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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

The World Tree and the Maypole: a Creation Myth.

In the beginning, there was nothing but empty space. Nothing, but a single drop of pure Awen. 

And the drop brought forth a dream, and that dream became the first seed. As the seed hatched, the first tree was born. The tree that would become known as the World Tree.

And the drop of Awen became a well, so that the tree could drink of it. And as the tree drank, it began to grow. And behold, it began to have dreams of its own. And as these dreams took shape, they became the first leaves of the tree.

And as the leaves grew, they became aware of their surroundings, and as they became curious, together they dreamt up the sun, so that there would be light. And they found that the light of the sun nourished them, and allowed them to grow even more. 

As the rays of the sun reflected on the pool, the world began to sing with awen. 

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Now, the tree produced flowers, so that it would be able to better hear the song. And thus it was that, out of the union between the flowers and the song, the tree grew fruits, which carried the seeds of the tree.

Then the tree dreamed the first animals, so that they could eat the fruits and carry the seeds further away, so that new trees and plants could grow from them, and the area around the tree would become the first forest.

And the world tree loved them all, so much so that once a year, it shed all its leaves, to share his dreams with this beautiful world. And in return, we still share our own dreams with the Tree. For when we go to sleep, we return to our source, and become part of the Tree again. And as it feeds on our dreams and experiences, it becomes ever bigger and more beautiful…

And do you sometimes wonder about the nature of the gods? Well, maybe they are simply the dryad companions of the Word Tree, sent out into the world to help it curate its dreams, and to keep reminding us all of just how interconnected we are.

So, once a year, as we gather around our maypoles, let us be reminded of this. As we dance and see our strings intertwine, we are feeding the World Tree. And in coming together as a community, we are creating the seeds of the next generations.

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Together, let us dream a more beautiful world. For all of us, whether we are human, animal, plant or tree, together we ARE the world tree. May we dream of love, and share the beauty of diversity.