and laughing violins
A murmuring Choir
with rushing voices
mimicking the Sea,
Speak to us of
Who could they be?
“You hear our voices
in the Winds
Yet you heed
we give to thee
only to be forgot.”
“We teach best in quiet ways
Dreams, inspirations and portents
have been found within our verdant maze…
Winds of Change.
Three worlds are but one
to we who Sing…
Messages and Wisdom
we can take
to vaulting Sky.
Our faces appear
to the loving eye.
We sing of Balance.
Glory in the light of Sun!
Drink the healing Waters of Life!
Being content as you are
will banish strife.
our Mother’s loving embrace
We sing of community
and humble grace.”
Window, door and prow…
Who Sings Now?
Quinn Blackburn 2011
For those new to the game, each poem is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; a star, stone, animal, plant, etc that holds lessons of Wisdom for us. Can you guess who is singing today?
“If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.” Henry David Thoreau
“I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!” John Muir
“We say we love flowers, yet we pluck them. We say we love trees, yet we cut them down. And people still wonder why some are afraid when told they are loved.” Author Unknown
For as long as I can remember, Trees have been my greatest friends, most inspiring muses and dedicated Teachers. Each one is unique, but they share certain wisdom. They show us the importance of staying properly grounded for a long and productive life. They need only Sunlight, Soil, and Water to sustain themselves, and are living examples of Responsibility, Interconnectedness, and Conservation. They are Generosity embodied, providing us with welcome shade, tasty fruits and nuts, medicines, and the means to make everything from the books we read, the homes we live in, and ships that have carried around the World… asking nothing in return except perhaps that we return some of that Love to the World around us.
Trees teach lessons in Patience, Perseverance, Harmony with Nature, moving with the changing needs of Life and the Seasons, Transformations, Self-Reliance, and Contentment with self. They live in three worlds at once, the Underworld, our World, and the Sky. I love them all with a love unique to itself that I scarcely understand myself, the depth of which continues to amaze me even as I feel it well inside me looking at the Trees outside my window. Bursting with Knowledge, each Tree has it’s own message for us if we only take the time to listen.
There are countless Trees out there and I couldn't possibly touch upon all of their symbolism in a single posting. Trees are great ones for thinking things over, living in harmony, taking the time for everything from Sunlight to the shape of a hill, not being hasty (as Tolkien so aptly captured with his Ents), and they especially like looking for the connections between all things. It is not surprising that cultures and religions around the world involve a great respect for Trees.
“Everything has its own place and function. That applies to people, although many don’t seem to realize it, stuck as they are in the wrong job, the wrong marriage, or the wrong house. When you know and respect your Inner Nature, you know where you belong.” Benjamin Hoff
“When you try to understand everything, you will not understand anything. The best way is to understand yourself and then you will understand everything.” Shunru Suzuki
“I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am not grateful to those teachers.” Kahlil Gibran
Consider all that you know of Trees, how they are represented in your culture, your favorite tale or painting. As my favorite username, Entwife, might suggest Tolkien’s Ents and Entwives are particular favorites when it comes to looking at the Plant Nation. These “monarchs of the glen” are the quietly assertive leaders within the plant kingdom. Just looking at trees in general teaches us so much though. They live on sunlight, soil and water, and are very self-sufficient. They create oxygen and thrive on our exhalations. All manner of creatures live in them and feed on them. This teaches us that we not only need each other to survive but are inextricably entwined.
Even in dying to make room for something else, Trees feed other species and eventually help to rebuild the very Earth which houses us all. From them we have created our homes, our modes of transportation, paper on which we express ourselves and keep our histories, medicines to heal, and gleaned from them countless other innovations that ease our lives. Long-lived and full of memories, Trees wait for the day that we will give up our destructive ways and live in harmony; giving and receiving due respect from All Our Relations. Right down to their graceful and colorful acceptance of the seasons, Trees invite us to give to the world around us, to yield lovingly a return of the energy and abundance they so willingly give themselves.
They remind us that sometimes, we cannot grow until we let go of whatever burdens are holding us back. Many trees have internal pieces that have died off and hardened, becoming a strengthening support instead of a channel for moving water and nutrients. Trees remind us that sometimes we too experience something similar. “What doesn't kill you makes you stronger” is true, and Trees are capable of surviving amazing amounts of destruction in the best possible way. They can show us how to take an event that has damaged us internally or externally, and use it to make us better able to meet our next challenge.
