Call to the Ancestors on Samhuin

fullmoongoddessp1000834Oh Great Spirit

Let me walk where my ancestors walked

So I may understand them better

Let me see their failings

So I can learn from them

Let me see their successes

So I can celebrate them and follow them

Let me see their sorrows

So I can comfort them

Let me see their joys

So I may know their love

Let me know my ancestors

So I may grow wise by them.

Tanya Adams – Pathwayfinder

Our Useful friends who deserve our Respect and Care.

 

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Trees lining a river

Recently I have sadly been the witness to a good many trees being felled.  These trees were not diseased or getting in the way of development or undermining existing housing.  They were trees which had stood for a good many years, approximately 60-80 years in some cases, in the same place with the same housing and gardens around them.  They provided many things, interest to an otherwise boring boundary, shade in the summer, screening, scenic and seasonal variety (as a number of them were indigenous deciduous species).  However, they were all in that bracket of “oh it’s just a tree”.   It’s just an ash, it’s just a poplar, it’s just a beech, it’s just a pine, it’s just a willow.  Or in the  bracket of “Ooooh you don’t want to encourage them, they are likely to take over.”  Frankly as we are talking about mature trees they had already “taken over”, they had done their territorial conquering and been enjoyed by many for a good many season.

Some of them provided boundary screening, some of them provided shoring up of banks, some of them provided water absorbency.  All of them provided oxygen, all of them provided homes to birds, insects, mosses and other ecologies, all of them helped ground stability and water management.

A couple of years ago there was a huge protest to a local development which involved a number of mature and valued trees being felled and disruption to what had been long standing park and pond areas.  Just recently with the heavy rainfall gardens which have never been known to flood are now flooding.  All because these ancient and valued species didn’t fit with the bottom of the developer’s balance sheet.

http://www.barnet-today.co.uk/article.cfm?id=108580&headline=Residents%20say%20%27I%20told%20you%20so%27%20over%20Cat%20Hill%20flooding&sectionIs=news&searchyear=2016

The loss of these seemingly “ordinary” species becomes even more sad when one delves deeper into what trees are about and realise what mighty living beings they truly are, what they do for us, the ecology and how much we need them to keep our environment in balance.  Yet there still seems to be a casualty to removing them, cutting them down.  To me trees are like friends.  I truely  understand that sometimes they need and even thrive by being coppiced or having professional surgery carried out.  Sometimes they are simply too old, too big, too dangerous, too diseased to stay.  After all we all come to the end of our lives, we all have our season.

What I don’t get is that too often there is an automatic default to, cut it out, get rid of it, it’s in the way.

They take time to grow, and fast growing replacements, often don’t have the same ecological or esthetical value, so you can’t replace as fast as it’s been removed.

Then there is a deeper level of the value of the tree, the medicinal one, even spiritual one.  Every tree has it’s own medicine, be it from bark, leaf, nut or blossom – they all carry their own medicine, in the form of tincture, oil, pulse or even active ingredients for a modern drug medication.

They are known to have a profound effect on our psyches, enabling better relaxation, destressing, grounding and even ideal space for meditation.  They have been the muses for poets, writers and artists.  For those who are sensitive enough to access the plant consciousness world they are truly living beings with their own spirits and guardians.  In many indigenous traditions they are our elders and teachers.  In Native American traditions they were the Standing People, with their roots deep in the ground, trunk bodies and limbs high into the skies, they form the connection between earth and sky and are in many ways our living breathing oxygen tent.

Eigg Trees

Community of trees,  Isle of Eigg

In our world of wastage, toxins and diseases, they are the true teachers in 0 waste product cycle.  They form their own seeds, support eco systems while alive, and return to the ground as mulch or fire wood at the end.  There service from sapling to mulch is faultless.

With this millennia of service, surely they can expect and should receive significantly more respect and care from us humans, than they generally appear to get in our day to day life.

The Wind in the Trees on the Isle of Eigg

In August I had the great joy of enjoying a few days on the Isle of Eigg in Hebrides and took of the 3 healers, silence, solitude and stillness.  Saying in a simply Boffy which was half in the woods, the native hazel woods, one day this just flowed out.  So here it is in time for a poetic offering for Autumn Equinox.

Community of trees

Hazel the wise,

Ash of the Grove,

We move with the wind,

We move and grow with spirit,

Spirit is in the wind.

It shapes and forms us and how we grow,

We bend and bow, gnarl and know,

We breathe and sigh,

This is not our lot,

From seed to fruit to log,

We serve, we are we give and we grow.

Oh tussled network below,

Tangled branches do play,

We stand tall, short, bent or gnarled,

However, best it is for us to grow.

Beneath our branches much does grow,

Between our toes much does flow,

We are between earth and air,

And are the cycle for these two.

Water feed us and makes us grow,

More for light and air we transmute

For all to breathe and grow with joy.

