No matter what kind of environment you live in, nature spirits are all around you. They’re embodied in trees, flowers, and animals, the wind, the rain, and all other natural phenomena.
Just because they’re ever-present doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re always easy to connect to, however — it can be very difficult to feel the presence of nature from inside of an office building in a city!
Fortunately, you can easily connect with nature spirits with just a little bit of effort.
Types of Nature Spirits
The term “nature spirits” is a catchall. It covers everything from the spirits of the elements, to any of the beings behind what we experience in nature. In some contexts, they serve as a kind of “collective soul” for a species of plant or animal.
Elemental nature spirits are the four groups of beings that personify each element. Sylphs are the nature spirits of the element of Air, gnomes of Earth, salamanders of Fire, and undines of Water. These are also generally just called “elementals.”
Next, there are soul archetypes for each species. The white willow, for example, is represented by a group soul archetype. So are dandelions, roe deer, and amanita mushrooms. Every living thing that exists in nature is represented by its species archetypal soul. These are sometimes referred to as “devas.”
In some schools of thought, faeries are also nature spirits. It’s not known whether faeries are a holdover from ancestor worship or paleolithic minor deities, but their modern incarnation shares many characteristics with other types of nature spirits: They’re often tied to specific locations or natural features, they have an affinity for certain plants or animals, and their powers often involve natural phenomena.
Some deities could also be considered nature spirits, particularly those associated with specific groves or springs.
Preparing to Connect with Nature Spirits
Getting ready to connect with nature spirits is a very involved process. Often times, they simply won’t make themselves known to you if you aren’t ready yet. There are several ways you can prepare yourself to meet them:
- Research the local lore on sacred springs, groves, or other natural features in your area. What spirits did the people native to that area meet and form relationships with? Who are you likely to run into when you go into nature?
- Learn the taboos of the kind of spirits you may meet. Faeries’ distaste for cold iron is a famous example of this.
- Recognize that not all nature spirits may be friendly and cooperative. Learn how to attract the benevolent ones, protect against the malevolent ones, and keep the ambivalent ones contented enough not to bother you.
- Give yourself an energetic cleansing. You can use whatever method you wish for this — a bath, sound bath, or smoke cleansing. If your intuition guides you to, you might also want to abstain from alcohol, cigarettes, or meat during this period.
- Ensure that you’re feeling emotionally balanced. Nature spirits are kind of like cats. If you pay too much attention to them, or seem too eager, they may be put off. Similarly, if you exude negative emotions, they also might give you your space.
- Don’t rush. Nature spirits can take a bit to win over, also like cats. You may have to go to the same place multiple times, bring offerings, or perform small acts of service (like picking up litter) for awhile first.
- Keep an open mind. Nature spirits likely won’t appear the way they do in books. Be receptive to subtle signs of their presence.
- Above all, know what physical hazards you may run into in your area. Venomous snakes, stinging insects, poisonous plants, and hunting seasons are all risk factors, and you don’t want your experience cut short by a trip to the hospital! If you need closed-toe boots, safety orange gear, bug spray, or a snake hook, bring them. Protecting yourself from harm isn’t going to get in the way of your connection to the spirits of nature.
How to Connect with Nature Spirits
You’ve done your research, you know who and what to look out for, and you’ve prepared your body, mind, and aura for the experience of connecting with nature spirits. Now what?
Forming an actual connection isn’t something that’s done overnight. Sometimes, you can have a very profound experience seemingly by accident. Most often, however, you’ll have to spend a lot of time in an area first.
Remember, nature spirits have their own wants, needs, and paths, and connecting is a two-way street. You may have to prove that your intentions are good before they make themselves known to you.
Go to an area that calls to you, or one that turned up in the course of your research into local nature spirits. Explore it, taking nothing but photographs. If you choose to leave an offering, appropriate ones are small stones, fresh water, flowers, honey, native seeds, or bits of food. (Avoid foods with chocolate, coffee, grapes, spices, or salt, as these can be harmful to animals.)
Sit peacefully in the area you want to connect with. Give yourself time to feel the presence of all of the life and energy there, from the trees, to the moss, to the insects, to the wind and stones. Meditate, and see what feelings come through.
One powerful way to connect with nature spirits is through mindful ingestion of plant, animal, or fungal material. This includes everything from the simple act of thoughtful eating, to taking part in enthogen ceremonies or rituals.
The important parts are maintaining an open mind, a concept of interconnection with the plant, animal, or fungus being consumed, and an acknowledgement of the relationship between this spirit and humanity.
Entheogenic plants and fungi, in particular, can be very helpful for expanding human consciousness and enhancing the perception of nature spirits. However, it should be noted that entheogen ceremonies aren’t without risk — they’re often illegal or heavily restricted, and may cause side effects in inexperienced users.
Before embarking on this path, thoroughly research the legal status, safety information, and any food or drug interactions. It’s also very helpful to have an experienced shaman or other guide to help you navigate the experience.
If you don’t have easy access to an undisturbed natural area, you can connect with nature spirits through ritual. Some magical traditions summon the elementals for every working. If one of the elemental spirits intrigues you, consider setting up an altar to them.
You could include a blue candle, dish of water, sea salt, and shells for the undines, for example, or a red candle, obsidian, lava rock, and images of salamanders and flames for the salamanders.
You can also forge connections with whatever spirits are around you. Even the most paved-over city has a lone dandelion pushing up through the cracks in the concrete. Seek out these signs of nature’s resilience and spend time with them. Water them. Appreciate them. Remove litter from their homes. Gather their seeds, and plant them someplace where they can thrive.
Even the smallest patch of moss is a piece of something much larger and more powerful, and these tiny favors won’t go unnoticed.
Connecting with nature spirits is a powerful way to forge a relationship between yourself or your community and the world around you. These partnerships are a rewarding example of the reciprocity that occurs when humans truly live in their environment, instead of viewing it as a resource to be used.
As long as you’re adequately prepared for the experience, you can develop a very profound connection to the spirits of animals, plants, fungi, and natural phenomena that surround you.