Life through the eyes of a tree: leaves

(This is the third and final part of ‘life through the eyes of a tree. The previous parts, the heart and roots can be reached by clicking on the respective links.)

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Imagine freedom, dancing in the wind, a life spent as pure breath, lived on the wings of song.

What do you see when you look at the sky? Is it what science tells you – a place where nothing happens, just some molecules spread out thinly, or is it a place of wonder? Even with human senses, you can perceive some of its miracles: just think of the wonders of sound. And your cell-phone may have convinced you of just how much information that ’empty’ sky can carry.

Now, imagine that you could be just that, that your life could be spent simply as an antenna listening to these songs, helping them get carried along, shouting out and adding your own voice to the concerto. Imagine, being a leaf of a tree.

Who ever told you that trees do not have ears, that they do not have eyes? They do, they just do not see in the same way as us.. Every leaf is a living organism on its own. It breathes, it has a heartbeat. And it hears the whispers of the wind, because it dances along with it. It hears the subtle vibrations of birdsong, and responds to them with tears of joy.

Imagine having not one, but thousands of these little ears at your disposal. Like pixels on a screen, they form a reflection of the vibrations of the sky. Then this picture is enriched by the rays of the sun and the way they hit the leaves.

But how can the tree even use this information if it does not have a central nervous system, if it does not have a brain? The mistake you are making here is thinking that the tree is operating as a separate organism. The tree is forest, and its brain is the entire forest. The tree is just the tentacle that speaks with the sky.

The tree is the dancer, that performs a ballet with the wind every day. The audience is the entire forest. Connected by underground fungi, the earth itself becomes aware of the love song high above.

And then, at some point, the coming of winter is announced, and the theatre closes for its winter recess. But not just like that. One final show will take place. And this time the leaves are not merely listening. This time, they are the messenger. They shout out their appreciation with a dazzling display of colour. Going out with a bang, they call that.

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I repeat my suggestion. Imagine being a leaf. Imagine living a life that consists of nothing but dancing with your surroundings, of being part of the most magnificent painting of the planet. Pure expression.

To then end your life in the womb of mother earth, dreaming of another year, of a rebirth where you yourself will be the foundation for the next generation. Alive through others. Listening to the concertos that you used to be a part of yourself. Rejoicing in the memories of song.

 

Samhain musings

Have you ever wondered why we die? Why there is a time of winter following the time of summer? Why must all submit to the rule of nature that nothing lasts forever?

Well, isn ‘t it an obvious thing, once you start thinking about it more deeply? Because we all need a break. We need time to digest and have a more distant perspective.

For you have for sure experienced this for yourself. Standing on a high vantage point, overlooking the area, everything seems obvious. You can clearly see where all the roads are, where they will lead you to, and what path you need to take to get to a given destination. But then, once you have made your plans and set off for the journey, sooner or later doubt will start to set in. Was it left or right at this junction? And wasn’t there an easier road somewhere? You find that the road is riddled with obstructions that somehow hadn’t been visible from up high…

Yet we do the best we can. We live, we try our best. We have successes, and we make mistakes. We develop strategies that, for better or worse, allow us to navigate through the complexities of live. But there’s always a vague memory of that original vision, of that time when everything seemed clear.

That is why we need to die. To allow us to reconnect to the essence every once in a while. To recharge, to offload, and to prepare to begin anew.

This is, of course, not without sadness. For turning away means that we have to leave behind what we had started to build, say goodbye to those we loved. And that is hard.

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Maybe that is why it is good to think about the meaning of death while we are still alive. To get over our fears. To realize that there is fundamentally nothing to be afraid of. And that the only things we will be leaving behind, are things that are only of secondary importance. That we only leave behind that which we do not need anymore. For that is really all we lose. The connections that matter, the bounds forged by love, these will remain. And those that we care about will never forget us, and we will be able to keep in touch or see each other again on the other side later.

This Samhain, think of this. Think of what is so important for you that you will never leave it behind, and what are the things that you could do without. Then remind yourself of the implications. What are the things you spend most of your time on? If these are not the important things, then maybe you should rearrange your priorities…

Exploring Awen: seeking connection

If you have read my previous posts, then hopefully you have tried the suggested exercise and tried to connect to your deep self through writing. In this post I would like to explore that method a bit more.

We are all familiar with our conscience, probably most strongly with that nagging feeling of unease you get when you ignore it, when you neglect to do something, or push through with a plan of action, even though deep down you know that it probably isn’t such a good idea. We all cry out for guidance at least occasionally, and so it is worth entertaining the notion that that guidance is there, that it is somehow a built-in feature of being human. For no matter how often we ignore it, most of the time that gut feeling actually turns out to be right.

