Life through the eyes of a tree: roots

Before reading this, make yourself comfortable. Snuggle up in a blanket or feel the warm rays of the sun caressing your skin, depending on what the seasons are like where you live. Then, close your eyes and join me on another journey in the wonderful world of tree consciousness.


Imagine darkness. Not a threatening darkness, but a soft, caring, nourishing darkness. One that shows you the way rather than confusing you. All you want is to discover more, to merge with it, to be carried by it. And so you slowly expand your senses in an embrace of this nourishing darkness.

And you feel its whispers. You hear them vibrate within you. And you notice how you are not blind anymore, even though you have no eyes to see. For the soft vibrating somehow translates in a tree-dimensional image of the world around you. Slowly, other senses begin to add to that: an almost magnetic pull to go to certain areas, and to avoid others.

You sense how, if you expand yourself just a little bit more in a downward direction, you will be rewarded. There will be conversation, there will be friendship, there will be sharing. And so you stretch… and stretch.. …and very carefully, you make yourself longer, until you hit a pool of emotions. A trickle of water, a source of life. It invites you to come even closer, and you hear it whisper memories of mountain streams, of long journeys through the earth: of time spent within the body of a plant.

Then, as if in response, you feel the larger organism of which you are a part, stir and chant to you. Echoes of sunlight reach you, reach through, and start their own conversation with the droplet of water you just discovered. A journey begins, a dance, a sharing: as the water elemental attached to the stream discovers new paths and rises up through the root that you are, up into the tree. Along the way, memories are exchanged, allowing the tree to share in the magic of the thunderstorm. In return, letting the elemental rest for a while within a leaf, for a moment of sunbathing before being released out into the air. The tree breathes.

On the out-breath, a wave of gratitude comes back, reaching down into the roots. This time, a ray of sunlight floods down, dancing, reverberating through the roots of the trees. Continuing the conversation with the earth. Darkness infused with light, with laughter, with joy. For a split second, everything is illuminated, and the shape of mother earth revealed. And you rest safely within her lap, knowing that she will always nourish you, lead you to where the stories are to be found, guide you to where the richest conversations can happen.

And you crawl on, ever expanding, always reaching out, connected to the sun even though you are living your life within the embrace of darkness.

Rooted in love, you feel content.

(This post is the second in a series. The first one can be found here. )

Life through the eyes of a tree: the heart

This is the first in a series of posts that tries to look at the world from the perspective of a tree.

To begin, I would like you to visualize the following. Go to a place in the forest that you feel closely connected to, and see yourself sitting there, with your back resting against a huge chestnut tree. It is autumn. Right in front of you, you notice one of its fruits, the prickly skin protecting the chestnuts from those that want to eat them before they are ripe.


And you begin to wonder about that. Why the protective measures? Why does the tree not simply give away its fruits, but does feel the need to protect them?

And so you ask the tree if it will help you understand. In response, you feel your perspective changing, and it feels as if your body is slowly being absorbed inside the tree-body, and you become ‘the tree’. At first, that feels restrictive. You even panic slightly for a moment. What if you are not going to get out of here again? What if you are going to be a prisoner in here forever?

But then you relax. And slowly you begin to let go of your human senses, and you start to breathe with the tree. You listen to the sound of your heartbeat, and how it pumps the blood through your body. Relaxing further, you focus on that for a while.

As you do so, you feel your perspective expanding. You are walking around the forest again. Not in your human skin, but as a kind of expansion of the tree body. You see how you are attached to it through a kind of umbilical cord. And you realize that that cord does in no way restrict you, but instead, gives you freedom. For it takes care of all your material needs: as long as the tree is there, you are assured of nourishment, because the tree freely provides these for you.

Take some time to explore the forest from this new perspective. You are truly part of it now: for the tree not only shares its resources with you, but also its senses. Translated in a way you understand, that feels as if you have suddenly developed an ability for a kind telepathic communication: where before, the forest was a silent place, now it seems almost loud, as if multiple choirs are singing at the same time.


