It wasn't always the case that Trees were my friends. I grew up in a very Asian household, with a focus on cleanliness and staying indoors to study. I didn't go camping until I was in high school. Even then, it was a trip I took on my own without my friends and family.
It wasn't until I started studying Shamanism that things began to change. My teacher has a ritual he asks us to do after a soul retrieval to help ground the healing that involves a Tree. I would always go to a certain Tree for such rituals and after a few visits, I realized that this Tree really cared about me. A friendship had begun. As time passed, I got to know other Trees as well.
This Fall, a vacated historical building on the North corner of where I live began to be redeveloped. Vast areas of the land were marked off and little yellow bands started to appear on many of the Trees in the area, including a little area I called the "Fairy Forest." I contacted the architect and the city to protest but they claimed that their arborist said those Trees were dead (very untrue!).
One morning, I had a strange feeling that I must work from home that day. As I looked out my window, I realized that the Trees I loved and had gotten to know were going to be cut down that very day. By now, many of you may be wondering where this post is headed. Some of you may have heard that if one is planning on cutting down a Tree, it is best to let the Tree know in advance so it has time to prepare. I wanted to add my own humble two cents and say that it is also important to honor the Tree after it is cut down, particularly if it is being done by the City (i.e. someone who does not care).
I stood watch as those Trees were cut that day and I was struck (again) by how awesome these Tree beings truly are. I would send healing to one Tree and it would tell me to send it to another Tree who they said was the one who really needed it. That Tree in turn would tell me to send it to another Tree, and so on. They weren't dead and they wanted to live yet they stood tall and proud with no anger as humans cut them down (carelessly too, if I might add). Every day of their life was spent helping us live.
You don't need to study Shamanism to be able to honour Trees. Sit quietly in meditation and ask what you can do. For some of the Trees near where I live, they wanted to be cut down properly. And so we did, albeit in another realm. For others, the Hidden Folk came to take them away. Some made other requests. But before that, we danced. We danced in celebration of Trees and in celebration of them. I was really sad that day to have lost so many friends but during the honouring of them, I was not. It was joyous and I felt so grateful and honoured that they allowed me to take part in this.
I also wanted to add that if something similar happens to you where Trees are cut near where you live, when you look at the land after, try to do so with eyes that are free from anger or sorrow. I have to be honest and say that for a period of time, the sight of the barren land and carelessly strewn Tree stumps really hurt. What I learned is that the anger you feel gets sent in ways that are not helpful. If you can, try to catch yourself. Acknowledge the anger/pain/grief, but also ask that the energy behind those emotions be transmuted. One day, when I was feeling particularly sad, I was shown that the Trees were now somewhere where humans could never hurt them. Where they could grow strong and so tall, undisturbed. That helped somewhat (although I still wish that safe place was here with us!).
Honouring them helped too.
One of the ways I spend my time is with children. On Earth Day, I was helping a student with English. We started talking about Earth Day and he asked me, "what do people do on Earth Day?" He is in grade 3, by the way.
I told him that on Earth Day, people are extra nice to the Earth. For example, they might take special care to turn off unnecessary lights. Immediately he said, "I do that! My Mom is so wasteful! I'm always following her and turning lights off!"
I told him, "you're an Earth Protector!" He sat up straight and said very seriously, "I'm not just an Earth Protector, I'm an Earth DEFENDER!"
Thought it was too good a story not to share. =)
Something I like to do when I'm trying to "shift" into a better state, is to walk as though my feet are kissing the Earth. You might have heard about this if you practice walking meditation.
The idea is to slow way down. When one does a walking meditation, they purposely and gently touch the heel of one foot to the Earth. The ball of that foot rolls down and each toe settles on the ground. The other foot takes a step and these steps are repeated.
Walking meditations are very slow. But you can still apply this practice to your daily life with faster movements. Try walking at your normal pace and imagine that your feet are kissing the Earth. Just having this intention will add a quality of gentle awareness and care to your steps. You may find that your pace will slow slightly. I find it is a great heart and sense opener as well. It fills me with wonder and joy and my stress and worries melt away. I try to do this whenever I can during my walks home from work.