Connecting with the Subtle Realms -- Why?

David Nicol

I want to share some thoughts today about the deeper significance and meaning of connecting with subtle realms and the beings who inhabit them.

When I first began my spiritual journey, the emphasis was on realizing the pure, silent awareness that I am at the depths of my being. When we allow our consciousness to settle, to relax its identification with the stream of content moving through our minds, our awareness turns toward itself and realizes its nature as pure consciousness — silent, aware, peaceful beyond understanding. Abiding in that awareness gives rise to the recognition that this same purity exists at the depths of everyone, and indeed everything — that the source of my consciousness is none other than the source of all. In this way we come to know in our depths the oneness of existence, whose fragrance is love.

This is the classic mystical path and insight. Its truths are profound, universal, and eternal.

At a certain point in my journey, however, I found myself increasingly drawn to connect with subtle and sacred dimensions of reality other than pure Source. I wanted, for instance, to be in deeper relationship with the inner dimensions of nature — the particular wisdom and being-ness of a tree, or a forest, or a river (or a human). I also was very curious to explore the subtle realms and the mysterious beings that one can encounter there. There are those we have names for, such as the ancestors, nature spirits, devas, fairies, and other beings related to the Earth realm, or the light beings associated with higher dimensions, such as the angelic realm. And there are many other forms that can appear that don’t seem to fit easily into these categories.

In hindsight, I think that my impulse to explore the subtle realms came about largely from a growing desire deep within me to know and to love the Earth, in all its multidimensional depths. But I can also understand it in reverse terms, that it was the Earth herself — and indeed all of creation — calling to me, inviting me into more intimate relationship with her and her mysteries.

It’s not hard to recognize that my personal evolution in this regard reflects a shift that has also been taking place in collective human awareness. The Earth is calling all of us to wake up from our trance of separation and to remember our interconnectedness with the greater web of life, so that we may find a (narrow) way through our planetary meta-crisis.  This profound shift is part of the deep feminine wisdom emerging in our times, and it has implications for all human endeavors, including our spiritual journeys.

Many mystical traditions regard experiences of subtle realm phenomena as distractions from their one-pointed focus on God or Source-Realization. Relatedly, they have tended to de-emphasize the sacred dimensions of the Earth, the wisdom of the body, and the creative and transformative power of Eros. They have not, as a rule, developed teachings to address issues of social justice or collective trauma. They have typically condemned the use of ceremonial plant medicines as dangerously impure.  In all of these attitudes we can recognize a patriarchal mindset that devalues the feminine principle and/or mistrusts Her as a dangerous temptress. 

This traditional view is giving way in our times to a rising spiritual sensibility that seeks to connect all the parts and dimensions of life with each other. Where the focus is on developing new and deeper capacities of relational intelligence that allow us to heal the wounds that have separated us from each other and the wider community of life.

With this emerging sensibility, the goal of our spiritual activities is changing. Instead of understanding our spiritual work primarily as an inner, private, individual journey toward Source-realization or unity consciousness, the focus is shifting to the development of relational fields with emergent creative capacities and healing powers that serve not only personal but also cultural and collective transformation. The spiritual goal of this emerging era could be conceived as a more embodied, pragmatic, and distributed realization of unity consciousness, manifesting throughout our personal, social, economic, and political lives. The inner and outer realms are coming closer together, as are the personal and the collective. We are engaged in a profound process together of helping to reconnect human civilization with the natural intelligence of life, and this project has become in our times not some esoteric fantasy but an evolutionary imperative. We will not be able to engineer our way out of our multi-faceted systemic challenges while remaining in our current default consciousness of separation. Only through a profound re-alignment of human culture with the whole of life will we be able to access and embody the holistic solution patterns for the meta-crisis.

It is in this context that we can understand the deeper significance of exploring the subtle realms and the beings we encounter there. Making contact with these realms is an integral part of the project to restore our connection with the entire ecology of life, which includes not merely the physical dimensions of nature, but also its subtle, energetic, and magical aspects. These realms help us to remember that nature is not merely a collection of dead objects, but alive and sentient — and related to us in a much more personal and familial way than we have generally permitted ourselves to feel. The very process of attuning our awareness to these subtler frequencies develops our relational capacities and sensitivities, while activating the magical dimensions of our own being. And the meeting of human consciousness with nature’s spiritual intelligence may be key to discovering the kind of Earth (and human) friendly technologies and systems that can form the basis of the emerging era.

I want to be clear that we can affirm the significance of the emerging feminine relational intelligence while also honoring the indispensable contribution of the mystical traditions to the evolution of consciousness. Indeed, it was precisely the sincerity, purity, and power of the masculine one-pointed focus on God or Source consciousness that first enabled humanity to pierce the transcendent dimension of reality, opening up profoundly liberating possibilities in human awareness and experience, spawning entire religions, cultures, and epochs in world history, and leading to radical ethical, social, and political advances that today we very much take for granted. Part of the genius of the rising feminine relational intelligence is its capacity to connect all the parts of reality with each other, including the one-pointed masculine awareness. One of the ways the feminine can lead in this new era is by helping to ground the transcendent consciousness cultivated by the mystical traditions in sources in the Earth and the natural world from which the masculine awareness has been largely disconnected. In turn, the one-pointed masculine consciousness can realize its own deepest bravery by turning fully toward the feminine, the Earth, and the Cosmos, and offering itself to these realms so completely that it is willing to die into the creation, in the absolute trust that in doing so something new and magnificent will be born. It is in the interpenetration of these intelligences — the feminine relational and the masculine one-pointed, the shamanic and the mystical, the Many and the One — where I believe the most fertile ground of today’s spiritual exploration lies.

Next month I will share more about what I have been learning about connecting with the subtle realms, including how our realization of unity or source consciousness shapes how we understand and experience those encounters.

Gaian Blessings,
David Nicol

Originally shared at[UNIQID]