It is hard to describe what it is exactly that you hear, and the word hearing isn’t exactly right either, for that would be a too one-dimensional way of describing it. For the ‘hearing’ that the tree provides you with, doesn’t happen with your ears alone, but engages all of your senses at the same time: you see it as a wave of colours, as an alphabet of perfume, interwoven with an ocean of sound. It is a language that is way more complex and rich than human language: it is as if every instant you engage with it, you receive treasure chests full of rich impressions, and whole stories download into your brain, instantly, complete with sounds, impressions, as if you were their protagonist.

As you walk through the forest, you realize that you are not simply visiting: in this moment, you ARE the forest.

Then you think back of what originally brought on this reverie, and you turn your attention back to where you came from, kneeling next to the tree to examine one of the chestnut burrs more closely. You admire the cosy little nest that they form around the seeds. You pick it up. And in that moment, you become it. Your mind links to the chestnuts, and you feel/hear/see the burr whisper to you in the colourful language of the forest: I will keep you safe until it is time for you to get born. I will pour all of my love into you, so that you get the best possible chance of survival.

And in that moment, you feel held and loved, not only by the burr, not only by the tree, but by the forest as a whole. You know that, whatever happens next, whether you manage to become a tree, or whether you become squirrel food, you are here, part of this family, part of this community. How you develop and where you end up growing roots will decide in which way you grow up, and what your experiences will be like, but you trust like you have never trusted before. You are part of the web of life. It breathes through you. And you are an immortal part of it.


At that moment, you sense that it is time to go, and you feel yourself being sucked back into the tree, and then, after a few moments, find yourself back in your own body. And you hear the tree whisper ‘Did that answer your question?’

We are used to perceiving the world as human beings, locked into our own head, with our perspective limited to what our eyes can see, and where our legs can carry us. This visualization gives you a bit of a sense of just how limited that view is. For how can we know what the world is like when seen through senses that we do not possess ourselves? Next time you go to the forest, I invite you to try if you can repeat this exercise: go to a tree, and take time to introduce yourself: explain who you are, and what the world looks like for you. Then, ask if it would be willing to let you share in its perspective. If you receive a positive vibe, sit down with your back to the tree, close your eyes and let yourself be sucked in…

Elder: Preparing for the Dark Times

I am elder. Tree-gift. Medicine.

Yet, beware, you who seek my lessons. Do not come to me unprepared. Have you come for learning? Then remember that learning requires the ability to hear. Have you come for healing? Then ask yourself whether you are prepared to become whole.

True wisdom, true healing will change you. It will force you to remember who you are, to reforge the net that connects you to the world around you. What is heard cannot be unheard. What is seen cannot be unseen. It is the story of Cerridwen’s cauldron, and it is my lesson as well.

So, come closer if you dare, and accept my healing.


Are you ready for initiation? For that is my mystery. Those who are called to work with me are those who consciously step into the darkness to explore the inner mysteries. This is not a letting go like yew, but rather a deepening. My darkness is not one that needs to be healed and transcended, but one that calls to be embraced.

I call you to yourself. I call you to the otherworld. I cal you to the quest for understanding.

I am the tree that protects those that choose to put themselves in service to these mysteries. This is my gift to you. I will not make the path easier, but I promise you my medicine. In going deep, you are forced to let go of your defenses. And so I offer you mine instead.

Take my hand. I will help you step forward and honour your calling.


The first step: gathering resources

Nobody should try to enter the deeper forest unprepared. Before you go, take time to gather ingredients and tools for the quest.

You may already have done that, and reached this point after years of preparation. Or it may be that you were only called to this quest a short time ago, and had little time to prepare. And even if you took a long time getting here, it may not be clear to you whether you managed to gather the right things.

So, let us start there now.

