Rose told me she had two best friends as a child—a mama and a papa Apple tree in her yard. The trees were crowding each other so her father cut one down. It was devastating to lose a dear family member. Of course the grief of loss was never acknowledged.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to people who grieved heavily when someone cut down their loved one in broad daylight. It happened to me as a child in Rochester, NY when I lost my dear old Elm friend. Many people, especially children, form lasting and deep relationships with trees. Some, myself included, consider trees their Ancestors, elders, teachers, protectors, and friends.
Relationships with trees often fall into the category of “imaginary” friends. When Cindy told me the Pine trees in her backyard were her Ancestors, I told her “yes, I believe they are.” We have a deep longing for connection in nature and trees are an important teacher, elder, friend, and protector for many… even for those who don’t experience the spirit of the tree itself. There is a subtle form of connection, communication that transcends words. Feelings are the language of nature.
I have experienced the sensation of trees hugging me, I have heard their voices and felt their love and the energy of their being as their roots travel deep into the earth and up through its branches into the heavens. I have made medicine from many trees—Oak, Cedar, Pine, Doug Fir, and the most ancient Bristlecone Pine. I have experience healing from their medicine and watched others heal and balance in deep ways when they take tree essences.
There is a beautiful teaching called Non-violent Communication (NVC) that helps us become aware of a kinder way of communication. Some call it Compassionate Communication. It would be a great blessing to all of nature to practice some of these ways with trees, too. Founder, Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD offered this: “When our communication supports compassionate giving and receiving, happiness replaces violence and grieving!”
My friend Nancy called me in distress because she and her husband planned to cut down a Cottonwood tree so they could open up a view to Mt. Hood. Nancy was very empathetic with the plant realms. I came over and we gathered in a circle by the tree. I spoke out loud and thanked the tree for its life, thanked the fairies and nature spirits for what they create, do, and give to us. I told them very directly that the tree was going to be cut. I also offered that they could find a new home before this happened. We offered our love and gratitude.
What happened next was simply beautiful! All three of us felt a rush of love and energy swirl around us and reveal the appreciation the tree and nature spirits had for us. There was immense gratitude that we communicated to them in a very appreciative and respectful way. We had made our offering, or gift to the tree. It felt as if the spirit of the tree accepted its destiny, in peace.
The Cottonwood tree was cut. I picked the resinous Cottonwood buds off the branches and soaked them in olive oil and gave the oil back to Nancy. She used the oil on her growing belly. (Nancy was pregnant at the time.) By to the way, her daughter has become a great lover of the fairies and tree spirits too!