Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Beltane & the Forgotten Temple

I didn't have any big-to-do formal ritual planned for today, Beltane, May Day (I like to save those for the solar festivals, and celebrate the fire festivals more spontaneously and organically). So this morning I headed off to the local park (a large, wooded park--the biggest in the city--only a twenty-minute walk from where I live), with the intention of spending several hours, possibly all day in quiet meditation and hiking about in the woods. When I go on walks like these, I usually just let my intuition guide me, and today I was rewarded more than I ever expected!

I've been visiting this park fairly regularly over the past two years, ever since I moved to Pittsburgh, and I've gotten used to there always being people around, walking their dogs, jogging, biking, etc. I was convinced that somewhere in the woods, which is criss-crossed with trails, there must be one or two little groves or clearings where I could sit down and not be interrupted. But, like everything else in the city, all of the trails and paths in the park went somewhere, which meant people were always going from point A to point C, and if I stopped at point B along the way, I could count on there being a steady trickle of people going past me.

Today, I was walking along one such path that skirts a grassy field where people often let their dogs off leash to run after frisbees or other dogs, when it occurred to me that I had never actually walked across the field to the (seemingly) thin bit of woods on the other side. I don't have a dog, so I usually just walk right past this field, but there were no dogs out today because I went at that perfect time when everyone's at their "day jobs." On a whim, I decided to head towards a small bench I could see sitting in the shade of those trees across the way, but when I got to the bench, I realized there was a little path leading into the trees. I decided to follow it, even though I didn't think it led very far. I had gone in about fifty yards or so, twisting and turning along a path that seemed unexpectedly unused, when I came across a tree with a little wooden sign nailed to it which just read: Temple. After that, the path seemed to almost disappear, but I stumbled my way through and, after climbing over a fallen log that was almost too high for me to climb and too big for me to duck under--I came upon a beautiful little clearing! I could well believe that it was a secret temple or grove, though perhaps one that hadn't been used in years.

I sat down on the edge of the grove in a wonderfully soft patch of grass (it seemed like the whole clearing might have once been grassy but, over time, the woods had crept back in and there were now mostly shrubs, fallen branches and tall reeds and weeds, except here and there). It was a beautiful spot and I ended up sitting there in quiet meditation and communion for several hours. It was so peaceful--I couldn't even hear any traffic, just the birds and the chipmunks and the occasional bee or butterfly (yes, it was so quiet, that when a butterfly fluttered by, I could actually hear its wingbeats!). I really feel as if I've discovered a sacred place--and the strange sign, "Temple," just makes me wonder even more if there isn't a local pagan, Wiccan or maybe even Druid group that perhaps uses (or used to use) the site. All I know is that I finally found a path that leads to nowhere, and so only those seeking to get nowhere ever come down it--just me, the robins, the sunlight and the breeze.

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