I have always loved trees. Trees frame my journey from childhood to present, those that have held me, hugged me, spoken to me in surprising conversations and have become my teachers. I feel a kinship to them same as any family or friend. I can map my life by the trees I knew and lived by, and so I pay close attention when trees show up, when they speak.
Every morning I spend time in a meditative state in front of my altar. During this time I sit in stillness, and I usually journey to my home in non-ordinary reality, the dimension my ancestors knew as the Otherworld. This is the time I ask for guidance or messages from my spirit guides and teachers, or am just with them in simple friendship and gratitude. For the past week as soon as I arrive to meet them, there has been an immense sequoia in the middle of our circle.
Since I work with trees a lot, I am used to new ones showing up and we talk and get to know one another. But what made this different was the immense size and energy it held! Every morning I greet it and open my heart to its presence. As I engaged with it, I didn’t receive much information at first. Instead of a dialogue, the information was coming in through my felt-sense, primarily in my body sensations and then through synchronicities.
One of these was a recent news article that highlighted an unusual art piece at the local University. The sculpture is an 80 foot tall movable creation being held by three giant sequoias. The artist, John Grade, was visiting the campus to look for an inspired location for the sculpture he had in mind and when he saw the trees, he knew they were the ones. I feel that they reached out and communicated to him in some way to get his attention. I also feel that he had the wisdom and grace to ask them for permission to hold his sculpture. That they are holding it shows that they agreed, as I'm sure a lot can go wrong creating an art piece this size if the trees and the nature spirits are not agreeable.
Why would they be agreeable? Well this is the gist of the message coming in from my new sequoia friend in the mornings. They see collaboration and co-creation with humans as the way that they can break through our human-centrism and self-absorption so that we can fully realize our inter-connectedness to everything. The stronger our connection to nature, the more we will respect and protect it from exploitation and destruction.
And they enjoy the partnership that happens with projects like these. It provides lessons and spiritual growth for them as well. It strengthens the web of all life.
These same trees got my attention as soon as I saw them when I first walked across campus years ago. Freshly arrived from three decades in the desert, I had never seen such amazing trees. I stood in the middle of them and their lower branches hung on the ground and hid me from students walking by. I felt welcomed and cozy. I could have curled up next to them and stayed for a long time.
So I felt called to visit them again after meeting my new sequoia friend in the Otherworld. The late afternoon autumn sun lent its dappled light to the pieces hanging in the trees. I assessed the straps that held the netting the pieces were secured to, the small lamps high above that would light it at night, the thoughtfulness of the protective mats underneath to protect the ground and roots from the increased human activity beneath them. Then I tuned in to the trees and nature spirits. How did they feel? Did they have any specific messages to share?
A myriad of feelings swirled from the nearby faerie folk, from joy and amusement to exasperation and indifference. The elemental sylphs seemed to really enjoy playing in and around the hanging pieces. And the trees relayed this message:
One of the gifts we bring to humankind is that of heart chakra opening. We remind humans of how the energy of connection feels. We remind you of the feeling of reverence. We are - and all trees are - portals to the collective presence of nature kinship. We three who are holding John's sculpture are antennae broadcasting the energy of partnership, transmitting reverence. It's that simple.
With reverence, and gratitude, I sprinkled an offering of flower petals and herbs around the trunks before taking my leave.
The sequoia is still there in the morning stillness in my Otherworld circle. Its loving presence is a remarkable gift, and it is teaching me to broadcast loving presence from within myself.
The other day I was at a place that I feel is sacred. It’s a ravine where a sweet little waterfall runs down layers of sandstone and clay to stream across the sand and into the sea. The sides of the ravine are woven with a tight matrix of grass and a myriad of plants. Purple aster and horsetail bob in the breeze with mint, yarrow, wild rose and ever present salal. A pale smooth driftwood tree with branched limbs thrown up by a high tide long ago liked it so much it wedged itself sideways and stayed. It makes a perfect perch to cultivate my joy. I reach my senses out to all the life and nature spirits around me in deep gratitude. For a water sign like me, sitting between a waterfall and the sea feels so homey.
I brought an offering with me. I pull the strands of sweetgrass that were gifted to me by a friend and inhale the exquisite scent. The scent that brings me both up to the sun and down solidly to the earth at the same time. The scent that brings me out of all the rabbit holes of collective chaos that I cannot avoid on my screens most days and into the amazing process of sun and water creating perfect green grass.
I exhale my gratitude and prayers into the grass and stand it upright in a fissure in the branch beside me. A place where it can wave in the breeze and feel everything.
Awhile later when ready to continue my walk down the beach, I see a strand of sweet grass on the rock below me. I reach down and drop it into the stream to flow out as an offering to the sea. It gets caught in an eddy next to a rock, unmoving like a swimmer in an infinity pool. I reach down to free it and I hear a message.
Daughter, thank you for your offering. Please don’t force where it goes. It soaks up what it needs to, it goes where it needs to. There is a divine purpose to how it flows and where it goes… and what it means in relation to your intention, your gratitude, your purpose as you are here in this place. We feel you.
