Though even ceremonies of desire are waning from our culture, still, we can go further and become acquainted with the practice of ceremony which seeks no-benefit at all. We can draw forth again, from our ancestors and wisdom cultures, the simple and profound rituals offering gratitude for all that we receive from other realms. Primarily, specifically, especially, from the vast ecology of the natural world that sustains life on Earth.
Jen Costa, of Elder Moon School of Herbal medicine, leads us through the process of making medicine from the bark of healing trees.
Excerpts from A Druid's Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine, by Ellen Evert Hopman. Here are remedies from three sacred trees: Birch, Oak and Willow.
When I first moved to Champlain Valley Cohousing in Charlotte Vermont, I was shown a large oak tree out in the forest land owned by the community. We walked through the thick forest of young trees and underbrush that had grown around a tree they called the Mother Oak, shading her from the sun and taking nutrients from the soil. I was stunned by her majestic presence
Ceiba trees are examples of what one might call “charismatic megaflora.” Like their animal counterparts—whales and elephants—fully grown specimens capture the imagination and evoke awe among humans. Their sheer massiveness is mysterious. Bigger and older than humans, they can dwarf, and often outlast, built structures. They alter the microclimate in their vicinity and become whole ecosystems. Over the years they gather stories and legends about them.
And then I saw the Ceiba, standing alone surrounded by a field of grass, majestic and royal begging me to be embraced by ki’s buttresses. Before I even left the van, I knew that I was in the presence of the Divine. I could feel the fibers of my Heart stretching as my Heart was opening wide. It was love at first sight. I received the message, “Give your troubles to me, I will protect you.” I walked around Ceiba entranced, amazed at ki’s form and gentle power.
At the end of October, ONE held an Elder Plant Initiation. We gathered together at this sacred time of the Ancestors to move deeper into co-creative partnership with Nature, to receive guidance and understanding, to heal, and to experience communion with Elder(berry).
In the British isles, the Yews standing in many ancient churchyards are believed to be far older than the churches. For both the church builders and their ancestors, the yews were a symbol of immortality, of death and rebirth, guardians of the place between the worlds.
Druidry is an ancient and evolving spiritual path that originated in the British Isles. Druids align with the spirit of the earth below, the moon and stars above and the elements around and within us. Trees are our teachers and Nature is our church. We gather in groves as well as circles of standing stones to do our magic.
A few days before our harvest of Christmas trees, I make an offering. I offer prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving to each and every tree and to the Spirit of the Land. ... I found one of the elders that was tagged to be cut and gave my offering of beads standing in front of this most gracious being.
White Pine calls to me (to everyone?) “come here and rest, come here and take shelter.” And then I notice the branches:I look up— I’m drawn upward. I want to climb. There is a sense of SAFETY in those branches.
We gathered eight times in circle to drink an elixir of White Pine, prepared with prayer, gratitude and focused intention. After each drink together, we spoke of our experiences, both physical and spiritual. Three themes that emerged repeatedly in our experiences with White Pine were strength, balance and Peace. The following are brief messages shared by participants in the Initiation.
When I first connected with the spirit of trees, I spent lots of time in tearful apology, begging begging forgiveness on behalf of all human kind but most particularly me. I love that they barely blinked. They absorbed my plea and do what trees do best - what we call in yoga Sankalpa practice (the practice of imbued being). We humans have the other side - doing - down, but being, not so much.
We offer gratitude to the Life-giving Trees. You whose green breath sustains our breath. You who have created the atmosphere in which organic beings can thrive. Thank you, trees for the music you make with the wind, for the way you gentle the rain into the earth, for your sheltering, protection and inspiration.
I spent my childhood summers in the north woods of Maine, where the tall white pines whispered with every breeze. My family nestled in tents with other camping families amidst these fragrant evergreens and called it home for the season. The woodlands held secrets, wild blueberries, warm sunlight, and pines~ sticky with resin that we chewed as a kind of wild gum.
Our sanctuary garden is at Derrynagittah in the west of Ireland, 29 acres of magical land deOur sanctuary garden is at Derrynagittah in the west of Ireland, 29 acres of magical land dedicated to the sacred. I moved here with my family in 1995, coming with the intention of working with Nature to co-create a place of beauty, a sanctuary where the plant world would be honoured and where people could come for healing, to learn about plants and the spirit that resides within all beings.
