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Searching for Nymphs: The Power of Belief

When I was a child, every summer I would visit the family farm in upstate New York, sometimes spending the entire season in the old farmhouse that had no running water and seemed to be right out of the nineteenth century. As soon as we arrived, I would tear off across the pastures to a creek than ran through the farm and could be known by the small, hanging willow trees that edged its progress through the cow piles and patches of grass. Nothing gave me more pleasure than simply sitting by the side of that stream—we called it “the crick”—absorbed in the private lives of polliwogs, minnows, and an occasional water snake.Years later at Syracuse University, not far from the old homestead, I studied Greek spirituality in some depth and was intrigued by the ancient attention to spirits of nature. I came to believe that the Greeks were highly sophisticated in their religious views, including their piety toward nymphs, whose presence they felt in all kinds of flowing streams and pooling waters. I knew right away what they were talking about, because I had experienced nymphs at that old crick on the fa …

Thomas Moore is the New York Times best-selling author of Care of the Soul, as well as many other books on deepening soul and cultivating a mature spiritual life, three of which have received the Books for a Better Life Award. At turns he has been a monk, a musician, a university professor, a psychotherapist, and an S&H columnist. 

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