There’s a lot we humans disagree on, especially relating to spirituality. But I have never ever heard anyone, even the staunchest atheist, deny the existence of the inner voice of our conscience. And so a question that is worth asking, is: can we teach ourselves to listen better? If we were to pay more attention to it, would that voice have more to teach us? And of course, by asking that question, a second one arises: who is speaking? Is it our higher self? Our inner guides? Maybe the gods? Or possibly all of the above?

I am not going to tell anyone what to believe. My personal opinion is that it is probably all of the above, but if you are not comfortable with that, then just see this as a method of connecting to your subconscious. The technique is the same. Use it as it speaks to you.

Meditation – seeking guidance and inspiration

  • Close your eyes and relax. Breathe in and out deeply and slowly.
  • when you are ready, open your inner eyes.
  • You find yourself on a vast, empty, moonlit plane. Focus on the moon shining above you. 
  • Who do you want to connect to? Whisper their name. Continue whispering until the whole plane around you reverberates with that name (if you don’t have a specific connection in mind here, chant the awen instead)
  • State your intention. What is the project that you need help with, what question do you need advice on? Both state your question, and commit to honouring the inspiration that you may receive.
  • When you are done, see how a pathway opens before you. As you walk along it, you come to a pool of water, that looks somewhat like a giant cauldron. Step into the water, and immerse yourself in it. As you do that, feel how you become one with the liquid. Feel the spirit of the power you called to merging with yours.
  • Then, take a notebook. For the next ten minutes, let go of all preconceptions, and simply write down everything that comes to mind. Don’t worry about coherence. Don’t worry about relevance. Simply write, and keep writing. Give spirit a chance to speak to you. You are the cauldron carrying it, now allow it to flow.
  • When you are ready, climb back out of the pool, and walk back to your starting point. Give thanks, and end the meditation. In the coming days, continue to keep an eye out for signs. It might be good to carry a notebook, and write down any further inspiration that may arise. Especially be aware of little, stray thoughts and sudden unexpected urges. 

As you do this more often, you will find that it gets easier after a while. Personally, I find it to be a great method to connect to deity (or when I need inspiration for topics to write on the blog!)

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The druid notion that fits here is ‘awen’. Inspiration, flowing spirit, … whatever you call it. Experiencing awen is being ‘in the zone’, having a moment of peak consciousness, where it feels, almost literally, as if something flows through us and it seems that, as if by magic, we can suddenly find the perfect words, we suddenly ‘just know’ how best to approach our art project, and so on.

I suspect that this mystery works on the same principle as our conscience, and that we can train ourself to be more susceptible to it. Once again, opinions may vary as to what this mysterious awen is, exactly. Do we just happen to pick up on ideas that are floating around, is someone maybe whispering something in our ears, or is it just that magic happens when we stop trying to hard?

The keyword here is learning to be open.

How do you capture wind or water? Try to grab it and you will find that it eludes you. But, having a cauldron ready (and remembering to take the lid off, and you might just be able to catch the drops of this precious liquid when they fall.

Meditation – dancing with the awen

  • Close your eyes and relax. Breathe in and out deeply and slowly.
  • When you feel ready, open your inner eyes.
  • You find yourself on a vast empty plane, under a moonlit sky. You are sitting cross-legged on the floor, holding an empty cauldron. Notice how, the more you focus on filling the cauldron, the more you become aware of its emptiness.
  • Instead, decide to BE the cauldron. As you make that decision, feel how it merges with you, how the area around your gut becomes the cauldron. 

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  • Start singing. Chant the Awen, or whatever music feels right. Look around you, and see how a wind starts to blow around you. It is not just air, but a whirlwind of colour and sound. As it swirls around you, it invites you to a dance.
  • Take the invitation, get up and dance. Dance with the awen until you forget why you came here, until all that is left is just you, being at one with this dance of colour and light. In this moment, there is no distinction. You are the awen.

You may either stop here, or you can take it one step further (if you do this, it might be good to have some writing and/or craft materials ready):

  • Open your eyes, and focus on your breathing again. With every breath you take, feel how it is not just air, but the awen that you breathe. 
  • Continue breathing the awen until you start to feel how, in fact, it breathes you. The awen is what moves you, and you are simply the vessel that happens to contain it, to give it physical form. Allow it to control you. Give in to any creative ideas that come to you at this moment (write, draw, paint, dance, do whatever feels right. )

Probably the most important thing to remember when you do this exercise, is to get out of your own way. If you go in with the thought of I want to write a fabulous poem now/ create the best art in my life, then it is unlikely that this is going to work. Let go of all thoughts of results, and simply decide to enjoy.

Repeat as often as you like.

Sometimes, however, you will have a specific goal, a specific question, maybe even a specific power or spirit that you want to connect to. In that case, you may want to try the following version of this exercise: