Do you know that trees talk? Well, they do. They talk to each other and they’ll talk to you if you listen. Trouble is, white people don’t listen. They never learned to listen to Indians so I don’t suppose they’ll listen to other voices in Nature. But I have learned a lot from trees: sometimes about the weather, sometimes about animals, sometimes about the Great Spirit.”
-Tatanga Mani (Walking Buffalo), Stoney Indian, Canada (1871-1967)
Looking out of his bedroom window, Little Spirit was transfixed watching the sycamore trees, whose branches were enthusiastically swaying back and forth.
“How does the tree move its branches like that?” she asked.
Without shifting his eyes towards the tree from the book Oblivious Spirit was reading her, he started to answer, “The tree is not moving the branches. It’s the wind…” But something stopped Oblivious Spirit from answering as he caught himself before the words were out.
Joining Little Spirit at the window, he looked out at the sycamore, becoming similarly ensorcelled by the movement of the branches, the flicker of the leaves. Viewing the tree from the comfort of a warm and sheltered room could Oblivious Spirit really be sure that it was the wind that was moving the tree? Maybe it was some independent movement of the tree itself?
“Do you think the tree is dancing?” asked Little Spirit.
“Hmm” Oblivious Spirit replied
“Do you think the tree is dancing” Little Spirit asked again.
“Why would it be dancing?”
“Maybe it is happy because the sun is shining,” she said.
As they continued to watch the tree together, Oblivious Spirit began to see what Little Spirit saw. There seemed to be a rhythm to the movement, first strong and forceful, then light and gentle, then more energised. He enjoyed the movement and sway of the branches, seeing little nuances that he hadn’t noticed before. The tree did indeed appear to be dancing!
“Are trees alive?” Little Spirit finally asked.
“Yes”, Oblivious Spirit answered, “they are alive”.
“Do they feel things?” she asked.
“I don’t know. Why do you ask?”
“Because this tree looks happy,” she said. “Can a tree be happy or sad?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well in the winter, the tree seems sad because her branches are bear and hang down, and she looks cold and lonely” she said. “But in summer she looks happy because she has her clothes on and the sun plays in her leaves and the birds sing in her arms.”
“Yes, I believe the tree feels. Do you really think the tree is dancing?” Oblivious Spirit asked.
“Yes, it is dancing to the music” she said.
“Can’t you hear it? The music is carried in the wind.”
Do we really live in a world where plants, animals, rocks, nature has both intelligence and communicates? Surely matter is matter; a plant is merely an oxygen/ carbon dioxide regulating system; a tree is for paper and furniture; animals are for food or domestic entertainment; fish, like sheep, are stupid; and humans are the elite species because we are uniquely adept at utilising systems of symbolic communication such as language for self-expression, the exchange of ideas, and organisation. In other words, we can write, talk, think, are conscious of ourselves unlike all other species of flora and fauna. Matter is surely inert, inanimate and lacking consciousness. What did our ancestors know? After all they had smaller brains; lived within a deluded magical consciousness; didn’t have the internet and digital technology; they lived without air con and TV; they had to hunt and gather as oppose to driving to McDonalds for a nutritious Big Mac AND they believe that there is an invisible divinity that is immanent within all things…
The Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century, around the time of the last Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn, paved the way for a less connected relationship with the Earth, as that movement sought to minimise the centrality of mysticism from their ‘faith’. Decade after decade we have experienced an increase in rational innovation, initially seeking to tame Nature, then exploit her, as our scientists sought to better understand the laws of Nature, mastering myriad rational approaches to invent and create endless possible ways to manipulate the tangible world, so that our lives can become much healthier, wealthier, happier, more fulfilled etc… For many the idea that the Earth is alive, that it speaks is quaint, sophist and a relic of the misguided, uneducated indigenous championed by irrational, unscientific new age fantasists.
But pause for a moment. Have you ever thought about how our ancestors really figured nature out prior to science? Where did they get their plant lore from, for example? Was it really all simple trial and error? Was it as simple as watching someone die eating a poisonous red berry therefore ‘inspiring’ the rest of the community not to eat that poisonous red berry?! How did the indigenous Amazonian tribes know about anaesthetic before western medicine did? Have you ever noticed that medicinal plants often look like the part of the body that they heal? Is it possible that plants talk?
Prior to the 2nd February 1966, Dr. Cleve Backster didn’t think so. But when his lie detector recorded a rapid response to his thought of burning the leaves of his dracaena pot plant, he had some serious re-thinking to do.
