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The Unseen World

“We do not fix our gaze on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is transitory; what is unseen is eternal.” – 2nd Corinthians 4:18

During the Christmas holidays, I went to see the movie Avatar, James Cameron’s latest blockbuster. I almost didn’t see it. I expected it to be another one of those movies that didn’t live up to its hype—another Hollywood cash grab that enticed the masses with shiny objects, inane dialogue, contrived story, and stuff that blows up good.

What I didn’t expect was what we got: a skillfully written, brilliantly executed story with characters I could relate to, and a spiritual theme that caught the essence of what nature-based spirituality means—and stuff that blows up good.

The shame for us is that this story of environmental rape still needs to be told. After all these years of cautionary tales, warnings, and escalating natural disasters that can only culminate in the decimation of humanity we still haven’t changed our path. We’re still missing the point and we’re still on a crash course with mother earth.

As I watched the movie, I was aware that Cameron was going to ignite some controversy, regardless of how timely and true his message. A quick search on the Internet verifies this.

Of course, the Vatican weighed in on it, as I figured they would. Avatar has garnered way too much attention and made way too much money for them not to say something about it. A variety of news sources quote L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, as saying the film gets “bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature”. They believe that ecology was made out to be a religion.

What they don’t seem to understand is that being connected to nature is not worshiping nature. Living in harmony with nature is not a religion—it’s a way of life. Coincidentally, this Christmas I also came across a copy of the movie “Dances with Wolves”. I always loved that movie, and it has the same message and themes as Avatar. Both of these movies illustrate beautifully a race of people living spiritual lives—not worshipping nature, not institutionalizing it, but living in harmony with it.

There is also chatter on the Internet about people feeling depressed after seeing the movie and feeling how disconnected from nature they are. They long for the world to be as it is on Pandora, the alien world of the movie.

I can understand that longing. It comes from being in a society that has literally sucked the life out of everything and severed our connection to our higher selves and our creator, whatever form he/she may take for you (for me this energy is both male and female—two aspects, one source).

Food no longer has the life force it once did. The plants that we grow, whether ultimately used for food or not, are contaminated with pesticides, colourings, or are genetically modified. The water and the air are polluted.

There was a time once when you weren’t afraid to catch raindrops or snowflakes on your tongue or get snow in your mouth when you were playing with your friends. The only thing you had to look out for then was yellow snow if there were dogs around. And speaking of dogs, they are putting chips in pets nowadays, too. How healthy can that be to the system of the animal?

For those of you who watched the movie and are pining away for Pandora, I offer you this: it is possible to live in harmony with nature. Start small and work your way towards connecting with your environment and the beings that live in it. Be aware of your connectedness with all living things, and become aware of the “unseen world”.

In the movie, they talked about how everything was connected and they likened the tree roots to a neural network. The trees were the connection to all living things in the movie, and they may be in our world as well. I coincidentally realized this in the summer, long before Avatar was even on my radar.

I was on vacation at the cottage and working on some notes for a workshop I was having on Fairies. I needed a way to connect the attendees to the elementals during the last part of the workshop. When it’s nice out, we go into the gardens and connect that way. But this workshop was going to be given in the late fall, and it was going to be dark and cold. I wanted some way to help people get a feeling of nature and its power and energy regardless of the weather.

It occurred to me to ask for help from the elementals themselves. I’ve discovered that calling on the energy of the beings that I’m teaching about in my workshops elicits their cooperation and guidance. It certainly helped in this case.

The day that I made my request, I went for a walk along the cottage road with my husband. We hadn’t gone far when Bob pointed to the side of the road and said, “Look at that.” I glanced over to where he was pointing and saw that a pine tree had fallen over, and its roots and the soil underneath it had been ripped up when it fell. Something about it made us want to take a closer look, and as we approached it, I knew that what I needed for my workshop would be there.

Within the soil and the roots of the tree we found some beautiful smoky quartz rocks that must have been there before the tree grew over that spot. When the tree was blown over in a severe storm that had passed through there just days before, the rocks were ripped out of the ground and lay semi-exposed in the tangle of dirt and roots. I thanked the spirits that guided us to this spot, and we made an offering to the tree and the spirits there of some water from the bottles that we carried.

One of the details that I loved about Avatar was that the natives of Pandora treated all life as sacred, and when they killed any animal for their use, they performed a rite and showed gratitude for the animal’s sacrifice. This is a Native American tradition, as my friends who belong to that culture taught me, and I remembered to show my appreciation to the tree and the earth for the gifts that we received for our workshop.

We took some photos of the place, so that we could revisit that time and space anytime. They can be seen on our Facebook Fan Page.

When I meditated with one of the rocks later that day, I had an incredibly powerful vision of the earth and the upheavals that have happened to it. It took me to a place that was visceral and profound. I was grateful and happy that we were going to be able to share these stones with others, so that they too could make a connection to nature and the elementals this way.

So, while Pandora was a fictional world, the principles that James Cameron espoused in it are relevant to this world. While we don’t live in complete harmony with our environment and all the living things within it, there are many opportunities all around us, every day to change that.

Be aware and be open to receiving spiritual connections and you will. Appreciate the people you meet, and feel connected to them—even those that challenge you and try your patience. I think we’re supposed to be most grateful for them, though it’s so much easier to be grateful for those that don’t push us to the edge.

Cultivate an attitude of connectedness and you will be connected. Tap into the energy around you. Experiment with it. Pick up some crystals and play with them. Hug a tree. Trees have beautiful spirit energy and when you hug one, it gives you peace and takes away your stress in a way that doesn’t hurt the tree. Listen to some meditation CDs and let them take you places. Research a variety of topics that will help you learn how to connect, such as journeying and Reiki.

When you do this, your life will begin to profoundly change. Welcome to the unseen world.


Val Tobin, ATP® with Advanced Training


One Response

  1. It is of interest to learn that you have come closed to nature, care and are thankful for what it provides to us. I always feel that a paradise can be around us, but we are too busy to notice same. For example; the smile of a child, the singing of the birds in the early spring, the beautiful air that comes from the closing winter into spring,the touching of the earth when we get ready to garden and later on see the results of the beauty in the flowers and everything that begins a new life in the Spring. Canada is one of the great places on earth that gives us this opportunity to see and experience nature, and the oncoming of the new season as well as saying good by to the one passing by allows us to experience time on earth.

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