***Note: All quoted material is © Judy McAllister, Forest Voices: When Nature Speaks (I’ve also made sure to credit the right tree deva)
Judy McAllister’s book Forest Voices: When Nature Speaks is one woman’s extraordinary journey of answering these questions. An offshoot of Findhorn’s unique spiritual lineage, the book also evokes visions of emerging possibilities. Its (100% post-consumer recycled paper with vegetable ink) pages speak a fiery hope for a future where humans and Nature are unified in love and cooperation.
Much of Judy’s inspiration came from Dorothy Maclean, one of the founders of the Findhorn community. In the early days of the community, Dorothy found she could communicate with the consciousness of plant species. These encounters were different than communications with individual plants. Unlike encounters with individual beings, Dorothy sensed she was connecting with vast intelligences that hold the energetic seed patterns for whole species. She called these devas (meaning ‘shining one’s in sanskrit).
Later, Judy traveled, taught and studied with Dorothy, consolidating the meditative practices that enabled her to also encounter devas. As she explains in her book, her lifelong love of trees immediately drew her to tree devas.
The messages Judy records from her encounters show that trees are aware not just of their physical contributions to the Earth’s life. They are aware of their less tangible, energetic ones as well. The picture that emerges through their messages is that Earth’s inner life is like one vast psyche.
Just like your personality contains many different qualities and character traits, so do Earth’s conscious dimensions. Trees’ beautiful bodies are outward expressions of inner lives that radiate qualities of steadfastness, exuberance, wisdom. Because we occupy space in Earth’s conscious dimensions as well as its physical ones, we sense their qualities within ourselves. Here are some examples from the trees themselves:
Message from the Urucum Deva
Power, protection and potency, these are my gifts to the web of life. My form is put to many uses, the essence I bring is more than that.
The trees communicated that they experience joy underlying all their experiences. Within this fundamental joy, they have room to celebrate their unique identities. The messages often begin with Judy’s poetic, impression of their ‘signature’ or her felt sense of their identity.
As she came into contact with the cedar deva, Judy writes:
Initially I had a sense of slow, deep motion. A darkness illuminated by movement. A movement sourced in longing and knowing. A sense of profound peace and ease.
Communing with the olive tree deva, she writes:
There was a sense of surging joy. A resonant chorus of sound. A note comprised of many notes.
With a Banyan tree in Thailand:
Initially there was a sense of a profoundly slow energy, spread very thin and yet also very dense.
Brazil Plum tree deva
We bring solace, comfort, relief. We anchor a peace that soothes the dissonance the pace of human life sows in your hearts and souls. Drink deeply little sister [this is one of the tree devas’ nicknames for Judy], replenish the deep well of love that is your heart. Renew the well of hope that you draw on as you face an unknowable future.
In addition to these individual trees’ voices, Judy’s book recounts how she encountered ‘something more.’ This ‘something more’ came to her in Brazil. While there, she connected with a larger, more encompassing presence she calls The Voice of the Forest. In contrast to individual trees’ devas, the Voice of the Forest is the consciousness of a whole ecosystem. Its messages reflect this broader, more complex identity. They also extend invitation and encouragement into a new kind of relationship for the future.
Instead of prompting us to take concrete actions, the communications invite us to make inner changes of perception that will affect all areas of our lives. In fact, the messages from the Voice of the Forest offer a kind of ecosystemic look at our human identities. Just like an ecosystem, changes in our underlying attitudes, beliefs and feelings can ripple out throughout our lives, influencing many different aspects.
Of surrender we would speak. Not of the bowed-down, weighted giving-up that the word evokes, but of a joyous cooperation with an irresistible flow that unfolds all life. Your kind, alone amongst all of Gaia’s creatures, possesses the capacity to go against that flow… Your kind, with all its capacities, could give so much to aid a new balance for Gaia… Here, where we meet, lie infinite resources; resources to fuel a new balance, a new order for all life. The possibility of making that potential real lies in your heart’s mind. Surrendering to that would mean altering your perception of yourselves and of us.
Pau Ferro (ironwood tree) deva
The doomsayers of your kind spread their messages, messages of consequences too terrible to contemplate and so you do not… There are allies awaiting the call to serve – a call that arises already in some of you… Let that call awaken new potencies, new alliances, and a new future.
(note: this tree is the source of a popular hot beverage in South America)
You drink of us and we are integrated into your bodies. We would rather integrate into your hearts and spirits that you might see us as your sisters/brothers, as your kin. This is the truth of it, for all life is kin to all other life. We know this, and would have you know this too.
Grieve what is lost if you must. Better, though, to welcome what may yet come to be.
Judy is clear that anyone can connect with the consciousness of trees. In fact, she suggests we can connect with the devic level of all forms in nature. Instead of being a superpower reserved for the rare few, it is something we can all develop, she writes.
So how can we start the flow between our consciousness and a tree’s?
Judy’s experience suggests an answer to this question: relationship. And we can cultivate this relationship by seeing the tree as a ‘you’ to relate with, instead of an ‘it’.
When she teaches about connecting with the devic realms, Judy writes: ‘I often use the analogy of how we create relationship with new people we meet. It is the same with the intelligences of nature – it takes time, attention and genuine interest in the other. If we only seek contact when we want/need something, the relationship won’t go very deep or last very long!’
Rather than being directive, the messages of the trees are poetic, lyrical, heart-stirring and fascinating. And through them all a visionary theme emerges. This vision is of a future where people partner with the Earth instead of exploiting it. These tree messages sing of something we can all help make real: humans taking their rightful place in harmony with the rest of nature.
Spend time with them. Begin by taking a walk in a forest if you can, preferably with mobile phones turned off. Even in cities there are often trees growing in parks and public spaces. Relax in their presence and see what you appreciate about them. When you begin, you don’t need to aim for communication. Just spend time in their company. Regarding this exercise, Judy counsels: ‘Look at them through eyes of love and appreciation and imagine yourself soaking up the ‘vibe’ they are putting out.’
Gratitude is another way to build connections with nature’s intelligences. To begin, an easy way is to find a tree, a flower or a plant that is appealing to you and spend a bit of time noticing what you appreciate about it. Now try touching it – how does that feel? Is there a scent? Do you like its shade? Its shape? There is no need to push for a special experience here. By being grateful you are weaving a connection that may blossom later into communication.
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Do you feel called to connect more with Earth’s conscious dimensions? See here for some ways to do that at Findhorn.