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.






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.

Maintaining Balance

Maintaining Balance

A tree does not choose its place of growth.
It can only survive and flourish by adjusting its form to harmonise with the prevailing conditions.
A tree that grows up, matures, flowers and bears fruit shows that it has succeeded in maintaining that balance for tens, hundreds, even thousands of years.
It is this ability to remain balanced and flexible,
to absorb and to let go,
to remain quiet and harmless,
that is transferred to us when we contact the energy of the tree and its spirit.

(from “Tree Essence, Spirit, Teacher” p.59)

Replacing chaos with silence
Replacing excuses with responsibility
Replacing ignorance with awareness.
These are the qualities that are encouraged when we absorb tree spirit healing.



Yew Breath

Breathing in: as if a vortex shape is being imagined pulling deep into the earth – like the action of a diaphragm magnified.

Breathing out: the breath moves out in a widening circle into the world.

( Tree breathing is a technique to integrate and absorb the spirit energies of a tree. It can be used for contemplation, healing and meditation. Because of the combination of breath and body-based visualisation, tree breathing can be very helpful for those who find the concept of meditation, concentration, silence etc. difficult to put into practice. Get a feel for the practice for a few minutes, then relax, then do a few more minutes, then relax and notice the shift of awareness and consciousness. The world is full of deep pools. This is a safe way to get beyond paddling and diving down).

healing poison”

The above is the tree sutra of the yew tree. Tree sutras are short, evocative, gnomic phrases and images that attempt to encapsulate in their feelings the way a species of tree interacts with us. They give clues to the energetic substructure of the interactions we experience with what we call ‘tree’. They can lead to elucidation. They can lead to ambiguity. They are signposts, not the road ( which is, as ever, your own). They are an amusement and an oracle. They can lead to the Deep Forest.

” Tree Sutras” is available as a pdf file from http://www.greenmanshop.co.uk
( look under ‘books’ on menu). ” Tree Sutras” contains 101 sutras, with the visual keys ( Tree Spirit Key) for each tree.

Spell of Yew.

In your deep shade
Time’s whispers
Dull and fall.
Thought cinders:
Feathers of flame.

Centuries revolve,
A round vowel
In the poet-bard’s

The histories
In your deep heart’s remembrance.
Red, dark,
Hub of this land’s



Well – Rooted.

The root – branch polarity.
Understanding the existence of both the still, hidden , dark roots
and the moving, visible, bright boughs.

The ability to contain apparent opposites (dark/light, over/under, earth/air),
within the same, still, strong awareness.

That which sustains us is often hidden.

The one eyed, one eared, one legged scientist
who fails to see with imagination.
The one eyed, one eared, one legged magician
who fails to discriminate information.

Poetry is the use of the two and two ears;
moving, balanced on two feet,
acknowledging both roots and branches.

Science – imagination.
Objectivity – subjectivity.


Oak Fast, Firm friend


“Skyline trees –
stitching together
heaven and earth.

The Great becomes Small,
The Small becomes Great.

The Oak tree. Its energy is to maintain the balance within physical reality. The maintenance and harmonisation of opposite forces, the tying together of light and dark, sky and earth, void and form, existence and non-existence. All this can be intimated from the consolidated, rigid tension within the large boughs of the oak tree. As if each oak tree represents a stitch that holds our very reality together in its potent form. Each tree is a vortex of energy. Simultaneously a white and a black hole, drawing into itself and its surroundings the tendency of things to separate and fly apart, to dissolve back into the formless matrix of potential existence.
Oak demonstrates the means by which the individual is able to manifest from out of the many possibilities of how reality might be constructed. Oak absorbs within itself all these possibilities and then reveals new patterns. It helps to define and clarify, allowing communication, the flow of energy, from the hidden sources of existence. Seemingly weaving together impossibly thin threads to create an unbreakable web that will be able to hold all perceptions fast.
Oak itself remains free of time, outside the flow of events, and can thus bring a sense of timelessness, a place of the deepest calm within which to consider possibilities of action and understanding.
Learning the way of oak is treading the labyrinth – always seeming to turn in different directions, but always heading towards the one central, invisible goal without fail.

(from “Tree: Essence, Spirit, Teacher” p.39)


Original print by Simon Lilly of the Oak Spirit Key symbol using the colour sequence that is aligned to that tree.

Another lovely green jewel from N. Filbert ( whose name, of course, is “sweet nut of wisdom”!)

