Trees and the Ogham

I could write about trees for a long time. This week I have been looking through the thousands of photos that I have. There are two boxes of printed photos taken before the days of the digital camera, then there are the thousands on my computer taken with a digital camera. Each year I ‘cull’ my photos and try to keep the ones that mean something to me, but the number of photos that I keep is around 1500 each year.

I love the way that paths wind through trees, leading us into magical spaces. Often in a large wood you come upon a clearing and when the sun shines this too is magical. I have walked in some woods where these spaces, or glades, are made deliberately to let in the light for the woodland flowers and butterflies. Woodland does have to be managed or it becomes a jungle where each tree jostles for space with another one and both trees end up being only a small part of what they should be.

During my training as a druid I was introduced to the Ogham tree alphabet. This fascinated me and as I did not like the Ogham cards that I had bought, I decided to make my own. After much contemplation I sat down one day and did just that. I used watercolour pencils for the design, finding that the interpretations that I wanted to hear, flowed through my mind as if channelled. I called them Tree Medicine. This was twenty years ago now and it was not easy to sell these to others as I did not have the means of good reproduction. However, together with my son we did a ‘computerised’ version drawing each card with great care. We then designed a small booklet to go with the cards and I made small cotton bags to keep them in. They were meant to go in your pocket so you could use them outside with the trees when you found them. I still use mine. I do have a few sets left but they are no longer on my web site.

Although I live in the UK there are many trees which have been imported from other countries. Rich land owners with a lot of parkland often imported trees from Europe and other countries so that there is a rich mix of different trees to be seen. At one time I used to ‘run’ workshops about working with trees as I lived near a large park with an arboretum. I enjoyed working with others learning to communicate with the trees around us, giving thank for their presence and how they keep us alive.I do love trees!

My photo does not appear to be straight but whatever, it shows a couple of my tree cards

My love of trees and woodland

I have always loved to be among the trees, but there have been some very special trees in my life too. I have always been an outdoors kind of person. I walked and cycled for many years among the lanes of my home and then further afield ending up climbing and scrambling in the mountains of Snowdonia. But trees have always been special.

There is something about woodland and the tracks through it that feel different to anything else I have experienced. It is magical. The sunshine filters through the leaves and moves the shadows around and changes the colours of the leaves as they move. Then there is the smell of the trees and in dense forest the smell of the moist earth.

One of my ‘special’ trees was an ancient beech tree in a small woodland around an old ironstone pit. It was originally part of a large forest but a road runs through it separating this small section from the main part of the wood. This ancient beech was quite near to the road and it was obviously loved by those who found it. The branches were strong and low enough to sit on and its roots were huge and spread over a large area. I have spent many happy hours there with others, meditating and giving Reiki attunements. It was a very special place for these kinds of things. Sadly, this tree has been cut down maybe because it was too near the road and had got dangerous.

Another tree I loved was again an ancient tree in the same forest but a few miles away. Its canopy was huge and made me feel tiny when standing under it. A photo of it was the heading photo for this blog a while back. Sadly it was also cut down, first in half and by now I suspect that it has completely gone.

But what of other trees? Some 20 years ago now, I gave money to the Woodland Trust to plant twenty small oak saplings. At that time you were given a map of the area where your trees were planted and a reference number so you could go and visit them. I did this several times and together with my friend Simon we produced a small booklet called a ‘Year in the Grove’, taking lots of photos through the seasons to see how the trees changed and adding poetry and text as well.

I have always loved the birch tree which to me always feels feminine and I call her my lady birch. The willow is another tree I love especially the weeping kind. Then there are the redwoods, the giants of trees. I am lucky to have them locally and find them wonderful to hug, their energy so replenishing. I could write more about the trees in my life but will stop here otherwise it will end up as a book. Now that’s an idea!

The natural world

I am continuing with the theme of nature, plants, birds and all life however small it may be. It never ceases to amaze me how many varieties of plants and insects that there are. I have an amazing flower called a horned poppy. It has beautiful yellow flowers which open and die on the same day. The seed pods of this plant are long thin pods up to 12 inches long. Then there are the ants in the garden. Someone told me to spray the blackfly on the foxgloves but I said the ants like the blackfly and so do the ladybirds. There is a place in nature for everything.

I think many of us are only just beginning to understand how important each species is and how they interconnect with each other. I have noticed that some councils are making bee trails in their parks by planting wildflower meadows some yards apart. This is a good start to helping our natural environment to survive.

One thing that really annoys me is the paving over of gardens because people cannot be bothered to cut grass and pull out weeds, When I have asked them about the need for paving those are the answers I get. But paving over your garden leaves nowhere for the rain to go.

Recent reading has been about 5G and I have read that many trees will have to be cut down as they affect the signal. Do we really need 5G? It is also a health hazard. Do we need HS2 as well? I don’t think so. Is it really important for faster trains so people can get to work a few minutes earlier? To have these faster trains, ancient woodland will be chopped down and nature reserves lost. The powers that be said that another place could be found for the nature reserve, which shows a complete lack of understanding of how nature works. We are supposed to be in a climate change emergency but those in charge do not seem to be able to join the dots and make sensible resolutions. They need to get together and talk about it all with the scientists and those who do understand how everything is connected. Enough of my moaning. The photo is of the horned poppy. I wonder if the point in the centre is what gives it its name.

