As Above, So Below: Trees Connect Us to Earth and Heavens
Mar 02, 2017 08:29PM
By Alexandra Leigh
The trees are telling stories in songs and whispers our minds have forgotten but our hearts, souls and spirits still understand. Our modern lives misrepresent the lineage of co-evolution we share with these immense beings; they, for so long, were honored for their life-giving breath, medicine, shelter and shade as well as for the incredible wisdom ancient cultures understood they possessed. The ancients were vitally connected to the notion that trees and plants held keys to unlocking our identity as humans. At this time on the planet when our success as a species requires a re-evaluation of how we as humans treat our home, all the natural beings and each other, trees are offering their help and calling out for us to remember who we truly are. We are all part of the Family of Earth.
Before reptiles, mammals or people, our planet teemed with photosynthesizing bacteria that balanced levels of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide to form an atmosphere that could sustain life. For more than three billion years, plants reigned as the most populous beings on this planet. It was not until approximately 500,000 years ago that humans appeared onto the evolutionary scale, coinciding with the appearance of flowering plants. The trees and plants have watched and aided our evolution from its inception. They are truly our ancestors, a familial connection that can be felt simply by bringing mindfulness to the give-and-take dance of our breath and by bringing thankfulness to the bounty of nourishment they provide us. The idea that our human ancestry and the great green beings are connected is still echoed in how we perceive our lineages today: family trees.
Yggdrasil, The World Tree of the Norse—also known to the Kabbalists and many other cultures as The Tree of Life—is an ancient and profound emblem of the macro and microcosm. This symbol gives us a map for our physical place in the universe, while representing the meaningful spiritual dimensions that are constantly influencing and interacting with us on cosmic and personal scales. The Tree of Life can be seen as the structure of the cosmos as well as the human soul on the journey of discovery and enlightenment. The shape of a tree—branching on one end into the heavens, plunging with the other into the dark underworld and converging at a balance point on Earth—provides a natural allegory for the adage, “as above, so below.”
For initiates of the Syrian Mysteries who were known as The Cedars of Lebanon or for societies like the Druids, whose name roughly translates to People of the Oak, trees represented a mastery of spiritual arts. The Druids constructed an alphabet of trees called Ogham and used this encoded language to store their tree knowledge. However, most of their traditions and techniques were spoken or sung to students in sacred groves of trees where they felt the wisdom could be accessed like a library from the wise green ones themselves.
The cornerstone of shamanistic thinking is that our physical reality is surrounded by and interactions with various worlds or spirit that also contain intelligent life. Trees have long been perceived as not only conscious beings themselves, but portals or gateways to these realms. They are bridges between the tangible and intangible worlds. Hawthorn is still revered in England today as a tree of the faeries and an entryway to working with such beings of light.
Many cultures use trees ceremonially. Birch has long been used as the May Pole, representing the Axis Mundi and our continuous rotation through the cosmos. In the Native American Sun Dance, dancers attach themselves by their skin to a cottonwood tree, a physical offering for the good of the planet and their people. Many ceremonies use trees to represent a sky-ladder upon which shamans ascend into higher realms and return to Earth transformed.
We can invite the medicine of the Standing Ones into our daily lives with little effort. It is part of our biologic technology as well as our birthright to commune with the natural world. With a grateful heart, try taking time to stand with a tree, one hand on its trunk and one on our human heart, and practice consciously breathing with the intention to open lines of communication. Burn sacred woods and resins like palo santo, juniper and copal to invoke the sense of our sacred past and seamless integration with nature. Try drinking white pine tea or add a few drops of a tree essence to the morning coffee (make sure the oil is graded for ingestion). Working with tree consciousness helps us feel in sync with the rhythms of nature as well as enabling us to open ourselves to healing personal and global wounds. Healer Pam Montgomery teaches that currently, “plants are stepping up to the plate and serving as our Elders to initiate us so we can take up our rightful place within the circle of life being co-creative partners with the plants, trees, elements and great Lady Gaia.”
Alexandra Leigh of Triple Goddess Remedies in Easton offers workshops and individual plant wisdom healing opportunities. Connect with her at 203-293-7669, [email protected] or TripleGoddessRemedies.com. See ad, page 14.