Ritual of gathering

  • Open ritual space (in your own way, or by using the suggestions given in the introductory section of this book)
  • Visualize yourself walking through the forest. The sun is shining, it is a beautiful late-summer day. However, you are very much aware that the first signs of autumn will be around soon, and you need to be prepared when that time comes. So, you call out for guidance.
  • As you look out in front of you, you notice how a particular pathway suddenly looks very appealing. Walk in that direction.
  • Follow the narrow trail. A very non-assuming tree on your left-hand side catches your attention. You notice a little old lady standing right next to you. She introduces herself to you as elder-woman.
  • She asks who you are, and what brings you to this place. So, you explain: what does the coming (metaphorical) winter mean to you? How have you prepared so far, and in what ways do you feel underprepared? What scares you?
  • She points to the berries on the elder-tree, explains their purpose to you, and invites you  to pick some. She adds a warning that, while a potion made from these berries will protect you against some of the hardships of winter, you should not eat them raw.
  • She offers you her help in brewing that potion. She gives you a list of further ingredients for you to gather, and asks you to return when you have found them.
  • You thank her, gather some of the berries, then walk back home, promising to return when ready.
  • finish the ritual in you usual way.

In the days that follow, take time to think more about the instructions you received. Do you understand the meaning of the extra ingredients you have been told to gather? Do some further meditation/questing on this if necessary.

These may be practical acts to perform, like talking to certain people, going places, learning about specific things. Let your intuition guide you. Be aware that the purpose behind an action may only become clear to you after you have performed it.

Another thing to keep in mind is the need for self-care.  Especially when a situation is difficult, it is important that you take good care of your own mental and physical health. There is no point in seeking healing while neglecting the needs of your body at the same time. Think about this, and how this also is a necessary ingredient for a potion intended to help you survive through difficult times. In what ways are you currently ignoring your own needs, and what could be added to the potion to help with that?

Ash – Who are you?

Hear the challenge of the ash tree. It is the tree of the hunter, and therefore the tree that calls us to responsibility: how do you choose to live your live?

I pierce the earth. Newborn. Like a spear, I reach for the sky. I rejoice in existing. I dance with joy at my newfound identity.

Then, as years go by, insight grows. I myself have not chosen the form I have been given. I am ‘ash’ because my ancestors were. In very real ways, I am them. And so I start exploring my world in a different way. I am flow. I am breath. I am the spirit within, expressed through my being.

In the hunt, the hunter becomes one with his prey. Both transcend their individuality. The cycle of life becomes visible on the material plane through them. The hunted accepts that today is his time to die. Accepting this sacrifice in gratitude, the hunter realizes that one day, he will need to match this sacrifice himself.


For millennia, hunters have used my wood to create their spears. In doing so, they have accepted this sacred covenant: we are all part of the cycle of life. There is no ‘I’, there is only ‘we’, temporarily expressed by a body that takes on individual form.

Who are you? This is the question that every tree in the forest will ask you to answer. When you come to me, remember that the right answer must always include the word WE .

What ash asks of us is to become more fully aware of the miraculous fact that we are alive, and of the responsibility that comes with that, requiring us to work with that gift to the fullest of our ability.

Note that this does not mean a call to strive for material success, or that you have failed if you haven’t become an amazing artist or a leader in whatever field you work in. All it asks you is to become more aware of the fact that the web of life saw a need to produce you to live in this particular place and time. You, and not someone else. And that requires you to try and summon the courage to show your true face to the world, laying down any masks you like to hide behind.

That is how you pay back the sacrifice of those who died so you can live. That is how you sacrifice yourself to the hunter when it is your time. By striving to be authentically you.

Ritual: birth- choosing to exist

  • Open the ritual in the usual way. Call on ash to guide you through the ritual.
  • Close your eyes, and enter into meditation.
  • As you open your inner eyes, visualize your soul as being contained within a seed, buried in the earth.
  • Even though you are below ground, somehow you are able to observe everything that happens above ground, in the ‘real’ world. Moreover, you find that you are even able to participate in it, to some extent: you can conjure up a dream image of yourself, and in that ghostly form you can participate in the life above ground.
  • You notice that most people don’t even realize that they are dealing with a projection rather than a real person. (And how sure are you about the person you are talking to?). However, you are also aware, even if maybe only on some subconscious level, that this situation is ultimately unsustainable. When stretched to endurance, the image will crumble. Also, as a ghost, you cannot fully take part in life, as you cannot eat any of the delicacies life has to offer. This type of life literally cannot sustain your soul long-term.


