This article examines people’s narratives about their relationships with trees, focusing on how people conceptualize trees they encounter in their daily lives in terms of their sacred qualities and their capacity to have souls. It reflects on the anthropomorphic quality of trees as significant to some narrators in distinguishing whether trees are spiritual or have souls. If narrators conceptualized trees as being more human like—with feelings, a capacity to speak, bleed, drink, and get sick—they are more likely to think of them as being both spiritual and as having souls, sometimes referencing the Quran or the Bible. Other narrators struggled with distinctions between trees as spiritual entities and trees with souls, drawing on animistic ideas about souls in nonhuman life forms. Those who were more closely aligned with the new animism, in which humans and other beings are conceived of as coequivalent persons, described trees as a part of nature with a powerful energy. For them trees were critical to the identity of humans, part of a human–nonhuman system of interdependence.
"Are Trees Spiritual? Do Trees Have Souls? Narratives about Human–Tree Relationships,"
Narrative Culture: Vol. 4
, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/narrative/vol4/iss2/6