Speaking of Animism…

Oh, we weren’t? Sorry, I have conversations in my head all the time.

So, I’m driving along the other day, listening to a podcast, and one of the hosts said “we share 50% of our DNA with trees.” Say what? She also mentioned that we share 25% of our DNA with daffodils. I felt a blog post coming…but first I had to verify this was true. And I discovered where she must have found her information—from an article at The DNA Test website. I urge you to read it, yourself, because it goes into how much DNA we share with many creatures. (70% with slugs, by the way. Maybe that’s why I’m low energy so often….)

But, I’m really fascinated by the tree statistic. Because I have a real affinity for trees. And knowing that I share DNA with them just blesses my socks off. They were my faithful companions growing up. I even wrote a story loosely based on that relationship after I discovered a tree that I would have climbed if I had met it as a child. It’s the photo at the top of the story I linked to. I had an apple tree with a similar sitting limb (not as long, but low enough to climb onto) in my yard. And two pine trees growing together in a v-shape that I would shimmy up with my feet on one tree, my butt on the other. We built worlds under that v-tree, as we called it, in its shade where no other plants grew. And then there was a red cedar tree I would sit under and daydream—watching nature around me, especially the playful squirrels, my back against its trunk. It was a happy place for me. In hindsight, a spiritual place, really.

As I wrote that last sentence, I decided to look up the symbolism of the Red Cedar. Pretty sure it was an Eastern Red Cedar, because it wasn’t a huge tree. It was actually a perfectly-sized companion for a child. I found that many Native American tribes think of the Cedar as The Tree of Life. It is considered one of their four sacred plants, the others being sage, tobacco, and sweetgrass. Cedar has meanings of strength and protection. A lot of sources I found talk about Western Red Cedar, a larger tree, where one article said it was believed that just by sitting with your back against the trunk of a cedar, you would gather strength. It is also believed to bring healing and promote peace. I can testify that I found peace sitting under my cedar tree. I felt sheltered there.

I was in the bookstore recently and found a book called The Hidden Life of Trees, What They Feel, How They Communicate, by Peter Wohlleben. I have yet to read it, but after learning about our shared DNA, it is now at the top of my reading pile.

So, back to animism, where all that makes up this earth is considered to have a soul. I do believe that, and now I believe it even more. We aren’t so unique, we humans. We are part of a common creation, the web of life, with a certain intelligence that is just different than the intelligences of the other souls around us. Or maybe, like DNA, we actually share some of our intelligence with other creatures. Different, yet the same.

Red Cedar photo courtesy of Dendroica cerulea via Flickr, Creative Commons license

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