Sunday, February 10, 2008

watching Rowan

Friday February 1, 2008:


For a few years now, a lovely alter has sat at the foot of my rowan tree in the very heart of the garden. Several logs, (what was left of a huge laaylandia tree I had had to cut down (made the base, offerings from my various travels were strewn upon their rough tops.

At Samhain, I “planted” beside the logs a forked branch which had been cut from the nearby hornbeam tree during tree surgery). As the year moved through elder, I hung first a lantern, and then a shell. When the days shifted to Birch with the return of the sun, a holed stone on a red ribbon and finally a clutch of feathers bound in leather joined them. During my morning and evening prayers, it soon became my habit to gently touch these offerings, my symbols of the directions.

The year rolled into rowan’s time and I gathered small things to hang about the rowan tree. Soon, tiny chimes, a mini dream catcher and stone and glass beads like bracelets, graced her slim limbs and swung and jingled, dancing merrily in the boisterous wind.

On Bridie’s eve, which falls almost at the end of rowan, I stood honouring the rowan tree. Slim, smooth and graceful, arching branches like outstretched arms reached out; her bare branched beauty chiselling and separating the space above the garden alter. Below, on a round white saucer I had placed a ripe pomegranate, a seed-filled offering to the slowly waking garden.

The night was quiet. Earlier, I had sewn my Imbolc seeds with a friend and blessed the staff that had come to me at the end of the old calendar year and which was a symbol of the rightness of my journey to the trees. Its dark grey bark, creamy inner wood and columned shape spoke to me of beech, whilst its smooth bark slightly grained wood beneath said otherwise. Oval eyes spiralled around the shaft where branches had been cut from it invited my fingers to explore lovingly, the concentric circles of the grain.

Now I stood in prayer before the waiting rowan tree in the silent garden. Beyond it, the London traffic hummed contentedly. It was nearly midnight.

“Lovely tree” I said, reaching out and touching her smooth grace, “I pledge to pilgrimage to the trees this year, to the standing tree people who are your relatives and to all their spirits. I open myself to tree wisdom, and know I will be nurtured by strong tree trunks. I will dream and sing beneath sheltering branches and my words will honour the beauty of the trees and teach others to love them too. If they will let me, I will connect humbly with the spirits of the trees and I will worship the magnificence that is all trees, big or small, young or old. I pledge to love and protect the trees, for without you all, all humankind is doomed. I call to the element of earth, to hold me and ground me in this, my work for this year as I grow strong like the trees. Let my strength lead me to work in the world (when I am not with the trees) to work for love and respect for all peoples and especially to champion the rights of those whom others despise and would hurt. So mote it be!”

And it seemed to me that she shook her slim limbs as though to say “you’re welcome.” I bowed low and planted a kiss on her smooth trunk. Lifting the door of the lantern, I lit the candle that would shine throughout the night until the Imbolc dawn ... a symbol of my own eternal flame.

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