Water is the earth’s blood

And we are her lungs

The atmosphere her aura

Stones are her bones

Magnetism is her nervous system,

as she lives and breathes.

Every creature, every species

Dances and plays bring joy, movement,

Nourishment, illumination to her mighty body

‘Tis after all heaven on Earth!

Eigg sunset

Time to Wassail but what’s the point?

Just in case you think the only thing to do in January is to put your feet up and sleep for winter, or are feeling glum that there’s no more celebrating to be had until Spring, well you might be glad to hear that’s not really true.  It’s time to get out there and Wassail!  Wassailing is an ancient tradition, which has been performed through-out the centuries and kept alive particularly among cider growers.  Primary purpose of Wassailing is to hail and wake up the fruit trees from their winter slumber to get ready for spring and prepare for the time of fruiting.

WassailTraditionally, a group of “Wassaillers” will go out play music, bang pans, hang offerings (often toast and ribbons) on the “King” fruit tree of the orchard.  Homage is paid to the trees and the tree spirits by reciting poetry and singing songs to the trees.  It’s great fun and a great way to get out and about on a grey January day and becoming once more quite popular.  Also provides some with an excuse for a small tipple of Cider!  So is there anything in it except for anything other than a strange and eccentric old tradition?

The tradition obviously is a throw back to Pagan times and a time when there was a closer relationship, even a courtship between humans and nature.

It’s an age old question, do trees, nature, plants respond to sound, talking, music, nurturing or is it just mumbo jumbo?

We cannot deny that plants and trees are alive, they are living organisms and as any living organism they respond to weather, ecology and changes in the atmosphere.  However, since the 1970’s there has been a growing body of scientific investigation into the response reactions of plants and trees to pain, noise, even music.  It seems that now thanks to more sensitive computer technology, what we instinctively knew hundreds of years ago can now be graphically demonstrated and tracked by computers. Evidence is showing that plants, although devoid of a “nervous” system as such, do have electrical impulses as living beings, which respond to not just changes in weather but to noise, music and particularly the noise of predators chewing on leaves.  This activity can cause the plant to start to product chemicals which are natural pesticides against known predators.

This small selection of articles expand a bit more in detail on this, including scientific research in America and Germany.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGLABm7jJ-Y

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/can-plants-hear-study-finds-that-vibrations-prompt-some-to-boost-their-defenses/2014/07/06/8b2455ca-02e8-11e4-8fd0-3a663dfa68ac_story.html

http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/mythbusters-database/talking-to-plants/

http://www.viewzone.com/plants.html

Crystals, have also been found to aid the growth and protection of plants with their steady natural energy pulse.

In light of this, perhaps there is more to Wassailing than just a quaint old tradition.  So if you decide to indulge in a bit of Wassailing this January, make it joyous and tuneful you never know you might just wake up that tree, stimulate it’s immune system and help get those juicey fruits to grow this summer!   The word Wassail is an ancient term meaning “be you healthy!”

If you’re stuck for some verse, here are a couple of traditional ones to get you started!  …  and WASSAIL!!

“Old Apple tree, old apple tree;
We’ve come to wassail thee;
To bear and to bow apples enow;
Hats full, caps full, three bushel bags full;
Barn floors full and a little heap under the stairs.

 

“Wassail! wassail! all over the town,

Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;

Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;

With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee.”

Christmas Time and Loved Ones.

A small share, for those who might be struggling to face the Celebrations this Christmas.

17 years ago on this day, Christmas Eve, my mother died.  She passed away in the early hours of Christmas Eve around 6 am after a short spell in hospital.  She had collapsed on the 19th December after suffering a massive brain haemorrhage and was never to regain consciousness.  It’s a long time ago now, but of course those kinds of days one never forgets.  I remember waking early to a strange dream of a baby being born, and at the same time hearing the telephone ringing which was the hospital notifying us that she had passed away.  That Christmas Eve it rained, it rained hard all day.  I went with my father to the hospital in the morning to get papers and personal effects.  I remember staring out of the hospital window into this seeming less endless grey and was glad that it was raining.  It was like the skies were doing the crying I was, at that point, unable to do.  It was such an odd sense relief.  We went straight to the registrars before they shut at lunch-time, as it was Christmas Eve, to register the death.  By co-incidence the registrar who tended us, she too had lost a parent at Christmas and as she looked into our stunned eyes she just said, “It’s not easy, it won’t be for some time, particularly as it’s happened at Christmas, but it will get easier.  Each year it’ll get easier. “……And of course she was and is completely right.

