Random Acts of Photography

At the end of this post I’m sharing some of my favorite photographs from the past few weeks. I’m also adding a new Photographs category to my blog to showcase my budding photographic artistry. But first I’d like to ruminate on how the simple act of taking more pictures ties into my spiritual life.

Recently I’ve picked up the habit of actually using the camera on my phone and taking pictures of the natural world around me. I snap pictures of interesting plants at the nature center where I volunteer – in between chasing after small children delighted to be let loose in the woods. I document the slow but inevitable shift of seasons in my neighborhood as evidenced by the changing color of leaves and the sudden explosion of bright red berries on the dogwood trees along my street – in between fighting with my dog for control of the leash with one hand while I try to steady my phone’s camera with the other. This photography, coupled with my new devotional habit of picking up trash along the sidewalk, has really encouraged me to slow down and notice the world around me. I find that I’m less anxious and bored on my walks, no longer needing music or podcasts to numb my brain so that walking is a bearable activity.

My Paganism has had on-and-off flirtations with nature, just as it’s had on-and-off flirtations with devotional polytheism. I think for so long there was an expectation of what a “good Pagan” should be that even when I felt like communing with nature, the response was underwhelming and disappointing. Just like my attempts to talk with the gods. (I’m sensing a trend here.) However, also similar to the new developments on the devotional front, my appreciation of nature is occurring on my terms, guided by my own interests and passions, and with an open mind and heart.

For me – and I suspect, for many out there – experience needs to precede belief. I have tried and failed to force myself to adopt certain theological stances without personal encounters to back them up. I am not a pantheist; I believe that everything is sacred, but not everything is part of a deity. I have never had a sense of nature spirits returning attention when I’ve left offerings in the past. I have never thought of my Paganism as a nature religion at all.

have appreciated beautiful things in nature, felt comforted by the familiar mountains that enfold my home, found joy in the scent of honeysuckle, laughed at the gentle paradox of bright sunlight paired with gentle summer rains. As I have written elsewhere: that is where I am, and where I am is enough for me.

 

If these aren't Brigidine flowers I'm not sure what are.

I snapped this photo one gray morning at my volunteer gig at the nature center. I’m not sure what they are but they’re absolutely everywhere. If these aren’t Brigidine flowers I’m not sure what are. August 22, 2014.

Honeysuckle: invasive, creeping up everywhere in the neighborhood, and easily one of my favorite scents in the whole world. Taken 9/1/14.

Honeysuckle: invasive, creeping up everywhere in the neighborhood, and easily one of my favorite scents in the whole world. September 1, 2014.

American pokeweed (Phytolacca americana). The black berries are ripe and ready for birds and other critters to eat them and help *ahem* disperse the seeds. The berries that aren't ready yet are green and thus less likely to attract animal attention. September 1, 2014.

American pokeweed (Phytolacca americana). The black berries are ripe and ready for birds and other critters to eat them and help *ahem* disperse the seeds. The berries that aren’t ready yet are green and thus less likely to attract animal attention. September 1, 2014.

What the – what are /you/ doing blooming at the end of summer? Alternative caption: it’s always Imbolc somewhere in the world. September 1, 2014.

I found this on the ground below a hanging planter after a rainstorm. No idea what it is, but this is easily one of my favorite photographs I've taken so far. August 31, 2014.

I found this on the ground below a hanging planter after a rainstorm. No idea what it is, but this is easily one of my favorite photographs I’ve taken so far. August 31, 2014.

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4 thoughts on “Random Acts of Photography

    • Thank you! I used to think I couldn’t be a photographer unless I had a “real” camera, but I’m sure not using my phone to take endless selfies and pics of my food…

    • Thank you so much! I appreciate help with the identification. 😀 I’ve seen it all along the highway and mountain roads in Virginia, and also grown well in gardens and semi-wild spaces.

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