I can’t see anything for the trees at the moment – and that’s fine by me.
My consciousness is full of trees. Every mental turn I take brings me face to face with trees to explore, both literal and metaphorical.
I’ve been delving into the beauty of Treesisters, a gentle revolution birthed in Stroud, UK, that has a dual mission to reforest the Tropics and empower the feminine. I feel so inspired by this network of women that has grown from the seed of one woman’s awakening, and is now planting trees and restoring the sacredness of the feminine, all over the world.
Since I spent a year in the Amazon jungle in Peru, learning about plant medicines, I have felt in a very real sense that trees are my brothers and sisters. In that part of the world, that trees and plants have spirits, are alive, and have vast intelligence is taken for granted. Those beliefs are the foundation of the cosmology of the indigenous peoples that still live there. And now even here in the West, where we no longer have our indigenous wisdom, there are saplings of hope. The documentary last year by Judi Dench showed a mass audience how trees thrive in networks. They communicate, warn each other of potential threats and share nourishment through the microrhizal network. It is this connection to each other is what enables them to survive and thrive; even to fend off attack. They need their networks, just like we do.
I might not have my human network fully established here yet, but natural allies are everywhere. Looking out of my window this morning, everything seems impossibly alive, juicy with fresh, green life. I can sense the hedge outside my window smiling at me; the regiment of enormous pine trees at the top of my steep Stroud garden stands guard protectively.
People are not so different from trees, and the rest of nature, in that way. We all need our networks – not necessarily to survive, but to really thrive – yes, we need each other. We need other people in order to feel rooted and grounded in the place we live – and in life itself. Without connection, community and people we can rely on and who rely on us, we can feel isolated; adrift. Or at least, that’s how I sometimes find myself feeling, as I still don’t have a solid network in my new home town of Stroud. It will happen; it’s just taking longer than I thought.
Trees have always been central to life on Earth. Shamanic traditions and creation myths from all corners of the planet have at their centre a Tree of Life, which is the axis on which the world turns. The tree is the doorway for shamanic journeys to the upper, middle and lower worlds of the spirit realms, which relate to the structure of our spiritual and emotional selves: the upper world – our spirit self and the superconscious, the middle world of ego and form, and the lower world of the soul, or subconscious.
We are slowly waking up to the truth about trees – and maybe, in time, we will wake up to the truth about ourselves and about life itself. Is it really so much of a leap to imagine that we and trees (and all of nature) not only have similarities, but that we are actually the same, in all but outer form? That everything is alive? At the level of spirit, we are all one. There is an evolutionary purpose to life that is beyond the self and beyond our comprehension.
A couple of weeks ago, the TV show This Morning featured a guest, Holly Wharton, who was described as ‘the woman who talks to trees’. I’ve seen bits of the show before where they’ve had guests who appear to have a real spiritual message to communicate, and they’ve tended to approach them with a very British, taking-the-piss tone. That wasn’t totally absent as they interviewed Holly. But as the piece progressed, the presenters, Eammon and Rochelle, seemed to soften and begin to take her more seriously. Although they were smirking at the messages Holly picked up from the trees, it was as though the persistent gentleness of both Holly and the trees had a transformative effect, and there was a palpable shift in the energy between them. I felt the trees, and Holly, had managed to transmit something to those watching, even if it had no words, and even if those people were not aware of what had happened. Trees take time to grow, and so does consciousness.
Take some time to connect with a tree today – without expectation, without judgment. Touch the tree. Sit with it. Give it time. What does it have to say?
Sister tree, brother tree, I see you. Thank you.