The lesson has stayed with me this week. It is one that I have revisited again and again over the years. We are so prone to micro-management, even in spirit matters. We need to learn to give our prayers without condition and truly release them. Give them away without attachment to outcome and any sense of how it should be. Of course we have our opinion, which is why we are making prayers in the first place! But once those words, that song, that heartfelt blessing has left our mouths and hearts, it belongs to the winds of Spirit.
Trust that Spirit will know exactly what to do with it.
The orchids get another spring to bloom, and this year there are twice as many. They reflect the magic in this little patch of forest that is just a ten-minute walk from my place. The forest is behind a park managed by the city of Corvallis. It has been relatively left alone for a long time, but well used by the locals and crisscrossed by deer trails. An amazing ash tree and several oaks that live there are in the 150 to 200-year-old range. When I’m in their energy I can feel their wisdom far beyond human intelligence, but it is so old and deep that I cannot fathom it. Douglas fir was planted in one large area about 50-70 years ago. It has become rich in fungi and mushrooms, birds, insects and wildflowers. And the incredible fairy slipper orchids.
Last year I found out that all the trees and their ecosystem will soon be gone, cut and bulldozed into a housing development. I still cry about it sometimes. And I visit the forest often, enjoying the time we have left. I tell the trees and the devas and nature spirits what is coming so they are prepared.
But the orchids. To me they feel so special, never having lived in a place where they grow wild. A few days ago I told them what was coming. For a moment I considered if I could transplant a few, but they seem so much a part of where they are. I asked them to let me know if there was anything I could do for them.
That night I had a dream the orchids were making themselves into flower essence.
There was my answer. The next day I went to the forest to make the orchid flower essence. How fortunate that a few days before I had taken a drive out to the spring on Kings Highway and filled up a few gallon jugs with pure spring water! I filled two cobalt blue bottles with spring water, got my crystal bowl and went to the forest. I always ask the flowers if they want the water bowl just put underneath them or if they want the blooms to be cut and put in the water. They said they were willing to be cut and as I snipped them into the bowl, I could smell their faint vanilla sweet scent. The flower essence is charged by sitting it in the sun for an hour or two, and as I sat there, I felt I must give them a gift in return.
A song suddenly came to me, its melody insistent, the words simple. I sang it to them while the essence charged.
Orchid song, orchid song
Orchid song is song of the forest
In the breeze, in the sun
Weaving light around everyone
Orchid song, orchid song
Orchid song is song of the forest
In the trees, in the sun
In the weaving all are One
A few days later I was able to sit and get a full transmission from them:
We cannot be separated from the forest. We are inexorably part of it, part of the greater whole. Our roots are irrevocably entwined, as is our energy. We have an agreement to weave our support within and throughout the ecosystem here. You only notice us in the spring when we bloom, but we are here – transmitting – all the time.
Not only do we have a song that is always a part of the greater chorus of life, but as you felt, we draw out the songs of others so they can know them and sing them to their fullest. Our songs, scents and blooms come from tenaciously rooted and intertwined runners of light and energy that is the matrix we live in.
Just as we cannot be separated from the forest, you cannot be separated from the Divine, or from your world. Everything in your world is alive with Divine energy no matter how dark it looks to you. You are not alone, you are not separate. Your nature is like ours, intertwined and a part of the whole. Your song makes up a sweet and important part of the chorus of all.
When human beings realize this, all toxins they have produced on the planet will transmute into light. With love and care they will sing a new song of love for all life. Harmony will spread. Balance will be restored.
The flower essence not only contains our essence song, but the song of the forest. Use it to connect to and be aware of the web of life, to connect to your song and to find the beauty of how it connects to all other songs in all the universes.
Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.
— Theodore Roethke, American Poet
Fairy Slipper Orchid Calypso bulbosa
To help you tend to soul issues that may manifest in physical, emotional, mental or spiritual aspects of your life, and to give you tools to empower your path to harmony and well-being.
-There are so many kindred spirits doing the work out there. I include these links to help our community connect with one another.
FAIRY CONGRESS - Offers a summer weekend gathering in person with workshops, circles and of course faeries and nature beings! They also offer a winter virtual weekend with amazing guest speakers like Orion Foxwood, David Spangler and R.J. Stewart. I highly recommend joining the online network to participate in monthly workshops, circles, and book clubs.
SACRED HOOP Magazine Guide to Shamanism Compilation- http://www.sacredhoop.org/Pages/FreeGuide.html
Owner Valeria Pearson lovingly created SOLE TO SOUL YOGA studio with a community focus. There are classes for all levels and events that lift the spirit. I am delighted to partner with her to offer a kirtan chanting circle once a month.
My friend and herbalist mentor, LAWRENCE BIRCH is a Certified Clinical Herbalist, plant whisperer and shamanic practitioner. If you need custom tincture blends or are interested in a wildcrafting apprenticeship, he is the teacher extraordinaire:
ROGER WHEELOCK and GAYLE RUTH are shamanic practitioners and teachers in the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition. https://www.rainmother.com/ I am grateful to be able to take part in ceremony with them, and to support their love for the Peruvian people through the World Ayni Association. Roger has a practice in Asheville, NC https://www.communityshaman.com/
NEW WORLD KIRTAN = Kitzie's podcasts include interviews with artists and kirtan music. I love attending her weekly Satsang group and the New World Kirtan Band concerts -