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Poetry of Nature | Early Autumn | Geoff Oelsner

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A photo of the base of a tree trunk with brown mushrooms surrounding it, moss on one spot of the trunk, and vibrant red and orange fall leaves covering the ground.

Geoff Oelsner’s PONderings

Dear PON Friends,

It’s coming on Halloween, Samhain, the time the Celts believed that the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world is thinnest, allowing spirits such as the Sidhe (the “People of Peace,” the faery folk) to more easily cross from subtle realms into our world. The ancient Celts often left food and drink out to please the spirits to ensure that their population and livestock stayed healthy during the harsh winter.

Souls of the dead were believed to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Food or drink was sometimes prepared for their visits. Mumming (wearing disguises) was part of the seasonal festival, which involved people going door to door in disguise, reciting rhymes in exchange for food. The original trick-or-treating!


(The Celtic Halloween)

In the season leaves should love,

since it gives them leave to move

through the wind, towards the ground

they were watching while they hung,

…Now when dying grasses veil

earth from the sky in one last pale

wave, as autumn dies to bring

winter back, and then the spring,

we who die ourselves can peel

back another kind of veil

that hangs among us like thick smoke.

Tonight at last I feel it shake.

I feel the nights stretching away

thousands long behind the days

till they reach the darkness where

all of me is ancestor.

I move my hand and feel a touch

move with me, and I brush

my own mind across another,

I am with my mother’s mother.

Sure as footsteps in my waiting

self, I find her, and she brings

arms that carry answers for,

intimate, a waiting bounty,

“Carry me.” She leaves this trail

through a shudder of the veil,

and leaves, like amber where she stays,

a gift for her perpetual gaze.

~ Annie Finch

This month I want to lift up a beautiful and unitive facet of song and chanted poetry: their power to evoke and invoke spiritual energies for help and healing. This includes the energies of all the Plant and Animal Powers. Do you feel close to or even at one with certain animals, insects or plants? Or are you perhaps sensitive to angels or other high vibratory light beings? It may be more than enough for you to enjoy a wordless communion for whatever you attune to, but be open to the possibility of receiving words or a song. Writing them down and chanting or singing them can strengthen your connection.

I had a peaceful experience of such intimacy early one morning a few months ago and wrote this poem to re-invoke it:

Who Am I (5 a.m.)

The owl’s call is full of its knowing of kin

The forest pours its who’s to other tufted ears

Soon feathered answers whir around the hill

Hoots loop the eastern slope where I sit on our porch

in kinship with all who sing who I am in the silence before dawn

~ Geoff O

For untold millennia Native Americans have received spirit-songs from totemic powers that help them tap miraculous healings, avert storms, break droughts, and provide needed information, direction and protection.

At different times in my life, I have experienced a totemic sense of affinity or some degree of oneness with Lion, Rhinoceros, Turtle, Red-Tailed Hawk, Carolina Wren, Owl, Blue Jay, Red Headed and Pileated Woodpeckers, Red Winged Blackbird, Red Fox, Buffalo, Seal, Mantis, Earthworm, and, among plants, Oak Trees and Mullein. Once in a while I sing, chant, dance, visualize or dream to strengthen or revivify one of these energetic links. Sometimes a new song comes to me in a dream.

Here’s a poem Gary Snyder wrote about an interspecies meeting of minds that took place “Here in the Mind.” The poet receives and passes these words of power on to us:

Magpie's Song

Six A.M.,

Sat down on excavation gravel

by juniper and desert S.P. tracks

interstate 80 not far off

between trucks

Coyotes—maybe three

howling and yapping from a rise.

Magpie on a bough

Tipped his head and said,

“Here in the mind, brother

Turquoise blue.

I wouldn’t fool you.

Smell the breeze

It came through all the trees

No need to fear

What’s ahead

Snow up on the hills west

Will be there every year

be at rest.

A feather on the ground–

The wind sound—

Here in the Mind, Brother,

Turquoise Blue”

~ Gary Snyder

What might you receive if you attune to a particular animal, plant, or other aspect of Nature you resonate with? A poem, a song, a wordless communion? Nothing at all is fine too. Make no effort, simply invite. Let us know if you want to share something that comes to you.

"May your own special animal of Light come safely to you."

~ Kenneth Patchen (American visionary, pacifist poet, novelist, and artist, 1911-1972)

All My Relations,


A photo of a water droplet on the very point of a red leaf, the water about to drop into the air.


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