It was what some term a complex grieving process, as my mother, while a dedicated and loving mother and incredibly creative person, she was frankly a difficult woman.  Her sharp edges though, were there from various bashes she had received in her own life which she had sadly never been given the compassionate and supportive environment to enable her to fully process or make peace with them and sadly as a result she had grown bitter and defensive in many ways.  For a number of years at Christmas after her death, while there was this shadow and grief hanging over the season for us, there was also just a little bit of guilty relief one didn’t have this difficult relative, to have to cope with.  It also totally changed the shape of Christmas arrangements for our family, which in some ways was a relief and in others just went to further emphasise she was no longer there.  There were a number of years when the Christmas parties were just simply painful and just told myself to  simply suck it up and get on with it.  Often, just as many people do, I ended up drinking far too much, drinking to forget, drinking to party and have a good time, drinking out of social inclusion and all of it would often result in me simply feeling emptier, more foolish, and having to not only control my unheard emotions in public but control them while drunk; never a good combination and all in the face of this unrelenting forced jollity.  There were some years when I would have quite happily dumped Christmas, the tree, spangles, sparklers and all in the skip and left town for the hills but out of a sense of duty and care to those around me, I didn’t.  Looking back, knowing now what I know, that would probably have been the wisest thing I could have done, at least for a couple of them.  Taken to the hills, gone for walks, good food, long sleeps was really what my spirit and my body needed.

However, in all of this, one thing that always remained with me, was the soft magic of Christmas.  Like a single candle flame in a dark room, this season with all it’s traditions, fun, frollicks, falseness, religion and ceremony, it has one thing at it’s core – heartiness.  Heartiness in the face of the darkest time of the year, bleakest, the coldest.  When you strip it back to that bare root, then you can once more hear the yule log crackle, the mulled wine bubble and you can once again be grateful for the warmth of the family or friends that you may find yourself (willingly or unwillingly) sharing it with.  Even if you are on your own, it still opens the door to the fire side warmth and the capacity of humans to care for each other.  It also invites us to be still, warmed by the fire side and listen, really listen to ourselves.  Perhaps that’s actually the bit we are really scared of?  Just as well we have the fire, warm cuppa or tree for company.

Oddly enough the person who showed me the soft subtle magic of Christmas was my mother, who was German, and sorry folks, but the Germans just do, do Christmas rather well.  She always loved the magic of it and frankly the year she went it was a gift for her to be released that day and not to go on and suffer.

So whatever you are facing this year, this Christmas – trust it will be ok – eventually if not right now and may the warmth of the yule log help to ease that pain whatever it is and if you need to have time out – have some time out!

Christmas Angel Blessings be with you!

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What does Achieving Goals, Manifesting Dreams and Sycamore Trees have in common?

Last year it seemed at the end of summer, there were masses and masses of acorns as if the oak trees had gone into extra production in light of the tree diseases which had been particularly virulent.  As anyone knows who works with or is an observer of nature, she adapts and shifts every year to retain balance, often resulting in certain plants, fruits or species having a particularly abundant year or a particularly sparse year.

This year, locally at least, we have been swamped with Sycamore seeds – they are everywhere!  Some days the car has been so covered in them we’ve actually had to brush them off the windows before driving.

Every plant and tree has it’s own “medicine”.  This can be through it’s chemical make up, through it’s gesture or legend and energy that it holds, but every one has something to teach us on some on some level.  To the Native American people the trees are “The Standing People” and the sycamore trees lesson was and is:

“…of how to reach our goals and make our dreams come true.”

So perhaps the Sycamore is telling us that 2014 is a great year to dream that dream,  plant those desires and help you reach your goal.  Below is a Sycamore Meditation to help you with that process.

Sit comfortably, turn off the phone, tv, pc, ipod, ipad, tablet etc….. go somewhere where you can be comfortable and relaxed for a good 15 – 30 minutes.  Perhaps light a candle, put on some soft music, burn some oil or incense what ever makes you feel most comfortable, safe and relaxed, making sure your back is well supported and feet with on the floor or sit cross-legged on the floor.

Breathing deeply, take some cleansing breaths – always breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.  Focus on your breath, easing out aches, pains, stresses, stiffness from you body and letting any thoughts go, just enjoying this space and time to listen to your breathing and your inner self.

When you are ready, visualise walking along a country path that brings you to a clearing and a large sycamore tree.  Allow yourself to enjoy this tree, taking in it’s branches and leaves, the bark and trunk.  When you are ready feel yourself sit down beneath it.  In front of where you have sat is a leaf and some sycamore seeds.  Take a moment to study the leaf with it’s 3 prominent points, how this echoes – the 3 – mind, body and spirit.  Take a moment to feel into your body giving thanks for all it does for you each day, take a moment to quiet the mind and enjoy that space, take a moment to center in your heart and let it speak.

sycamore

Let your heart speak of what you need to let go of and let it speak of what makes it sing with loving joy.  As these become clear to you become aware of the leaves on the tree turning brown and falling to the ground and as they fall and blow away and rot, turn to compost disintegrate and be transmuted by the earth.  Let the things you need to let go of or the hurts that have held you back go with each leaf to die off, to be transmuted by the earth.

