Why Making Offerings To Nature Is Part Of My Wellness Routine
Julia Plevin is the founder of The Forest Bathing Club and author of The Healing Magic of Forest Bathing. She designs and guides transformational eco-spiritual experiences around the world. She has more than a decade of experience guiding individuals and groups of people into the forest, where the practice of shinrin-yoku helps calm the mind and create space for wellness and prosperity. Through studies with Shamanic Reiki masters, Shugendo Buddhist monks, Mayan elders, Bhakti yogis, and Renewal rabbis, she has developed a unique program that both respects and transcends tradition and brings us back into direct connection with Source. Julia is passionate about empowering people to tap into Nature as a way to heal themselves and the Earth. Her work has been covered widely in outlets such as CNN, Outside Magazine, Business Insider, The New Yorker, and Sierra Magazine, and the Forest Bathing Club has more than a thousand members from around the world.
We're constantly in a conversation with the Universe—whether we're aware of it or not. And I believe that one of the ways that the Universe communicates with us is through jewelry. Jewels that come from the Earth are old as humankind, and they're embedded with symbolic meaning.
A few years ago I spent a weekend camping in the redwoods of Northern California with two of my best girlfriends from college. It was a yearly tradition that has since given way to husbands, busy schedules, and all the other ways we lose track of things we used to do. We hiked in, set up camp, played some games, and ate dinner. I brought along the seminal spiritual book Women Who Run With the Wolves, and we took turns passing it around, reading passages to each other with a flashlight. On our way back to San Francisco, we stopped at Vichy hot springs, a historic spot in Ukiah. In preparation for the warm mineral bath, I removed my favorite gold necklace that I wore every day and hardly ever took off. As we were driving, I thought I had it in my lap but it was totally missing by the time I got out of the car. Poof. It had vanished into thin air. After spending what must have felt like an eternity to my friends searching every nook and cranny in a state of anxious despair, I gave up looking.
"These things happen," I said, convincing myself as much as them that it was going to be OK. I mourned the necklace for a while and eventually got over it. Looking back on that moment in my life, I can see a deeper meaning behind that day and that loss.
Why losing jewelry (or any other trinket you really care about) might just be a sign that you're finding yourself.
What jewelry do you wear regularly, and what does it mean to you? Have you ever lost a precious item and felt that there was a deeper reason?
I lost that necklace during a time when I was just beginning my life's work of reconnecting to Nature as a way to heal. I now know that every time we intentionally connect to Nature, we open ourselves up to growth. But in order to grow, we have to let go of old ways of being. Like trees shed leaves and old branches, we must let go through cycles of losing parts of ourselves. So, over the years, I've come to understand that I'm giving the "lost" jewelry to the Earth.
From this lens, jewelry is more of an offering. And if we're not giving offerings, the Earth might just decide to take them from us to maintain balance. At this moment in time, this balance is in jeopardy—the scales are tipped, and we take away more from the Earth than we give back.
In the years since that California trip, I've lost a lot of jewelry. But I don't fret about it anymore. Instead, I get curious. I pay attention to what is going on in my life and lean into the mystery.
We sustain our lives by sustaining Mother Earth.
I now have a daily practice of giving offerings to the Earth. An offering can be anything from flowers to a song, dance, to a splash of tea. It's less about what it is and more about the heartfelt intention with which you give. I keep various altars on tree stumps and in little crevices of trees that I visit and bring offerings to regularly. I spend a lot of time maintaining these relationships with Nature as part of my own healing.
Most intact cultures, especially earth-connected indigenous ones, have their own way of giving offerings to the Earth. In Guatemala, I had the opportunity to learn fire ceremony, which is at the heart of Mayan ritual. The elaborate fires offer healing for participants, the community, and the whole planet. The fire circle is an altar, and offerings, such as candles, copal, flowers, fruit, and chocolate, are a way to give food and life to Mother Earth.
Ancient rituals like these embody the idea that we sustain our lives by sustaining Mother Earth.
If you're ever feeling disconnected from the Universe, go through your jewelry box and find something that you're almost ready to let go of: It might be a shell bracelet from a vacation or something you bought for a lover that you parted ways with before you had the chance to give it. Notice what happens when you offer jewelry to Mother Earth.
And the next time you "lose" something precious, especially if you're intentionally connecting to nature to grow and heal, perhaps take a moment to pause and reflect. Have you been giving offerings? Is it time to give something so that you may receive?
What are you willing to let go of so you can open yourself up to the gifts of Nature?
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