Monday, August 15, 2016

I Think I was a Tree...

In a former life.  All my life I have adored trees. They have always been there for me - to listen to my thoughts, to laugh and sing with my joys and to comfort my sorrows. My first tree friend was an enormous spruce tree which stood sentinel outside the house where I grew up. Birds would call his limbs home knowing they were safe and secure even if they would wave to and fro in the winds. My mother and I would gather his cones in the summer months for use later in the year in crafts. He was a dear friend and it saddened me to find out that he had died after our family left the house.

Over the years I have come to know many types of trees, as one would get to know a variety of people. They all had their own quirks, their own personalities. I got to know two distinguished Live Oaks in Louisiana. There age was old - about 150-200 years. They spoke in a slow and deliberate manner - imparting the wisdom gained over the centuries to those who would slow down long enough to listen.

I have met many magnificent Cottonwoods. Their trunks would curve and arch and bend, translating the energies their roots absorbed from deep underground water sources. This is a reason the Hopi like to make their Kachina dolls from Cottonwood roots, because of the trees ability to find water. To the Hopi, the Cottonwood is a spiritual link to water, the life giving essence in a very arid land. 

The woods of Arkansas was a heavily populated area. Sweetgum, Sassafras, Black Walnut, Magnolia, Dogwood, and Oaks were abundant. Their ability to live together was a lesson for us all. Together they were an impenetrable force to many outsiders.

Many ancient cultures and indigenous peoples believe that trees have souls.  The ancient Celts believed that the spirit (soul) of a deceased person could inhabit a tree (or a plant or a place or even a rock). Cultures all across ancient Europe had customs and beliefs which involved trees. In the Americas, many Indigenous People believed that every living thing had a spirit and trees were revered as being wise  and knowledgeable. Trees were often consulted by Shaman on matters of seriousness.

I recently ran across an article about a group of people in Russia who revere Nature. To them a tree contains a soul in a transitional process of evolution. To intentionally fell a tree is to destroy a living being. Check out this article and accompanying photos for an insightful look at the Mari People.

I, too feel this way. Trees do so much for us. They give us shade and air to breathe. They will listen to our woes and give us the calm to quiet our frazzled nerves. Trees have knowledge. Take a walk at your local park or open space and get to know a tree.  Make a new friend.