjoy, make a roost such as:

~An image using pastels, colored pencils, or markers
~A collage created with scrap paper, fabric, ribbon, yarn or twine
~ A watercolor painting
~ A three dimensional roost made with nature materials or clay

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

The Wisdom of Autumn Trees

Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree. ~ Emily Bronte

The beauty of deciduous trees is so evident in autumn but so is their wisdom…

Trees provide fruit, seeds and nuts to animals and to ensure more trees grow in the future.

Trees transfer the energy their leaves gathered in the summer to the roots to sustain themselves throughout the winter. Thus, the chlorophyll (green) is removed from the leaves revealing oranges, reds and browns.

Fallen leaves break down into leaf skeletons. This leaf litter protects and nourishes the soil. Fallen leaves also provide bedding material for animals.

Autumn trees invite us to pause:

ReLeaf: Autumn Tree Collage

Take a few deeps breaths….in and out….
Imagine you are a leaf on a tree, taking in the warmth of the sunshine.
Now you feel a breeze gently carry you away.
You dance and twirl.
Finally, you slowly float down to the ground, joining all the other leaves.
Rest…knowing you are exactly where you are meant to be.

Autumn trees invite us to reflect:

  • Where may I need to transfer or conserve my energy?
  • Are there areas of my life that I need to accept or let go?
  • Who or what may need my provision or care? What gifts may I offer them?
  • What can nourish my soil and roots?

Autumn trees invite us to create:

You may want to create an autumn tree to inform and inspire your self care this season by exploring one of the following:

~ A tree collage with a variety of materials (scrap paper, fabric, yarn, magazine images, or nature items)

~ A drawing of a tree or watercolor painting (These can be combined with a crayon resist. Draw your image with crayons and paint over it with watercolors.)

~ Leaf and/or bark rubbings 

You may also choose to incorporate personal reflections, words, or poetry into your art.