The connection between earth, nature and man has been understood since the dawn of Homo sapiens in Africa over 200,000 years ago. When man saw rainbows after a rainstorm, he interpreted them as benevolent serpents in the sky. Early shamans or sages became the visionaries; these were the medicine men and women who helped their tribe interpret these signs from nature. They had the ability to sense the energy of the land, plants and animals. They knew how to read the stars and connect with the directions of the wind. They were able to use these insights to guide their tribes out of Africa and to populate the world. As mankind encountered new animals and plants, it learned from them. They saw that plants and animals held knowledge, just as their ancestors did. They believed in contacting these ancestor spirits for guidance and assistance during hard times. This gave them the ability to bring new insights to their life or to identify healing herbs for certain illnesses. Many cultures saw trees as a way to travel to the past, present or the future. Trees were seen as gateways to other worlds. Shamans understood that everything was interconnected and interdependent; they taught the importance of honoring all aspects of life, death, birth and rebirth. Everything from stones, animals, trees, and water were seen as sacred and honored for their gifts.
“In the beginning of all things, wisdom and knowledge were with the animals and trees.” – Pawnee Chief