I absolutely loved Beith’s post “Interview with an Oak Tree” here on this blog. The language of the tree sounded so similar to that of the trees that I’ve spoken with myself, and the message had a level of wisdom that far surpasses that which we can expect from most humans. It sounds like it comes from a much higher perspective – it’s clear that the message is from a being that is deeply connected to Spirit.
The Oak Father of Beith’s blog post spoke of individuality, and how the oak is not an individual in the same sense that we humans understand individuality. Trees are connected amongst themselves, and they are also one with all that is – in the same way that we humans are, even though we are often unaware of this. This is something that we can be reminded of by spending more time in Nature.
Different trees will have different messages for different people, and this is something that I’ve been reflecting on a lot lately. Earlier this year, I wrote a book that is a collection of tree stories: the trees themselves tell stories that they would like to share with humanity. This has, of course, caused an uproar among certain people who don’t understand how trees can actually communicate with people. It’s caused more than one raised eyebrow by people who thought they knew me, but who were unaware of how I interact with trees.
And there are some people who believe that trees can indeed talk to people, but they don’t seem to understand that different trees will have different conversations with different people. One review on Amazon says the following: “I have had one tree talk to me and it got confirmed by another person . . . Other people should confirm the stories of the trees.” When I read this, it made me wonder: does this person believe that each tree has one and only one message that it repeats to everyone who passes it, like a recording? Do they not understand that when a tree communicates with someone, there is an exchange – a conversation? That different things will be said with different people, and even with the same person, but on a different day?
It’s as though they kind of understand the concept of a tree having a spirit and speaking to people…but not quite. I know that I certainly don’t have the same conversation with every single person I meet, or even with the same person on different days. Why would that be any different with a tree?
On the one hand, we are all connected – all is one. And on the other hand, we are each individual expressions of that oneness. Spirit expresses itself differently through each and every one of us: through each person, through each tree, through each individual animal, place, thing, etc.
This is the beauty of our Universe. And by opening ourselves up to the possibility – the reality – that Spirit flows through each and every thing, we’re opening ourselves up to a whole new world of connection. Of getting to know our world in a much deeper way. Everything is alive.
When we accept that everything is alive, we approach the world very differently. Earlier this year, I was on a Plant Identification for Wild Food and Medicine course in the woods of West Sussex. We had several assignments where we had to go out and collect plants – sometimes for making tinctures or ointments, sometimes for food.
Because I had just wrapped up my book project where I had spent the entire year communicating with trees, I was very much aware of how I approached the plants that I was harvesting. I asked permission before picking them. I asked the plants that didn’t want to be harvested to please make themselves “invisible” to me. Sometimes we were out collecting very small plants such as wood violets, which were often easy to miss amongst the sea of green. I thanked those plants who were willing to be harvested. I thanked Spirit for everything that I was experiencing that week.
I became aware that I now had a very different relationship with Nature. Things had changed for me – irrevocably. I’m embarrassed to say that even just a year ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated to pick a flower or some leaves without asking permission…or perhaps even without giving thanks. I’ve always been a lover of plants, but I certainly haven’t always recognized the spirit within those plants.
Maybe it’s easier for people to recognize the spirit within the animals in their lives: many of us have pets, or have had one at some point in our lives. It’s much easier for people to see how each animal has a very distinct personality. At the surface level, they’re also more expressive than most plants appear to be: they clearly communicate with us and respond to us in ways that are easier to for most people to understand. I know that my own relationship with my cats has changed how I view the animal world.
Opening up to animism has made me much more aware of the relationship that I have with the plant realm, the animal realm, and the mineral realm. I’m more sensitive to my interactions with them. I’m more grateful for the exchanges that we have. I recognize them for the living beings that they are, and I only wish that more of humanity would do the same. I suspect that we’d have much more respect for our planet and for all the living beings that live upon it.
That’s why it’s so important for us to talk about animism: it’s important for us to share stories our interaction with the trees, the animals, the minerals. The more we talk about these experiences, the more seeds we’ll plant in the minds of people who may, little by little, open themselves up to the possibility of animism. And eventually, that possibility may become a reality.
And so I ask you: how can you share your experiences in animism with the world? How can you make your beliefs more known to the people in your life? What stories can you tell?
For the more that we share, the faster we can create a world of respect for all the living things in this Universe.
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.