The Father Tree

Yesterday was Autumn at its glorious best.

The sky was bright blue, clear but for a few slowly forming stark white clouds that merged into light overcast as afternoon progressed.

I went out on a walk with my camera. It was the first time in ages. Not only did I not blog all Summer, I stopped taking photographs as well. I got some of a thrush feasting on blackberries.

Thrush 1 Thrush 2

I took rose hips
Rose hips
and turning leaves. I walked with meditative deliberateness, aware of each step and noticing any slight movements or sounds. It was an alive walk. I felt alive in a way I hadn’t for many months. The world was alive, even as it was beginning the process of retreating and dying back for the Winter ahead.

I did my last picking of blackberries of the season. And I assure you there were masses left for the birds — it seems unfair that the biggest and plumpest ones are way out of reach for us — but I smile at that thought and wish the birds well in their feasting. I walked through the local recreation ground on the way to the Harvest Festival and Fete and also on the way back. I stopped to notice that the huge Oak Tree had lots of acorns this year and fewer knopper galls. This made me happy because last year there were no acorns that I could see when I walked by a few times.

I spent more time approaching the Oak on my return. It seemed to be something I needed to do. I felt a deep sense of reverence for this huge wide spreading tree. He is a magnificent specimen.
The Father Tree

I paced out the diameter of his branch extension and it is 260! That would be feet! I walked around the trunk as well and it came to 16. It seems a very slender trunk to hold such huge branches, but it does.

As I circled in towards the trunk, after pacing it all out, I bowed to him, I have always thought of this tree as he, and when I got close enough I reached out my hand. Immediately there sprang between us a link, some connection. By the time I was close enough to touch the bark he began to speak to me. ‘Welcome daughter‘ were his first words.I pulled back a bit and shook my head. This tree had never spoken to me before.

There is a bigger, older Oak on a field boundary out beyond the village in the opposite direction whose name is Reverend Mother. She is very conversant. Last spring when I was walking there she asked me, it felt more like pleading me, to save some of her children. A number of very small Oaks were growing where they would be smashed by the tractor when it came to plowing. A few days later, I went back and working through the hard ground managed to retrieve two healthy seedlings. They are in pots and doing well, growing at the slow Oakish pace.

After a quick regrouping, I moved towards him again. There was a rush of recognition, from where I could not tell you. He told me I must visit more frequently. He assured me my roots were as securely placed in the soil of this land as his. A reassurance I had not expected. He flooded me with strength and energy. I am sure he is capable of being strict when he wants to be, but yesterday he was all gentleness. Maybe so he wouldn’t scare me away.

On the rest of my walk home, I thought about my genealogy in relation to trees, to specific trees and groups of trees I have made connections to and with since moving to Somerset. I wondered how would I plot, quite literally, my family tree. Though I know I am a daughter of the Yew, I see that at being in the sense of Yew, or a particular Yew (whom I’ve also written about) as, in relation to me, a grandmother/generational matriarch. My connection to the Yew is long standing and sacred in a way that other trees aren’t to the same depth, though Willow is very close in this regard. But I am sure now the other relationships will also deep, broaden and strengthen.

So, thinking about the trees who ring me with their energies for protection and in presence, the list might read like this:

Grandmothers: Yew and Willow
Mother: Beech (Whom I have written about as the Queen Tree)
Father: Oak
Siblings: Birch, Apple, Hazel and Rowan
Uncle: Holly
Aunt: Hawthorn

This was an exercise to try and look at very personal way of relating to particular trees in my environment. Since it flowed so effortlessly out my my encounter with the Father Tree, it seemed a valuable way to comprehend my relationships with certain trees. For some the relationship is fairly generic, there isn’t a particular tree I can identify with the assignment that feels right, well, not yet anyway. This is the case for Apple, Holly and Hawthorn, but I’m sure there is one waiting for me to meet it. With these three trees I have a general connection, maybe because Holly and Hawthorns are hedge dwellers and Apples are orchard trees. They live in groups and so to perceive an individual voice is likely to be harder to discern.

I believe I have written before of the Oak tree in whose lap I ran to sit in on the way to the grocery store every week with my mother and brother. Looking back I would say she was more a Nanny Tree. She was a source comfort and familiar presence with whom I felt safe and understood by in a way I never did with my human family.

At the time I could not have said why I felt that way, and it was not anywhere on my young radar that over fifty years later I would feel a so much stronger protective and profound connection to the Tree Folk. If anything that experience enables me, all those years later, to accept the gifts of connection with and claiming by the trees who ‘people’ the land and landscape which I Know is home. These connections will continue to unfold and the understandings expand for me. It seems no accident that all this is following on what happened on the Autumnal Equinox.

This deep, broad and intense Knowing is so sacred that to speak of it is like liturgy and prayer for me.

So, this is a liturgy and prayer I am sharing with you.

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A Bit of Cat Relief

Yesterday , before I began the journey I shared in my previous post all three cats were snoozing and I recorded the sensation in the cottage.

It is energetically still here
when they snooze
in sun drenched windowsills
or retreat to the floor
when it is time to cool down.

It is energetically still here
when they disappear
into the land of feline dreams
a land we can never go
nor see nor understand.

It is quiet without
the great deep rumbling,
or the gentle soft purrs
requesting cuddles,
although who cuddles whom
is a question of some debate.