  • Pause the meditation to reflect on this. Do you recognize yourself in this situation? Why do you do this? What would the real you be like?
  • Make a decision: decide to leave the shadow self behind, and to become real. This is a big and scary journey, and you do not/should not start it without taking the time to properly prepare first. Right now, all you need to do is make a commitment to yourself. Take an oath, and call on Ash as witness and ally.
  • Return to the meditation.
  • You are still standing in the world as your ghost self. Walk away from the city, and enter the forest. Walk until you find yourself in a clearing with a big ash tree at the center.
  • Kneel before it. (You may want to repeat this in front of a real tree.)
  • Explain why you came, and how you came to this conviction. Then, speak the following words aloud, three times:

I choose to exist.

I choose to exist.
  • Sit some time in silence to let the significance of this decision sink in. Then go and hug the tree. Feel how it envelops you in a protective embrace. Listen to any advice it may have. 
  • If you are in a real forest, pick up a token (listen to your intuition), and place it on your altar.
  • Give thanks, and finish the ritual.

Now that the decision has been made, it is time to prepare. You will need to prepare both the seed (making sure you fully understand what real means), and the ground. Growing in fertile soil is so much easier, after all… At the very least, you aught to make sure that you do not need to make this journey alone.

Hazel: attuning to our inner wisdom

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?

Ailm – Finding your way home

The following ritual is a follow-up to the ritual from my previous post, finding strength within our tears. It can be useful when finishing a time of retreat, or before going back to work at the end of your holiday. Or, when you need to go and make a difficult announcement, like a sexual coming-out, or the ending of a relationship. Or, simply, when you have finally mustered the courage to do that one thing you really, really want to do but are so very afraid of at the same time. Now is your time, now is your moment. You can do it. For you are worth it.

2017-02-12 20.25.52If you are using this ritual together with the ritual of tears, be sure to leave sufficient time in between. If you felt a call to the mountaintop, probably that means that you need to spend some time up there, taking advantage of the high vantage point to get some new perspective on life. For instance, you may want to consider working with a different tree first, then come back to Ailm when you feel ready to reintegrate your newfound insights into your everyday life.

Part of the ritual is based on the observation how commercially grown pine tree forests tend to be green deserts, where almost nothing grows. This can serve as a powerful warning agains mono-culture, or the tendency we may sometimes have to impose our own ideas on other people. A society where everybody is forced to be exactly similar, and where diversity is discouraged, cannot possibly be a healthy one. Yet that is what so often happens, when those who are a bit different are forced to be quiet and hide their true colours in order to keep the peace and not upset the majority…

Ritual – returning home

  • visualize yourself standing on the mountaintop again.
  • Look out towards the view, and feel how the insight is growing within you that you cannot stay here, that it is time to return home. Take one last look at the vista below, drink in the view, and store it inside your memory, realizing that it will always be here to come back to.
  • Then, turn to Ailm, the pine tree that is growing next to the place where you stand. As you say your goodbyes, you notice a pine cone lying at your feet. As you pick it up, you hear the tree whispering:

These are the seeds of the rest of your life. Sow them wisely.

