Welcome to #February, #Candlemas, #Imbolc and what teachings do the trees hold at this time? Life death and the dance between. The #naturalworld,#Archetypes, #goddess and #rewilding the #human #soul in Februarys' #Tree Teaching out in the woods.
In the #woods the hazel catkins are flowering, joined by the first leaves unfolding from honeysuckle and elder. Here is the AST audio blog and accompanying #forestbathing #meditation with the written blog article only with photos and quotes underneath.
Below is the written article with photos and also some quotes from AST members.
Unlike ivy, #honeysuckle twines its way around trees constricting and strangling their growth. It is honeysuckle that creates the sought after spiralling twisting staffs beloved of wizards and wild men. (Ivy although it may drown out a tree through sheer volume, if you strip it off you can see the trunk has grown without the tell-tale constriction marks of the honeysuckle.) Come summer the honeysuckle bowers are filled with a heady intoxicating scent. No surprise then that to produce such a perfume requires time and leads it to be one of the first to unfurl its leaves.
"Anyone else feel the spirit of earth is so much closer in the winter?" AST member Susan Adams Stuart-Williams
The #Elder too is sending forth leaves. Again, come midsummer it will be producing blooms with a mature, womanly scent. A small tree yet associated with a deep and powerful magic. This is a tree of witches. A word that comes from the ‘wit’ of knowing. You don’t get to be a wise woman (or indeed a wise man) without having set out your leaves early, braving the cold blasts of winter.
"Spirit is all around you! In winter, everything has died back and the smell of the soil and trees is stronger! The world is beautiful!!!" AST member Jane Blythe
The honeysuckle and Elder say that if you have learned to listen to the world, to nature, to trees then you will be well equipped to turn your hardships into a great flowering.
Winter is a cold hard season. We have already seen that apples need the cold and the dark in order to fruit. It seems miraculous that anything at all should flower at this time yet from out of dead leaves spears of green shoot forth and bring swathes of delicate drifts of singing #snowdrops. What? You didn’t know snowdrops could sing? Go sit among them, think of nothing, leave your timepieces behind, gaze at their beauty and then come back and tell what you heard.
The sharp and spiky Gorse too shows its flowers. Sunshine splashed and vanilla coconut scented delights. Such sights seem extraordinary under unremittingly grey skies and bitter winds.
At this time things seem to come in threes. The dark of winter, the returning light and a flowering.
A time of importance for both #Pagans and #Christians, it is in the groves of trees we see life, death and the dance between the two come into play. The woods are cold, bare, bereft, yet now there are hints and dints of spring. A glimpse of green between tree trunks and tiny flowers cradled by mighty roots amongst moss and fallen leaves. Bear garlic is sprouting gifting us vitamin and mineral packed garlicky breath. We have heard the sap rising. We know it takes hard frost to gain sweet sap from Maples, just as to pick apples in the Autumn.
As if to prove a point Witchy Winter freezes our fingers and then gifts us flowers to bless our eyes, gladden our hearts and fill us with promises of fruit to come. No other season seems to encompass despair, hope and fulfilment in quite the same way.
Despite our modern so-called civilised sensibilities, we need this wild world. I went up to #Marsden near Huddersfield for their #firefestival. This is not an old tradition here but a modern theatre piece that plays with archetypes. #Winter and #Summer do battle in the form of #JackFrost and the #GreenMan. Winter is banished. We are presented with a spectacle of light. Of fire dancers, fireworks and sigils burning bright against the backdrop of the night.
The audience is transfixed.
"A time to harvest, rest and listen to stories of old and new. From the elders and youngsters and those in-between in warmth of the fire and soft glowing candle-lit evenings." AST member Jccky Beth Skye
Forget radio, TV, cinema and social media. Forget fashionistas and footballers. Forget polite society. What has the people cheering? #Fire, #archetypes and an enactment of a #story that is as old as the world. They come to see life, death and the dance between the two.
Earth, birth and worth
Connection to wild land
Feeding what we love
Things come in threes...
No wonder then our #goddess has three faces, maiden mother and crone. She, the goddess of fire, birth and inspiration. The Celts named her #Brigid and the Christians made her into a saint. In the 9th century Cormacs' glossary it was suggested #BreoSaighead (Breo Aigit) was the root name of #Brigit with the name in folklore meaning Fiery Arrow or power. Known as Bree according to Julian Cope in her Neolithic incarnation.
However, before Christian, Celtic and Neolithic times who was Brigid? Well, if you want to know the answer to that and how this feeds into our tree teaching you will have to visit my personal blog here for more woodland wisdom.
Fires burn, lambs are born and the juices of plants and animals begin to run. Lambs suckle their mothers’ milk while the secret internal workings of trees flow with life. This goddess wasn’t born out of some dislocated fantasy, she was born of time, place and connection. In and of, a living world.
Do we still need dancing, songs, stories, poetry and paintings? Do we still need to leave wild places where other creatures can live undisturbed? Or is this world an evolution of chemicals, algorythms and statistics where wildness in human, plant and animal has no place? Is this a world for whom the ultimate expression lies in human sensibilities?
In this modern world is there any place for feeling, for intuition, for emotion, for dreaming, for the sacred? Finally, … is there still a place for love and beauty?
If you can sit out in the dark, alone from distraction, away from business, away from the doings of others and away from your own stories …. In others words away from your habitual consumptions and comforts, why then I think you will find the answer to these questions.
What is your worth when you are out in the wild?
Once you have found the answer to that question bring it back and see what is still important to you.
Brigid is about life, death and the dance between the two. You see it very clearly at this time of year out in the woods. Like I say, no other season seems to encompass despair, hope and promise of fulfilment in quite the same way.
Are not these the preoccupations of every #humanlife?
Woodland wisdoms and tree teachings lead us to look at these questions time and again.
I made a pledge this year to publish a tree teaching a week on this website. Alongside are extras in the newsletter to accompany them. It’s Free to join us here, just sign up to this blog.
Thank you for reading
Blessings Amanda Claire. x
PS If you're looking for ethical gifts for valentines then check out Jack In The Green Ethical Gift Shop raising money for trees. Workshops in forest bathing, creativity and more.