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It’s Just Trees - Native Soul, Enlightenment and the Indigenous Experience.

“Direct experience is direct experience”


However this type of experience can fade if not supported and honoured. In the modern world there’s not much call for wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve, being present, being aware, and yet we will not survive if we don’t.

I am not going to talk at this point about destruction of #indigenous knowledge occurring only ‘in-the-west’ because this is wholly out of date. I see a dismantling of indigenous #culture happening and the attached value systems are being attacked and dismantled all across the world. Indigenous culture goes hand in hand with #environmentalism.

Put simply it means if you are a native of the land you don’t destroy what you know is your home. When you are fully present then you are aware of the ecstatic beauty of the world, every plant, rock and animal. Everything is seen as a being, worthy of life and part of a greater whole.

Take a look at this map of deforestation in Borneo

This #ecocide is company driven by the profits to be made out of palm oil.

#Trees are perhaps the greatest living symbol of our connections to the earth, to our native soul. The image of a ‘world tree’ is known across the world in many, many traditions and religions.

In what are described as ‘first world’ countries particularly, cultural appropriation & destruction have been argued over at length. The issue being that this happens without any proper understanding of what it means to be native to the culture and lands upon which people stand.

There has been much discussion about how indigenous teaching and culture has been appropriated in first world countries. This has happened mainly by putting commercialism in front of the original message in a pay-£2000-for-a-workshop kind of a way. Of course everyone needs to earn a living but very rare are the people who pay a tithe back to the original nations that they earned this knowledge from. It is the curse of rabid consumption.

Many however are discovering the diamonds hidden within their own #traditions, the meanings and teachings. To say that these are now extinct is wrong, they are still there if you know where to look. These were were the old piratical treasure maps to the gold hidden within.

Sailing the Seven Seas to the Island of The Trees

Piratical treasure of old soul gold

Maps of stories endlessly rolled out

The singing song lines of landscape dreams

We sail out in our rickety boats of bones

Search for something we cannot name

Down the lifetime rivers

In search of a place to call home

At last a beach of sand and stone

Through all the storms and surf

We see the tall, tall trees

And know, no more need to roam.

So what is #directexperience and how can we nurture the true self, the native soul within us?

The big problem the modern world has to today is one of rampant consumption. People are endlessly hungry for what they have forgotten, something they think is lost. They want the latest TV, phone, car, clothes ... but do these things satisfy deep down inside? The answer of course is that they do not. If they did we would use them until they fell apart before replacing. Some people replace their car every few years, why?

The writer and healer #MartinPrectel who was trained as a shaman in Guatemala explains the indigenous point of view. He says the local Guatemalans would never have invented the car for example, because the materials consumed for it would be impossible to replace and give thanks for. If every animal hunted, plant gathered and every bowl of water used is given thanks for, as repayment, then how long would it take to build a car? What would it cost the earth? Such a thing is totally impossible.

Living close to the land as people used to do meant that they were engaged in every stage of the process to create something. If you wanted butter then you took care of the land, you looked after your cows, you made the milk pail and butter making equipment and you milked the cow and made the butter yourself. You would understand the relationship between these things intimately and would recognise them as indivisible.

Now we have great factories where processes are broken down and compartmentalised. The man who makes the rivets to go on the milk pail never sees the handle, no one sees the finished bucket. Everyone, including the consumer in the supermarket has long forgotten the cow and the land upon which it lives. More and more cows are being brought into giant hangars & put in stalls where they can never move, walk, nor see the light of day. The land is bulldozed for the metal it contains for the milking pails, concreted over with giant hangars and not even a blade of grass is to be seen. This is the true cost of what we in the modern world call ‘progress’.

#RaymondRush is an old farmer & writer of local customs and tales, who lives in Siddington, Cheshire in England near to where I live. I spoke to him about the old traditions, farming today, and grass and grain. He was an organic farmer he told me. The problem he said today was that many farmers only grow one type of grass, so there is nothing to support local animals, birds and insects and they are constantly sprayed in chemicals. The types of grains have changed also. The old varieties had much longer stalks. You need long stalks for making corn dollies. Every year Mr Rush decorates his local church in Siddington, Cheshire with a thousand corn dollies for the harvest festival.

Here is a photo I took of the ancient timbered church with the corn dolly display. If we are to cut down trees then let it be for such things as beautiful as this. The ‘old ways’ are remembered and celebrated here.

My Grandpa Kenneth Booth of Swettenham, Cheshire, was a small farmer. He loved his cows. They lived in his wild flower filled meadows surrounded by trees in summer and a nice warm straw filled barn they could walk into for the winter. His cows had names. I can still smell sweet cow breath and warm straw.

When he was young they used a horse drawn plough & harvester. He told me that when they came across a bird's nest they would pick it up and move it aside. Then coming the other way they would pick it up and put it back where it had been. With intensive farming and huge machines the animals and birds don’t stand a chance. Changes in farming such as silage making mean there is no chance for ground nesting birds and animals to raise their young anymore before the grass is cut and so they have disappeared.

We need to think about where food and things we buy come from and how they are made and make conscious choices about what businesses we support and what we buy and why. We need to remember what our ancestors told us, what the old ones in our families talked about. This is part of my #remembering.

Cow’s gentle breath so sweet

Wild flowering meadows

The sheltering trees

This is what we eat.

To come back to #Borneo. An #orangutang was filmed trying to defend its home from the loggers. Humans too are trying to defend their homes, Sheffield residents in England in fighting their local council against the mass destruction of their trees, tribes in Brazil are defending their land against successive governments of all political persuasions for example. Like the orangutang, most people are intelligent enough to know that destroying trees indiscriminately is destroying our home, this planet.

Humans however, in the short term, can move elsewhere. What will the orangutang and his family do? Without trees everything dies. People only protect what they love. To be in love with something is to be alive in the present, fully aware of the beauty of this world and our place within it.

I am not at this point going to preach at you, tell you what you “should” or “ought” to do. We each of us in our hearts knows what it is that is right for us to do. My vision is blurring because I am thinking of that orangutang.

An orangutang in Borneo and two old men in Cheshire, we all come from the same place. A butterfly flaps its wings in China and a tornado is felt over here. There is no such thing as 'over there'.

The bottom line is that we are all #natives of the land where we live, if we choose to be, wether we were born there or not. We can dive deeply in to time honoured traditions taking counsel from those wise indigenous elders who sit at the heart of them as pointers to regaining our relationship with ourselves & the land. Or, if we are completely dispossessed of family and community, we can create our own traditions of honouring the land on which we live.

If you sit at the foot of a tree for long enough you will learn something of home and your place within it. As the story teller #MartinShaw once said to me, “Anybody who knows anything has sat under a tree”

I think that any tree can become your ‘world tree’.

A tree is just a tree

As tree as it can be

Oh how I wish that we

Were just ‘as is’ as trees

As the Chinese proverb that is at the heart of our new tree group site says ,

“Nurture a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come”.

What do you do to nurture your #nativesoul? Do you have a favourite tree? I would love to know. :-) Tell me in the comments. Or send me a blog article with pictures about it to share.

With thanks and many blessings,

Amanda - Founder, forest guide and temple keeper.

PS. If you like our website please spread the word and plant tree with us!

If you want to support my work here you can buy me coffee plants trees with us for your ethical gift shopping. You can also see the sister blog there for related subjects too.

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