Nature Awareness, Requirement 2
Describe your understanding of the term "nature spirits"? Discuss this concept in relation to both ancient Indo-European and modern ADF practices. (minimum 300 words)
My primary understanding of the nature spirits is that they are ephemeral beings who do not exist on the same recognizable plane as we do. While they can interact with us (and do), there is a special way of looking at the world that one must acquire before we can actually see and interact with them. I do not generally see them as divine beings, nor do I see them as anything approaching ancestors. What I usually think of when I consider the nature spirits is merely a "force" or "spirit" that is animated and works in the best interest of the world at large. I do not generally see them as concerned with stealing my keys.
There is also an element of nature spirits as the physical manifestation of animals and plants. These are the wise old oak tree, the squirrel that lives in it, and the hawk that eats that squirrel for dinner. They are the invasive garlic mustard and the overpopulated deer. They are the cows that become the steak I order at the local steakhouse. All things are natural to me. I also categorize humans as nature spirits in this case, as I firmly believe that we are natural creatures and that we are strongly affected by changes in the environment around us. Similarly, we create nature spirits and use them for our own devices: electricity, fire, and the harnessing of nature all deal with the creation of these entities and their natural use.
I have no illusions about the ancient world being more respecting of nature, but I do think that the ancient Indo-Europeans had a similar view of nature that I do: nature is there, we are part of it, and we can use it. It is not placed here for us to lord over, but it is placed here for our use. There is an element of reciprocity, though, as we must share this use with others, including the earth itself. The ghosti-relationship of guest and host is strong with regard to the natural world.
In ADF, we honour nature in ritual. This is important because it re-establishes the connections that we have with the earth and the spirits who live in it.
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