All that we see is imbued with the ineffable spark of life, the rock in the river bed, the soaring eagle in the sky, the spider swaying in her web and even the web itself.
During the long course of our history, we have named animate nature as spirit and these spirits have been our guides and fellow travellers. They are, however, normal everyday interactions and not the realm and fetish of the supernatural.
Thus the darkened, rustling, and ever moving spirit filled forests were places of sanctuary rather than places of fear.
We moved freely within them, not as strangers in a strange land, but rather as an integral part of a greater ecology.
Over time, these felt oral traditions were replaced by the iron hand of reason. The old ways became broken and we named them superstitious. The woods themselves became populated with dark spirits and ravening beasts.
Even the wise woman of the tribe was transfigured into the hag, living in the heart of the despicable forest and luring travellers to their deaths or to madness.
We thus became estranged from the natural world and those ancient felt superstitions of the heart came to be replaced by the modern superstitions of the mind.
Sitting here in this old and twisted copse, I gaze upon the stem of a briar, calloused, and armoured with age. There is a knowingness to its presence here, and there is a reciprocity in our relationship. We are held together by the same forces that give both of us form and support, we breathe together, and we ingest together.
Between us, the short distance of non-void is filled with a million invisible life forms each connecting to and interacting with the next.
There is a magic in this relationship and it is one that has its seat in the heart of each organism, and like all magic it cannot be thought about and rationalised, it can only be felt.
It is the old and primal animistic magic, it is simply the way of things.
Photo: Blackberry thorn at Los Tornos. Courtesy of the author.