For many years I was associated with a nature center. I worked in its animal program and also served as one of the center’s trail guides, taking groups of kids and adults out for nature walks.
I particularly loved working with the preschoolers because…well, first of all, you didn’t have to walk very far with them, and second of all, you didn’t need to get real botanical. Instead, I would take them along a wonderful trail and talk about some of the fairy and spirit lore associated with the plants and trees.
One day I was leading a small group of about 15 preschoolers, their teacher and a few of their parents. I came to a spot where there was a natural mound. Mounds are raised areas in the earth and many traditions around the world teach that communities of fairies and spirits often live within the mounds — hence the more common name of “fairy mound.”
I was standing in front of the group on the trail telling them about the fairy mounds. The teacher smiled at me and then spoke to the group of kids, “Well, we don’t really believe in fairies and elves, do we?”
The entire group was silent. They lowered their eyes, not looking at the teacher. I smiled to myself, thinking, “This is interesting. Let’s see where we can take this.”
I proceeded to tell a bit more about the fairy mounds, and as I was talking, a small boy from the back steps forward. He put his hands on his hips and looks up at me. Then in a challenging voice, he asks, “How do they get in and out of there, then?”
I smiled and replied, “Many people think it is through the small openings at the bottoms of the trees nearby.”
At that moment, a little girl steps up and says, “They do not. They use this flower and this flower and this opening right over here.” And she proceeded to point out specific flowers and a hole next to a small oak tree.
The girl’s mother blushed. The teacher rolled her eyes. And I was jumping up and down inside, silently cheering, “Yes!”
We moved on at that point, but throughout the rest of our hike, the boy was plastered to my one leg and the girl to the other. Finally, an adult that knew what they had been experiencing!
A little further on we came to a boardwalk that crossed our pond. I led the group across, and as we got to the middle, I paused to talk.
“You know, they say that if you tickle the water just right, all of the water fairies come out, riding on the backs of dragonflies.”
I then coaxed everyone down onto the walkway. I even made the teacher and parents do it. Then with the tips of our fingers, we tickled the surface of the water for several minutes. When we stood up, there must have been 200 or more dragonflies soaring around us!
Nothing captures our imagination more than the idea of nature spirits. Stories about them are found in every tradition upon the planet, and they never fail to touch us in some way. The truth is that most of us have had amazing nature encounters, but we have either forgotten them, didn’t realize what they were at the time or allowed others to convince us that they weren’t real. But the truth is that nature is one of the most powerful realms of spirit contact and guidance available to us. It is the source of primal energies and great spirits, and within nature one can explore most of life’s lessons, as well as discover life’s answers. There are teachings about life, death and rebirth, teachings of creativity and the development of survival skills applicable to our modern world, and there are great revelations for solving problems and accomplishing tasks that seem impossible. Through nature we can learn respect, nurturing and trust in our perceptions. It is a reminder of our greatest possibilities and our greatest magic.
Learning to Read the Signs
We are walking down the street and the fragrance of a pine tree brushes over us. The flash of a yellow daisy catches our eye in the grass. We spot a tiny flower blooming among dead brush and brambles. We keep seeing the same type of bird perched in the same type of tree every time we walk in nature. We dream of journeying through the desert. We have a vision in which we walk through an opening in an oak tree to another world. A storm rolls in every time we start a new project. A part of us knows that these experiences have meaning, but is nature truly speaking to us?
There are always answers to our questions in life — including the spiritual ones — if we know how and where to look. As we learn to listen to nature, we will find guidance and protection, discover new healing, inspiration and even new dimensions. What we must remember is that no matter how much we cloak ourselves in civilization, we are part of nature and it is part of us. It speaks to us everyday — while awake and asleep. Plants and animals are our messengers, guides, brothers and sisters. They are living gifts of the Earth. This simple truth is a part of our spiritual heritage that many of us have forgotten or neglected.
When we work with nature, tremendous benefits come to us. First and foremost, it shifts our attention away from the mundane world and its problems to the magnificence and wonder of the divine within our lives and ourselves. We begin to recognize that there are many wonderful dimensions to life, some much less tangible than what we may have ever experienced, but just as real. We begin to experience a great increase in psychic and astral phenomena. Dreams become more colorful, lucid and even prophetic. Our own psychic sensibilities will heighten, manifesting in a variety of new ways. Healing avenues open in many areas of our life, including the discover y of the healing properties of plants. The colors and fragrances of the natural world soothe the emotions and even awaken past memories and ancient wisdoms.
Encounters with beings of other realms will also occur. We awaken to the wisdom of animals, and we discover the reality of nature spirits. Nature is one of the safest realms for opening astral doorways and developing conscious astral projection. We can learn to use the natural world as a gateway to other realms and their phenomena, which shamans around the world have done for ages. Pursuing our spiritual quest and unfolding our innate powers through reconnecting with nature begins with changing our perspective and recognizing that nature is one of our most ancient and powerful oracles. We do not have to go through life blindly. There is guidance if only we can look around and notice.
Pay attention and see if you can notice a unique resonance you may have with certain people, activities and aspects of nature. These resonances often serve as signposts for us, sparking our intuition and stimulating awareness to help us make better choices in our lives so that our path can be more creative, beneficial and productive. These resonances are special gifts to us, established before we are even born into this world, because once we take physical form, we forget what it is that we have come to do. Without this forgetting, we would not develop our creativity and grow. These natural resonances and triggers are signposts to us, helping to guide and direct us to fulfill our life purposes and dreams. At all times, we should pay attention to what direction these special signs are leading us towards.
These signposts will appear in both ordinary and extraordinary ways. We encounter a person who helps us at just the right time. We experience a dream that gives us a creative idea. An animal appears in our life in an unusual way, and thus we discover a way of solving a problem. We have an encounter with an angel or spirit being. The fragrance of a flower awakens the exploration of new healing techniques. These signposts happen for everyone. Unfortunately, most people do not pay attention to them or do not recognize them for what they are. Paying attention to nature is one way we can awaken our awareness of these daily signposts.
For many in today’s scientific and rational world, awakening their awareness of nature in this way will be difficult to accept. It is the stuff of superstition. Yet, if you have ever asked — “Why am I here? What is my path in life? What am I supposed to be doing?” — then you have come to the right place when you start paying attention to nature. In the process, it will reawaken your magical wonder. We live in a time when people are so focused upon just fulfilling their daily obligations that most have forgotten that we can starve as much from a lack of wonder, as we can a lack of food. Nature will keep that sense of wonder alive within us.
Ted Andrews is the best selling author of more than 30 books, including Animal-Speak and Nature-Speak, the definitive texts for understanding the meaning and significance of animal encounters in daily life. Ted also has nearly twenty years of hands-on experience with wildlife rehabilitation and education.