The Forest Analogy

In a recent discussion the line between “God” and “Not God” became the subject of a rather heated debate. In my opinion the distinction is not one of power but of vision. I came up with an analogy to explain what I meant and thought I’d post it here as well – I like how it turned out!

I’ll use the analogy of a forest.

A given Land Spirit will be intimately connected to, say, a certain tree. That Spirit will know everything there is to know about that tree: know how to help it grow, know how to sustain it, and know how to end it once its time has passed. If I want information about that tree I’ll ask the Spirit – who better? But if you ask the Spirit what’s happening on the other side of the hill It couldn’t tell you, because the tree is all It knows.

I can see many trees as I walk along my path, and rivers and flowers and animals too, but I see only the surface – I don’t know any of them intimately. And I only know what I’ve seen and experienced along the way.

Ancestors know not only the path I’ve walked, They know every path in the whole forest. Their information isn’t necessarily any deeper than mine, but it is much more extensive. They also get the whole thing of being human – They know when I need to rest, how important it is to find water, and why I’m scared out here in the forest at night. If I want to make camp I’ll ask the Ancestors for assistance, because They know what will work best. However, They don’t know the paths that haven’t been walked yet, and They don’t know anything beyond the forest.

Gods see the forest in its entirety, and They see how that forest relates to the mountains and deserts and seas. It’s like They can see the whole map, and this allows Them to give me amazing guidance. But a God doesn’t understand what it’s like to walk along the path with your own two feet, and how tired and hungry you can get as you go. And They certainly don’t get the specifics of each individual tree.

All of these entities have their own wisdom to share, and ultimately I think all of Them directly influence my growth. The Ancestors know where I’ve been and offer history, the Land Spirits know where I’m standing at the eternal “now”, and Gods know where I’m going and can see future potentials. To my way of thinking emphasizing one over another is counterproductive, as all three perspectives are equally important to my long-term spiritual development. It really is a case where bigger is not necessarily better.

And if ANY of Them ask me to do something or make a suggestion in Their area of expertise I’ll pay strict attention, because They are all wiser in Their particular areas than I.

This concept is why I try so hard to maintain a balance in my devotional practices. All three viewpoints are equally valid, so by opening myself to all of them I can get a better understanding than focusing on just one would allow. And ultimately this becomes a devotional to my Lady as well, because part of my utility for Her is suggesting alternative perspectives. A balanced devotional practice is key to making that possible.

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