Archive for January, 2013

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ROWAN : STAR AND STONE (a visualisation meditation)

You are sitting on a large rock

overlooking a landscape of rolling hills

and deep, hidden valleys.

The sun has just gone down,

the sky is turning a fragile turquoise blue.

Soon the stars will become visible in the deep skies

above you.

The sun’s heat can still be felt through the rock

against which you comfortably sit.

Time passes and your body relaxes.

Your mind and emotions relax.

Your senses relax

and stretch out

to each horizon.

You become aware

of all the oncoming noises of night-time.

Behind where you sit,

amongst the crevices in the rock,

a rowan tree is growing.

It is not large,

because it has had to weather the seasons

in this exposed position.

But it is strong

and shaped by the elements

that it has learned to balance


Darkness has fallen.

The small sounds of the night

fill your senses.

Your body is comfortable and relaxed.

You feel its presence perfectly,

but you do not feel restricted by it in any way.

Your senses relax

and spread out into the landscape,

and up into the sky where the stars are appearing.

The rock, the tree, the night,

your still body,

all relax into one view.

Thoughts, feelings, sensations,

all come and go,

as do the sounds and breezes

of the night.

Sitting open, but unfocused,

alert, but relaxed.

A sense of presence

draws close to you.

Perhaps behind you,

or to the side,

to the front

or even inside you.

The spirit of rowan.

Within the globe of your awareness

is a place to meet and learn.

To perhaps receive initiation

into the heart of

rowan spirit energy.

The spirit focuses its awareness upon you.

“Ay noo ay.

“Establish Silence.

“Establish a point of attention in the Silence.

“Allow the flow of energy tides to move through you.

“Shape the tides and read them.

“Ay noo ay. Ay noo ay.”

Stay with the flow of life.

Pay attention

to what happens

and what fails to happen.

The tree, your spine,

your body, the rock.

Your senses, the night.

Your awareness,

spirit awareness,

the world watching.


when you return.

Stay awhile

and remember.



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Trees are our ancestors, they are our progenitors. Trees are the creators and the maintainers of our reality. These may sound like metaphysical or even metaphorical statements such as poets might use, but in truth (and ‘truth’ derives from the same Anglo-Saxon word as ‘tree’), they are undeniable and biological fact. The great forests of the Carboniferous period 300 million years ago not only laid down the coal that has fuelled the scientific explorations of the last two hundred years, but also stabilised and fertilised the planet with organic topsoil, regulated the oxygen levels of the atmosphere and established climatic weather patterns. Today trees are still the only ‘mechanisms’ that are able to reduce the extremes of weather and recycle minerals, gases and water into re-usable forms. No human device can even provide one of the functions of a tree, and our attempts to replicate, for example, the fertilisation of the soil with chemicals, are pathetic, clumsy, ineffectual and ultimately poisonous to the land.

These reasons alone should be enough to encourage and maintain our appreciation of the importance of trees. That, and the fact that wood has sustained human technologies for millennia. But our ancestors were not only skilled in using trees for making things or creating medicines from their parts, they also felt the numinous power, the spiritual quality, the sentient awareness of trees. Except for those peoples living within the Arctic Circle where no trees could grow and wood itself was an exotic flotsam, all peoples have held trees to be powerful spiritual beings, and many have modelled their concepts of the universe on the form of the tree (for example, an almost identical cosmography can be found amongst the peoples of the Amazon jungle and the Norse peoples of North-West Europe: the universe as a tree of many levels surrounded by a circular ocean bordered by a giant serpent). Spiritual teachers of many traditions have been shown acquiring wisdom, power and enlightenment from their contact with trees. The Buddha finally gained enlightenment sitting under a bo tree; Odin perceived the universal energies as runes as he was hanging upon the World Tree; Christ saved the world by hanging on the cross of wood and so on.

