Nature Mysticism: Kissed by the Night Sky

I thought carefully how I wanted to begin my blogging journey in this platform – what sort of introduction to my practice as a Druid and Pagan I wanted to give.  What I concluded is that if I could strip down my practice to one description, one core foundational piece, on which everything else rests, then this would serve as a good beginning.  This core piece is nature mysticism.

Mysticism is a reaching toward direct experience of the Divine.  My practice is primarily ecstatic – it has at its heart an opening of my body, mind, heart, and soul to the Divine touch.  This has led me to some incredible moments of unity with all-that-is.  This practice has also led me into periods of wandering lost and scared in the deep woods of the soul.  What is constant is my willingness to return to practice, to be vulnerable to the Divine, to keen my awareness to the Divine spark in every being and every moment.  Whatever it costs me, I trust the transformative process is worth it.

Mysticism exists across religions in many different forms.  I was raised in Christian mysticism, but with a strong emphasis on feeling God’s presence in nature.  As I matured, my mysticism became increasingly focused on nature itself as Divine.  Eventually, I learned of other cultures – indigenous religions – that were animist, living in a world inhabited by sentient, powerful beings.  This was my world.  I live in a world that is inspirited and enchanted, that is deeply alive in all ways.  The earth I inhabit speaks to me, embraces me, teaches me, and transforms me.  I am surrounded by the Divine.

Nature mysticism is, for me, a practice of choosing mindfulness and openness.  It is a practice of choosing respect for all beings, and also being willing to feel the pain of other beings in a time in which we are destroying them at an unprecedented rate.  When I sit at my desk as I am now, I look out my bay window on several beautiful trees, each of whom is a unique manifestation of Divine form and awareness.  So is the apartment building across the street, the concrete, and my house itself.  Everything once came from something else, and everything has a spirit.  We are all bound in a paradox of being intimately interconnected, made up from each other, and yet somehow uniquely sentient.  It is a profound and holy mystery.

My Druidic practice is essentially built of two processes: relationship and devotion.  I seek right relationship with all the existences around me – a relationship that is personal, compassionate, and communicative.  I seek to know my place, as a human being, within the web of beings who give me life.  I am also devoted to the Divine that unfolds itself through the natural world – not so much creator as a pulse of interbeing.

Tree lit up with lights

Rise of the Jack-O-Lanterns, Descano Gardens, Los Angeles (Photographed by Kimberly Kirner)

My practice is ecstatic and devotional in nature.  In many ways, it is similar to the practice of devotional polytheists.  Except that I am not claimed by any god.  I have no matron or patron deity.  Instead, I am claimed by the old forces that unfold into the universe itself – the forces of creation and destruction, of starlight and the dark void between stars.  They feel like light and shadow, like a collective being outside of time – or perhaps in all times at once.  They are utterly non-human.  My greatest joy and challenge in life has been to open myself up enough that I can feel their touch and sometimes understand their perspective while I am in this very limited, human form.  Their embrace feels like being kissed by the night sky – wrapped up in a blanket of stars.  And it never ceases to bring me to tears.

Eventually, in my Druidic practice, I also came to experience gods.  And occasionally, I work with gods in co-creative effort.  I respect the gods and the unique power and personality each of them have.  But the Spirits I Serve are not gods.  They are wild forces of nature, intimately tied to the basic processes of becoming.  They have no individuality or permanency.  They are the process and strands of interbeing itself.

I am devoted to nature, to the web of existence.  But for me, this is not intellectual.  It is not ecology to which I am devoted, but the force-being behind all existence.  It is an experiential devotion – it is devotion to nature as beings, and nature as Being.  I’m grateful for Their touch, Their embrace.  They challenge me, comfort me, and remind me of our expansiveness.

They are the Spirits I Serve, the heart of my devotional and contemplative practice.  They are the core of what inspires my spiritual journey and writing.  They welcome you.

About the Author

I'm Kimberly Kirner, a Druid (in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids). My spirituality is focused first on serving the nature spirits of this lovely being we call Earth. I'm a professor of cultural anthropology by profession, specializing in environmental and medical anthropology. I started this blog to collect my thoughts and experiences that arise from my spiritual and creative (rather than professional) practice. I wanted a space, a time, to move differently in the world (and with a different group of people): to balance between an analytical approach and an intuitive one. For me, Druidry is about expanding our capacity to connect and communicate with the non-human world, deepening our commitment to justice for all beings, and re-enchanting the world so that we heal the brokenness and discord that exists between humans and our home. In many ways, my Druidic practice is a path toward walking between the worlds - of waking and dreaming, of the world as it is and the world as it could be. It is an attempt to love all beings through service, study, and art. I am not always great at it, but it's the commitment and perseverance that counts.

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