Atala Toy, interdimensional communicator, and Richard Smoley, Editor of the Theosophical Society’s Quest Magazine, went for a walk. They explored the nature spirits at the Theosophical Society’s American Headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois. Following is the article on the walk that appeared in their Messenger newsletter.
A Visit with the Nature Spirits of Olcott by Richard Smoley
It’s not always easy to feel connected with nature in our hypertechnological age, even when nature is close at hand. So when Theosophical Society president Tim Boyd told me that he had been taken on a tour of the Olcott property to visit its nature spirits, it seemed like a good idea to follow his example.
My guide (like Tim’s) was our local expert in this area, Atala Dorothy Toy, whose book Nature Guides, Spirits, and Ghosts: How to Talk with and Photograph Beings of Other Realms, was published by Quest Books in 2012. Atala and I met on a brisk early-spring morning and wandered around the property for a couple of hours. As I’d expected, my eyes were opened to all sorts of things that I had never seen merely wandering around the grounds on my own.
Atala began by a brief invocation to H.P. Blavatsky, who, Atala said, was always “in charge” of Olcott. “What we see is what she wants us to see,” Atala added. During this minute or two, I had a mental glimpse of a roguish and amused Blavatsky with kinky blond hair.
How do you see nature spirits in trees? You use pareidolia, a faculty of the mind that enables you to see patterns in objects where none supposedly exist. It’s how we see faces and shapes and animals in water, rocks, and tree trunks. Conventional psychology regards this faculty as pure imagination, but if it is used in a certain way, it can open you up to subtler realities of which conventional psychology is unaware.
To take one example from our tour, Atala indicated a tree facing a statue of the Virgin Mary on the property and showed me an image of the Virgin, along with a “familiar,” an assisting spirit. “Trees like to express their environment,” she observes, and so create forms, such as burls, in their bark to reflect what they experience. I could see the figures she described, although my immediate impression had been that of an energy like that of an octopus. Atala explained that various people will see different images and aspects of the trees’ energy. Overall her experiences of the nature spirit were more visual (she took many photographs), while mine were more kinesthetic. It’s possible that with the pine tree, I was simply picking up certain tendrils of energy that it was extending toward me.
In other cases, our impressions jibed more closely. There is a small glade of trees on the property near the front driveway, with a small circle of stones benches. Atala pointed out to me that three of the trees in this area had split trunks, each one thus forming the shape of a vesica piscis or mandorla. Hence, she said, the energy here was very feminine. She noticed a vortex of energy among these three and suggested that I go and stand on it. She had also told me that the pagans had used this type of tree to transmit psychic energy, so I made a point of sending blessings and peace. Atala said that my personal aura shot out quite a distance at that point, partly, perhaps, because of a resonance between the glade’s feminine energy and my masculine energy. She showed me another vortex near a fire pit on the property, which I experienced as less powerful.
Although my experiences on this tour were positive, certain dark notes surfaced. In one instance, Atala suggested that I go to one older tree and put my back up against it. (This is how you contact a tree’s energy.) The impression that I got had to do with a murder that took place on the grounds in 1996. (Theosophists were not involved.) The tree may have witnessed this crime, or some portion of it, and seemed genuinely curious about it. “We didn’t know humans did those things,” it seemed to be saying. It also seemed to be asking for an explanation, but all I could come up with was “We humans don’t know ourselves why we do these things.”
Another tree, near the front entrance and right outside the residents’ wing, had a nurturing, bovine quality, according to Atala. My experience was not quite the same. “This tree feels as if it’s been shot at,” I told her. Images of the Catholic saint Sebastian, pictured as riddled with arrows, came to mind. Obviously I was not suggesting that someone with a rifle had used the tree for target practice, but I did have a strong sense that it had taken many hits. It occurred to me that these may have had to do with certain grievances and hostilities that had manifested among the staff at Olcott over the decades. Although visitors overwhelmingly report that the property has a beautiful, serene quality, the staff here are human like anyone else, and the tree, located just outside the main building, may have taken some psychic blows from them (or perhaps I should say us).
But the chief theme that surfaced was that of the Green Man, whose image we kept seeing on many trees. Atala finally said she knew why: it had to do with my interests. The Green Men are the philosophers among nature spirits and are naturally drawn to someone interested in philosophy. “If I had come here with my son, an Air Force pilot,” she said, “the energy would have been very different—much more military.”
It may be that the prevailing energy at Olcott is masculine. This at any rate is the view of clairvoyant Robyn Finseth, with whom I chatted when she was visiting the week before my tour with Atala. “The devas are well-established at Olcott,” she said, “just as established as they are at Indralaya,” the Theosophical center on Washington state’s Orcas Island. “But,” said Robyn, “they have a more masculine energy here. At Indralaya, they’re more feminine.”
Although I wasn’t a complete novice with nature spirits, I’d never really managed to connect with those on the Olcott property, even after working here for almost nine years. I was grateful to have as capable and gracious a guide as Atala. Of course I know there is an endless amount more that I could learn.