Sharing with you an excerpt from an excellent post on Trees at Planet Waves. Talking about Beltane and other Tree celebrations:
“It’s a celebration of the new green, the growth of life, of life on Earth and Mother Earth, the Creatrix. The tree is a universal symbol of life, from Buddha being born, receiving enlightenment and dying under the tree, and on and on.”
The tree is celebrated as an entity that reaches deep into the ground and at the same time reaches to the heavens. It is a bridge between Heaven and Earth, with its growth nourished both by the light of a star (the Sun) and the solid mass of the planet where it has its roots.
In Pagan times, this was celebrated many ways, including with the May Pole dance. The pole is of course made from the trunk of a tree that is draped in garlands, to which are attached long ribbons. The dance involves everyone holding one of the ribbons and then weaving the web of life, circling the pole in an obvious celebration of the phallus. But there’s a lot more going on as well.
The Catholics adopted the May Pole celebration into Holy Cross Day, celebrated May 3, a Catholic version where they turn the tree into a cross (the Catholics have versions of all the Pagan holidays), which is a bigger deal in South America. “Throughout Latin America, they celebrate it as Cruzelacu, in midspring, which is a nature appreciation holiday. A cross is decorated as the May Pole would be, with ribbons and flowers, and sometimes flags, jewelry and dresses,” said Henes.
In the 1640s, there was an act of the British Parliament banning the May Pole. The law assailed the “heathenish, vanity, generally abused to superstition and wickedness” of the dance. The Restoration brought back May Poles, and there was a huge one erected in The Strand in 1661, which required the strength of 12 soldiers under the personal supervision of King James II. This was a 134-foot cedar pole. Then in 1717, it was moved to Wanstead Park in Essex, where it became part of the support of Sir Isaac Newton’s telescope.
In contemporary Brazil, May Day is celebrated by designating a particularly powerful tree and decorating it with white flags.”It was still serving the original symbolism of the tree, which is rooted in the ground and reaching into the heavens,” said Henes.
The Liberty tree is a common symbol for several North American tribes. In the late 1800s a movement began to unite the tribes and present a common front to expel the white man. They created a ritual called the Ghost Dance where they circled around what they called the World Tree.
There’s also a Jewish holiday called Tu B’Shvat, which celebrates the birthday of the trees. In contemporary times, funds are raised and trees are purchased and planted. It’s a national tree-planting holiday in Israel, which has a national obsession with re-planting the desert.
On the other side of the world, there is a Chinese festival called Ching Ming, or the Bright and Clear Festival, where graves are cleaned and trees are planted near the resting places of the ancestors.
Finally, there’s a worldwide holiday that you hardly hear about any more called Arbor Day. On the first Arbor Day, held in Nebraska on April 10, 1872, an estimated one million trees were planted.
Tree benefits: That’s a good thing — trees do nothing but support life on Earth. They are integral to the biosphere. Without them, life on Earth would not only collapse — we would all be a lot dumber than we already are. Researching the biological themes, I spent some time on the North Carolina State University website yesterday and this is some of what I learned.
One large tree can provide a supply of oxygen for two people. At the same time, a tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, and can sequester one ton of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches 40 years old.
Forests supply over 50% of freshwater flow in the lower 48 states. According to USDA Forest Service estimates, some 180 million people — more than half of the United States’ population — depend on forests for their drinking water.
In addition to providing oxygen and water, trees keep the air breathable. Over one year, an acre of forest can consume the amount of carbon dioxide created by driving a car 26,000 miles, about twice the annual mileage for an average driver. An acre is pretty large. It’s a good thing that in the U.S., forests cover 749 million acres. That’s nearly 33% of the nation’s land. When the United States was first settled, they covered 46% of the nation’s total land area.
We would be in a symbiotic relationship with trees, were we not chopping them down so fast. Symbiotic means both parties to the equation benefit from the relationship — and trees do benefit from our presence and offer themselves to us for many purposes. At the moment, we seem to be getting most of the benefits of trees, but we also seem to be missing a larger point.