The tree is a symbol of the many levels of the Universe and is used in metaphorical or actual ways by the shaman to travel to different spirit worlds. Trees are central to shamanic and healing rituals. In Nepal a banana tree acts as a focus for all spiritual procedures. In North America the focus for the sundance of the Sioux nations is the tree upon which the dancers are tied by hooks. Symbolic trees, as posts or poles, are vital elements in Australian aboriginal, shamanic ritual, as they are in Siberia. It also seems likely that the ‘biles’ or sacred trees of the Celtic peoples were moveable, decorated trees (that in typically Celtic fashion were stolen, reclaimed, destroyed by rival tribal groups in a happy melee of spiritual and political one-up-manship). There is the Irmansul, the central tree-pillar of the Anglo-Saxon hall and temple. And not forgetting the enigmatic woodhenges scattered across the countryside, the late-lamented Seahenge of Norfolk, the Classical temple modelled upon wooden originals, the forests of stone in Gothic cathedrals shaped to carefully replicate the natural sacred groves of the people before stone cities took over (‘civilised’) the world.

The spiritual strength of trees has not diminished nor disappeared. Their presence in any landscape is as vital and as necessary as ever. Their ability to be our profoundest teachers is as strong as ever.  But like all great teachers, they will not make themselves known nor will offer healing without being asked. So how can we come again into the presence of trees to learn and be healed? Techniques and processes, whatever their source, are principally methods to allow the mind to acquiesce to new ideas and new perceptions, to step out of the way of the inevitable ‘Yes, buts..’, to allow novel experiences to be registered by our awareness. In this way rules, methods and traditions are very useful, often essential, but like all shamanic-based technologies, ritual and form is less important than having a truly open heart. All the skilful rituals, prayers, chants, no matter from how long a tradition, how ‘authentic’ a source, will do little good to someone whose heart is not caught up in the desire to connect with the reality. Emotional, heartfelt passion is a universally understood language that formal techniques only really serve to focus and enhance.

When you begin to notice trees, then trees begin to notice you. The only technology needed to meet the spirit consciousness of trees is that within the human body. Noticing what the senses are telling you, what the body is feeling, how emotions and thoughts shift in the presence of different types of trees – all the non-physical data labelled as ‘imagination’, ‘daydreaming’ – once our attention is given to them will reveal a wealth of information and surprising communications.

Why should we consider ‘talking to trees’? The nature of trees is to stand still, to hold firm, to maintain balance, to bring equilibrium to where they are. No tree could remain for five, six, one thousand years, in the same place without being able to balance all the variable factors of time and season. This equilibrium spreads outwards from the physical presence of the tree because its awareness is not limited – it encompasses all the energies of the universe. Now this is no different in the human being, except that humans have largely forgotten that sense of connection. We still remain connected (we are in the universe, so how can we not be connected?), yet there are many levels of separation, isolation, fractures of energy and belief that mask our real state and cause us many different types of suffering. Disease and illness, (as obvious manifestations on a physical level of this inability to repair our own energy fractures), are simply the result of a lack of the appropriate spiritual nutrition – the energy of wholeness.

In theory, any tree can bring the necessary harmony into us. In reality, we have energetic preferences that respond better to some ‘tastes’ of wholeness than to others. All trees hold all energies in harmonious equilibrium, but each species manifests that harmony in different ways. A tree’s habit and form demonstrates in physical terms the way it deals with and expresses energy. The character they display is a clue and an expression of their means to manifest wholeness. An oak, for example, ‘feels’ very different to a sycamore, even when the trees are of comparable size and mass. This difference is our recognition, at deep levels of the mind and body, of the energy signature of that tree spirit.

Our own personal work over the last decade has been to work with tree spirit energies and to explore these patterns, these expressions, using many different processes and techniques, often given to us by the tree spirits themselves, or modified from shamanic tradition. Waking up into a world where everything is experienced as conscious and present is the best medicine for the malaise of urban humanity – it is the surest way to end our spiritual isolation from the sentient world.

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A4bay tree1


“If you wonder whether the thoughts you are having are at all the influence of the tree in front of you, or simply your own thoughts, then consider this: Why do you consider that your thoughts at any other time belong to you?

Why not accept the possibility that your mind is like a radio or a mirror – just reflecting those signals, taking up the images that are within your vicinity.