Acceptance

Acceptance can be looked at in many different ways. The simplest way maybe is the acceptance of compliments and small gifts which were unexpected. I always find it hard to accept compliments but that is just me!

Some things are difficult to accept. Such things might be a debilitating illness, a disability or even death of someone close. I know from personal experience how hard these things are to accept. But you have to accept so you can move forwards.

But there is also the acceptance of being part of a group. Acceptance in this case means being accepted by others. This can include work situations as well and sometimes that can be hard too. One of the problems with being accepted by and into a group can be just the fact that you are new to the group and those already in the group have formed close friendships. In these cases it can take a long time to feel that you are accepted by the others.

Another important part of acceptance is accepting others for who they are and not expecting to change them into something else. I am one of those people who try to stay true to myself and if someone doesn’t like what I do or say or how I dress, then I tell them it is their problem not mine. Acceptance of others is important in the world of today. You can’t change other people, you can only change yourself. You can however encourage others to change in good ways so they become better people but they have to do that themselves.

There is a lot more to acceptance than what I have written here. I would love to know how you feel about it.

 

Approaching winter

Officially we are now in the winter season. I have noticed how the trees stand proud against the skyline with their bare branches. I see my hedge getting much thinner with large spaces so I can see through into the garden of my neighbour. The birds are still there but keep hopping out to feed on the conveniently placed feeder. I love the days when the sky is clear and the sun is shining. There is something special about the winter sky and the landscape around us.

But winter also has a special meaning for me It is the time when I take stock of what the year has brought me and look at how I have dealt with it. There has been a lot of sadness and grief this year and that has been hard to deal with but getting out occasionally amongst the trees has helped enormously. I have also looked at what I have achieved or not achieved as might be the case with some things. Are there lessons to be learned from this and can I do better next year. I find the winter months with the shorter days gives me more time to contemplate what has gone and what is to come in the future. I can do the stuff that I have put on one side while I have been enjoying the summer times. I can unpack the boxes still left to do since I moved earlier in the year. Maybe I will find the items I have spent hours looking for but still not found!

I also stock up on food just in case I cannot get out. I am old enough to remember the years of heavy snowfall when nothing stirred so make sure I will be OK if anything like a heavy snowfall arrives and stays with us. But most of all I am looking forward to the Winter Solstice, now in less than three weeks time, when the light returns and the hours of daylight start to lengthen. I have lots of new things I want to try next year so I shall start planning them now, making sure I will have everything I need to do these things.

So a time for contemplation, planning and enjoyment is what winter brings to me.

Trees

Some years ago I paid for a small grove of trees, twenty I think, to be planted in a nearby wood by the Woodland Trust. Those trees are now much bigger and I love to see how they have grown. Trees are so important to us but there are many who do not know why. They are the biggest plants on the planet, and they give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife. They also provide us with the materials for tools and shelter.

This week my son and I have dedicated half an acre of woodland through the Woodland Trust, in memory of my dear friend Simon who passed early in August. Simon and I loved trees and spent many hours over the last 20 years or so walking amongst the trees, hugging them and talking to them. So I feel the dedication of these trees is very fitting as a memorial.

There is something about trees that has always called to me. I love them all although some are more special than others. I have always loved the graceful silver birch, one of the trees that grows first after any devastation such as fire. Yet the birch always looks very delicate. I also love the weeping willow which seems to have a yellow colour when the leaves are starting to appear. One of my very favourite trees is no longer around having been felled some years ago possibly because it had become dangerous. It was an ancient beech which seemed to love having people around it and sitting on its wide low branches.

Because of my love for trees I am always happy to help in some way when they are planted and I did this some years ago when the Woodland Trust was planting a new wood. The Trust also does other things in the woodland such as preserving hedging and dead tree trunks for insect life. Do you love trees like I do? I hope so. The photo today was taken earlier in the year as I was leaving a bluebell wood. I hope you like it as much as I do. I did use it on an earlier blog but it fits this one very well and for me is worth a second look.

trees1

Enjoying the sunshine

It was a beautiful day on Friday so I took advantage of this and went for a walk around the nature reserve. It seems like weeks since I last did this and I was definitely ready to be outdoors in nature. The sky was quite clear to start with and the sun was shining after a foggy start to the day. The walk around the pool was lovely with many different water birds to see. The undergrowth is dying back but there are fungi to see and lots of interesting shapes in the trees.

I especially needed this time out as the last couple of weeks have been quite worrying. My best friend of many years was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer when four tumours were found during an MRI scan for a back injury. This was a great shock to all of us but now we are getting over the shock and all are being positive about the outcome although we realise it will be a long and hard road. So the walk outside in nature was very special for me. It gave me a chance to get back some of my own energy and to reflect on how this situation has come about.