pine cone

  • Take a moment to ponder these words. Do you realize what they mean? Hug the tree to thank it, then start making your way down the mountain.
  • As you walk down, memories of the world below start flooding in. You may feel resentment, even fear. After all, you came up the mountain because you needed a time-out. Feel the pine-cone you hold in your hand, and remind yourself of what you have learned, about the world you live in, and about truly being the person you are. You are now heading down the mountain, seeking to find a life that will allow you to fully express that person, with all its beauty and imperfections.
  • Stop for a moment, and think about what such a world would look like. What would need to change? How much of that is within your control?
  • As you walk further down, you find yourself in a part of the forest that was commercially planted to harvest wood. It consists entirely of pine. Ailm is the tree we are working with at the moment, yet being here somehow feels completely and entirely wrong. See how you are standing in a kind of desert, where the trees above obstruct most of the light from reaching through to where you stand. As you look down, see how the forest floor is covered in a thick layer of pine needles, where nothing seems to grow.
  • Think back of the lush growth on the mountaintop, where despite the harsher conditions, plant life was abundant.
  • What lesson is there in this? Think back to your list of ‘things to change’. How many of the items of your list were about ‘if only other people were more like me, or had the same opinion about things like me’ ? Look around you, and realize that that is not the solution you are looking for.
  • Walk around the forest, but now pay attention to the individual trees, rather than the forest as a whole. As you take time to feel the spirit of an individual tree, you feel its spirit stir, and you recognize one of the people in your immediate environment. And you realize that they too, feel lost sometimes, and need to make a mountaintop journey like you just did. Touch the tree, and whisper ‘I love you as the person you are’. You see how it transforms, and takes on a different shape (maybe even a different type of tree, or a flower, or..) A shape that better reflects who that person is. Do you recognize them? Does it maybe teach you something about the person that you aren’t aware about?
  • Continue walking through the forest, touching trees, and transforming them. Allow each of them to represent a person, a place, an aspect of your life. Also include people or groups that you have a difficult relationship with. Does this help you to see your life in a different perspective?
  • As you are working, notice how the place becomes gradually more beautiful, more ‘alive’, and starts feeling more welcoming, more like home. Eventually, you pass by a spot where it feels like something is missing. You look at the forest floor, and see how there’s a hole there, waiting for a seed to be planted.
  • You remember the pine-cone you are still holding. As you open your hand, you see how it has transformed. It has become YOUR seed. And this is where it needs to be planted.
  • Carefully put the seed into the waiting hole, cover it with earth, and water it. Look around you to the forest, and to the sun shining above, and ask them for support to allow you to grow, to thrive in this place. Simply asking may be enough, but if you didn’t feel at home before, it might be a good idea to speak to the forest and try to explain them how and why that was. Just this once, allow them to look into your heart, and let them how you really feel about things. Listen to yourself as you are speaking. It might be that some of the things you say come as a surprise, even to yourself.
  • You sense how they are supportive of you, and it may be that some of them have a message to share.
  • When you are ready, see how all this love and warmth is allowing your seed to grow. pine-sapling
  • When the time feels right, step into it, feel yourself transform into the tree, become part of the forest, and enjoy the sunlight on your leaves.
  • You are home. Give thanks for the experience, and finish the ritual.


After you have finished, it may be a good idea to take out your journal and write down your experiences. Are there some ideas that have come up that you can implement in real life? What have you learned about the people in your life? And maybe, difficult and scary as that can be, you should have some of the conversations you had with the trees, with the persons who are part of your life?

In this ritual, Ailm reminds us that home is ultimately a place we co-create with the people around us. When we are feeling bad, it can be tempting to get stuck in an attitude of ‘but they don’t understand me’. Remember that they have feelings too. That, although you may have genuine reasons to feel different, or not welcome to show who you really are, that does not give you the automatic right to demand of the people around you that they let go of everything that has meaning to them and switch around to your version of the facts.

What you can, and should, demand, though, is the right to be fully appreciated as yourself. The right for the forest to thrive as the wonderful and diverse community that it is. Allowing you, and everyone around you, to grow up to be beautiful beings, together creating the forest community.

Ailm – Finding strength within our tears

Come closer, and listen to what Ailm has to teach us about life:

I am here. Winter and summer. Always present, always awake.

I do not strive to be the best, or the most magnificent. I strive to be me. I strive to find my own place in the sun.

Look for me near the mountaintop, and you will notice that I am not big. Life circumstances here are not always easy. But that is not what I seek. I seek the sun. I seek light. I seek room to breathe and be what I am. And that is enough for me.

Come close, and you will probably smell my tears. You will smell my efforts at staying alive. Take my sweat, take my tears. They are my pearls. They are a sign that I am alive. That I am here, that I am connected. So let me share my efforts with you, may my striving bring you healing.


When there is snow, and it is cold and wet, I do not fear it. For I know that I can survive. Look for me in the harshest of circumstances, in the darkest hard of winter, and you will find the promise of the coming spring. You will find greenery where all else has given up or has taken shelter.