Talking Trees: There’s a dimension to trees that some people have encountered and others have devoted their lives to. One such person is Elisa Novick, who you may have already encountered in a recent edition of Planet Waves FM. Elisa reminds me of an other-worldly cosmic entity that I might have met in a science fiction novel, except that she’s a real person working as a healer on the planet. Here is how she tells the story of her first meeting with a tree in a forest in upstate New York, not far from where I live.
“Walking down a mossy forest path, I was met by a powerful wave of love emanating from a magnificent oak. So began a fascinating multidimensional odyssey spanning 10 years, as a small patch of forest became my happiest place in the universe and a place for healing and awakening for many,” Elisa wrote in an email to me yesterday.
“Each tree has a unique personality and gifts to bestow. Trees hold keys for the survival and thriving of the Earth. They created the conditions for us to live on this planet and can do so again if we ally with them.
“Learn to receive their healing love and converse with them and support them in their mission. Let’s not assume that if our ears can’t hear, that there is nothing spoken. Attunement is the next language of communication — with people, plants, animals, and the cosmos.
“My hope is that if more people understand that trees can be sentient and have healing and spiritual abilities beyond anything we have imagined, we will nourish those that are still alive and replant our bountiful forests. Not only the other half of our lungs, they may be the other half of our hearts.”
Elisa has the ability to communicate with entities that don’t use what we consider the normal senses. Here is what an oak tree in that forest said to her:
“In another world we were lovers, you and I, in dimensions too difficult to describe, but all things come around and we are brought together for a reason when it is correct and useful. Now this planet is dissolving in pollution and all are suffering to some extent. But there is always renewal available. You have renewed our context here on this planet by your thoughts and good wishes and we wish to stay now; though we have scouts foraging for another wilderness to ‘set up shop’.
“We are always prepared, as your Scouts say. Funny that you should mention contingency plans at your breakfast today. But in this spiritual realm, there are no contingency plans, no plans, just the unfolding of a reality that is long known, but never planned. How can I say that this is true? Or how to be fortunate enough to be enlightened/privy to this information? The known comes forth as it reveals itself out of the Great Plan, but it is never planned ahead of time; just revealed in its true glory, fully formed. Then it develops by choice, will, playful endeavor; curiosity; happiness. It is creativity in this making, Universal, powerful urges move through all, causing creativity to flourish in response, like leaves to the sun and wind forces. We move, too, we trees, as we are called by the greater plan, but have many choices and happiness rules the moment as to when and where we plop ourselves down and give of our happiness to the Earth or other spaces.”
A maple tree said:
“Many of your species have noticed that we (trees) are not doing as well as we used to; our leaves are dying from your poisons and our roots are also feeling the pinch. The water is no longer fully wholesome from soil or sky and we don’t like noise that is unnatural and vibrates our roots badly. But we continue to pour forth love and healing chemicals and go about our nature/natural lives in pursuit of a ‘higher ground’, a place wherein we become greater selves. Our development spiritually and consciously is all-important. As we develop, we develop new abilities and can bring forth great wonders energetically and also to the physical manifestation.
“So be well my friends. Come forth in your glory and you will find us waiting in glory to welcome you and live in harmony and grace (yes we know grace; we form it every day); we exude this natural grace. Solemnity is not part of that, but laughter, playfulness, ease and lightness of being; we are creative and naturally curious and we love the Christ consciousness coming through every pore of this planet’s existence. It is what the planet is made of after all. You must broaden your idea of what it is; your ideas are so narrow and limited. Widen and enlarge your awareness and you will find Me (Christ) in every cell of every plant and every stone and every being that exists, animal, dolphin, whale, etc.””Call us forth. Please don’t deny yourselves this ability to call forth nature’s finest consciousness, its abilities to heal itself and the world. This garden planet is unique in its resources for higher consciousness and verdant growth possiblities. It provides great stamina and strength to its species and has an integration unlike any found. It can sustain great damage and heal itself, but it cannot sustain continued or even sporadic damaging; conscious and unconscious.
You can read more of these messages in this PDF that Elisa has prepared for Planet Waves readers.
The author Hermann Hesse seemed to be onto the inner life of trees as well. “Trees are sanctuaries,” he wrote in his book Wandering. “Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
“A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought. I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail. A tree says: My strength is trust…I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labour is holy. Out of this trust I live.”
(story from Planet Waves, photos are mine)