I wrote this for my AST group (Ancient and Sacred Trees) and thought I would share it here too. Winter solstice, day of lost light and for the next few days the sun will appear to stand still before making visible progress on the 25th. How can trees help us on dark days, particularly if merriment is in short supply? Enjoy the lovely images as we explore the health, heart and healing that trees can bring. Also some quotes and personal musings.
Just as in the deep earth the trees send their roots into a place without light, so it is that we journey through days of darkness out in the world and some of us through dark soul times too. Counting blessings in the dark isn’t easy. Even though the days start getting longer as we head towards the New Year they will remain cold, bitter and leafless, for a long while yet, so what hope is there?
"I’m a pagan and have always since I could remember found trees as a comfort. Trees also show me that no matter what has been thrown at them they’re still standing so They remind me I can show the same strength, come out of any battle still standing." Kerry-Ann Barkham
Remembering is one of the greatest gifts we humans have. Remembering is a chance to acknowledge and honour the cycles of life. When you cut a tree open its’ story is written in its rings as well as in the wrinkles of its bark and its shape stretched out in the world. Do we judge trees for their journeys through life? Do we love a tree less for its bent beauty? Then why is it that we so often love ourselves less?
“Cut through me & you will see rings.” AST member Vishad Pierce
“Each one is different, the knots, the twisted branches and just the pure beauty of them. They breathe to sustain life on Earth, just amazing.” Paul Donnelly
Trees live in the moment. They do this through their many changes of dress throughout the year from bud, to blossom, to green leaf to autumn colour and finally in baring their bones to the sky. Stripped of all clothing and naked to the elements they scribe their beauty across our winter scoured skies. What if we too could learn to do this?
“I love their silent beauty, their connection to everything.” AST member Katie Davie
What storms shape us? What windswept lonely vistas? When we step inside ourselves to escape the storms outside, only to encounter strange lands not yet mapped. Frost split stones, aching rock screes, silver bladed waters, dark rippled grasslands and strange forests whisper things on the edge of hearing. We turn our heads to listen but the sound is carried away on the wind. Here stood on the edge of things, heavy cloud and light-earth-thoughts stop lining themselves up in neat orderly queues and turn into rook flight. Cawing loudly and tumbling wind faced and cloud dark, swinging up and down against invisible currents they ride.
What do we call them, these dark birds? A horde, a hover, a mob, a murder, a muster, a parcel, a parliament, a storytelling of crows? A building, a clamour, a parliament of rooks? There is only one unkindness of ravens.
We weigh these birds down yet still they take flight. We load our pockets with stones. The more ballast we take on the more we seesaw and spiral. Yet even these dark birds must come to roost somewhere.
"They are beautiful. They stand strong through the years. They communicate with each other and help each other survive. They give shelter to birds and animals." Laura DiBlasi
In copses and canopies, lone trees, woodland edged road-cut landscapes, and thick forests beyond the curve of the hill. That is where these dark birds come to rest. Dark birds roosting. The trees bend and heave in rain lashed winds, creaking ships in billowing seas of change, yet there they remain. Up on the hill, down a dark lane, gathered in the valley folds they stand. We can learn a lesson or two from trees.
“Even when humans try to tame them, they live beyond it and rewild.”
Somehow, we have forgotten our own wildness, then we are surprised when our thoughts and feelings take flight. A ‘story telling of crows’ …. Not all our wisdom has been lost it would seem. Where are our stories? What are our stories?
We try and tame nature because we have forgotten that we are of it. We try and tame nature because we are constantly trying to tame ourselves. We live in a world of ‘should’ and ‘ought’, mainly of our own making, because that’s what our modern so-called civilised society has trained us to do.
“They keep us all alive, they are beautiful and mysterious wise witnesses to the follies of humans” AST member Jennifer Chandler Nesbitt
‘A story telling of crows’. I revisit that phrase. And where is it that they roost? In trees. Anyone who has ever known anything has sat under a tree … look at Buddha.
Love God and all his nature Have always resonated with them and connected with them, they give us life.
But closer to home there’s an old man walking down a lane. He pauses, looks up and sniffs. He can smell snow coming. Then he readjusts his hat and carries on walking. He’s sat under a tree many a time, he knows where his roosting spot is.
I love trees “Because they whisper to me in the wind” AST member Belinda Lane
Those crow thoughts are story tellers … I would go further than that they are truth tellers.
“I think that until a person experiences some kind of disability, they hardly know their inner, hidden qualities“. Client quote from World Mental Health Organisation
Next time they take flight, find their roosting spot. Go find that tree. Go outside, walk in the woods. Perhaps you live in a city, still go outside. Walk the pavements and go find an urban tree. If you can’t find a tree look up at the sky, feel the cold chill of winters’ breath on your face. You can’t tame the heavens and somewhere out there, underneath, are trees and your roosting spot. Imagine it now. Those branches holding out their hands saying ‘I am here’. There is nothing we need do other than say that too.
“Connecting to the trees brings me together with the earth” AST member Michelle Doughty
Let your thoughts and feelings wheel against the sky. They are better left that way. Untamed. Sooner or later they will come back down to roost, back in the trees.
Don’t be lonely this Christmas, come join our CommuniTree. The newsfeeds on our online groups will be buzzing throughout the festivities. They are an outpouring of extraordinary beauty and inspiration. They are love. They are the roosting points of thousands of chattering birds in trees.
