Another day, another headline blurring the line between news story and Babylon Bee satire.
A lonely woman in Canada has decided that she is in love with a tree. And not in a hippy tree-hugger way — no, she has declared herself an “ecosexual,” who is “erotically” attracted to this poor, unsuspecting tree.
Sonja Semyonova, 45, (not to be confused with the devout and unwilling prostitute from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment) is a self-professed “self-intimacy guide and somatic sex educator in training,” according to the New York Post.
Her enduring passion for this deciduous specimen apparently began during the COVID lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.
According to Breitbart News, after moving to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, in 2020, Semyonova’s atraction to this tree began when she noticed it during her daily walks. After walking, “near the tree five days a week for the whole winter. I noticed a connection with the tree,” she said.
During that lonely time, she had been “craving that rush of erotic energy that comes when you meet a new partner, and that is not sustainable.”
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Connecting with the tree seemed to satisfy that “craving,” and Semyonova opened herself to “erotic” experiences with the oak, such as “lying against it.” She explained that “[there] was an eroticism with something so big and so old holding my back.”
According to the website Here Come the Ecosexuals (indeed a real website), an ecosexual is “a person that finds nature romantic, sensual and sexy.”
But, Semyonova maintained, she doesn’t have sex with the tree, but instead insisted that her newfound ecosexuality is but another way to “explore the erotic,” Breitbart reported. According to Semyonova, “[there] are similarities between sex with people and the eroticism ecosexuals feel with nature, but they’re not the same.”
Now, there are two things happening here.
Number one, Semyonova is perpetuating an increasingly common and pervasive misconception about love in our modern world. Whatever feelings this innocent tree stirred up in Semyonova, she, like many, mistook any strong affection for love, and then identified that love specifically with erotic love.
As the great thinkers from Aristotle to C.S. Lewis recognized, there are different kinds of love us humans experience, and, unpopular as it is to say, there is a kind of hierarchy to those different kinds of love.
If we follow Lewis, who bases his account of love primarily on Aristotle, that hierarchy goes like this: There’s storge, or affection, which is an affection for familiar things that goes alongside other types of love. There’s philia, which is friendship. There’s eros, or romantic love broadly speaking, and finally, there’s agape, or charity, the highest form of love that expresses the unconditional love the Father has for His children.
Semyonova probably experienced the first kind of love, but in her loneliness and desire for a relationship, she decided her affection for this tree would suffice to fill the person, or indeed, God-sized hole in her heart.
Which brings us to number two: the United States, and indeed most of the Western world, is facing an epidemic of loneliness. Our quest for radical independence and absolute self-determination has severed us from the communities and families that helped filled this void and gave our lives purpose.
Our further repudiation of religious truth as a relic of an ignorant age has exasperated our sense of loneliness and purposelessness.
When you have nothing else to fill that void, and, like Semyonova, you are desperately lonely during a global pandemic that forbids you from even saying hello to the cashier at the grocery store, what do you do?
Bereft of all other options, you turn to what’s around you. In Semyonova’s case, she apparently came to have storge-like affection for this tree, but, seeing erotic love as the highest of all loves and living in a culture that declares a thing to have meaning by sexualizing it, she decided she had romantic feelings for this tree.
If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
If all you have is erotic love, any love becomes erotic. Even one lonely woman’s passing affection for a tree.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.