Visitors come and go from the garden in the form of birds, insects, reptiles and mammals. Not only are they part of the interconnected life of the garden, but they are vital in the ecosystem of the wider landscape. The garden is not your private space, but part of an intricate web of life that extends from the microbes in the soil to the birds in the trees and the frogs in the pond. In some cases, your garden can be the extent of an animal’s range, and the only home it knows.
All of these creatures help maintain the balance of the garden. Many insects and some birds pollinate the plants, while other insects, birds and small reptiles feed on insect pests. Managing the garden for the wildlife can range from leaving some weeds that are foods for insects, like dandelion and clover for the bees and hoverflies, to keeping an old tree which can be home to hundreds of creatures. An old oak tree, for example, can be support 2,300 species.
Moreover, for the witch, the animals of the garden also have a spiritual resonance – they form part of its spiritual matrix, part of its soul. They should be honoured, respected, and worked with. Moving along the Web of Wyrd, they may come to teach you lessons, aid you in your magical work, or to protect you. As with most things, they will come to you when the time is right. You may become aware of synchronicities; things that seem coincidental but are not. You might become aware that the same bird greets you each morning and reappears throughout the day for several weeks, or that you see a fox the same time every morning.
© Anna Franklin, from the forthcoming Hearth Witch’s Garden Herbal, Llewellyn, 2023