Near my hometown Eupen, in East Belgium, the last ice age has created a high moor with a unique character, that absorbs rainwater like a giant sponge and releases it into many valleys and forests all around the moor. This magical place with its ancient rocks and bubbling streams is the home of one of my best and oldest friends. She is a beech tree and I would like to introduce her to you in this short article.
My tree friend is a real granny and one of the oldest trees in the neighbourhood. She could easily be 250 to 300 years old. Within the rings of her wood, she holds memories of hundreds of summers and winters, expansions and contractions and each year she grows thousands of new leaves that now cover a big circle of the floor all around her. She wears a green jumper made of minimum five different types of moss, which makes it very tempting to hug her for long periods of time.
Here is a drawing I made of one of her many faces. Have you noticed, that tree spirits often look a bit bizarre and quirky? I think they are testing our ability to see with our hearts and recognize the beauty of their odd-looking faces.
I remember being on a walk with my mum when I was about 7 years old when I saw this tree for the first time. I burst out: “wow, look at this tree!” and I ran up to her and stood next to her giant trunk in total awe. Since then I’ve always remembered her, but it took me another 10 years to become conscious of our connection.
When I revisited her as a young adolescent I noticed that not much seemed to have changed in her life. She helped me to put things into perspective and become more aware of different rhythms in Life. I experienced a moment of deep peace, whilst sitting under her branches and since then I’ve revisited her many times. Often when I am travelling I visit her before leaving and after coming back to Belgium. I tell her where I’ve been and sometimes I introduce her to friends who join me for a walk in the forest. Over the last 14 years, she has become an anchor and an important point of reference in my life.
In the past three years, I’ve studied Druidry and bushcraft in the UK. Whilst connecting to old trees in England, Wales and Ireland, I’ve become more aware of the basic tree-communication principles. “The standing people” as the native Americans call them, are great teachers. Especially the oldest trees who are deeply rooted in the ground can teach us a lot about life and death, regeneration, grounding, the eternal cycles and much more. Our Celtic ancestors knew this and still today many people feel intuitively drawn to trees.
If you don’t have a special tree friend yet, I would like to invite you to go out and find one after reading this article, or if you already know who your green friends are, to revisit them again.
Here are eight tree-connection practices you might want to try out:
- do a daily or at least regular 20 minutes sit-spot next to the tree you wish to connect with. Let all of your senses go into detail and challenge yourself to discover something new every time you do a sit-spot.
- play music and sing to your tree friend. Try and ask the tree to play the song it wants to hear through you. You might be surprised what comes out!
- bring offerings of food, crystals or other hand-made gifts from natural materials and leave them there. Arrange your offerings beautifully and with slow and meaningful gestures.
- Write a letter or a poem to a tree you love and bury it in the earth next to it.
- ask a question and wait for answers. The answers often come through our own feelings, inner visions and inspiring ideas.
- visit your tree friend for a full moon or seasonal festival celebration. Some trees are especially communicative during certain festival periods, like the hawthorn at Beltane in May or the holly at mid-winter in December.
- sleep a night or two under the tree of your choice and ask for messages and communication in your dreams. Do this with a friend and share your dreams in the morning.
- Stay for a whole day, two days or a week and let your uninterrupted presence become a powerful quest for healing, wisdom and re-connection. You can also incorporate other shamanic techniques like fasting into a bigger quest with a tree.
Our intention and the ability to be mindful and present in the moment are two highly important keys to establishing tree communication. You conntact might or might not develop into an ongoing friendship. It doesn’t have to! If it doesn’t happen straight away that’s fine, I am sure the right tree is waiting for you somewhere. Check out oldest-trees lists online to find your perfect match!
Looking back at my own memories with the beech granny I see a chain of precious memory-pearls lined up in front of me and I feel grateful for the connection I have to this tree. After a heavy storm some weeks ago I noticed that one of her bigger branches had fallen down. A good reminder, that she too is one day going to fall and surrender to gravity. She’ll decompose and nourish the next generation of trees, including the small beech trees that have grown from her own beechnuts. After visiting her I often find myself thinking:
Isn’t it wonderful, that all this exists and that we get to experience it !?
Greetings from the Forest.