Two-bit guru - Subtle energies - Photo of Pole Beans - Green, leaves, trellis -

When, decades ago, I first heard about the Devas, I thought the people who dreamed them up must have been crazy, stupid, drugged, impractical, or all four. It wasn’t only the Devas. It was the nature deities and the elementals as well, gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders (apparently not the salamanders from biology class but the ones with mythical qualities). Ethereal creatures who protect plants and help them grow? How flaky can you get?

Some time after I first encountered the Devas, I met up with the Subtle Energies, at least in name. I actually couldn’t feel the subtle energies, even though other people said they did. If you ask what these subtle energies feel like, they say, Well, you know, subtle energies. Yeah, sure.

When other people experience something that you don’t, it’s not a huge leap to believe that for whatever reason these Deva-heads and that ilk are dead-wrong.

As my knowledge of nature in general, and my practice of organic gardening in particular, grew, I learned about Rudolf Steiner, the chap who invented Anthroposophy, Waldorf Schools, Eurythmics, and Biodynamics. Steiner taught that the energies of the sun, moon, and planets supported the development of plant and animal life on earth. According to Steiner, if you bury manure in cow horns over winter, dig them up in the spring, then mix the composted manure with water, and stir a certain way, you don’t get another form of woo-woo oogie-boogie. You get a miraculous homeopathic treatment for the soil.

Steiner referred to himself as a spiritual scientist. As such, he insisted that others prove the validity of his ideas. He was a game-changer for me.

I began to feel the subtle goodness of being close to the plants in the garden. During my meditations, the first subtle energy I felt was what you feel when you hold a cat close to your chest. Somebody had been dead-wrong all right. It was me. I hadn’t allowed space in the universe for any beliefs other than my own.

When humans try to get a grip on the essence of things, we create models to describe our interpretation. According to one model of physics some subatomic particles move backward in time. According to some mystics, Devas protect the growth of the pole beans. According to someone else, the spirits are better thought of as energies. According to me, we ought to find unity by expanding our awareness to accept others’ models of the universe along with our own.