Monday, November 17, 2008

Golden tree – Finsbury Park

Sunday November 16, 2008:

“Your lovely tree is all golden”, called my personal trainer taking a moment away from looking at sweaty old me to feast her eyes on my beautiful garden. All around, the trees had turned red, brown, orange and gold. Every leaf on the hornbeam’s branches was a beautiful sunny brilliant yellow gold. I smiled to myself thinking of the golden glow I had projected onto it during my prayers for its preservation each day. I imagined it, blond and curly, large and blousy, yet sturdy and beautiful, blazing away, caught in the dawn winter sunlight or backlit by the west’s final glow, blazing out defiantly against the dark green of winter’s beginning.

After the walk with the ancestors on the heath on Samhain, I bought back some of the ribbon we had tied ourselves together with. The Hornbeam needed it. Grandma bear energy was potent. The tree seemed to stand taller as I put the ribbon round its girth and whispered my prayers of protection.

Each morning and night I greet the tree, stroking the ivy clad bark, reaching up to touch a plump branch, leaning my cheek against the roughness, laced with cool ivy, whispering my love and gratitude. Each day, I think, I must journey to meet the spirit of the tree and find out what it wants and each day, something else happens to distract me.

My year of celebrating the cycle of the trees is sliding away from me and I find myself sitting in misery, unable to motivate myself to do anything. Any sense of control I have over my life feels like it is seeping away.

Like a heavy blanket of woe, the inertia is profound. I would gratefully allow myself to sink into that space of rest and reflection between Samhain and Solstice were I feeling better about myself. Right now I feel confined by misery, failure anddisapointment. I mourn the writing, yearn for the trees, and grieve over the loss of their peaceful presence.

ON a day when I can not stop crying, I make myself ask for help. The outpouring of love from friends brings my head back up. I ask to be taken to trees; I make space to write up the Samhain experiences and my soul gulps down the words greedily as though parched since the beginning of time. The blackbird owl begins to sing again.

I’m a part time worker now. I vow to behave like one but habits of a lifetime, allowing what work I have to fill all available space, is very hard to wrestle to the ground. But I‘m giving it another go.

So I walk in the garden in the morning and am filled with a gentle calm. I stroke my hornbeam tree and promise to come to journey with it this very night. A gust of wind blows a shower of leaves from the gently rocking branches above my head. They float to the ground with a soft patter as though the tender skir of a woodpigeon’s wings. The breeze dances the leaves across my feet and I cup my hands to catch more, holding them quivering upon my palm before releasing them into the autumnal gust.

At night I sneak out under cover of dark. The London soundscape weaves an urban backing track as I cast my circle and call to the spirit of the tree. I hold the tree, my fingers laced in the cool ivy, my cheek resting against the warm rough bark. I breathe its perfume and wait.

Beyond the bushes in which I shelter stands an ivy clad tree. Is it my tree? Yes, I think it is. Tall and stout it stands, covered with ivy, great branches of cascading golden leaves fall from it’s crown, it’s trunk a soft brown showing through. But it’s not a tree!

I gaze at it, trying to pick it out amongst the tangle of foliage. It moves and the golden leaves flow down its ivy covered body, the skin beneath brown.

“Hello”, I whisper as it turns in my direction and I see its face between the strands of gold and green, androgynous, strong, pointed and beautiful. And I wonder what I can do to help – because although it seems calm, I feel it is not happy, although I wonder if I’m projecting my own feelings onto it.

I wait and watch from behind the bushes. It knows I’m there and I think of all that I could do to celebrate its life and presence.

Then it comes to me, no matter what the verdict, I shall celebrate this tree here and now. I shall make it an alter to honour it, I shall continue to greet it each day, I shall admire it and maybe I shall also dance with it and before it. I imagine inviting tree lovers to come an party wit the tree, see them dancing with it, sitting at its feet eating and drinking, honouring it for the merry tree it really is and I smile and blow the tree spirit a kiss. And if it gets cut down, well I’ll make something beautiful from it, but I don’t have to think about that till it actually happens.

I am holding the tree, hugging it tightly, my cheek against its rough bark and soft ivy. It smells sweet, green and woody. I thank the spirit of the tree for showing me how to be joyful with it, no matter what the future holds for it and go off to find something to make an alter.

Later, as I make my evening prayers, I think about the learning from that spirit. No matter what the future, live today in joy is what I know it said to me? Like the tree, I don’t know what the future holds either so I might as well party anyway!

The wisdom of the trees! I love you hornbeam.


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