“trees are a vital part of world health, individual mental health & organisms of pure beauty” AST Emma Duveen
If this all sounds too busy for you and you want respite, you want peace, and rest and repose then take a look at our website. There are blog articles on a wide range of tree topics, the tree temple with links to meditations, there are pages of members videos ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes each on all sorts of themes, water, wildlife, wind, vistas, to name but a few. Or maybe just choose an image of one tree contemplate that. Find one that ‘speaks’ to you.
I love trees because they are peaceful, I feel rooted to the earth when I am among them, and more spiritually aware of myself in the midst of their stillness. Aimi Isjern
The website is continually being updated, it’s a work-in-progress and it is a labour of love built by me. I have plans further expand its reach quite considerably in 2020. So many ideas, so many more roots to put down and branches to reach out. It is free to join us and always will be.
If is an offering to you and for you. It is an offering to the trees and from the trees.
What is the point of it? Why bother? What is my interest in trees all about?
I’m passionate about you, yes you, out there, sat on your computer or your phone or your tablet reading this. I’m passionate about people, trees and 'planet-tree' healing. People and trees are indivisible. We have spent 99.99% of our evolution in the trees. Being away from the forests makes us ill, and being ill makes the planet ill too. If we want to regreen the land outside we have to regreen on the inside too. It is the only way. People will only protect what they love so Ancient and Sacred trees is about love … Unashamedly so.
Courting beauty is an act of rebellion, and love the revolution. Amanda C Vesty AST founder
Yes, that is me wearing my heart on my sleeve and saying it how it is. We are conditioned to focus on fear, ugliness and despair. You only have to see what my members say about the group as compared to the rest of social media to know the truth of this statement.
Well, I'm just echoing everybody's thoughts when I say how thrilled I am to have found this group. Filled with beautiful images and lovely people it’s like little bursts of happiness throughout the day. Thankyou Amanda for creating it! It really lifts the spirits and if I am feeling a bit down (which isn't often) this always cheers me up. Merry Christmas/yuletide to you all and a very happy and peaceful new year! Lets' keep on planting those trees! xx Fiona Duffell
When I talk about courting beauty I’m not talking about surface beauty but something that chimes with the heart when you see it. I’m talking about the things you treasure, the things you cultivate, not possessions but experiences and connections. That time you saw your lovers’ hair lit up by the sun, a flower nodding in the breeze, the beauty of a lone tree on a hill.
What of love? Well I would say we don’t know how to love mostly because we don’t know how to grieve and grieving only comes from a deep wellspring of openness to the wonder of life. Life is about change and change is inevitably about letting go. We are not taught about that. We’re taught to be greedy, to acquire things, to hoard and to covet. We expect to be able to command life to make our demands from it and to act without consequence. This of course is the source of our rampant consumerism. It has been a disaster.
It is not wrong to want things. It’s ok to like lovely paintings, nice clothes and your car. It’s the constant craving for more and more of these things that’s the issue. Needing a car to reflect the status people crave in society, wanting the latest designer gear to fit in, filling the house to overflowing with more and more things to impress their friends and neighbours that’s a problem. We can’t judge people who do this. They aren’t bad, lost maybe … but not bad. They have forgotten their connection to nature.
You can lecture people all you like but you will never change them by making them feel guilty or afraid. Lasting change only comes from within when someone has the ability to tune into their own resilience, their own gifts and their ability to love. Having worked as an artist, teacher and coach for many years, in prison, with kids in care, with people with psychiatric/psychological disorders etc I have seen this first hand.
Grief is about the inevitability of change and as creatures of habit, and as creatures who have been tamed out of their wildness and conditioned to think that ownership is the answer to all ills, we will do anything rather than face this truth. Change is about letting go. They have a sense of permanency and a sense of being ever changing. That is the beauty of them, how they encapsulate the nature of reality so succinctly. It’s hard for us modern humans to grasp that, or rather to accept that.
Let your tears flow they feed the earth – My dear friend the late Anna Ziman, Open To The Goddess
If we want to really change the world, if we are really serious about this as a mission, then teach people to love trees. It is that simple. It is that simple because love is infectious, it’s a habit and we humans, as creatures of habit, love that.
When I was a little girl, my father taught me about trees. As I got older and had children, he would walk with his grandbabies in the yard. I watched him gently grasp their tiny hands and place them on the bark of trees and teach them too. F Caperton Morton
So yes, trees are teachers and healers. In courting beauty we learn to witness, honour and ultimately to love. What you see with AST is that in action. Thousands of people doing just that. It doesn’t matter that they all have different belief systems in this witnessing, in witnessing, honouring and loving they are all stood on common ground. That ground is this planet and they were all brought home to themselves through connecting with trees.
That’s what remembering is all about. That’s our gift …. See? I have brought you full circle back to the beginning just like the trees through the seasons do.
So here we are on winter solstice and my budgies are sat on a curtain pole singing to the sun streaming in through the window, Bella my little dog is curled up fast asleep.
In just a few short hours it will be dark again. In the dark the trees do their silent growing, expanding root and branch. The darkness is necessary above and below ground so that sleep can come and seeds might germinate. It is the same with us humans. Just remember to take heart and know that light will come again.
Wishing you many blessings this festive season
If anything here resonates check out my workshops and courses in 2020.
If you want to join my tree group its here www.ancientandsacredtrees.org