|Artemis. Picture from here.|
Something about roses and thorns never ceases to fascinate me.
Anyway, back to my profound Pagan experience. So. We had our land navigation test two Thursdays ago. Back when I first entered the Army, I had never learned how to use a map before, let alone a compass. Suffice it to say I’ve come a long way since then and have passed—with flying colors, I might add, NBD—all my recent land nav exercises. It was mainly because I finally, after five summers of scrambling through the woods trying to make sense of the contour lines, figured out how to terrain associate in conjunction with following an azimuth. It was a riot.
However, this last time was different. The course wasn’t particularly difficult, but the map was scaled slightly off the standard, which made plotting (and therefore, finding) our points more problematic. The scaling error between the maps they gave us and the tools we had to plot our points with did not effect my first point, so I found it right away. It only took about five minutes, actually, so I was quite pleased with myself ☺ The second point was another story.
So no shit, there I was, traipsing around some random forest in Missouri, enjoying the weather (pleasantly warm with a nice cool breeze, not a cloud in the sky) when I realized I had not remotely paid attention to how far I’d come from my first point, but that I definitely should have come across my second by then. Then I reached the boundary of the course, and realized I’d definitely gone too far. So I turned around and headed back the way I came. I walked around in circles for a while, because I knew I was close to my point, until I realized I was all discombobulated and my methods clearly weren’t working. It was a self-correcting course—the grid coordinates were posted on the point markers so we knew for sure when we found our points—so if I could stumble upon any point at all, I could re-plot a course to my specific point. I closed my eyes, centered and grounded, and offered a simple petition:
Goddess Diana, Great Huntress, Protector of the Wilds,
Guide my steps, lead me to a point. Any point. Please.
I took a deep breath, released it to the ether, and opened my eyes. Standing maybe twenty feet away from me, on the top of a small hill, was a doe. She stared straight at me through the thick foliage. I nodded my head to her, and she looked away in another direction. I walked in the direction she had indicated, and in less than a minute, I came across a point. After I plotted the new grid coordinates, I determined I was only about 100m off from the point I was looking for, so it was easy to find after that.
Later that afternoon once I had found all of my points and was starting the trek back to the camp we started from, I saw a hawk flying overhead. I smiled up at it, offering a silent prayer to my goddess for her assistance.
I love being Pagan.