Everyday Witchcraft: Simple Steps for Magical Living

Fun, simple, and easy ways to integrate your spiritual beliefs as a Pagan with your everyday life.

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Feeding the Birds as a Spiritual Practice

When I moved into the house I’m living in now (about 13 years ago), one of the first things I did was to set up a couple of birdfeeders. I’d never been able to do this in the previous places I lived, either because I had outdoor cats—and it always seemed kind of cruel for me to put out food for the birds, knowing that some of them were going to get attacked when they came to eat—or because I was living in an apartment with no good place to put a feeder.

As a Pagan, I look at feeding the birds (and the other critters who are attracted to the seeds that spill onto the ground underneath) not just as a fun thing to do, but as a part of my spiritual practice. Allow me to explain.

Witches and Pagans follow a nature-based religion, for the most part. For me, the act of feeding the birds is a way of helping to sustain the creatures that live nearby, as well as adding beauty to my daily life. Instead of just observing the occasional passing flock, I become a part of their life cycle, and they become a part of mine.

Where I live in upstate New York, the winters can be brutal. Last night it was well below zero. There is very little growing that the birds and other animals can eat—a few berries left on bushes, the old apples still hanging from my trees, and whatever else they can scavenge. Obviously, the birds that hang around here in the winter are designed to be able to survive in this environment, but that doesn’t mean it is easy.

So I do my best to help out. It can get expensive (I attract enough birds that I can easily go through a ten dollar bag of birdseed in under a week), so I only do it from the end of fall to the beginning of spring, when they need it the most. And, of course, it isn’t always fun, having to go out into the cold and dig a path through the snow to get to the feeders to refill them. But I am rewarded with the cheery sight of a bright red cardinal when everything else outside in black and white or brown, and when I eat my breakfast, I can look out the window and watch the birds eating theirs too.

I get lots of other incidental visitors as well. I’ve seen deer (although more often just their tracks, since they tend to come in the middle of the night), rabbits, chipmunks, and of course, squirrels. Earlier in the season, I even had a grouse showing up on a regular basis. (A kind of wild game bird that looks kind of like a big chicken.)

I may be feeding the birds and their friends, but they are feeding me in return; feeding my spirit, filling my eyes with beauty and my heart with joy, and reinforcing my connection with the natural world. This seems to me to be an awfully good return on the investment of a few bags of birdseed.  

Rabbits!

Not everyone can feed the birds, of course, but you don’t have to do it on a regular basis to make it a part of your own spiritual practice. If you live in an apartment, they make feeders that attach to the outside of a window, or you can hang a small feeder outside if there is space—even on a fire escape. Or go to a local park and feed the birds there, if it is legal wherever you live. If you have a house, try putting up one feeder to start, or even a simple bird treat made from a pine cone rolled in peanut butter or suet, and then rolled in seeds. You can hang this kind of homemade feeder from a small branch or a stick pushed into the ground. Another easy-to-make disposable bird treat is an apple rolled in peanut butter, which can be hung from a string that is pushed through the middle of the apple. If you don’t want to spend money on birdseed, try just tossing stale bread or over-ripe fruit out where the birds can get it.

There are many ways for us to integrate the natural world into our busy lives, but for me, feeding the birds is a simple and satisfying way to keep my promise to the Goddess to treat Her creatures well and make them a part of my everyday life.

Do you feed the birds?

 

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Deborah Blake is the author of Everyday Witch Book of Rituals (Llewellyn 2012), Witchcraft on a Shoestring (Llewellyn, 2010) as well as The Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook (2010) and several other books. She lives in a 100-year-old farmhouse in upstate New York with five cats who supervise all her activities, both magickal and mundane.

Comments

  • Peggy Frye
    Peggy Frye Thursday, 22 January 2015

    I'm a follower of The Morrigan. Every morning I feed a murder of crows in my yard. I say an offering prayer, call them with a crow call, feed them and then sit with a cup of coffee and watch them flock and eat....how they do this depends on what time of year it is for them, winter, spring, summer or autumn. Their activities differ each season. The crows follow me about town....when I go to the local grocery store I have several of my "dark flock" that will follow my car, then sit and talk to me as I enter and leave the store. I am followed, watched over and blessed by this dark flock of Morrigan's children wherever I go.

  • Christopher Blackwell
    Christopher Blackwell Friday, 23 January 2015

    I have for early thirty years though perhaps over do it. But when we built this place we had to take out a number of bushes here in the desert and they were also home for some of the rodeo population. I figure my bird seed is rent to the rest of the critters who share this bit of desert with me.

    Across the street a neighbor has a stand of trees which provide rare places for safe nests for the birds. I provide water and seed and half an apple each day. Now that is between 17 to 18 pounds of seed a day. So y local ails ay to be aware that we wet through a bad drought for the last several yeas. One quail family this year was 14 chicks that all survived. The local bushes have rodent condos under them. Now my cat may take one on occasion, but not often as I keep him well fed. I will assume the my dozens of birds and rodents provide food for our predators as well. So the local wild life benefit in all the usual ways. Anytime I look outside there is usually some animal feeding in what I call the Seed Vulture Cafe. Often several dozen of them. I even have bird spies that keep track of my movements, especially in the morning, near feeding time.

  • Kin Roberts
    Kin Roberts Friday, 23 January 2015

    I don't buy commercial birdseed. I go to the stores that carry farm feed--like Tractor Supply--and pick up a fifty pound bag of cracked corn for less than $12, a fifty pound bag of rolled whole oats for about $8 and a forty pound bag of black hulled sunflower seed for $17. This lasts about 2 months unless the weather is overly harsh. I mix them all together in a large plastic storage container. I have 3 platform feeders, 3 hopper feeders, one Yankee Flipper, and a sunflower seed cage. I also have 3 suet feeders and I collect open pine cones in the summer months, thread twine through them for hangers, and stuff them with peanut butter and roll them in my seed/grain mix. I have very happy birds. I also have very fat squirrels. Occasionally a hawk will come in. I've had a roadrunner twice looking for mice by the greenhouse. And for the first time a grey fox came into my back yard this year.

  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake Saturday, 24 January 2015

    These are all great! Thanks for sharing your stores with me.

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