Let me be your shelter. Let me show you where I find my sun. Pick up one of my tears, and hold it to the light. Do you see how it shines? It is a little flame born of my inner fire. The fire that rushes through my veins. Take it, and let it be my promise of strength, my promise that even in the darkest days, there is light to be found somewhere.

Ailm is a tree that weeps. Go into a pine or fir tree forest, and it will not be long before you spot a tree whose trunk is littered with shiny yellow tears, made of crystallized tree resin. These are the tears of the tree, but also its hidden treasure, for they can be used both as a basis for incense and for coughing syrup, helping us to honor the sacred and to bring us healing.

The following ritual is intended to help you acknowledge your own pain and fears. It is not intended as a depressing ritual, but rather as a form of liberation, helping us to discover who we truly are, to realize that we are beautiful, and to get closer to an honest appreciation of ourselves.

As always, it is highly recommended to spend some time in the forest among the pine/fir trees before engaging in any of these rituals. The ritual itself probably works best when performed in the forest, but it isn’t essential. If you are doing this indoors, try to harvest a bit of resin (remember to thank the tree!!), or something that allows you to smell the tree’s scent.

Ritual of tears – finding your mountaintop

  • Open ritual space in your own way.
  • If you are doing this in the forest, pick a tree to work with (try to find one that has wept tears of resin). Greet it, and introduce yourself to it. Who are you? Do not overthink this. Just allow words to come naturally (or, if they don’t, simply spend some time feeling present in your body). If it feels appropriate, touch or hug the tree. (When doing this indoors, do the same, but instead of working with a real tree, sing its name, call in its presence, and visualize how you are standing before a strong and solid mature pine tree.)
  • Sit down with your back leaning against the tree (real or in visualization). Close your eyes, relax, and enter into meditation.
  • When you open your inner eyes, you find yourself sitting in the same location. Before you, a pathway leads you out of the forest, towards a mountaintop.
  • As you walk the path, you pass by a number of encampments. Each of them represents a part of your life where you sometimes don’t feel entirely at home or at ease, or where you feel less able, or not entirely accepted by other people. Then walk away, allowing yourself to mourn about a kind of life that seemingly cannot be yours. Then remember that this does not represent who you are, but only speaks of who the world forces you to be. Leave it all behind, and walk on.


  • As you walk onwards, the scenes change, and you now walk past a series of mirrors. In each of them, you see a part of yourself which you feel is an essential part of your identity. They are the bits that make you ‘you’. Take any of these away, and you wouldn’t be the same person anymore. (Note that these are not necessarily talents, or easy parts of your identity. Some will, but this can also include your sexual identity, or the fact that you secretly hate the taste of chocolate, or the fact that you are still mourning the death of your unborn child, or…) Taking some of these things away might make your life easier, but it would also diminish your unique, quirky you-ness.
  • Embrace each version of you that you encounter, and tell them that you love them.
  • Continue the walk. Soon, you arrive at the mountaintop. Sit down, bask in the sunlight, and enjoy the view. Then, allow yourself to weep. Let them be tears of joy about the wonderful, colorful person you have just discovered. Tears about all the times that you feel limited in expression yourself and showing your true colors, or speaking about your pain. Take as much time as you need, do not rush this.


  • Then, after a while, start visualizing how your tears are flowing into the earth, nourishing and revitalizing it. Feel how you are growing roots, and these tears are what gives you strength. Then, look to into your hand, and see how some of your tears have crystallized into beautiful, shiny pearls: your gift to the world.
  • Now, end the meditation and turn your attention back to the tree. Exchange tears. Give yours as an offering to it, and accept some of the trees tears in return. If you want, you can eat them and feel the tree’s healing powers spread through your body.
  • Give the tree a final hug, then close the ritual.

You can do this before going on a holiday or retreat, or simply because you need a time-out. Of course, you cannot stay on the mountaintop together, but if you felt a call to the mountaintop, probably that means that you need to spend some time up there, taking advantage of the high vantage point to get some new perspective on life…

So, enjoy your stay, and breath some fresh air first. In a later blog post, we will suggest a ritual for reuniting with your everyday world.