The article appeared in a weekend appendix “Tähenduse teejuhid” (Guides to meaning) of Postimees.
When I was asked to write about the “return of nature”, my first thought was: nature does not come to us so easily, nature must be invited to us.
How did I call nature back to me? The hard farm work I did when I was young and, later, city life estranged me from nature. A few decades ago, however, I became interested in shamanism. I researched all sorts of sources to find out more. I read books about nature temples, the energy lines of the earth, the mother earth Gaia and about the spirit animals. Other books spoke of the spirits of nature: fairies, tree spirits, and elementals — the creatures of fire, water, air, and earth. Descriptions of humans interacting with natural spirits were fascinating. The idea that the spirits of nature alone cannot guarantee the flourishing and continuation of life on Earth, that they need our cooperation, spoke to me. However, people have forgotten that the spirits of nature exist.
We do not see our thoughts, we cannot touch or weigh them, yet we do not think they do not exist. However, stories of invisible natural beings seemed to be “quite another matter.” The Master of Psychology in me was still doubtful, even though I knew that, according to the worldview based on quantum physics, the basis and root cause of all forms and manifestations of the universe is the unified field, the field of living consciousness. Animists have always considered nature to be alive; they think that rocks and crystals, plants and animals, the sun and the planets have a soul. Today, science has proven that the worldview of animists is not naive: atoms have no consciousness like humans, but have the origins of mentality and the ability to experience.
In the evenings I went for a walk by the pond in the middle of the city. I tried to make contact with the trees and get in touch with the water spirits, but without success. One day I drove into nature to put an end to my doubts. I sat on a fallen tree trunk in a grove and closed my eyes. In my mind, I turned to the spirits of nature: Dear spirits of nature, if you exist, let me know, so that I may understand that you exist. I sat; nothing happened. Who can tell how many minutes passed, but at one point I heard a rumble moving through the forest, starting from the left behind me. There was no gust of wind, the weather was windless, but the trees moved branches and shook their leaves, but not all the trees and not all the branches. A hissing stream of energy flowed across me and through me. Have you ever felt goosebumps at some special moment and you knew with every ounce of your being that what was happening was important and real? That’s how I felt. I looked wide-open, felt the movement of my soul and at the same time great joy: They exist! They communicate with me!
The connection between us was established and, from then on, everything continued easily. Communicating deeply with nature gave me tremendous energy and helped me develop my intuition. A few years later, I organised a course, “Fairies, leprechauns and mermaids – it’s not just a fairy tale” and there were a lot of people interested. We interacted with trees and rocks, asked the clouds to make shapes, contacted the water spirits at the spring and let the fire spirit cleanse our past. As people wandered alone in nature getting answers to their important questions, they were fascinated: trees and flowers spoke, squirrels, birds and butterflies were the messengers. I was amazed by the genuine joy that people got from these experiences and by the energy of warmth and kindness that quickly developed in the groups.
Coherence is a fashionable term used in various fields. A person’s condition can also be coherent: a person who vibrates in harmony with themself is in the present moment; they feel peace and harmony. It is a state of power that provides stability. Nature is coherent, nothing happens without harmony. Humans are the only ones who can create disharmony within and around themselves. However, the proximity of nature helps to restore harmony quickly.
Nature works effortlessly. Everything is exactly what it is. Aristotle said that every being and phenomenon is controlled from within by an entelechy, a force that guides them along a unique path to a goal unique to them. When an acorn falls into the soil, it becomes an oak, not a juniper or slender birch. The cowslip on the meadow is just a cowslip. A bird hatched from an egg of a song thrush can only be a song thrush singing its happy tune. Nature does not ask what it should be. It grows and functions according to the internal laws that govern its life.
It’s not that easy with people. Our faster-higher-farther lifestyle does not give time for oneself and we burn out quickly. If the attention is constantly outside of yourself, eventually you will not know what your natural nature is. Are you still on the right track? What are the gifts that only you, in your uniqueness, can give to the world? Not your ego, but your soul creates your life. The soul is the entelechy of humans; it enlivens and directs them to become themself. If you live connected to your soul, you are in the process of entelechy. Nature is a free therapist. When you have lost yourself, nature will help you find yourself again. It brings you out of stress, back to yourself. Nature can become a mirror that brings you closer to yourself. The soul of nature makes your soul vibrate with itself.
Fortunately, Estonians still have connections with nature, although there may be some city people who do not dare to walk barefoot on the grass. However, not everyone may know that the benefits of being in nature for our body and mental health have been scientifically proven by many experiments and studies. It is strange to read these studies, but since we live in an age when science is the criterion of truth, the influence of nature must also be proven. The experiments in which so-called inanimate nature was studied are interesting. For example, a study was carried out, in which two groups of subjects walked equally for 50 minutes, but some did so in the city, others in nature. Those who walked in nature were calmer afterwards, less negative, their memory was better. Another study showed that walking in nature, or just looking at pictures of nature, improves concentration. Staying in nature heals people with mental disorders and has a good effect on difficult-to-raise adolescents. A nature photo on the wall of the dentist’s waiting room reduces patients’ anxiety and lowers blood pressure; the opportunity to see nature from the hospital room’s window helps to recover faster from the operation.
Is it a little bit embarrassing to be a ‘tree-hugger’? Times have changed. Rupert Sheldrake, a Cambridge PhD biochemist, recommends we choose a tree to get to know: “When you ask a question from a tree, you may get an answer, it doesn’t come as a voice, but as you see, feel or hear it. If you are angry or upset, you can ask the tree for help in managing your emotions so that it can take over your anger, worry, or sadness. But the most important thing is that when you enter into a relationship with a life form that is much bigger and older than you and that can survive long after you are gone, it puts your life and problems in a much broader perspective.”
Marina Paula Eberth