Have you ever sat in silence in a forest?
If so, you may have noticed how full of change it is.The moment to come is different from the moment just passed. Wind stirs the air and shakes the leaves, creating sounds that shift and change. Light comes and goes, flickering or shafting past tall trunks, branches and twigs.
The temperature alters, from warm to chill. A leaf falls, and the bush is changed by its fall. A gecko slips under a stone. A mosquito alights on your hand.
A certain tree
Last weekend I sat on the earth at the base of a 50-year-old kauri tree, which was surrounded by many tree companions. The trunk of the kauri was slender enough to be encompassed by my hand, yet tall enough to pierce the canopy above, where it reached up into full sun.
Sitting there, holding the trunk, I feel a surprising strength of movement as the wind tosses the spiky crown of the tree. The trunk feels almost wiry, or perhaps rubbery. There is no danger of it snapping even though recent storms have been fierce.
I talk to the tree about the gift it received seven years ago. It was here that we buried the placenta of my granddaughter. When Mira visits the land, the first thing she does is to run up the bush path to visit ‘her’ tree.
‘Look after her when I’m gone,’ I tell the tree, knowing it will outlive me. ‘Watch over her.’
The tree and I first met when I was in my early twenties and the tree was just a delicate seedling in a nursery. It was one of several that my husband and I perched on the running board of our Lambretta motor scooter as we bumped along the unsealed road to the coast, to our block of land.
We were young then, and not long married; young enough to plant 6 inch-high seedlings in springtime, and to know that we had a lifetime ahead in order to watch them grow.
Many springs have come and gone since then, and for decades I have watched the trees grow, sheltered by the ‘nurse crop’ of manuka.
Kauri dieback disease has taken a hold in the Waitakeres, threatening the lives of many giant kauris. But this one, young and solitary, is healthy and strong.
Tree clasping traditions
As I sat on the earth, I thought of the sacred connection that indigenous people have with trees; how my Celtic ancestors worshipped ash, hawthorn and oaks; and how Druids would meet outside in sacred groves.
I thought of how intimately Maori knew the bush —ngahere—and the reverence they hold for certain trees, many of which have been given names. Tane Mahuta, the largest kauri of all, grows in Northland and is thought to be 2,000 years old. Although kauris are best known for having names, they are not the only ones. The Tuhoi tribe named a significant hinau tree, which grew high on a bush ridge on the east coast. Maori women would go to Te Iho-o-Kataka, as it was called, and clasp it, in order to help conceive a child.
This is not magical thinking. Scientists now know how immersion in forest energy is good for our health. They have actually measured the vibrational patterns of trees and can demonstrate how these vibrations affect the biology of our bodies.
Holding a tree allows a transfer of energy to take place. It is regenerative, restoring health and vitality, all of which is helpful for a woman wishing to conceive and for anyone needing a recharge.
Your connection to the natural world is a precious lifeline, and trees will help you make this connection.
A tree for you?
In late spring, trees are in full growth, spreading their canopies and putting down new growth rings.
Do you have a favourite tree: one that you can hold, or sit by?
If so, you might like to see how this tree can help you through the busy period between now and Christmas. Go to your tree and discover how it can rebalance your energy, and calm and replenish you through December.
Why are there trees I never walk under but large and
melodious thoughts descend upon me?
Deepen the connection
Would you like to learn about forest bathing and how to hold a tree?
Would you like to foster a healing connection with nature that will sustain you through all seasons?
Then I would love to have you join me for Sacred Earth, my new online course that will begin in February 2016.
Click here to read all about it.