Polysemic Stupor

Here is page 3 of my blank-book daughter-gift “The Notebook” (click here for parts 1 and 2)

Notebook - Ida


Notebook 3

and the typewritten text:


In Which the Wood is Entered, Entering

As we grew we noticed things.  The more we interacted in the woods, the more we found in common.  Or perhaps the woods created them – our commons.  In any case, as we examined the woods we came to see ourselves, or began to think we did.  It appeared to us that very little passed us by without record.  Hewing through a heavy trunk we remembered an ancient drastic storm, here marked as darkened whorls, ripples in an inner ring, where many limbs were lost.  Currents of nourishment functioned over years and years, flowing from the core in hairline strands…

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This is a lovely bit of writing from a great blogger. This seemed the most appropriate place for it!

Polysemic Stupor

Here is page two of the blank notebook from my daughter as it fills:


and here it’s typeset form:


In Which is Entered the Rich Thicket of Woods


In the beginning was the wood.  It took us much time to discover its uses.  We ate its tough skin for roughage, we mashed its soft heart into pulp.  We chopped it to bits, we rearranged them.  We played games with it.  Sometimes it was all that kept us afloat.  Sometimes we structured them carefully and turned to them for shelter.  As we learned what woods could do, we began to comprehend their value.  At times we relied on them for everything necessary to survive – the fruit of a tree gave us sweet liquid and meaty flesh.  The fragility of the dead still warmed us as it disintegrated in the flames.  They grew to be almost sacred – the…

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Within Silence


There is a manifestation of Lord Shiva, known as Dakshinamurti. He is represented s a radiant youth, sitting silently on the ground with long, flowing hair. His teaching is given in silence, within which all knowledge and all creation exists. Words are simply a commentary on the nature of this Eternal Silence. Dakshinamurti is the mountain, and he is the tree. The tree is the centre of Silence. All Tree Spirit Healing is a set of creative techniques to attain this central Silence, or Harmonic Balance. All actions, a means to attain stillness. All words, a means to settle into presence. A few years back I created an image attempting to recreate the energy of Dakshinamurti, combining it with the concept of the  Seated Horned God – on of the earliest prototypes of Rudra, (the red one), who later took form as Shiva as the Hindu pantheon evolved. This image -a human crowned with a stag’s antlers – is found in the Celtic lands, and seems like Rudra and Shiva to be associated with Pushapati, Lord of Wild Animals, and therefore with Lord of the Wild Forest, home of the deepest of sentient silences……


Moving without moving (anywhere).

Seeing without seeing (labelling, storytelling).

Hearing without hearing (distinguishing).

Tasting without tasting (difference).

Feeling without flinching.

Breathing without movement of air.

Thinking without thought.

Living without limits.

Being without space and time.



Silence is Consciousness.

What we get from the presence of trees is stillness and silence. Out of habit we move and make noise. If we do not like something we run away from it. If we like something we run towards it. So silence and stillness can feel like a lack, like a nothing. We feel worthy when we are doing something. We feel helpless when we do nothing. When we get absorbed into the ‘doing nothing’ of a tree’s energy we soon find out that within the “nothing happening” something is going on. There is a bright interweaving of silence, an awareness, consciousness. This consciousness is not doing anything. It is consciousness by itself. Finding silence is finding consciousness (rather than the manifest activity and noise and movement that grows out of silence/consciousness). Sound and silence – one is not the opposite of the other. One is the expression of the other. Movement and stillness – one is not antagonistic to the other. One is found within the other. Being a tree and not being a tree: both are based in the same silence of consciousness.



Dancing Around.

Dancing around the tree

How do we find the real tree?

By forgetting we are human

By forgetting the tree is a tree

By forgetting to make differences.

By dancing the dance of the tree

The tree disappears

The human disappears

The dance disappears.

Silence looks on.

I have been working with trees, tree energies, tree spirits, tree healing for a good many years now. It began with the creation and collection of a range of Tree Essences from British trees in the early 1990s – a time when several other people were also starting to work in a more subtle way with tree energies. Flower essences made from trees were a convenient way to explore the potential of different species. They developed into Green Man Tree Essences, with well over 100 tree energies represented. These are still an important part of my work, and are used  by many to aid their healing and spiritual growth. Alongside using essences other techniques came along. These have grown and developed over the years, and I hope in this blog to share them with you.


My inspiration does not derive from any one tradition or teaching. I prefer to get the silent teaching direct from their source, the trees themselves. These are inevitably filtered through my limited understanding and language skills, as teachings always are –  though my background knowledge in the arts, shamanism and Himalayan spiritual traditions flavours my approach. Many of the core techniques and processes have been given in lectures and workshops over the last twenty years, and one or two keen students have gone on to make Tree Spirit Healing a major part of their own work. However, I feel it is time to give a more general encouragement to those interested in the potential of working with trees (which is truly vast), hence the tentative birth of this blog…….