Let your heart speak of your joys and desires and now allow each of these to take the shape of a sycamore seed, allow the wind to blow these seeds far and wide to fall on fertile ground.  The sycamore seed is shaped so that it is easily picked up by the breeze and blown far and wide.  Observe the twisting and spinning of the seeds as they are released by the wind, carrying with them your desires to be planted and to take root in fertile ground.

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You can revisit these seeds again and see how they are taking root and growing at a later date, to reconnect with growing your dreams.

When you are sure you have released what needed to be released for now and asked for your dreams to be carried by the seeds for planting, rise up from under the tree, return along the country path becoming aware of your breathing and your body.  Gently move your feet, hands, shoulders, ground or seat beneath you, be aware of the space you are in and open your eyes.

Don’t forget, sycamores have deep roots, they can grow to 65 feet tall if its a London Plane Tree variety of 100 feet tall it’s the one of the ones in US.  They can live up to 200 years old.  So just imagine how high and how far your dreams might travel!

The sycamore is also one of Biblical trees famous at the tree Zaccheus the tax collector climbed up to see Jesus preach when he came to Jericho.  Zaccheus was a short man so climbed a sycamore to be able to see above the crowds.  See link below if you would like to know more about that particular repentant tax collector!

Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/catholicbychoice/2011/02/living-our-lives-in-the-sycamore-tree-lessons-learned-from-zaccheus.html#ixzz3IJhTAYRs

The Wonder of Carnac and Celtic France

I love the word Awesome, but sometimes feel it gets used too much.  However, I have to use it in relation to the amaizing, ancient, and enormous site of standing stones at Carnac in France.  They are just Awesome!  The Alignments as they are referred to, are estimated to have been here since around 3,300 BC some even before 4,500 BC.  There estimated to be over 3,000 standing stones with numerous tumuli in the surrounding area.  Again they are of a similar blue stone to the stones at Stonehenge.

Mid section Carnac Western End of Carnac

To start off with they seem quite small, and curious all standing in lines, more or less following an east -west alignment.  Almost an anti-climax after such a long journey to see them.  Slowly though, as one walks along one begins to see how varied they are, how over time the weather has shaped each one individually till each one has their own character.  Some are almost cuddly and others certainly are not but together they certainly demand respect.

We were lucky that on one of the week-end days we were there the usually gated areas were opened.  During high season (April – October) the areas are generally gated off to reduce damage to ecoloday and stones.

Carnac biggy It was really once we were able to walk between the stones you begin to feel the very different scale of this site, how big, how ancient and how long this stone procession really is.

Carnac looking east Carnac mid section Carnac small clearing

 

There is much speculation about what they were for and what they were about.  For a long while they were lost to separate farm steads.  Much folk lore speculation had built up over time, including they were pagans turned to stone by St Cornelius who was a Christian missionary and established the Church in Carnac around 400AD or were the grave stones of the ancients.  Each site was steady reclaimed at the end of the 19th Century and beginning of 20th Century, and in some cases re siting some of the tumbled stones.  There is little doubt they, like most stone circles and megalithic sites, are orientated to mark out seasons, the solstices.  However, there is some evidence they also have a moon and Luna connection – however, our short visit and poor French could not quite get to the bottom of this.  One thing there certainly seems to be less information on this site about it’s ceremonial and society use than on sites such as Stonehenge or Avebury, even though it is just as large and of just as much significance as these sites in terms of age and construction.

Along the alignment there are Tumulie the most important now has St Michael’s Chapel on top of it to the south of the Alignments and to the north of Carnac town, and when excavated it revealed many treasures including an ornate blue crystal stone necklace which marked out it’s own are as someone of significant spiritual authority at the time.  The stones look almost like Turquoise but are thought to be a gemstone from Portugal, showing that this area has been liven in and trading far and wide for many millennia.  There is a burial site in the middle of the alignments situated towards the eastern part of the alignments:

Burial Chamber

 

But nothing quite compared to the Burial Chamber almost stumbled across to the south of the Alignments, in the forests, at Kercado.  Dated to before 4,500 this mega burial site for the chief of the time is on top of the highest ground of the area, although it’s prominence is not obvious being in the forest, marked out with a stone to the west beside it and a stone on top to the east, giving a definite feeling of the birth, life, death, rebirth progression.  The whole site was once surround with it’s own stone circle, some of the stones still in place.

Kercado

 

These alignments are not just about weather and death though there is a definite sense that it was just as much about life and a place for people to gather, perhaps even debate the issues of the time at the Quadrangle and marked out by the Grand Manio

Quadrangle Grand Manio

 

 

The Alignments stretch West to East for about 4 – 5 Km, which is easily walked in less than a day but to get to know them will take much, much longer!

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