Who would you look to as perfect living examples of balance, generosity and healing? Who will offer you a pathway to the stars, to reach into the inner cosmos of Earth. Who can unfailingly give you the most fundamental requirements of shelter, warmth, food and medicines? Such beings are real, they do exist, right now, here in our midst……
They have inhabited this Earth for nearly 400 million years – they preceded dinosaurs by 140 million years – before them there were no reptiles or amphibians. They are expert natural energy bio-condensers who radically altered the climate, reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, causing temperatures to drop and preparing the terrestrial surface environment for the emergence and evolution of animals and insects – through their arrival the planet quickly began to assimilate living conditions very similar to the present-day.
Their children have carried forward their ability to transform, nurture and, literally, inspire Life into our times – and yet we massacre them daily – through this, we contribute to climatic degradation and our own demise – for a thorough over view see this link
we love them too, so why do we treat our dear friends so – they are the Standing People – the Trees, living symbols of Life. It is our greatest challenge as a species to respect Life AND to, as a species, act accordingly – we devolve into failure unless we do so – so, if we could but take a few steps back from our madness and listen to them what would the Standing People tell us………..
…….if we lived by our hearts we would know them instantly – they would offer us a chance at rebirth as they are the midwives of terrestrial life, our relatives and elders, beloved and wise – they would fill us with wonder as they cradle the stars in their arms, as they pulse with the Sun and flow with the Moon – they would pick us up, raise our spirits, as they dance with the wind and fill us with their songs – they would cleanse our bodies and heal our souls, as they give us the breath of Life and give back to us the sacred meeting place – they would inspire us to compassion, as they teach us of selfless giving, carry our prayers, heal our bodies – we would dance with them that we may come alive
“…….our DNA is made of the same DNA as the tree – the tree breathes what we exhale – when the tree exhales we need what the tree exhales – so, we have a common destiny with the tree…….” – Floyd Red Crow Westerman
Trees are powerful and highly evolved beings – the closer we become in our relationships with them, the more they stimulate our finer sensibilities, our deeper connections with Life and the Cosmos. They can transform our consciousness. As elder representatives of Nature they offer us a continual example of symbiotic relationship and environmental stewardship – they provide a wonderous variety of species with the essential habitat that fosters diversity and evolution. They too have evolved through this – Oaks, for example, have developed into around 450 species worldwide and, in the UK, the Oak provides a home for more co-habiting organisms than any other tree. Over 300 different kinds of Lichen alone have been found growing on Oaks in Europe and Lichen is a good indicator of air quality – infact the role of trees as indicators of balance within the health of ecosystems has given them a unique place within the consciousness and cultures of peoples worldwide.
No matter where we find trees they bring a sense of wellbeing and belonging, a reminder to those dwelling amongst the hard surfaces and sharp angles of the over-humanised environment of the flow and flux of Nature. For many living beneath the forest canopy the world is immediate, the horizon close by, the natural world a living matrix of vital energies. One western man who spent his life within the community of trees and was able to both discern and develop a profound understanding of these vital energies was the Austrian forester Victor Schauberger.
The son of a forester from a long lineage reaching back to the Germanic tribes Victor was born into the world of forest lore and the practical know-how of arboreal stewardship – he had a knack of perceiving the subtle and invisible energies at work in Nature. Through a mix of patient observation and inspired curiousity he made of his life a meditation on the living energies that manifest the mind of Nature through the trees and rivers, infused with the powers of Sun, Moon and Earth. Trees spoke to him, and he read their messages as energy. He came to realise that trees bridged the material and subtle realms, responding to the rhythms of Life, both sending and receiving waves of intelligent energy. Callum Coats book “Living Energies” is a itself a dedicated translation and thorough assimilation of the essense of Victor’s work.
The outer reaches of a tree’s canopy and roots transmute ever more subtle gradations of material energy units until they become pure information – the mind of the tree extends beyond its physical body, its intelligence reaching into the transpersonal, its whole being a synaptic complex of consciousness in communication. This is to describe a being that is fully awake, that is able to communicate with both inner and outer Cosmos – when trees enter the inward looking times of Autumn into Winter they focus their consciousness on the dreaming worlds, the dreamtime. Through this they teach us of the rhythm of the seasons as a reflection of our relationship with the pulsing heart of creation.
