My husband and I lost a dear friend of our family some time ago, and in many ways I’m still grieving the loss. This friend is not human, however, or even animal. We had to have our beautiful redwood tree removed from the backyard, by order of our neighbor. This redwood tree was known to me as Mother Tree (and because of this, throughout the article I will refer to the tree as ‘she’).
Yes, the neighbor did have a point—Mother Tree’s roots were negatively affecting her backyard (my husband and I researched the situation thoroughly), but that knowledge didn’t help make the process of removing her any easier. This tree was like a personal friend to me; with a healing energy that was always welcome and uplifting. I would lay in a hammock and stare at her branches—their movement in the wind—and the birds fluttering about within them and singing their songs.
In my sorrow, I emailed a friend and talked about the situation. It turns out, she had
gone through something similar—having to have a tree removed—and had done a shamanic journey about it. She wrote that she was shown that the Trees are always connected in
Spirit, even if they’re not visible to us. That their “…Spirit and Roots are always present with their wonderful and loving energies”.
She then suggested doing an Honoring Ritual with Mother Tree, in order to show her how much I am grateful for all she’s given me, and to give her a gift to show my appreciation. The gift can be simple, such as a flower or feather. The intention was the important thing—stating my gratefulness and love. She also suggested taking a piece from Mother Tree to The Grove of the Old Trees, located near Occidental in Northern California. “It would be part of a nice resting place for Her and an honor to Her and also planting Her Seed for Renewal”, she wrote.
This protected grove of redwood trees is the “only privately-owned preserve in Sonoma County that is publicly accessible and free to all”, and through the persistent efforts of many organizations including Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Save-The-Redwoods-League (as well as private individuals), the “property will be retained for perpetuity as a forest preserve, a place for public access appropriate to the site, ecological research, field science education and as a living remnant of the forests that once covered much of the northern California coast” (http://landpaths.org/propertyexplorer/grove-of-old-trees.aspx).
So, to honor Mother Tree, I decided to do just what my friend recommended. I certainly didn’t want to be at the house when her removal was happening, anyway. I wasn’t able
to access a pine cone easily, or anything from a branch, so I ended up picking up a small green frond that I found on the ground, and taking that with me.
It was difficult for me to find the place. My GPS had steered me wrong originally, taking me past open pastures and around a mountain, until the road finally ended after crossing a wooden bridge and seeing “No Trespassing” signs. I turned around and tried a different approach, the second time being successful—but it wasn’t easy to get there, through winding and narrow roads. Which feels fitting, in its own way. Like those who approach and enter the Grove should pass some sort of test of character.
Upon finding and entering the Grove, it’s like walking into a church. The air seems to be of a special clarity and quietness, and I feel transported to a place beyond time. Surrounded by all of these majestic trees, I placed the frond near the base of one that called to me, one I deemed ‘Grandmother Tree’. I memorized the location, should I come back some day.
To me, it doesn’t really matter if the frond grows or not. I don’t know enough about horticulture to know if it even has a chance of growing; what matters most to me is the ritual of it. It matters to me to honor our redwood tree as a Being that positively affected the world, my world.
Rituals are done the world over, in every culture throughout time. They are done for a number of reasons, including honoring, prayer, and celebration, and they may be so ingrained into your habits that you are unaware that what you’re doing can even be a ritual. A habit can become a ritual if a bit of consciousness is added to it; I see that it’s the intent behind it that makes it a ritual.
We can all do daily rituals in our lives, though you may not think of them as such: taking a shower before work in the morning, for instance, or even something as mundane as drinking a cup of tea. Drinking tea can be one of many simple rituals to connect with your Spirit, even while sitting at your work desk. Bring the warm liquid to your face, feel the steam, smell the sweet aroma, and take a few moments to breathe in goodness. Be thankful for it.
So let us take comfort in our rituals, whether they be large or small, for they help to keep us spiritual.