Wild Land Dreaming
As a lost indigenous soul, I have always brought my rootless self into the realm of tree medicine, naturally drawn to these beings that have been our companions, guides and holders of wisdom.
Hailing from the Celtic region that gave birth to the Druids, the British Isles and Ireland, I have been aware of the relationship that was long ago celebrated by them. Nowadays it is almost impossible to imagine what is was like to really live with the trees, to know them so intimately that they became a symbolic way of communicating earth lore. And, indeed, we have little knowledge passed down from that era. You have to dig deep like the trees themselves and it is far from the Hollywood ideal we may imagine, for the trees were the holders of secrets when the availability of knowledge was power, and the groves stank of rank, ritual and wildness. “The axe-men came on an ancient and sacred grove. Its interlacing branches enclosed a cool central space into which the sun never shone, but where an abundance of water spout from dark springs…the barbaric gods worshipped here had their altars heaped with hideous offerings, and every tree was sprinkled with human blood…Nobody dared ever enter this groove except the priest; and even he kept out at midday, and between dawn and dusk - for fear that the gods might be abroad at such hours.” (lucan, pharsallia, trans. Robert Graves).
Our knowledge now comes from our relationship with them and they are a reminder that a person was conjoined, food, shelter, clothing and, indeed, even the air exchanged. And depending on what tribe we belonged to, what particular bio niche we lived in, would determine our use and reverence for these teachers. And so I have found with my relationship to the trees around me, that they become pillars in my community, elders on my way that I can call upon to help me with their strength and wisdom. Grandmother, Grandfather, they are the keepers of the four corners. In my work with trees I often have four who are prominent for me, stabilizing my center.
It is hard to work with trees. We hardly use them anymore in a way that includes us both in the relationship. To truly understand them, we have to use them, there are few toolmakers, shelter builders, bark weavers, root peelers, nut grinders. All these folk would work within and without to preserve the strength of the grove and forest. To do this requires so much more time than we seem to have now. How ironic that in this world of lengthening shadows we don’t have the time to know the trees. Indeed, they stand defiant almost, a reminder that they now are the ones who hold the knowledge of what’s past so better to understand what’s to come.
We encounter the trees on our path of green knowing, for they hold the long thoughts. After about 5 years of tree work I am finally finding my center, the tree that holds my spirit so that I can call on it, and then my four corners, trees who hold the traits of wisdom that I would get traditionally from the elders of my tribe. I use the trees medicinally and for protection and strength, being able to summon them when in times of struggle, physically or otherwise. This knowing grows slowly, like the trees, and is indeed the strength that I can share with my community.
Each month I will be writing of my journey round the wheel, the tree that is guiding me and the plants I collect. To see more of my monthly musings or sign up read my blog at Wild Land Dreaming