Linden: Standing at the crossroads of life

My previous post was about the Linden Tree, and offered some suggestions on working with the energy of this tree. For this post, I would like to add my own personal story to that, and write about the influence this tree has had in my own life, and, effectively, has put me on a life path that would lead towards the gods.

For make no mistake. Trees are beings with agency. They may seem helpless, and at the mercy of fate (often in the shape of one of us humans cutting them down), but they have a voice, and they can have far more influence on our life than we may think. The key however, is that they will never force their company on you. But they can be very powerful guides to those who are willing to listen to them.

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The first time I found the linden tree on my path was at a moment that turned out to be life changing for me. This was at the first OBOD Linden Gathering in Germany, now four years ago. It was my very first camp experience, and I was terrified. For the first time in my life, I was going to meet real druids. And I was afraid of them. Yes, I was on the druid path myself, had started the OBOD course about a year prior to that, and was greatly enjoying it. But…

… who were these people? Would I even like them? More importantly, how would they react to me, this baby fledgling druid who had only just set feet upon the path?

So I can tell you that I barely slept the night before.

Then, upon arrival, within minutes I had received my first hug. From a total stranger. And I felt… welcome. Accepted. Able to relax and just be my real self, in a way that I had rarely felt able to do in real life. In that moment I knew that I had found my home, my tribe, my path.

How often does it happen that you find yourself at a crossroads moment in your life, and you are fully aware of it? A moment when you can literally feel the tectonic plates of fate shifting right under your feet? When you know that, even years in the future, you would be referring to events in your life as having happened ‘before’ or ‘after’ that instant, like a personal version of years ‘Before Christ’ and ‘After Christ’? Before and after the Linden Tree, it is for me…

It happened to me then. I walked through that weekend in a state of dazed amazement, doing my very much to take in as much of it as I possibly could, until finally that dreaded moment came: the time of going home, of saying goodbye, and ‘see you next year’.

It felt like staring in the abyss. As if you’ve found heaven yet you are being told ‘it is not yet time for you, you first need to go back and lead your life’. Luckily I wasn’t sent home alone. For the tree that had been the patroness of that camp, would be coming home with me: we were all given a little Linden Tree as a farewell gift.

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That tree is still with me now. My garden is too small to accommodate a big tree, but I have negotiated with her, and she agreed on the compromise of me buying her the biggest pot the garden center has on sale. So… now she forms the proud centerpiece of my garden altar. And I bring her an offering of water every morning.

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That’s how she first came into my life, as a major catalyst for change. For make no mistake: my life DID in fact change after that. Because it made me realize just how important the spiritual path is for me. Where before, I had practiced my druidry in secret, not even telling those closest to me about it, I began to find the courage to become more open about it. And I realized that this wasn’t a path I could walk alone. And so I began to actively seeking out other people…

I probably have more friends now than in any previous period of my life. And ultimately, I have to thank the Linden Tree for that.

It seems I can expect this tree to cross my path when I find myself at a crossroads. (Or should I say that perhaps, it is this tree that somehow creates these crossroads moments for me?)

The next significant encounter was while going on a walk, and suddenly feeling a strong nudge form a tree. With an invitation to come and sit with her for a while. And you guess it, what other tree could that possibly be than the linden tree?

While sitting there and enjoying a beautiful summer day, a piece of fallen tree branch caught my attention. Somehow I knew that I was supposed to take it home with me. I didn’t have a clue why, but it felt important. So I did. With no real idea as to what I was supposed to do with it, I put it on my altar. Sometimes, while meditating, I would hold it and play with it. And suddenly, another epiphany: wouldn’t this stick make a very nice drumstick? Maybe it is time to get yourself a shamanic drum…

My adventures while making that drum are a story for another time, but suffice to say that that drum was another gateway, as it caused me to meet Cernunnos. A god that I would end up making a vow of dedication to the year after that. The linden tree as the tree that shows you the pathways towards becoming a shaman or a priest? Oh hell yes.

And in retrospect, it was all spelled out form me the moment I found that stick. Tell me, what does that shape remind you of? Antlers, anyone?

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And she continues to give me little nudges like that. Not all as spectacular as the two instances I recounted here (thank the gods, not sure how I would survive that 🙂 ), but make no mistake: she’s there in the background, watching…

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