Having moved into private practise after years of perfecting the first standardised system for lie detection for the CIA, Backster pulled an all-nighter as he was trying to conduct research into his polygraph techniques. As always happens in the small hours of the night when you enter into a hypnogogic state, an idea took root in his mind that he could not shake. A message, or gift, that arose during the period known as the first sleep. He became consumed with the notion of connecting his plant to the detector to see what would happen. Much to his surprise, the plant did not have a smooth, flat pattern of electrical activity, but appeared to be changing moment to moment, just as it does with humans. In further testing, Backster tried a series of physical tests, such as stabbing the leaves with a pen, but to no avail. However at 7:14am he imagined burning the plant. Simultaneously the polygraph recording pen moved rapidly to the top of the graph, indicating a dramatic excitation. It was as though the plant could read his mind. As the plant continued to have what would be considered an enormous, panicked reaction, Backster stopped thinking about hurting the plant and the polygraph returned to a normalised trace signature.
But what has Backster’s research got to do with this forth coming New Moon in tropical Virgo? All astrological signs arise from the combinations of four states of consciousness with the three ways that those states are expressed, a combination that gives rise to the 12 signs of the zodiac. Virgo is made from combining the ‘Earth’ Element with the ‘Mutable’ Mode and therefore is also known as ‘Mutable Earth’.
Taken at a very basic and literal interpretation, the Earth element fundamentally deals with the solid, physical world. Translating that into simple psychological terms the Earth is seen as being a mode of consciousness that is grounded, matter of fact, born to serve, industrious, methodical and efficient. Mutability refers to a living exchange of energy between Self and Other. Mutable Earth therefore accounts for the exchange that takes place between Nature and You- that the organs of your body, the trees in the land, the rocks under the soil have consciousness and communicate with you. You are the land, the Earth is within you as much as you are within the Earth. The environment is not really a place separate from yourself where you act out the drama of your isolate destiny. Nor is it a means of survival, exploitation and accumulation. It is rather a part of your being, dynamic, significant, real. It is your-Self. The trees are your lungs, the rivers your circulation, the air your breath, and the earth your body
Our contemporary knowledge does not stem from testing and observing nature. It stems from living within a vast field of intelligence that permeates and bathes us within it. It stems from the dialogue that nature has WITH us and from those who developed the ability to listen and translate what was being disseminated into practical applications. Matter communicates. Maybe not in the verbally-elite and rational way to which you have become so accustomed, but it is conscious!
Nature contains memory; it thinks; and if you take the time to listen to it, you can derive much meaning, sustenance and knowledge that will help you through the massive and rapid changes that you are currently experiencing. In the same way, the art of really listening enables you to hear without judgement. It helps you develop compassion and true empathy for all living things, including yourself. The state of the world, reflects the state of ourselves; the burning of the forests is merely the unexpressed and unprocessed grief of countless generations being released; the pruning of our land is analogous to the grooming of our bodies; the illness of the Earth reflects the illness of ourselves…
As we stand on the threshold of another quantum redistribution of power similar to that of 1517 in January 2020, it is a welcome sign that cutting edge science is starting to come to terms with the idea that nature possesses, like humans, an interior dimension and does not, therefore, respond in linear or predictable way. It may take time, time we may feel we do not have given the intense environmental crisis we are living through, which merely mirrors the phenomenal personal crises of consciousness that we have all been experiencing. By healing ourself, truly healing ourself; by listening to what our bodies say; by truly caring for ourselves, but because we should but because we want to; by cultivating our sacred nature, we in turn do this for the Earth, since she and you are one and the same. Nature thinks, as you do; nature feels, as you do; nature breathes, as you do; nature is immanent, as you are; nature is conscious, makes choices and talks, just as you do.
In astrology, this phenomenon is called Virgo.
So in the days leading up to the rebirth of the Virgoan archetype, go out into nature and plant your feet firmly on the earth. Using your five senses, give thanks for the countless ways the Earth comes to you – for all the beauty that your eyes see, for all the sounds that your ears ear, for all the scents that you smell, the tastes that you taste, for all that you feel (the sun, wind, rain, snow, warm, or cold). Hold a space that you may be open and attuned to the infinite ways that Nature en-wombs you. Visualise the pain, struggle, regret, failures, garbage of yesterday being shed from your body; feel where it has sojourned within you; acknowledge it and give thanks to all you have gained from it. Then visualise yourself stepping out of it, leaving it behind. Next, make a commitment to live from a place of lOve, engaging with everyone and everything from that place – the food that you eat, the water that you drink, is only that which you truly need and which sustains and vitalises you. Finally give thanks to the land that holds you and step into the gift of the new dawn full of hope, promise, and potential.
By Andrew Smith – all rights reserved