I’ve always loved the martian landscape of the Southwest. The big empty sky and cactus studded land brings a sense of otherworldliness and stark beauty. As someone who grew up surrounded by the lush trees and farmland of upstate NY, I don’t think I could ever feel comfortable living in this region, though I’m more than happy to travel here from time to time. This has been a particular tough winter for me and my skin was definitely begging for some vitamin D. So, as I was considering a long weekend trip, I happily decided on Joshua Tree for the destination.
Lately I’ve been thinking more about our National Parks. With America as divided as it is, sometimes it helps to revisit our best idea as a country, which in my view is our national parks system. So far I’ve visited Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and The Smoky Mountains, so I still have quite a long list of national parks to visit. My trip to Joshua Tree came at an odd moment. During the government shut down the park was closed briefly from the damage that was being done to the park so I wasn’t even sure this trip would end up happening. Luckily the shutdown did end and park reopened in time for my visit.
Joshua Tree is one of the many areas of the Southwest known as a vortex or a region for healing energy. I’m always a bit skeptical when it comes to energetic vortices, though I can say that I definitely felt a strong scenes of peace and calm throughout the park. It’s hard to know if that comes from an innate energetic force in the region or just the pleasant contrast in my own experience from leaving the hustle & bustle of Chicago and entering a uniquely different space.
Each day in the park began with a hike among the many trails available. As someone who spends most their working days in front of a computer, it was refreshing to spend full days outside experiencing nature. Despite being a dessert, the plant life was lush, with multitudes of different cacti and trees dotted along the mountain ridges and valleys. Us pagans often talk a big game when it comes to celebrating nature, but how many of us honestly put our words into action. This trip reminded me of the necessity to immerse myself in our natural world with more regularity. It is in these places that I truly feel connected to the divine spirit and the power within nature. It’s one of my goals this year to get outside the city more and remember that being Pagan means to actively celebrate spirituality though nature in its many forms.