At Zen temples, in medieval monasteries, and in modern day retreat centers, gardens have played a key role in spiritual practice. Uplifting, calming, healing places where humans and natural forces work in harmony to create beauty--these sanctuaries invite meditation and prayer. Recently I attended a retreat at an "Eco-Sufi Village" and wandered into an herb garden that carried me right into that spirit of sanctuary.
A garden becomes a sanctuary for deep listening and a place that animates the creative life force within you. The power of intention ignites this sacred communication between you and nature, allowing you to connect with the creative potential that is possible within this divine union.
In Bay City, Michigan, a small and very special section of the Saginaw River has become an inner-city wildlife sanctuary. Within a stretch of four city blocks along Arbor Street, in the center of Bay City, the natural habitat is encouraged and existing sea walls are being, or have been removed, creating an inner-city sanctuary for wildlife.
In the fall of 2016, the Iamoe Center was told that they needed to clear a part of the Land for agriculture. Part of the mission of the Iamoe is to protect the Forest; therefore, they worked tirelessly to create a new program demonstrating an alternative to clear-cutting. With this program, they plant more Trees, Ishpingo Trees to be exact.
All living beings and elements have multiple dimensions—physical, emotional and spiritual. Likewise, the Amazon region holds all these dimensions and possibly more, within its animate entities like plants and animals and inanimate ones like minerals.
Botanical sanctuaries not only save our precious native plants from unconscious predation they provide healing at a source level by feeding our essential nature so that both plants and people are held in life-giving balance.
Sanctuary gardens bring people closer to Nature. They are a safe place where the outside cares of the world do not intrude. They can be a vegetable or flower garden, a special tree or even a single blossom. They are a healing refuge for our bodies, mind and spirit. People need gardens to re-member and bring balance into their lives.
We offer Gratitude for sanctuary gardens, dedicated to the sacred, where there is safety for all beings. For those cultivated places where humans consciously co-create with Nature to bring beauty, healing, inspiration, peace, nourishment and remembrance.
Poem obtained by Clay A. Johnson and posted 16 October 1995 on the CTURTLE listserve;
original author unknown, no record found through extensive web search
It was the weather that drove us in,
that rainy afternoon in May.
And the weather, I suppose, that drew us out.
Like many of Earth’s gifts that we once thought inexhaustible, the fish populations are running out. With the number of fish-eating humans exploding and the fishing techniques and technologies growing in rapacious effectiveness, many, if not most fish species are in dangerous decline. It is time for an intervention.
Rachel Baird, who led our Teleseminar on connecting with Whales through meditation, offers some ways of supporting them:
Whale lovers in North America can join sites to get involved with projects to protect the whales, such as the eco-Whale Alliance of Canada. Take a look at baleins en direct , full of scientific information, beautiful pictures, current news of whales, and calls to action.
We have made the walk from water to earth many times as humans, yes? I think about how we came from the ocean as a species. We grow in a fluid inside our mother’s wombs similar in makeup to the ocean before we ever take our first breath. And we walk the Medicine Wheel each and every year from the water of the west in autumn to the earth of north in winter, until our very last breath.
I dream of the whale:
Out in the dark waters
We are capsized by forgetting,
She swims to me
And puts my hand in her mouth,
Begs further exploration -
I feel the brittle curve inside her sinew
Like playing a harp
Or building a wattle,
Then choose to climb this baleen fence,
I grew up just blocks from the Ocean in San Francisco where I walked the beach nearly every day and was lulled to sleep at night by the sound of fog horns. Sometimes, when in the water – I could feel these wave pulses of energy moving through my body and sometimes, at the shore, I could feel life forms moving far off inside the ocean. I knew they could feel me as well and were communicating.
My mother was holding me looking at the waves when suddenly a huge wave broke over us. The shock and sound of the wet spray gave me a baptism I never forgot. I grew up on two islands, one urban,the other rural, and at a very young age I was diving into the waves and buoyed up on their crests, or watching reckless teenagers jump into the East River trafficked by tugs and cargo ships headed out to sea.
