The secrets of trees

Tree shadows 1

From "A Different Yield" by Linda Hogan (from Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World):

"A woman once described a friend of hers as being such a keen listener that even the trees leaned toward her, as if they were speaking their innermost secrets into her listening ears. Over the years I've envisioned that woman's silence, a hearing full and open enough that the world told her its stories. The green leaves turned toward her, whispering tales of soft breezes and the murmurs of leaf against leaf."

This is what I aspire to, a hearing just so open and full.

Tree shadows 2

"It is the last thing we learn, / listening to the creature world... "   - Jane Yolen

Tree shadows 3

"Listen, listen, listen..."  -  Phyllis Holliday

Tree shadows 4

The phtotographs above of the trees growing out of an old stone boundary wall dividing the hill we live on from woods. The Days of the Dead (Nov. 1 - 4) are a time when the boundaries between Worlds are easily crossed.... Quiet, now. Listen.

The dream of feathers...

From Ashs and Snow by Gregory Colbert

From "The Dream of Feathers" by Linda Hogan (of the Chickasaw Nation), published in her luminous book Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World:

"Perhaps there are events and things that work as a doorway into a mythical world, the world of first people, all the way back to the creation of the universe and the small quickenings of earth, the first stirrings of human beings at the beginnings of time. Our elders believe this to be so, that it is possible to wind a way backwards to the start of things, and in doing so find a form of sacred reason, different from ordinary reason, that is linked to forces of nature. In this kind of mind, like in the feather, is the power of sky and thunder and sun, and many have had alliances and partnerships with it, a way of thought older than measured time, less primitive than the rational present. Others have tried for centuries to understand the world by science and intellect but have not yet done so, not yet understood animals, finite earth, or even their own minds and behavior. The more they seek to learn the world, the closer they come to the spiritual, the magical origins of creation.

"There is a still place, a gap between the worlds, spoken by the tribal knowings of thousands of years. In it are silent flyings that stand aside from human struggles and the designs of our own makings. At times, when we are silent enough, still enough, we take a step into such mystery, the place of spirit, and mystery, we must remember, by its very nature does not wish to be known."

The photograph above is from the Ashes and Snow series by Gregory Colbert.

Mist and myth

Mist on Nattadon 1

I have another small dish to add to the "Mother Tongue" Moveable Feast (on land, language, art, and storytelling).  In this short excerpt from A Branch from the Lightning Tree: Ecstatic Myth and the Grace in Wilderness, Martin Shaw discusses the four years he spent living outside on a mountain in Wales:

"With zero practical experience of living outside, I made endless mistakes....Gary Snyder I was not. Axes were blunt, jeans constantly caught on barbed wire fences, snares empty.

"Dreams came nightly like rowdy bears crashing into days where I struggled to cope with hand tools, tried to light wet wood, shivered between continual extremes of hot and cold. I was a righteous mess with no apparent skills. Somewhere in this process, the threads between the human community and where I found myself grew thin. I couldn't find the vocabulary to articulate the changes I was experiencing. I felt intensely vulnerable and very lonely. What I looked for was some archaic language that would expand words and frame images so beautifully that I felt connected to human folk as well as kestrals and mud. What I found was myth.

Mist on Nattadon 2

Mist on Nattadon 3

"Myth is promiscuous, not dogmatic. It moves like a lively river through swarthy packs of reindeer, great aristocratic families, and the wild gestures of an Iranian carpet seller. Myth is not much to do with the past, but a kind of magical present that can flood our lives when the conditions are just so. It is not just the neurosis of us humans trying to fathom our place on earth, but sometimes the earth actually speaking back to us. That's why some stories can be hard to approach, they are not necessarily formed from a human point of view."

Mist on Nattadon 4

Mist on Nattadon 5

Circles and cycles

Eric's old shed in summer

From A Branch from the Lightening Tree: Ecstatic Myth and the Grace in Wilderness
by Martin Shaw:

"A Culture of Wilderness...encourages longing, handling paradox, experiencing community in rowan trees and dark pools of water, carrying images of power back to the village, and flourishing in the process. A Culture of Wilderness is what initiation and myth offer.

"Our life is a house, with a roof of night-birds and muscled pillars of experience, its eaves containing a musky web of unique passions, its base holding a great fire that comes up from the very heart of the earth itself; around the house are hives of bees and orchards of apples. It is good to give some of the honey away and let in a few good-natured apple poachers. There is no short-cut to the building of such a house, but the garden is the legacy that instinctively arises through time and feeds others.

Eric's shed in autumn

Eric's old shed and beehives in autumn

"All storytellers know that two types of time exist: one is the twenty-four hours, the school run, the bill-paying, forever catching-up time of our everyday world; but behind that looms the energy of mythic time, the great cycles that pulse from generation to generation. These great wheels infuse the everyday with nourishment, 'eternity in a grain of sand.' The philosopher Plotinus suggested that while the body favors a straight line, the soul hankers for the circle.

The shed in winter

The beehives in winter

"This mythic, circular time (which is really no kind of time at all) laughs at the straight line and the alarm clock. Without it -- even with all the riches of the world -- we can enter the arena of the meaningless. As markets collapse and the world heats up, we would do well to see Coyote's claws opening holes between the two. We live in an era of tremendous possibility."

The beehives in spring

The shed in spring

Tilly behind the shed in the spring

Photos above: "The Turning of the Seasons" -- our friend Eric's old shed and beehives on the village Allotments (viewed from the edge of the woods) during summer, autumn, winter, and spring.