This is a simple tree planting ritual that I wrote for our grove’s upcoming Beltane celebration this weekend. Our grove is only partially wooded currently–we will be planting about 15 new trees around the grove to help fill it in. It is designed for a group, but you can easily adapt it to one person. Feel free to adapt this ceremony to your own needs.
Our outdoor grove, where we celebrate most of our holidays, was only partially wooded. We had about 20 new trees to plant from the Arbor Day Foundation around the perimeter of the grove, and we wanted to do something special for the trees to welcome them to our grove. The following is the ritual we created.
Prior to the ritual: You should prepare the following items prior to the start of the ritual and tree planting:
- Shovels for digging holes. Begin by digging the holes for the trees prior to commencing the rest of the ritual.
- Trees to plant. After you dig the holes, you can place a tree next to the hole in preparation for the ritual.
- A small bowl of hardwood ash. If you have saved Yule log ashes or ashes from the Beltane fires, this is a perfect use for them. Otherwise, any hardwood ash will do. If you have neither, you could throw in a handful of compost, composted manure, or a tiny bit of organic fertilizer.
- Watering can(s) filled with water. Mew trees need a lot of water, so make sure you give them a very good drink!
- A feather or fan. You can also use some incense here—anything to represent air will do.
Ritual Explanation: If you are performing this ritual by yourself, you can do all of the parts solo. When we did this ritual as a group, we all took turns digging the holes for the trees. Then we split into four groups of two/three people (a group for earth, air, fire, and water) and made our way around the circle of the trees in a clockwise manner, eventually meeting back up to close the ritual. The hardest part is probably the planting itself, so if you have an uneven number of people, assign more planters than the other parts.
If you’ve already planted your trees but still want to bless them, you can still use the bulk of the ritual below—just sprinkle the ash near the tree’s roots (for fire) and put some high quality soil, compost, or composted manure for the “earth” part around the trunk.
Druid: It is not hard to see why the ancient druids celebrated in groves of trees. Trees are a vital part of all life on this planet—nourishing the soil and preventing erosion, creating oxygen, absorbing carbon dioxide, providing habitat and food, and creating shade. With each tree we plant and tend as it grows, we provide a blessing to the land and all its inhabitants. As these trees grow, so too does our connection with this land. Come now and welcome these trees to our sacred grove.
Fire Group: Place a pinch of ash* into the hole prior to the tree planting. Say:
“May this tree be nourished by this sacred ash, by the energy of the sun, the great stag in the heat of the chase, and the powers of the south. We thank this tree for the shade she will provide.”
Earth Group: Place each tree in the hole, filling the hole with earth. As you are planting the tree, say:
“My this tree be blessed by the deep and fruitful earth and powers of the north. We thank this tree for the bounty and stability she will provide.”
Water Group: Water each tree after it is planted. As you are watering, say:
“May this tree be blessed by the flowing waters of the sacred pool and the powers of the west. We thank this tree for the wisdom she will provide. ”
Air Group: Lightly fan each tree with a feather and say:
“May this tree be blessed by the powers of the east and the air; we thank and honor her for the clear, pure air she will provide.”
All Participants: After all trees are planted, all stand around the newly planted trees and say:
“Spirits of this land, spirits of this circle**, we ask for your blessing and protection over these young trees. Dearest trees, we welcome you to the fellowship of these lands and our grove. In this sacred earth in will you grow strong. In the warm rains, will you be nourished. In the wind in the air, will your leaves speak to us as we listen. In fire of the sun, will you grow and shelter our grove. You embody our core value of peace—for though you are strong, you harm none. And though you are mighty, you shelter all beneath your branches. We now sing in honor of you.”
Close the ceremony with Cascading Awens***.
* If you are celebrating the wheel of the year and have saved Yule log ashes, this is a perfect use for them. Otherwise, any hardwood ash will do. If you have none of either, you could throw in a handful of compost, composted manure, or organic fertilizer.
**Adapt as appropriate to your context.
***A note on the “Cascading Awens.” Druids working within the revival tradition do a chant of “Awen” (pronounced Ah – oh – en). Awen is a Welsh word meaning poetic/divine inspiration or creativity–and is a cornerstone of druidic practice. If you aren’t a druid, any chant/music/singing will do at the end here. But if you want to do the cascading awens, you’ll need a group (usually 4-5 is about the minimum you can do to have it work right). Every person starts and ends their Awen chant at a different time, hence the cascade. If you have a large group doing it, the effects can be quite…magical! If you only have a few people, you can chant Awen together in unison–try some harmonies!