Modern Observations of the Natural World - Elements and the Living Universe

Wicca Natural Magic Kit: The Sun, The Moon, and The Elements, Elemental Magic, Moon Magic, and Wheel of the Year Magic - Lisa Chamberlain 2018

Modern Observations of the Natural World
Elements and the Living Universe

Interestingly, some discoveries in the scientific fields seem to support aspects of the animistic perspective.

For example, it was demonstrated in the late 19th century by physicists Pierre and Jaques Currie that certain crystals, such as quartz and tourmaline, are piezoelectric. This means they can generate an electric charge when mechanical stress is applied, such as tapping them with a hammer. Some crystals also exhibit a pyroelectric effect, releasing an electric charge when exposed to a temperature change.

While these phenomena can be illustrated and described in purely “mechanical” terms, they also seem to point to a larger reality of crystals—that they are “alive” and participating in the ongoing creative force of the Universe in ways we can’t see with the naked eye.

The practice of using crystals for emotional and physical healing, which dates back to ancient times and has seen a resurgence in recent decades, is rooted in this idea, and while their effectiveness has yet to be demonstrated by traditional scientific methods, there is plenty of testimony among users of these alternative healing modalities.

Another seeming convergence between scientific thought and the animistic paradigm is found in our evolving understanding of plant biology.

In the 1970s, a book called The Secret Life of Plants, by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, described various experiments involving plants connected to polygraph machines. The machines registered the plants’ apparent responses to the thoughts of people nearby, as well as to destructive behavior, such as stomping on another plant, an event that was apparently remembered by the plant “witness” after the fact. The book was widely discredited as “pseudo-science,” but it helped promote the idea that plants are somehow influenced by external stimuli that would seem to have no logical effect on their behavior.

In the 21st century, some researchers are arguing that plants actually exhibit intelligence in various ways. For example, in one recent experiment, a plant exposed to a recording of a caterpillar chewing on a leaf produced chemicals used to defend against attack. In another, plants roots were observed to grow toward a buried pipe that was dry on the outside, but contained flowing water. Plants have at least three times the number of distinct senses as human beings, which enable them to sense and respond to everything in their environments, including chemicals in the air, different wavelengths of light, and other plant life in their vicinity.

One of the more fascinating discoveries has been the networks of “information exchange” observed in forests.

Scientists have been able to track the flow of nutrients and chemical signals exchanged along pathways through a “web” of fungi living underground. These studies have shown that older trees will share nutrients with younger trees that are still too shaded to get enough sunlight on their own, and that trees of one species will actually “cooperate” with other species by trading nutrients back and forth at different points in the growing season.

There has been intense debate among researchers in the plant sciences regarding the word “intelligence” as applied to plant life. Many scientists associate this word strictly with animals, and prefer terms like “electrical signaling” to anything that might suggest neurological activity, even though neurotransmitter chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin have been found in plants. But this is really an argument over the traditional scientific classifications of living organisms. The observed behavior of the plants themselves is not in dispute, and it offers an unprecedented glimpse into the invisible realms of the “inanimate” world.

Finally, there has been much interest in recent years in the work and publications of Dr. Masaro Emoto, a Japanese social scientist who turned his attention in the 1990s to the study of water.

Starting with the knowledge that no two snowflakes are identical, Emoto sought to find a way to view the molecular structure of water by freezing small samples of water from various sources, and then viewing it under a microscope as it began to thaw. After some trial and error, he was successful—hexagonal crystals emerged under the microscope, expanding three dimensionally as the water began to thaw, and then disappearing as the water returned to liquid form.

Emoto then began to experiment by using different stimuli on the water before freezing it, to see whether the appearance of the crystals would be affected. In particular, he tried exposing the water samples to visual images, verbal and written messages in various languages, as well as music and prayer.

The results he shared were astounding to many: water which had been subjected to positive messages and prayer formed more complete, aesthetically pleasing crystals, while water which had been exposed to negative messaging and negative emotions produced less complete and misshapen crystals.

Emoto documented these experiments with photographs that were published in a series of books called Messages From Water, along with his interpretations of the results: that water responds to the energetic charge of words, thoughts, emotions, and even art forms. Since water makes up around 70% of the human body, the implications for our own well-being when it comes to thoughts and feelings are important.

Another significant finding was that the source of the water being examined made a difference—water from more pristine sources, such as a waterfall in rural Japan, produced higher-quality crystals and with more consistency than tap water from urban sources, which tended not to produce any at all.

Emoto described the phenomena he observed in the context of his theory of “Hado,” a term based on the Japanese ideograms for both “move” and “wave.” Hado is essentially the subatomic vibrational quality of all matter in the Universe. It can be thought of as similar to “chi,” but Hado as a concept is more centered on the relationship between human consciousness and the rest of existence.

The theory of Hado recognizes that thoughts and feelings are physical matter, and that changing our own vibrational energy can change the material world. Using this concept, Emoto and a few hundred of his supporters performed a prayer healing of a large, polluted lake in West Japan that resulted in significant reduction of the algae and odor that have plagued the lake every summer for decades. Emoto has used his discoveries to promote the importance of taking care of our water as a global resource.

Of course, conventional science has dismissed Emoto’s work due to its lack of sufficient adherence to the scientific method. Emoto doesn’t claim that his work meets these standards, but the results have been astounding enough to defy any “rational” explanation that the scientific model can currently offer. But in the realm of quantum physics, the theory of Hado doesn’t appear to be so far-fetched.

It has parallels with ideas in newer, more cutting-edge scientific theories that also recognize the vibrational nature of matter and describe the most fundamental “building block” of matter as being, essentially, information, or “mental energy.”

One physicist, Nick Herbert, has argued that mind permeates all of reality, and actually uses the term “quantum animism” to describe this fundamental quality of the Universe. Indeed, it seems that Descartes’ conviction that mind is separate from matter, which has been so entrenched in Western scientific thought, is now being turned on its head.