One of the most essential teachings of Celtic spirituality is that the natural world is radiantly alive and sentient. To walk among trees is to reconnect with our deep ancestral roots in the forest. To look through the spiraling branches of a giant redwood is to contemplate a living mandala; to gaze at the colors of a maple in autumn is to witness the ever-changing canvas of a sublime artist.
Trees can help clear our minds from the frenzy of our fast-track lives, inspire our thoughts, calm our emotions and fill us with serenity. They are elders on this planet who embody an ineffable wisdom that they will share with us if we but seek it out. I find that just a short while spent in the presence of certain trees can make me feel soothed and relaxed, as if the tree itself is gently helping me put my fears and anxieties into a broader perspective. Recent scientific studies have confirmed what many of us know intuitively – that trees can reduce the stress in our lives. My own research has shown that trees not only take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen. They also act as purifiers by absorbing the negative emotional energy given off by human beings, and transmuting it into healthy positive energy. They breathe in noise and breathe out silence; they inhale our pain and exhale peace. They take into themselves all the cacophony of the world of men and machines and turn it into a dance of wind on branches, the swaying of green canopies, sun-dapple on leaves, and all the joyous movement of light.
In order to make a connection with the Tree Kingdom, begin by taking notice of the trees in your neighborhood or nearby park. When you take a walk, look at them and greet them warmly as you would a dog or cat you chanced to meet. (You can do this silently if there are people about) Each time you go by, notice the changes in the growth and color of their branches, leaves, flowers and fruit as the year turns. Also notice more subtle changes of mood and energy. Smile at them and touch them as you pass. Sit beneath a tree to eat your lunch, have an afternoon nap, or relax after work. Let the lives of trees become part of your experience of your immediate world.
To deepen your relationship with trees, go to a park or wilderness area or to any woods where you will not be disturbed.
Mara Freeman, M.A., is an internationally recognized British author and teacher of Celtic wisdom and the Western Mystery Tradition, which she has taught for over thirty years. Her first book, Kindling the Celtic Spirit, upon which this article is based is a modern introduction to Celtic spirituality and sacred traditions. Her most recent book, Grail Alchemy: Initiation in the Celtic Mystery Tradition explores one's own inner journey and transformation. www.chalicecentre.net/