From Avaaz website
Our oceans are collapsing, with vast disturbing dead areas reported to be expanding in the Pacific. But hope is also rising, with more ocean protected last year than ever before!
This week could decide whether collapse or conservation wins the race. Scientists say if we conserve 30% of our oceans, that will be enough to regenerate the rest -- and this plan is actually on the table at the powerful World Conservation Congress, which starts today!
We offer gratitude to Ocean, the one great Ocean of the world, whom we call by so many names. Grandmother Ocean, thank you for Life! For the lives of our most ancient ancestors whom you cradled and fed, For the lives of all who came after, who stayed in your waters or ventured on land. For the lives of all the plants whom you water through the clouds, and for the tiny phytoplankton who give us breath. We thank you Ocean, for the lives of all our relatives.
By Laura Williams
We all have a longing for the wild but we are trained by our industrial consumer society to consider ourselves separate from Nature. We are taught from the beginning of our lives that we, humans, are both dominant over and in danger from the wild.
By Lauren Valle
To My Enlightened Self
Silent self, self made of stone
Self that witnessed the birth of the ocean and
bathed in the torrents of mucus and blood
Self that melts the boundaries between her own beauty
and the beauty of the world
“Through coppicing, pruning, harrowing, sowing, weeding, burning, digging, thinning, and selective harvesting, they encouraged desired characteristics of individual plants, increased populations of useful plants, and altered the structures and compositions of plant communities. Regular burning of many types of vegetation across the state created better habitat for game, eliminated brush..."
A review of Rewild Yourself, Becoming Nature, by Rachel Corby
There is a growing movement, which ONE supports, towards reawakening that ancient part of ourselves and re-membering our connection to the Earth and ALL her Beings. As more people are doing this, we are discovering the incredible benefits: physiologically, psychologically, and spiritually.
By Timothy P. McLaughlin
As is usual, as is basic as bread, each week
I heed the call to abandon this whirring machinery,
to gather my essentials and head for the hills.
Like any of us who live from the unsullied energy
of hidden places, I follow the trim-cut paths
with a familiar pleasure, easing along their smooth,
sure way through the mountain’s innards.
By Rachel Berry
Wildcrafting, as we practice and promote it, is making a commitment to deepen your connection to the natural landscape and take responsibility for its regeneration. It is learning about the plants around you, how they reproduce, where they live, and what they need to thrive.
By Emerson Gale
On March 10th I spoke with Sally J. Mark, “Sal” about how to share the truth of plant sentience. Initially, I wanted to interview her to learn about the Music of the Plants devices from Damanhur,www.musicoftheplants.com for which she has been facilitating workshops around the country.
By Peter Michael Bauer
I believe that civilization fundamentally destroys biodiversity and is in the process of an extended collapse. In response I have decided to dedicate my life to walking away from this culture, and to create a new culture based on ancestral hunter-gatherers. In short, I live as a “hunter-gatherer wannabe” in search of meaning and community in the time of ecological and cultural collapse.
By Rachel Corby
There is something that has been happening to me throughout my adult life. That something is an increasing feeling of aliveness and wonder. Although it existed strongly within me for every moment of my childhood it had begun to weaken in my teenage years, leaving me bereft, alienated, lonely, confused and depressed.
By Kate Gilday
I pause before stepping into the forest, halting to listen, to take in the beauty before me, and breathe in the fragrance of the evergreens welcoming us with outstretched branches. In these few moments, before entering this wild place I ask permission to step onto and off the path ahead, to wander among the trees and through the streams we will encounter.
By Timothy P. McLaughlin
In the effort to become more like water,
I’ve taken to walking the dried arroyos of New Mexico.
Gliding along their twisting, sandy trails,
following the water’s worn tracks round trees and brush
and endless rock,
We offer gratitude to the Wild. For the rare and sacred places on earth where true wilderness reigns. Forthose edge places on the borders of our gardens and our consciousness where the wild interlaces with the tame, awakening us with inspiration. For the indomitable Wild that creeps or flies or pushes up through the pavement even into our cities, reminding us of Lif