It is quiet and still here
but the space is not empty
for their presences remain
tangible visible known.

The space is not vacant
for their furry bodies
remain sides rising and falling
with each breath
occasionally twitching
during the chase of phantom prey.

When they wake up
munging meows
gentle purrs
even the language of insistent silence
fill the space once more
with the sounds of audible presence,
mostly.

Wyntre the largest sends,
this message loud and clear
please stroke me
so I know that I exist
am loved,
and by the way now
that I’m awake feed me.

Wyntre

Nocturne the smallest
reaches out with white claws
from beneath her black paws
beckoning a cuddle
on her own definite terms.

Nocturne

Purfling the eldest,
stands resolutely by the willow stick
willing me to take it up,
prodding it and me into action
to play circle chase
until my arm gives out.

Purfling

It is often energetically
still and aurally quiet,
but they are here and present
my responsibility as well as,
company friends companions,
the furry members of my family.

* * *
As I write this out they are still once more; but Purfling is snoring in the sunshine as she soaks up the heat in positions only a cat can achieve. Bless.

Trust and Assistance

It has been many weeks since I last posted. Many weeks of wondering and stressing. Many weeks of holding on to trust and continuing to know I would be led to my new home. Baskin (see previous post The Badger’s Gift) was with me, reassuring me, snuffling about quietly, but never far away.

My friends were losing sleep for me. My friends were hassling me to do this or do that. Those who were once close were giving me advice that was totally unrealistic and inappropriate. I did things in the order that worked for me. I took steps as the time presented itself to me. It was not in other’s time, or the time others were sure was right for me.

The time ticked away. I did what I could. I continued to trust. I felt the presence not only of Baskin, but also Nemetona. Other’s fretted and panicked. What would I do if I did not find a home? All I knew is that I would. I trusted as I looked on the internet at places I could not afford, in places I knew I was not supposed to live. I looked everyday. I called a few agents and when they heard my situation they pretty much told me to forget about it.

I was offered through a family member help with paying a deposit. And when I learned I’d have to have a guarantor I approached, with trepidation, this same family member to do that for me as well, the answer was of course. I breathed a sigh of relief. But with only a couple of weeks to go nothing had turned up. I was in the nearest town visiting agents when the agent for the property I was being asked to leave because it was going to be sold texted me. He had a place that had just come up and offered to show it to me. He met me at the then home and took me to the new place. It was on the other side of the village I knew I was not supposed to leave.

As soon as I walked in I said yes. It felt right. It was a home. A bit tatty. Cat airlock already there (a little porchy bit). Big fireplace. Enough space once I got rid of extraneous stuff. I breathed another sigh of relief. Things were immediately set in motion. All the papers were signed four days before I was due to be out of the old place. Unfortunately the guy tidying up the new place was not to finish until midday of the day before I had to move.

The move took ten days. I had friends and friends of friends who helped me. Cars and a trailer. I was given grace of an extra week to clear the old place, though I lived in the new place from the day I was due out. Another family member came for three days from a considerable distance away to help me, she offered I did not ask.

I am awash with gratitude. I did not have to spend any money. I was helped because I needed the help and my friends rallied around me. An hour or two here and there, willing hands and generous hearts. I said thank you lots and some of them got little gifts that were appropriate and suddenly given. There was never a plan, only knowing at the time this was for that person.

As I sit here still getting rid of stuff there is not room for and things I do not need, I reflect on the gifts of friendship. I ponder the inexplicability of trust. I give thanks, so much gratitude to so many.

I am aware that Baskin is still with me and is a guardian of this home, this sett he helped me to find. I am aware of Nemetona whose presence graces the energy in which I now reside in a way much fuller than from the place from which I came. I am aware of the determined energy and power of trust, when coupled with the inadequate actions I could take in the face of what confronted me. I did my bit, and all along I was aware I would need a different sort of assistance.

On the last day of dealing with the previous property another lesson came. It was a rainy morning, I was told I really needed to sort out the garden before the owner of the property came the next day to do an inspection. I was tired. I did not think I could do any more there, and was surrounded with what felt overwhelming where I was. All of a sudden I felt a presence of one I had not thought of in over 20 years. I felt the presence of St Fiacre, yes I am a Druid but I am willing to receive assistance from those who offer it, the patron saint of gardeners. I felt within a few moments renewed energy. I knew I was not alone in this project. When I got to the house in the rain, wellied and waterproofed, with my sturdy push broom and a bag with a plastic dustpan and a stiff boat brush, I got to work. Two sheds had been in the small sloping garden for a number of years so I had to reshape the slope and take up six cement squares supporting the larger hexagonal shed. When I flagged I knew I could lean on Fiacre’s spade for a bit. In a little over two hours what looked like an impossible task had been completed. I was a mess, but it was done.

I was texted the next day by the letting agent that the owner was perfectly happy with the way I’d left the place and that I’d done a great job with the garden.

Now I am working my way to bring order out of chaos. Of getting back into a routine in a place I know will be good for creating. I feel I have missed a lot of the early spring. I’ve not really been on a proper walk, not taken any photos. But I am home. I know I have friends and family who love me. I trusted. I did what I could do. I accepted assistance when offered, and was willing to ask for it when I needed it. I learned much. I have a renewed sense of contentment and energy. I am home.