Then the flavour of the thoughts can be recognised as significant. There is awareness of difference, and in this way thought becomes a sense like seeing, hearing or feeling.

A thought is like a sound ; neither right nor wrong, accurate or inaccurate. Only your degree of awareness or lack of awareness gives the experience meaning or significance. “





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Advice from the Lime Grove.

It is important when working with trees and tree spirits that knowledge is not important.

What is important is: knowing how to listen to silence, how to be quiet and listen.

All processes and techniques will only be effective to the degree by which they lead the person to a state of silent receptivity.

If you feel ignorant or clumsy in front of a tree, just relax and listen.

No ‘doing things’ in a certain way, nor following this or that tradition, will create a useful link if there is no silence.

Trees communicate by shaping silence. Listen to the shape of silence. Sometimes it will shape into ideas and words, sometimes feelings, sometimes none of these things. Silence is potential. Knowledge already limits itself by making boundaries and definitions.

Trees do not come from this or that tradition, with this or that knowledge. There is not a hierarchy made up of those who know more and those who know less. There is no intellectual one-upmanship, elitism or doubt. Being a tree is sufficient.

If you just become a human being, that is enough. Silence shared is a flow of union. Wisdom filters down from silence, gradually taking form, translating into words and ideas.

But the words are not wisdom – simply the effects of wisdom upon the thinking mind. They show the touch of wisdom but not necessarily that wisdom is still in residence.

Only by revisiting silence and the shaping silence of trees can wisdom be encouraged to accumulate and become clear.

Naked emptiness with no edges.

Simple being with no motive.

Open mind with no thought.

Standing in front of a tree that is standing in front of a human.

Both are silent above the noise.

Nothing else is needed.

mull kodak2 086

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Mirror Body  – Duel Nature

The tree’s experience is very different from most other life-forms on earth. It exists simultaneously in two different environments. The root experience is completely different from the branch experience. The consciousness of root/earth and branch/air can be seen as a variation of unconscious or subconscious root and conscious awareness of the branch. If one were to contact the energy of the ‘root’ it would probably be a different form of energy and experience to ‘branch’. So there may be at least these levels of being or personality or character: firstly the physical body in its entirety; secondly, the root as an inward-looking, stable unconscious; thirdly, the branch as an outward-looking, reaching, reactive conscious.

To approach the experience of this duel aspect of the tree consciousness, try the following:

Stand or sit and become aware of your body’s weight.

Take your attention to the bottom of the feet.

Let your awareness sink below your feet as a mirror image of yourself as it were, attached to your feet.

Extend your awareness so that it can simultaneously hold both your body and the mirror body images at the same time. This may initially be vague or disorienting.

Take your attention to specific parts of the body. Start with the soles of the feet – in physical, then in mirror body; the knees; the hips; the navel; the solar plexus; the hands; the shoulders; the top of the head.

Once you are more used to this swapping of focus, see if you can maintain simultaneous awareness in reflected spots, and then return to an overall view of yourself as both bodies.

When the exercise is completed, dissolve the image and spend a moment getting re-acquainted with the physical body.

(from”Tree: Essence, Spirit, Teacher”  p.49- 50)