When we listen to that pulse and pick up the beat we are invited to dance – a circle of people dancing with this pulse, carried by the drum beat and sacred song, pulling the energy of the circle in towards the tree and slowly expanding out again, will awaken the tree – she will radiate a profound warmth and delicious energy, embracing us in her consciousness – to experience this is to know that this is real, beyond doubt, and it will truly bring healing.
Around the world shamans journey with the drum to the otherworlds from the roots, branches and body of the great tree in search of knowledge and healing – the hoop of their drum is gifted from the trees, the skin often adorned with the axis mundi, the Tree of Life – for many indigenous cultures souls come in and leave Life through her nexus – the spirits congregate there – our prayers hung upon her boughs are heard and cared for – in the groves we find protection, sacred space.
Spirit medicine is only one way in which the balance of our natural relations with the Cosmos can be restored. There are other pathways that are accessible to us all and which are called into our consciousness on a daily basis, that our current planetary conditions tell us are increasingly pertinent.
The forests are dying on our Earth, because, through greed and dead matter thinking, we have given priority to satisying the needs of a voracious and uncaring culture, turned a deaf ear to our hearts, become disrespectful and overlooked the reality of our actions – and yet, for so many this is not a true reflection of how we would live. We have not forgotten how to listen, we can still hear their voices – and it is important that we do so for our children and our childrens children. We can reforest our home. And this is a first step – plants and trees planted with respect and in recognition of the sacredness of all Life, over generations of their family and through the seasonal cycles, will become our allies. They come to know us, form a sacred relationship with us and they will always be ready to answer when we ask them for help – this too is real, beyond doubt, and will help to heal the Sacred Hoop, the Circle of Life.
Our western thinking is a great stumbling block, and yet, it is also a great teacher – there is balance in all things. We often filter out that which we do not have tangible evidence for with our thinking – it is an affliction that is affecting our whole world and has caused great suffering within indigenous communities. Balance rather than dominance…….
Balance within communion carries a visceral potential – to restore the balance and make the encounter can be highly emotive and revolutionary, affecting of our view of the world and our understanding of our place within it, of ourselves. There is a wonderful account of such an encounter in “Of Water and the Spirit”, the autobiographical writings of Dagara elder and shaman Malidoma Some. During initiation into adulthood Malidoma describes how he met with a beautiful tree spirit, a tender yet awesome ‘Green Lady’ of immense heart and understanding.
For the ‘western’ mind this encounter is powerfully instructive as Malidoma has to struggle to free himself of the enculturalisation he suffered at the hands of Jesuit priests after they had kidnapped him from his village as a child – his return to the village created a dilema for the Elders who saw both a threat and a gift in his presence, in the cultural baggage that he was carrying. They decided that initiation was the only way forward, the make or break test of whether he could truly become the embodiment of his name, which means “be friends with the stranger/enemy”. It stands as a potent allegory for the relationship between the western mindset and the indigenous.
Malidoma struggled over a long period under fierce conditions of extreme heat and dehydration, focusing on the tree that stood before him, to arrive at the moment when he was able to ‘let go’ and fall into the embrace of the spirit world. It was the attachment to both ‘trying to do’, contriving what he thought was expected of him, and the emotional attachment to the concrete nature of what his senses told him was real that created the barrier through which he eventually burst – he literally fell into the arms of the beloved spirit, and she spoke to him. Without this breakthrough his initiation would have failed. Even more crucially, this opened the pathway back to the original purpose that he had petitioned the ancestors to support him in before his birth, and allowed him to remember and embody his connection with the spirits in Nature, his name and soul purpose. To the Dagara trees are amongst the most evolved of beings on Earth.
For Malidoma this was the beginning of a journey into the wider world, sanctioned by his elders, his ancestors and spirit family. He carries with him the sacred medicines of his African roots, reconnecting ‘people of the diaspora’ with their roots and healing the spiritual heart of our Western cultural desert – thanks to the ‘Green Lady’. I had the benefit of several years profound and heart centered guidance and tuition with Malidoma – it brought many challenges and, like many others whom he has helped, brought a much needed appreciation of our universal nature, the ways in which we can find healing that are so deeply rooted in Nature, our relationship with the ancestors and the spirit worlds. He, with many others alive today, continues to work his magic for the benefit of us all in the world. All blessings be with the healers – human and arboreal.
The next time you enter a forest, lean against a tree or plant a sappling, please say thank-you – say it out loud, from the heart – it will bring healing into your world, our world. Such powerful healing as we find amongst the Standing people is always at hand, within the forests, amongst the watchful care of those great beings we know as the Trees. The New Moon beckons – happy dreaming!