I had never really given much thought to animism until a few months ago. I was working on my recent book, and I realized that I needed to explain some of my underlying beliefs that support the foundation of the book. The most important thing I needed to explain to my readers was the concept of animism, because I realized that not everyone holds the belief that animals, plants, and minerals have a spirit.
You see, I talk to trees. And they talk back. I wasn’t quite sure how to explain this to people: how is it that a tree can communicate? Not with spoken words, of course, but telepathically. I know this isn’t something that most people are aware of, so I knew it was important to explain where I was coming from: I do believe that trees have a spirit.
It’s probably more natural for people to accept that animals have a soul or a spirit: they’re able to communicate with us through sounds and actions, and it’s fairly easy for most people to interact with them. But trees? They just stand there…don’t they? They do, of course, but like other beings on this Earth, we can communicate with them and form relationships with them…precisely because they do have a spirit.
It was in 2015 when I first started talking to trees, guided by my Akashic Records Keepers, who said “This week Holly, when you are on your sacred walks, take a moment and listen to the plant spirits. They have so much to tell you and they want to share with you their knowledge of the medicine that plant people have for you and for others.” This was the first time I had ever thought about plant spirits, or even considered that plants even had a spirit, and it opened me up to a whole new world of communicating with trees.
Three years later, I took my relationship with trees to a whole new level last year when I embarked on the project of collecting stories from 28 trees around southern Britain. I learned about life from their perspective, and I learned how keen they are on helping humanity deepen its relationship with Nature and the plant realm in particular. In fact, the trees believe that the more humanity connects with Nature and the outdoors, the more we will develop a deeper sense of respect for the natural world, which will lead us to take actions to preserve the planet we live on, and all the Earth’s resources.
I’ve always been a lover of plants, and I’ve always enjoyed walking in the outdoors. Yet it wasn’t until last year that I learned to slow down and spend more time in stillness in Nature, connecting with the trees and more fully experiencing my time in the woods. This process of slowing down and engaging more with the elements of Nature that were all around me enabled me to deepen my own connection and my own relationship with the outdoors.
I’d like to encourage you to do the same – whether or not you believe in animism, whether or not you believe you can communicate with trees or other living creatures – go outdoors and slow down. Stand, sit, look around you. Touch the trees. Feel their bark. Smell the scents in the air. Listen to the birdsong, the squirrels in the trees, the rustling of leaves in the wind. Engage all your senses and really connect with the world of Nature that surrounds you. Consciously develop your relationship with Nature, whether it’s the plants, the animals, or the minerals that surround you.
Select a single sense, and focus on that. Then choose another. Dig deeper and see if you can enhance your senses and your awareness of all that surrounds you. Bring a journal or a notebook with you and write down what you experience.
But, above all: slow down. Relax. I’ve found that slowing down my natural speedy rhythm helps me to better connect.
And as you connect with Nature, see if you can communicate: pick one tree or plant, one animal, or one mineral and speak with it just as you would a person, either silently in your head or out loud. Strike up a conversation with it, and see what happens. Do you hear a response in your mind? Do you feel an emotion or a sensation that you weren’t feeling just a minute before? Do you get a response of any kind? Give yourself time to tune in.
If not, that’s absolutely fine. You can keep trying or not. But ask yourself: what have you learned from the experience? Were you able to sense that you were attempting to communicate with the spirit of the plant, animal, or mineral? Did your communication help you to feel more connected?
If you were able to sense a response of any kind: fantastic. I invite you to try this again and again, and see how this expands your relationship with the natural world. Pay attention to how you feel about Nature in all its forms: animal, plant, mineral.
Encourage other people in your life to experiment in the same way: invite friends and family to give it a try. If you blog or have a podcast or if you create videos, share your message with others.
The more of us that reach out and connect with the spirits of the natural world, the better it will be for our planet: we’ll have more respect, and we’ll make better decisions for the good of all of us who live on planet Earth.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments. Good luck!
Holly Worton is a podcaster and author of nine books who helps people get to know themselves better through connecting with Nature, so they can feel happier and more fulfilled. Holly enjoys spending time outdoors, walking long-distance trails and exploring Britain’s sacred sites. She is a member of the Druid order OBOD.