Some say I am immortal: cut me down as many times as you like, and I will always grow back. I will add this remark to that: it is only when you continue to cut me down, that I will continue to grow. For, what is the value of immortality if we are forced to walk the same road and live the same life forever?
Trees are static beings. Our body is shaped by the growing choices that we made long ago. The impact of a dry summer years ago in our youth, will affect the shape we take in adulthood.
Come visit me in the woods, and notice that I refuse to be pinned down to a single direction of growth. Where I grow, you will find me following many different pathways. I am explorer, and I will follow any path that calls to me.
And now I have some questions for you to ask yourself:
How have you shaped your life? Realize that you are not that different from a tree, for your soul has the shape of a tree. Your main branches were shaped by your experiences in childhood, and the chances for growth you were given back then. Are you happy with the person you have become?
Now consider what it means to be free. My branches are commonly chewed on by deer, and at first glance you may feel the need to protect me from that destruction. But where one branch is taken away, I am given the freedom to grow a new one, to catch new sunlight and be open to new experiences. And so I remain, ancient yet a child forever.
What would it take for you to cultivate a similar openness? Dare you let go of the path you are currently walking? Do you dare to notice the crossroads, chase a butterfly and change direction?
Ask yourself what is the path that leads towards wisdom. Is it living in the illusion that you can possibly know it all, or does it lie in the acceptance of the fact that you may have been wrong all along, and having the openness of mind to continue seeing and exploring new directions? And at the same time, remember to appreciate the life lessons you learned during you time of folly.
Hazel has no fear of beginning its journey towards the sky anew, over and over again if need be. How about us? When did that journey begin, really? Are we just talking about our current lifetime, or did ‘conception’ occur a very long time ago, and is this simply one of our many appearances here on earth? If so, who are we, really? Who is this being that inhabits our body, looks through our eyes? Is is just ‘us’, or is it a much older being that is steering us towards certain experiences?
Even if you do not believe in reincarnation, it is most definitely true that we are more than our current form. We are (and are not) the baby that was born from our mothers womb, the little frightened child at our first day at school, and so on…
The being that is the sum and total of all these experiences, of all our life choices now and in the future, we could refer to as ‘our higher self’. It is ‘us’, and yet not us, for its perspective is not limited by linear time. We are in contact with it continuously, through the voice of our conscience. Yet, all too often we choose to not listen, to allow its voice be drowned out by the noises of the modern world.
Hazel can help us to deepen that connection, to find that inner voice and become more attuned to it. For, like no other tree, hazel understands the challenge of living, of hearing the symphony of the many voices that make us into who we are. The following ritual can help us to tune into that more consciously.
Ritual – the hazel nut: attuning to our inner wisdom
- Close your eyes, breathe in and out slowly and deeply a number of times, feeling how gradually the world around you seems to slow down, and fall out of focus.
- Instead, you sense a glowing point of light in the area of your gut. Concentrating on it, note how it seems to have the shape of a hazelnut. This is the seat of your soul. As you turn your attention towards it, it begins to shine more brightly.
- Gradually, your perception of yourself begins to change: the nut, your core is who you really are, and everything else: your body, your current life, those hard-to-surpress thoughts about the fact that you still need to urgently do the dishes after finishing this meditation, all of that is but ‘the outgrowth’ of your core self, like the branches of the hazelnut that will shoot back out again every time a deer passes by to snack on them.
- That includes the thoughts emanating from your brain. They are just what animates this outer form. So, turn your focus away from all that, and towards the hazelnut.
- Allow it to grow and glow more and more brighter. Listen to the song that seems to emanate from it: Then ‘shift controls’: allow that song to be the animating force within you, rather than the chatter of your brain. Breathe in and out slowly, allowing the light to spread and the song to get louder. Feel how even as you allow the outer world to fade, paradoxically your perspective seems to grow wider rather than more limited.
- You are you, and not you at the same time. This is your ‘full self’, rather than the ‘moment-by-moment’-version that you usually experience. How do you feel? Are there any thoughts, feelings, messages,… welling up spontaneously? Pay close attention. It is possible that memories of previous lifetimes come back, or that one or your previous incarnations has a message to share with you. (After all, they are part of you: having done their bit of exploration, they now have earned their spot in the cockpit…)
- Stay immersed in this sense of connection for as long as you like. Note how the small annoyances of daily life suddenly seem unimportant, and your focus tends to be on the bigger picture, making it easier to see through illusions, harder to continue to lie to yourself about the truths you are not willing to face.
- After a while, the world around you will begin calling for your attention again. Allow the light to fade, as you return to normal consciousness. Give thanks to hazelnut and finish the meditation.
We need our ‘normal consciousness’ to be able to survive the challenges of everyday life. So, appealing as this sense of detachment may be, we cannot live in such a state forever. However, by practicing this meditation regularly, you will find that the connection becomes stronger, and it becomes easier to stay in touch with the guidance and the wider perspective that your higher self is constantly providing you with.
Celtic mythology tends to present the hazelnut as a symbol of wisdom. After doing this meditation, can you understand why that might be? What does it understand to be ‘wise’? Is it to know everything, or is it, rather, to be truly able to speak with the voice of experience?