Through accepting others we accept ourselves, and vice versa. This positive creative energy can counter some pretty amazing destructive forces. Have you ever seen a tree that has grown around something that could have killed it? Or a tree that has been damaged by a storm only to continue growing in a new direction? The things we need in life are seldom what we want, but desire is not necessity. Of course, balance and moderation are just as important as acceptance or awareness.
Trees teach us to plant that hope…that seed of all possibilities, the potential for a better tomorrow, or for necessary growth. They will help us to see ourselves as clearly as possible, to live as balanced a life as possible, to treat others how we wish to be treated and to strive always to do what is right…not because others are watching or because it’s the path to riches fame or power…But because in some other life we may have been the lost, the broken, the unlovable that someone else gave respect to, supported, or encouraged. You get out of life what you put into it, and when we cause harm in any way to the World around us…we are only harming ourselves in the end because we are all connected.
“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in their way.” William Blake
“If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.” Jack Handey
Trees have given so much to us over many generations. We have given so little regard in return, and that pains me almost every day. We plant trees improperly and in incompatible climates on a whim just as easily as we mow them down to make way for a mall with a life expectancy of maybe a decade or two. It can take up to 50 years for an oak to mature and produce acorns. I’ll never forget the picture in my history book of the men who cut down a giant sequoia in order to display it as possibly the oldest and largest living tree. Pollution, strip mining, razing sites to build upon and countless other destructive ventures are depriving us of some of the greatest Teachers we could ever encounter! I’m grateful for all of the Plant Nation, but especially the Standing People.
Aside from straight out destruction, perhaps one of the worst things I see every year is the practice of “topping” a tree. Anyone who takes two minutes to educate themselves on proper tree care will quickly learn that this is mutilation and not proper pruning of a tree. Please stop! Cutting the top off of a tree will make the tree vulnerable to storm damage, disease, and insects. It will not cause a tree to become “bushier”, or keep it small in size.
While a few select varieties of trees can benefit from coppicing, topping will cause a Tree to panic and grow twice as fast in order to save itself! Nor is it acceptable to me to plant a tree without allowing for it’s eventual size and then further punish it by hacking off it’s head! Please! Spread the word about this, express your outrage when the city you live in mutilates it’s trees, or even take the time to print out this vital information from the National Arbor foundation or Plant Amnesty and post it where others can find it. If we could stop torturing my much beloved friends, I would be most grateful…and so would they!
Trees are marvelously adept at drawing out negative energy and clearing blockages without any harm to themselves. Trees absorb and redirect this energy, either grounding it into the Earth as they do with other natural energies like Lightning, or turning it to some other purpose. In this way, Trees can help us to clear ourselves of accumulated negativity; physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, and help guide us to a well grounded more creative self. They can help us unblock chakras and realign them into a proper balance where no one chakra is over or under-active.
They can choose to help us with whatever burdens they perceive us as carrying, and we may be surprised at the thoughts that arise within us during such personal exchanges. They are especially adept at helping us to achieve balance and healthy grounding. Trees delight in developing a strong lasting bond of friendship in which they can help us to achieve a new level of enlightenment or spiritual growth. Trees will most generously share their accumulated wisdom with a friend.Whenever we ask anything of Trees, or other Relations, for help we should always be grateful, and take steps to show that gratitude.
Trees have many associations through history, literature, tradition, culture, medicine and other direct benefits like paper or building materials. Studying them collectively and individually could easily be the work of a lifetime, as each type and species has their own message. In general, Forests are places of mystery, magic, danger, adventure, and the journey into wisdom and enlightenment in tales from around the World.
Trees teach us the importance of looking at life from all angles and levels, so that we can live in Harmony with All Our Relations. They teach us how to bend with storms, to dig our roots deep and stay grounded in a healthy way, how to become aware of and respect All Our Relations. I can think of no better guide for learning how to connect to others, develop healthy relationships and communities, and understanding our place on the Wheel of Life. “Treehuggers” was a label used rather recently and intended to be a slur. I have never really understood that attitude. Honestly, can you think of someone more deserving than these generous and patient beings?
“He who plants a tree- plants a hope…
He who plants a tree- plants joy…
He who plants a tree- plants youth…
He who plants a tree- plants love…
Hands that bless are blessed.
Plant! Life does the rest!
Heaven and Earth
Help who plants a tree
and his work
It’s own reward shall be.” Lucy Larcom
“I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I’ll never see a tree at all.
Ogden Nash, “Song of the Open Road,” 1933
“It is well that you should celebrate your Arbor Day thoughtfully, for within your lifetime the nation’s need of trees will become serious. We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us, not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted.” Theodore Roosevelt, 1907 Arbor Day Message