The Continental Divide rises majestically between the town of Estes Park and Snow Mountain, a two hour drive apart. The highway that passes over the Divide, Trail Ridge Road, is the highest through highway in the U.S. It winds in and out of the Old Ute Trail, which was left behind by ancient nomadic folk.
I attended a silent spiritual retreat on Snow Mountain. On a free day during the retreat my friend Johnji and I climbed the mountain. It peaks below timberline, with wide views of a plain at the foot of the Divide, as well as of higher peaks on the other side of its many false summits. The trail is steep, winding up through pine and aspen, colored with small violet butterflies, blue dragonflies, and flies. As we climbed, my solar plexus tightened painfully in the grip of past life flashbacks. As an Indian I had witnessed a massacre on the plains below brought about, I had felt, by faulty advice given to me on a vision quest on this mountain. I had blamed the mountain. Now it was time to forgive both of us. Layers of emotion wrenched their way up to be healed as I hoisted myself silently up the path.
A hiker was at the summit when we arrived, so we made our way down a scree slope and lay in the sun on quartzite gravel for hours. Johnji did some healing work on my energy field and I felt myself dissolving into the mountain. In fact, I felt myself dissolving for weeks thereafter. It was a very powerful retreat, and I didn't realize how much of my transformation at that time came from the mountain itself until I revisited it many times in later years without the retreat leader or Johnji close at hand.
So perhaps as a thank you for introducing me to Mud, I introduced Janis to Snow Mountain. Lying on sharp gravel assaulted by flies turned out not to be her entry to a profound mystical experience, but she was a good sport, and did enjoy the hot springs we stopped by after our hike.
For me to lie on that scree slope or on the large quarzite rock below it is to be held in the embrace of a dear lover. One evening I rushed down from Snow Mountain to channel with Peter, and the mountain's presence entered our session and held me tenderly. Peter had his choice to try to feel it himself or wait for me, because whatever I was channeling at the time came to an abrupt halt as I melted in love with Snow Mountain. No one had told me mountains can love humans like that—I was quite surprised. The spirits of Snow Mountain have taught me to see more of the matrix that lies behind all the manifest world, so I suppose it should not surprise me that they can find me anywhere.
I channeled the following with Janis at the base of the mountain following our hike.
We are speaking in conjunction with your guides as some of the spirits of this mountain. This mountain is a very sacred place. As you know, Cathee, you've had quite a time on this mountain in past lives, and so therefore you have a very intense and passionate relationship with it more than you would have if everything had been rosy all the way. And in this we feel very close to you, that you have always shared your true self with this mountain, which is why you feel so loved here. You have truly been yourself here, and the return from that is being known by a mountain. It is a blessing that goes both ways, this intimacy, both to and from the mountain and you.
We would speak to your resistance to Machaelle Small Wright's idea that nature intelligence can take a form to speak to humans [such as a fairy, elf, or deva] but that such a form does not have a conscious self-identity. You're looking at the whole thing very much from the idea that to have a conscious self-identity is to be a little more immortal, and is better than not having a conscious self-identity. You're still seeing the human as better than the devic.
From the perspective of nature, the way nature takes on identity is very rich and very beautiful. The devas never lose touch with oneness. They have to an extent self-conscious identity—as you can tell with Mud that varies—but the difference is that they never lose touch with the One, and humans can (at least in their thoughts and feelings about themselves). From the perspective of oneness spreading out into myriad lifeforms in beautiful patterns, devas have a very rich experience, and a much more peaceful experience in that they haven't forgotten who they essentially are, which is the One.
It's not that one is better than the other. We have taken on different roles in this game—some have chosen to be nature, some have chosen to be human. And then there are those of you in between, which is a beautiful place to be. It's all the dance of the One. And so you love the mountain, and truly the mountain loves you back. It is not human love, but it is just as rich and beautiful, and it is truly love from this mountain that you feel—that's not your imagination. Even if the mountain does not ultimately have a soul like you do that does not mean that it cannot love you.
Addressing your question of whether a tree has a soul: it has a pattern of energy that is no more or less real than the pattern of energy that is your personality. This is partly why we pushed Cathee to study astrology, so that she would realize that the planetary forces affect the Earth herself as much as they affect the psychological patternings in humans. The psychological patternings as well as the bodies of humans are subject to certain blueprints and laws of energy formation. The sun shines and creates the winds and you feel the winds. The sun also creates certain psychological patterns and you feel those as much as you feel the weather. And the personality through which you process all that is an energy blueprint that has come from many things—it has come from astrological forces, it has come from your karma—it is an energetic blueprint just as the tree growing from the seed is an energetic blueprint. It's very similar. To the extent to which most humans identify with their personality as their soul—well, trees would have a soul too, on that level.
However, going a little deeper, you have the ability in speaking of "soul" to experience many things in many places as many incarnations, and that all connects back to a central oversoul. Do mountains have souls in that sense? It's different. It's very hard to put into words. It's not a soul. It is a mountainness that creates mountains. It is beyond an energetic principle. It is an essence of mountainness, as you could say that your soul is the essence of humanness—a mountain shares an essence of mountainness as a thought that's come out of the oneness.
The thought of humanness is quite different than the thought of mountainness, and so mountainness functions quite differently than humanness. You ones who are especially attuned to mountainness can feel a real affinity with mountainness as its original idea, as you can feel a strong identity with soulness as the soulness of humanness first came in its original idea out of the void. In exploring the relationship between mountainness and humanness, the universe created some people to embody something of both—to be able to at least imagine the essence of both. Although you feel very attuned to mountainness, when you think of the time scope of mountainness and what mountainness really involves, of course it's something that you may never totally understand, but you can perhaps embody it to some extent.
When you are at your deepest interface with nature, you are not relating on a personality level so much. You go to nature often for healing, and so the spirits work with you on your emotional, physical, and psychological levels. But the days that you're getting the deepest, closest resonance with nature, you are not working from a personality level. You are working from a deep experience of the oneness. You are in the oneness, you are the oneness, and this is love. And so on that level the polarities are even smaller than ever. The difference between a person living in their personality primarily, on a shallow level, and a tree which is buffeted by the winds and raised by the sun is a big difference. When you get down into your oneness with the tree then there's not such a big difference.
There is a wide range of experience in which people plant themselves in their self-identity. Some people see themselves primarily as their personality self, the self that dies at death, and that's who they think they are, and that's what they think the tree is, of course. How the tree sees itself . . . like we've said, the tree spirits never forget the oneness. The tree can't get lost in its identity in thinking that it is a tree separate from treeness or the All, as a human can get lost in their personality and think that they're a personality separate from the All.
Cathee, Snow Mountain is a place where you remember the oneness quite easily, and this is why we are so happy to have you here. We say "we." Of course you imagine that your guides feel happy as humans feel happy, or you sense that they understand what happiness means whether they experience it as such or not. We also are speaking as the spirits of this place—we also have something analogous to human joy. It is an opening, a sense of flow, as when we told you when you were here before and feeling the pain of leaving this place to keep things flowing in your second chakra, keep the flow there going between you and the mountain. And we say that again—keep the flow going, because for us this flow is analogous to the human emotional experience of joy, and we enjoy that very much. It is not a one way street—the human experiencing the mountain—it is a two-way flow. And we bless you with our greatest blessings, both of you, and our greatest love. This love is every bit as rich as human love that we send to you.
Life as a Nature-Human Hybrid table of contents
© Cathee Courter and Peter MacGill, text and photos. All rights reserved.