, is the author of the much-celebrated “Tao of Pooh” and the accompanying “Te of Piglet”, books which, against every publisher’s expectation and next to no marketing or promotion, became sensations in the publishing industry, bringing the basic principles of Taoism via “Winnie the Pooh “into the mainstream. Even today, both books continue to sell well nearly 30 years after they came out. Practically every person I’ve ever visited who was even remotely interested in spirituality or religion has at least the “Tao of Pooh”
sitting on their self. Copies are found easily in the second-hand bookstore networks and are often grabbed up quickly.
Hoff wrote another, less well-known but equally fascinating book called “The Singing Creek, Where the Willows Grow”
a biography of the enigmatic Opal Whitely
. Much has been written and discussed about Whitely, a child prodigy naturalist who has been described as a genius or a fraud, depending on what side of the fence you sit on. The controversy around Whitely sits around her book, “The Fairyland Around Us” where Whitely basically was able to communicate with Nature and nature spirits directly and she described these interactions in detail.
Opal led a very unconventional life, being able to memorize huge tracts of writing on plants and animals and grew up to be a charismatic lecturer and speaker on the natural world. She was in demand everywhere she went. She even spent time in India as the guest of the Maharaja of Udaipur. Suffering a head injury during the London bombings during World War II, Opal eventually was committed to the Napsbury Psychiatric Hospital where she died penniless and nearly forgotten in 1992. She is buried at Highgate Cemetery and her gravestone reads, “I spake as a child.” Nowadays, there are online memorials, a 2009 film, YouTube videos of tours through her stomping grounds in the Oregon wilderness, and even a hiking trail and bike path which follows the sites where some of the events in her books took place.
Opal Whitely as a young woman
Personally, after reading “The Singing Creek”, my own impression is that the diary is true. Diverse cultures around the world attest to the existence of nature spirits, whether they are called devas in India, the Little People
among Native tribes, the Fairies
of the Celtic world, the Sidhe of Scotland or the Djinn of the Islamic faith. There are books and volumes written on their characteristics, their organization, their different classes, (gnomes, sylphs, salamanders, spirits of air etc.), their areas of habitation, their manners and so on.
“Twilight Fantasy” By Edward Robert Hughes
“Midsummer Eve” by Edward Robert Hughes
My own thinking follows this: if we believe in a multi-dimensional world and we now know scientists have proven that up to 14 dimensions exist mathematically in theory (we just don’t experience all of them), then what is there to say that just because we can’t quantify something with our crude instruments (which are based on 4 dimensional mathematics and physics), that it doesn’t exist in a dimension we can neither quantify nor record in….yet? I also have to admit a small part of me would love these things to be true since I still have a fondness for fairy tales and I think, a belief in these beings helps to reinforce a worldview which is open, innocent, fluid and still full of wonder.
The Scottish mathematician and scientist Robert Ogilvie Crombie (1899-1975), better known as Roc, led a life of scientific inquiry until illness forced him out of a career in academia. Roc is probably best known as one of the founders of the Findhorn Foundation, an intentional community and eco-village in northern Scotland. He was the elderly Scottish gentleman who claimed he spoke with nature spirits. As a scientist, hermetic magician, and a researcher of the psychic realms, he was in many ways a key figure in the history of esotericism (white magic) in the twentieth century. He is not as famous as his darker counterparts like Aleister Crowley because he worked in solitude and privacy. He did not write books or manuals and he did not take students or attempt to found a group or an esoteric school. Imagine a modern-day Gandalf wearing tweeds and corduroy, walking through the Scottish Highlands with his walking stick. His friend, David Spangler had this to say about him:
“Roc was a loving and gentle man, a wondrous story-teller, a musician, and an embodiment of the best of Scottish charm. He was the wise old man, the grandfatherly figure children adore and the magician who guides heroes and heroines on their paths to accomplishment. He was a man of culture who had one foot in this world and one foot in the world of spirits and mystery”
ROC, from the Findhorn page
At the age of 63 according to his book “The Gentleman and the Faun” (which is a delightful read incidentally), Roc had an encounter with Pan, the nature spirit of old Greek mythology at the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. The book chronicles how Pan and the nature spirits went on to teach Roc about ley lines, power spots in the British Isles, both known (Isle of Iona) and unknown (The Falls of Rogie) which affect the natural balance of forces in this world and how man’s relationship to nature is of paramount importance.
Robert Ogilvie Crombie
Pan explained that the reason why fewer and fewer people actually see or experience either the sight or presence of Nature spirits now is that they have simply retreated and are in deep anger towards mankind for what we’ve done to their world with all our manmade pollution, subdivisions, landfills, logging, deforestation, oil spills and mining (can’t say I blame them). That mankind needs to rebuild that trust by respecting nature again instead of exploiting it and needs to reverse the hierarchy of Man over Nature to Nature over Man.
Because of his involvement in the founding of the Findhorn community, he was also briefly highlighted in Louis Malle’s film “My Dinner with Andre” (from 3:38 onwards in the clip). Findhorn is especially known for their gardens, in a sandy, rocky and cold pocket of Scotland. They were able to produce vegetables and fruits in large sizes and quantities which normally should never grow in such a climate but did because the Findhorn community took their gardening and planting directions from the devas, the nature spirits themselves.
Roc wrote that Pan told him that the nature spirits are responsible for whether a plant produces something or not, that if the spirit was ill or angry, the plant it was attached to would not thrive and fail to produce anything.
(It’s enough to make you look at your trees, garden and houseplants in a completely different way….)
I’ll leave the last word to Roc….
“To anyone who may have expressed a wish to see and talk to nature spirits, whether or not they dropped a penny into a wishing well, remember it took sixty three years for my wish to be granted – so don’t lose hope.”
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