As the crisp air of a new year settles in, many of us are filled with resolutions and a desire for fresh beginnings. Perhaps, nestled amongst your goals for fitness and productivity, lies a yearning for a deeper connection with the natural world. If so, then prepare to embark on a wondrous journey, for I bring you three literary companions guaranteed to ignite your love for nature in 2024 and beyond.
1. To Speak for the Trees: My Life’s Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest by Diana Beresford-Kroeger
Renowned botanist Diana Beresford-Kroeger embarks on a captivating autobiography that intertwines her personal awakening with the profound wisdom of trees. Through her lens, we discover the secrets of the forest – from the intricate communication networks beneath the soil to the trees’ role as silent guardians of our planet’s health. This book is a passionate plea for environmental stewardship, urging us to listen to the ancient whispers of the woods and find solace in their verdant embrace.
How It Changed Me:
This book deepened my relationship and reverence for trees a thousand-fold. I love how Diana begins with her traumatic childhood, leading her to an older generation of women who rallied around her and taught her the old Celtic ways of life. Ways of life that are fading out now in this modern world. Myths, traditions, words, and how to truly see all living things, which she now shares with us. But Diana gave me more than the old ways, and the story of her life, but a renewed sense of awe for something so many of us take for granted. Trees.
Being a scientist, Diana delves into the science of trees, how they grow, how they help each other and other species, including us humans, and what we need to do to make sure they don’t disappear. Be sure to watch the beautiful movie The Call of the Forest by her too.
2. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
In this lyrical blend of memoir and ecological wisdom, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer, a member of the Potawatomi Nation, weaves together her ancestral knowledge with scientific understanding. Through poignant reflections on her experiences in the natural world, she reveals the interconnectedness of all living things. From the delicate dance of bees among pollen-laden blossoms to the resilience of maples tapped for their sweet sap, Kimmerer’s words resonate with a deep reverence for the Earth and its gifts.
How It Changed Me:
As a certified forest therapy guide, and all around lover of nature, I thought I had gone as deep as I could with my relationship with the Untamed World. But after reading Braiding Sweetgrass, it reawakened me to the delicate and wonderful way we are all connected, something that lives in my daily conscious and I deeply value.
Robin spends a great time teaching us how to respect and value nature not as a resource or commodity, but as living beings who are there for us, and yet need us to respect and protect them. Asking instead of taking is just one way she teaches us to see how we are all interconnected in this world.
We, as humans, were created and born in nature. For eons, we lived in nature. Nature provided everything we ate, used, and needed. As time has gone on, our connection, our link with nature, has frayed and broken. Now, we live in the gray data-driven tech world where many green spaces are endangered or abused.
Robin shows us how to partner with nature and be the quiet advocate and guardian it needs, just like nature does for us. Be sure to listen to the audiobook version by her. Her voice is a balm to your heart that will fill you will hope.
3. Our Guide to Forest Bathing (Expanded Edition): Experience the Healing Power of Nature by M. Amos Clifford
Step into the serene embrace of the forest with M. Amos Clifford’s practical guide to forest bathing. Drawing inspiration from the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, Clifford outlines a series of mindful exercises and activities designed to help you reconnect with nature’s restorative power. Immerse yourself in the rustling leaves, breathe in the scent of pine needles, and let the dappled sunlight dance on your skin. This book is your invitation to slow down, listen deeply, and discover the profound healing magic that lies within the embrace of the woods.
How It Changed Me:
This is the book that started a quiet revolution in my depressed, stressed, and hopeless feeling mind. I had heard about “forest bathing” for a while by the time I got to this book, and in reading it, Amos showed me how to practice forest therapy on my own. Practicing forest therapy, or forest bathing, not only became my top anti-depressant tool for better mental wellness, but taught me how to delve into embodiment and the imaginal sense.
I loved it so much I became a certified forest therapy guide, through the organization he created, The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs, or ANFT for short. Now, helping other people reduce stress, reduce anxiety, and gain attention restoration, has become another tool in my anti-depression status, for I truly love helping people feel better through nature.
So, my dear Valkyries, as you turn the first page of these remarkable books, prepare to be whisked away by the whispering wisdom of trees, the vibrant tapestry of ecological relationships, and the transformative power of mindful immersion in nature. Let 2024 be the year you discover the boundless beauty and healing embrace of the natural world.
Remember, these are just three suggestions to get you started. There are countless other books waiting to be discovered, each holding the potential to deepen your connection with the Earth and The More Than Human world. So, venture forth, explore with an open heart, and allow the magic of nature to work its wonder on your soul.
Happy reading, and happy reconnecting with nature with these must-reads for nature lovers!
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