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. 

world tree

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.

maypole-sky

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.

Turning to Birch for Inspiration

Following up on that vision of the fairy dance among the birches from my previous post

What birch can help you with, is making new beginnings possible, by filling you with that yearning for more. By placing that spark in your head, and intoxicating you with the dream of an adventure. By the realization of what you might achieve if only you put your mind to it.

Paper-birch-catkins

Or maybe you have been living for some time with that dreaded feeling of dissatisfaction, of knowing that you want more from life, yet not quite knowing how to even begin to change your current circumstances. How do you find your passion again? Sometimes life itself can be so exhausting that it seems impossible to relax, or the stresses related with everyday survivals and responsibilities, ‘grown-up life’, take such a toll that we simply cannot seem to make the time to dream anymore.

Beith invites you to step away from your normal world. She can help you reconnect with your life purpose. Its core message can be summarized as

‘Start following the way of your heart, and the path will be illuminated for you.’

Consulting birch doesn’t always need to be about big life missions, though: sometimes all you need is that little spark of inspiration when you feel stuck with that project you are working on (or can’t decide what would be a good way to spend your day off, or…)

5-minute ritual for inspiration

  • Close your eyes, breathe in and out slowly for a minute or two. Allow yourself to relax. 
  • Visualize how you are sitting beneath a birch tree. Feel its solidity, then look up and see its branches dancing lightly in the breeze, enjoy the sun shining through and caressing your face.
  • State what it is that you would like some inspiration for, and ask Beith if she wants to help you.
  • See how a spark seems to descend down from the sun, and floating towards you, eventually settling on top of your heart, and then seeming to enter you. Feel how its energy is re-invigorating you.
  • Say thanks, and return to the normal world.

It may be that inspiration strikes right away, but give it some time. Trust that the spark will show you the way. Remember the message of beith. Just start walking. She will be your guide.

For this ritual to be more effective, it would help if you first take some time to get acquainted with birch spirit. If possible, go to the forest, and sit with her for some time, taking plenty of time to admire her otherworldly beauty. (If this is not feasible for you, try to get a good sense of what a birch tree looks like, by looking at pictures, then, during a meditation, take the time to visualize her and just sit with her.)

Call to her spirit, maybe dance with the fairies if you happen to see them around, tell her about who you are and build a mental connection.  It is not necessary to do this every time, but she appreciates regular visitors.

A more elaborate version of the above ritual could be used as a kind of mini-vision quest. Not all of us have the option to spend multiple days out in the wilderness, after all…

Of Birch and elder, and the magic of beginnings.

And then came the challenge to write my first blogpost. 

For this first post, I would like to share some musings about what Birch and Elder have to teach us about new beginnings and the quest for inspiration.

Imagine walking through the forest. You aren’t really paying all that much attention, it’s been a long day at work, and while this is supposed to be your break from all that, you find it hard to relax. Tomorrow there’s again so much to do, and there’s this dinner party you are organizing, and you urgently need to go to the supermarket because you ran out of milk, and, and…

Thump. Hitting a stone on the path with your foot almost makes you fall. As you regain your balance, finally you take a moment to look around you, to actually SEE the forest around you. 

Birch

And your eyes are drawn towards a little clearing in the forest ahead of you, and in particular to the birch trees standing there. There’s just ‘something’ about the quality of the light that draws you in, that makes you want to be there…

And so you approach.

And as you get closer, you start to hear a faint music… And just as you reach the edge of the clearing, magic happens. It is as if a portal to another world opens in between the birches, and then a group of fairies come out, and start dancing. You watch them, mesmerized by their beauty and their joy. After a while, they notice you and invite you to join them.

And you dance, you dance…. Completely blissed out and losing all sense of time and space.

…Until the fairy queen announces that it is time for them to return back home. She asks you what you intend to do. Will you go with them to fairyland, or will you return home?

What will you answer?

Starting something new requires you to catch a glimpse of a dream first, it means having that yearning, that foolish idea that maybe, just maybe, it is possible to step out of your ordinary world and create beauty where now there exists none.

That first moment of intoxicating insight can be likened to stumbling onto a fairy dance and stepping out of this world just for a moment. And yet, tales like this usually come with a warning at the end: those who succumb to the temptation of the fairy queen are usually never seen again, or risk losing their grip on reality.

So what to do then? Let’s not leave the forest just quite yet, but go in a little deeper, to the older and darker parts of the forest.

And there you see a little tree that looks ancient, with a very gnarly bark.  She has a bit of a witchy vibe around her. But between the leaves, you notice how she’s loaded with black berries. This is elder. 

elderberries

You want to pick some to taste them, but at that moment the tree magically transforms, and you see an old wild woman standing before you, holding a basket of berries.

She warns you. I have much to offer you, my child, yet my gifts are not free. Eat these berries raw, and they will only make you sick. But take the time to transform them into wine or syrup, and they can become a powerful elixir that can heal many of your ills.

She hands you the basket of berries, and explains you what to do. You take the berries home and get to work, and discover that it is indeed hard work. For some of the recipes, you even need years of patience before the brew is finally ready!

…. And what is going to get you through that period of hard work? The realization that to start the magic, all you need to do is close your eyes to hear the fairies sing again.

Remember the lessons from these trees. Truly creating something new and worthwhile will always be hard work, and it can be very tempting to just stick with dreaming and trying to escape this world. So, let the knowledge that fairies do exist inspire you, and give you the stamina to create something really amazing and long-lasting!

And so I’ll pray to Birch and Elder that they may bless this blog-project, and that I may always remember this first lesson…