I have always loved trees – and I am not alone, since the veneration of trees goes way back to ancient times. In those days people had a greater respect for trees. For them trees offered food, medicine, shelter (from buildings made out of them) and warmth (from burning them). Trees were even markers of safe passage with certain ancient trees acting as signposts through the forest. In New Zealand, the maori planted cabbage trees to show safe passageways through marshland. Trees represented the connection between the heavens (sky) and the material plane (earth). Evergreens symbolised eternal life, while deciduous trees appeared miraculous in that they seemed to die in the winter, shedding their leaves, only to come back to life again in the spring. And so they became symbolic of rebirth and renewal. There is much more symbolism associated with trees – and it is found in the heart of many cultures. To name a few, there is The Tree of Life, The Cosmic Tree, The Tree of Knowledge, The Sephirotic Tree, The Tree of Light, The Singing Tree, The World Tree and the Bodhi Tree, where the Buddha attained enlightenment.
I started learning more tree wisdom in the 2000s when I picked up a copy of 'Easy-to-use Shamanism' by Jan Morgan Wood (an intuitive shamanic artist now known as Faith Nolton). It was a turning point for me on my spiritual path, as it made sense of some of the things I had experienced. It was a confirmation that I wasn't mad – that there were others who experienced the world (and other worlds) as I did.
I was living in Surrey in the UK at the time, and just a short walk away from my house there was a grove of yew trees. Now these beautiful beings can be absolutely ancient – and there is so much that I can tell you about them that it must wait for another blogpost ! Anyway, I used to go to the grove often, just to 'be' with the trees. Sitting under the canopy of big branches that drooped down to the ground, I felt safe and had a sense of time being elastic. Don't knock it until you've tried it! Tuning in to a tree is magical. It can be any tree. Just place your hand upon the trunk (or hug it if you like!), slow down, stop 'thinking' and just be. Here is me, getting 'hands on' with a kauri in the Coromandel, North Island, New Zealand.
I have always made friends with the Standing Ones in my neighbourhood. There is a beautiful palm tree at the bottom of the hill that I say hello to as I pass, running my fingertips gently through the fronds of his leaves. He is a beauty and was transplanted there after the earthquakes as a very mature tree and there was a time when I felt uncertain as to whether he would survive, but he has! There is another tree 'character' on a nearby road, this one a stunning specimen of a eucalyptus tree. It stands tall and alone and I always admire it as I pass in the car – I hope that it is never cut down as for me that beautiful tree is a marker of 'home'.
There is so much wisdom that trees can teach us. So next time you meet a Standing One, remember to say hello.
What is your knowledge of trees? You are welcome to leave a comment.
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