Spirits of Nature

Presences and energies

Native Teachings say that the Earth is filled with Spirit. Everywhere we go there is Spirit, in some form or another, and everything is alive with Spirit. This includes the animal world, the tree and vegetation world, the waters and elements, and the rocks and land upon which we stand. And human beings are also alive with Spirit, even if unrecognized. In essence there is just one Great Spirit, but this One Spirit manifests as a vast plurality of individual spirits.

So, everywhere we go there are spirits of nature. Each animal has its inner spirit, each bug, each plant, each tree, each mountain, each lake, each forest, and each place on the land. In Native Teachings every part of life, everything, is respected, because everything is known to have Spirit, and it's important that we respect the individual spirit of each natural thing.

Each plant, tree, and animal has its own individual spirit, as well as being an expression of a group-spirit. Respect and thanks are given to each individual being of nature, and one can also give thanks to the group-spirit. Recognize each being/spirit; for the power of recognition awakens their consciousness.

Trees are the easiest form of the plant world to feel their spirit presence. Each tree has its own individual presence, which is its spirit. Older trees have even greater presence. And remember that some trees have been around for many hundreds of years. Each tree registers in its cellular memory the vibrational emotional qualities of those around it, and there are older trees that have memories of the local human history.

So, each tree has its own presence, which is the radiatory consciousness and emotional quality of its spirit. Or we simply say that the tree presence is its spirit, and its presence is also the radiation of its consciousness. These terms all generally mean the same: spirit, presence, consciousness. Another term that some people use, which also has the same basic meaning, is energy.

Energy is a very general term, used to describe a whole lot, but it can mean basically the same as the spirit or the presence of a natural form or place. For example, one might talk about the subtle radiating energy of a tree or of a place, which is describing the same phenomena as another person talking about the spirit of the tree. The same is true of 'spirit of place', for one could understand this as the overall spirit-presence of the place, or understand it as the subtle earth energies of the place. There are, of course, distinctions we can make between the exact meaning of spirit, presence, and subtle radiating energy; but really they all refer to the same reality. It depends on what one is 'looking for' and the way one prefers to describe it.

Seven kinds of nature spirits

  1. land, rock, and water spirits

  2. flower, plant, and tree spirits

  3. animal, fish, and bird spirits

  4. human spirits (we too are nature spirits!)

  5. Sky spirits: of fire, wind, clouds, and weather

  6. Sun, Earth, Moon, plus other Planet and Star Beings

  7. The Great Spirit of the Universe, pervading all Life

Spirits open up to us, as we open to them

The many spirits of nature are manifesting expressions of the One Great Spirit. And as we begin to recognize the living, loving, conscious presence of Spirit as found in all of Nature, the spirits of nature become evermore radiant and alive to us. They have closed down a lot to the human kingdom because of our overall insensitivity and disrespect, yet they are ever ready to make friends with us and give to us, when we open our recognition and begin to listen to and feel these spiritual qualities and energies of the natural world.

Practices can be given and suggested attitudes for attuning to the spirits of nature and opening up their medicine energy and communication. But first we must realize that Nature is truly alive with sensitivity and consciousness, and the spiritual beings of Nature will only open up to us as we open up to them. Just like any human being or friend, the spirits of Nature begin to open themselves to us as we give recognition and receptive attention to them. Otherwise they will remain closed off and invisible to our mind and senses.

So it is up to us to recognize the spiritual presence in any form of nature. But that presence will not open itself up to us, unless we are ready to recognize and receive it. Like any human being, why should a spiritual presence of nature share its love and medicine energy with us if we are not open and receptive?

So it is up to us to reach out and give loving attention to the natural lives around us, and also to be in a receptive attitude of listening. We must come out of our own closed shell and our self-absorbed attention, and open up to the beauty and healing energies of nature around us. It all starts with each of us, for we need to be in a ready and receptive attitude of mind and heart, and then make contact from this receptive space and receptive listening attitude.

This is the kind of respectful attitude which we would want to have if we met any special person. If you went to visit a spiritual teacher, how would you come? You should come in humility, respect and openness, for only then can you truly receive from them and be able to recognize their spiritual quality. So if we remember that every life and form on Earth is an expression of the Great Spirit, we might then treat each life with a high degree of respect and openness to their spiritual qualities and energies which remain hidden until we recognize and receive them.

This is the kind of attitude and attention we can give to any natural beauty around us. If we give enough time to natural beauty, and relate to it in this special way, we will realize the simple truth that we need these kinds of experience as much as we need food and air. We need the special substance of beauty in our life, which can find in the natural world. And yet we cannot receive this unless we are in the right receptive state of openness and appreciation. Give some time to a flower, or a tree, or something beautiful of Nature, and really breathe it in and let it soak into you.

Just see and listen and feel with an open, receptive attitude of mind and heart, and allow the presence to radiate its energies to you and speak to you with feeling. You just feel and listen to what it has to give, and allow yourself to receive this. This is the first and most important step in recognition and communication with the particular spirit. If you give this some time, and stay open to the experience, you'll begin to feel more of the spiritual vibrations and energies, and the Spirit will share itself with you as it feels you to be a receptive friend.

Seeing nature spirits

Nature spirits are described in the traditions of many cultures, in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Outback.

So let us consider the possibility of seeing a nature spirit.

Of foremost importance is the feeling of a particular place, or spirit of place. First feel the spirit there. Feel the presence. Then feel the overall quality of this presence. Feel what it is to you. It is alright to be subjective and trust in what you feel. If someone else feels a different quality, this is because the place has more than just one quality; so some people feel/sense one quality, while others feel/sense other qualities. Most places have a few related qualities. Also, feel the love and beauty that is there. These are the most important experiences.

Next, open your mind to seeing the spirit-form of this place. We each have a capacity to see these spirits of nature. Then, once we see and feel the spirit, we can embark on developing a personal relationship with this spirit. What we see is the form of this particular spirit-being, how it looks. This seeing will be somewhat subjective, because each person sees the spirit somewhat differently due to their unique imaginal mind. However, this is also an objective seeing a real spirit being of nature.

So, the spirit of a particular place can be seen as a distinct form or image, and to see this we need to use our spiritual imaginal mind. Our spiritual imagination is our mental tool for seeing spirits. But it is not merely a fanciful imagination, in the meaning of imagining what is not real. This is real. The spirit is real, but to mentally see it requires the imagination as a tool.