I find that listening to music also helps me especially the quiet soothing type of music and I have been using my adult colouring books as well. This can be quite meditative in some ways and time passes when you are doing something like that. I find the colouring books quite therapeutic. Of course Reiki has been a large part of my day too. This calms me and helps me to be positive about the future for my friend.

This morning the sun is shining again and I have arranged another walk around the nature reserve. Each day there is something different to see. I love to see the skeletons of the trees when their branches are bare of leaves. They have a beauty of their own standing proud against the sky. I wish that more people would see what is around them and acknowledge the beauty of nature. I recently set up a WordPress website for all my photos of the natural scenes around me here. It is http://thenaturalworldaroundme.wordpress.com

Enjoy the world around us while we still have it and fight to keep it as it keeps us alive.

friday5

Changing seasons and seeing under the surface

What a change in the weather this week. Not only has it been very wet but it has gone much colder. The leaves are changing colour rapidly and trees are now less leafy so you can see the birds better. There are blue tits using the new bird feeder and I hope to see many more during the coming colder months. There are more ducks on the pond although three of them flew off this morning! But I love going up to the pond in the early morning if I can. This morning though, for the first time I could hear the drone of traffic. This could be because of the wind direction and also because there are less leaves on the trees to absorb the sound. I noticed too the spiders webs this morning as they glistened in the aftermath of the last rain shower.

Some of you might know that I am a cycling fan and this week I can only sit and admire the feats of one particular cyclist. He has won the Tour de France several times now and this year has gone on to win La Vuelta, the first man to do so since the Vuelta changed places in the cycling calendar around 1995. He is an unassuming man but works hard to do what he does and always thanks his team for their support as without them he could not do what he does. I am writing about Chris Froome of course and I do wonder what challenge he will find next. He also took the time to learn to speak French and is then able to have conversations with notable people in the race management. In public he is always polite and does not have the quirky character that some other cyclists have which means that often the British public do not like him very much despite his achievements. I find this rather sad that we cannot look beyond what we see on the surface.

This applies to other things and people as well. Many of those who are in constant pain always say they are fine when they are not really fine as they don’t want to be pitied by others. Is this a British trait or do other nations have the same kind of feelings? I know I’m just as bad as often when asked if I am OK I will respond with a yes even though I might be feeling unwell.

So a mixed bag of things this week. Are you seeing and feeling the changing of the seasons? Do you see beyond the face value of things?

sat1

Autumn is on its way

What a beautiful morning it is. The sun is shining but there is a chill in the air. The dew on the grass is sparkling in the sunshine just like gems do. There is a stillness too; it is as if the plants and animals are waiting for something. There are huge fat rose hips and juicy blackberries on the bushes as well as loads of crabapples. It looks like a good harvest.

The mallards have returned to the pond joining the pair of moorhens who live amongst the lily pads. It was so peaceful this morning when I visited the pond area. My bathroom is finished and the stress has gone so I am more mobile and able to enjoy the beautiful landscape around me. I can see the leaves changing colour now, some gold and some turning brown. It will be interesting to see what it is like in the winter months.

My neighbour and I put up a birdfeeder on Friday so we are now waiting to see what kind of birds arrive. There are many different birds around here including predators as well. But I love the tiny wrens too which nest in the nearby hedges.

My new book is finished and I am waiting for a proof copy to check for any spelling errors I have missed previously then it will be available for everyone. I will put details on here when it is ready. So now I am looking for new projects but have found a couple of half written books from some years ago so will work on those first.

This week I have also replaced one of my very large chairs with a smaller one and then moved my computer desk which I no longer use and given the swivel chair away. It has made a lot more space for me to move around and I feel better for the larger space. Little things like moving furniture around can make such a difference.

I hope you enjoy the coming days as autumn returns to our land. Tell me what you like best about the changing seasons.

 

sun5

Finding the way forward

It has been another busy week with offers of things to do but the best things were the walks in the local countryside. I love being out in nature and love to see the wildlife as I go. Today was a wonderful stroll and a look at different small paths that led away from the main path. Even found a tree to hug as well.

But some of the offers of things to do this week I will have to think about. Writing my latest book has reawakened the ‘spirit’ of search if you like to call it that. I want to look at some of the topics I studied in the past and see how much they have changed. I feel the need to do more ‘spiritual’ work than I have been doing. It is as if I have been taking a break and doing lots of other work like family history and local history. Maybe the time is now right to work more on other things like healing, astrology and so on. I need to get back into a different routine but also enjoy the daily walks which really do fill me with so much pleasure. It is good to have company too especially if my companions think the same way as I do. That is a bonus!

This week is going to be chaotic as my bathroom is going to be turned into a wet room. Tomorrow is the start of the work so I will be going out on a trip to one of my favourite places, Trentham. Hopefully the trip there will help me to make more decisions about my way forward.

How do you make decisions? Do you act intuitively like I generally do? Or do you think long and hard about things first?