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The aspen is a fast-growing poplar with a straight trunk and tall-domed crown. Like al poplars it holds its leaves on long, flat stalks allowing each leaf to flutter in the lightest of winds. This constant gentle vibration of sound has sometimes been interpreted as ‘trembling’, born of the memory of grief or pain. It could be equally, though, a continuous, gentle laughter at the constant variation and surprise in existence. The leaf’s movement is a homoeostasis, a response to external stimuli that maintains inner balance within the functioning of the tree. It is not as a result of confusion or disorderliness. The noise of poplars can be experienced as a soothing, trance-inducing state similar to the rattle of a shaman.
But if one is unwilling to change one’s viewpoint and resist the tendency to quieten the mind, then confusion might well follow. We strive to see patterns, to create order and meaning, to make sense of everything we experience. But as soon as one pattern is grasped, all other potential patterns can disappear from view. White noise is the noise of everything in the universe, but with no one thing dominant. Where do we rest our awareness? If we relax into the unfocused state then the noise becomes both random and patterned. Because we exist as a pattern of fixed or resonant energies, and because we tend to look at some things clearer than others, because we possess our own personal ‘tune’, it will be reflections of that tune that we hear. This is the nature of vibration – it amplifies similarities. So white noise and trance-inducing sound can act as a mirror heightening our energetic state if we attempt to focus, or make sense of, the sound. If, however, we remain unfocused, happy to exist without any particular focus for a time, then what appears out of the random noise of existence is the energy that will tend to move us towards new information, new energy, new harmony. The aspen is sometimes a shaman’s tree – one by which the seer ascends to meet the spirits. It is a true shaman’s tree because what appears above ground is simply a relatively small portion, and a short-lived portion, of the root-being that can live for hundreds of years and spread itself over many acres. Aspen says what seems to exist, does exist but not how you expect. It says that attempting to make sense of everything from only one viewpoint is expecting the universe to conform to your narrow view of what is real. It says owning everything is only accomplished by relaxing not by attempting to control.
Looking up at an aspen tree one sees the straight trunk like the axle of a wheel and, against the sky, radiating spokes of the boughs and branches. The purpose of a wheel is to move but to stay fixed in place – to vibrate, to respond to movement, but not to lose its own balanced state. Holding still but moving. Keeping to a pattern, but not excluding other patterns. The ability to easily let go of one experience to experience another.
The voice of the tree is not the voice of the tree but the voice of the wind. The voice of the wind is the voice of the tree. Vibration is a combination of forces acting on each other. It is not simply one thing. To identify with sound is to misunderstand silence. To identify with pattern is to misunderstand chaos. To identify with a body is to misunderstand the nature of the body. To identify with thought is to misunderstand the nature of thought. To identify with mind is to misunderstand the nature of mind.

“Laugh, walk away. The tyranny of certitude will always fail.”

Aspen Sutras

Moving on
Nothing stays.
Never mind.

the wheel spins.
No point
Still point

white noise.
Never mind.

letting go,
frequency change:
never mind.

taste delight.
Moving on:
Never mind.

holding on,
missing the point:
never mind.

missing the point,
centre of the universe:
never mind.

the wheel spins
no point:
never mind.

still point
white noise:
never mind.

shaman’s rattle
world’s laughter:
never mind.




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What is a Tree?

What is a tree? Is it the root, invisible and gigantic beneath the ground? Is it the trunk and branches? Is it the leaves, the fruit, the flowers? Is it the wind that moves the leaves, evaporates and moves the water, that carries and fertilises the seed?

Where does a tree begin and where does it end? What moves through it belongs to it – courses through every cell, acts on every membrane. What enters the tree becomes the tree.

We are not distinct from the water in our cells,the minerals in our bones, and the same is true of the tree.

The edges of things begin to blur when we start to become as quiet and attentive as a tree. The human being grows tendrils and leaves, the tree looks back with silent eyes.

This is the beginning of Tree Spirit Healing: knowing that the boundaries between this and that are only of use if we can forget them when the need arises. Boundaries are safety nets, but they can also become prisons / poisons.


Only Human Beings

As human beings we are truly ‘only human beings’ with the perspective and patterning of human beings. We know less than we believe we know because we tend to cling to the facts that we have chosen to accept whilst rejecting everything else.

‘Only human beings’ reminds us of our intellectual and body limits. However, ‘only human beings’ also means that we must remember that, in the same way a tree is made up of stone, water, air and sun, all held together in the pattern we define as “tree”, so we, as human beings, are also part of the contigious, continual, seamless flow of energy that moves through the universe.

‘Only human beings’ means that we should remember not to take our own sense of importance too seriously. On the other hand, we should remember that we are not apart from, but instead, we are part of, creation.

“Tree” is a dance of the Elements.

“Man” is a dance of the Elements.

“Spirit” is a dance of the Elements.


This is the Tree Spirit Key of crack willow, fire that inhabits the boundary of water and land.

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