The great River Wye, the spiritual spine of Wales, is running at its highest now after weeks of ceaseless rain, and it is close to breaching the top of the bridge that links my village to the rest of the world. The water meadow opposite my home, once part of an extensive river-sea, glows silver with the underground streams and ponds that have bubbled to the surface through the power of the river and the rain. It is a beautiful start to the new year.
Each year, when hunting in the Wye becomes impossible, a kingfisher visits my ponds hoping for food: usually it is for a day or so, but this time she has been here for several weeks feeding on newts and insects that are overwintering in the water. Her presence is both auspicious according to shamanic lore and a reassuring reminder of the abundant life contained within the bleakness of the cold, flooded pools.
Her pattern of hunting is always the same: she arrives in mid-morning and moves during the day from one of three observation posts to another, sitting motionless for hours in rain and sleet watching for the slightest movement in the surface of the water to indicate a newt surfacing to breathe, and then dives into the pond to catch her prey which then, sadly, she bashes on a branch to kill before eating it. It is extraordinarily quick and accurate, and is an example of the value of patience, stillness and focus.
The kingfisher has been a cheerful flash of shimmering colour when the light, here, like the weather is at its lowest point and the world feels to be in a dark place. Because of the inclement conditions her world is perfect, and she knows that hidden in the weeds there are great gifts for her, if she watches, and waits.
Even in the depths of winter there is much of nature to observe, and the birds, hares, foxes and other mammals have shown their own patterns of life to maximise their survival and their enjoyment of their wildlife community. Ritual, for them, is a critical aspect of being alive.
It is humbling to realise that all life on Earth is vibrating at a higher level of consciousness than the majority of human beings, and always has done so; humanity has chosen a different path, but the opportunity for spiritual growth and enlightenment is available to us always. One day, Earth will have no third dimensional representation on it at all and the harmony, so greatly lacking now, between people and Gaia’s world will be absolute. That time is not so far away.
It helps to remember that nature knows more than us, and is our greatest teacher: wherever you are, whenever you can, observe the world around you with focus and respect, and if you are lucky enough to see a kingfisher, smile.