The Druid's Garden

Spiritual Journeys in Tending the Land, Permaculture, Wildcrafting, and Regenerative Living

Druid Tree Workings: Holding Space and Helping Tree Spirits Pass August 24, 2015

In the last year, I’ve written much about druid tree workings, or the spiritual work one can do with trees and other plants. For more on this series, see these posts: the face of the tree, connecting with trees on the inner planes, connecting with trees on the outer planes. And there comes a time when one of your tree friends–or many–face cruel reality of the chainsaw. What then, does one do when one hears the cry of the forest? This, dear readers, is a very different kind of tree working, and one that I’ve been compelled to share.

 

The sound of the chainsaw and the cry of the forest…

I recently moved into a new rented house in the small town in Western PA where I’ll spend the next phase of my life.  In my tiny backyard and on the side of the house are several beautiful sugar maples. I met the new owners of the house next door (they also just moved in), and they mentioned to me how they were having a tree cut that was growing sort of close to the house. Deeply saddened, I told them it was a sugar maple, an if they just trimmed it back, it was no danger to their house, and if they’d like, I could show them how to tap it for maple sugar and make syrup in the late winter. They seemed interested, and I had hoped I had hoped that I’d convinced them that this life was worth saving…but alas, it was to no avail. Less than a week later, the tree men arrived. At first, it appeared that they were just carefully trimming it back, and I was joyous because I felt like I had saved the tree. But then, on the tree cutters’ break, I spoke with them, and they told me that they were bringing it down. They were sad to cut it too, cause they thought they could have just trimmed it and it was no danger to the house.

 

A few weeks after that, for whatever reason, my town decided to cut down a number of very old trees lining the sidewalks. Again the sound of the chainsaw reverberates through town.  I’ve always dreaded the sound of fossil fuel powered equipment–its the sound of humanity cutting back nature, and it brings tears to my eyes. From the lawnmower cutting back ecological succession and compressing the soil to the weed whacker cutting down (nearly always) medicinal herbs, to my least favorite, the buzz of the chainsaw.

 

And so, with unnerving frequency, I’ve had the sound of chainsaw reverberating in my small house, and I have watched as several beautiful beautiful beings have been taken down one limb at a time. It is such a heartbreaking thing, to be so powerless, to simply watch a life being ended, knowing there is nothing you can do to stop it. What a strange world we live in. To most people, they see a tree being cut. To me, I see a living and beautiful being, with a soul and a spirit. I see that being crying out in pain, I hear its sorrow, I feel its pain. I feel the mourning of the fellow sugar maples and others around–they have grown here as a community for years. And now, their friend is no more, removed unjustly and unnecessarily, the wood unused and carted away.

 

A way of seeing and feeling…

Peaceful co-existence - a path through the woods.

Peaceful co-existence – a path through the woods.

Of course, my druidic lens is not that of typical people these days living in an instrumental and disenchanted world. Plants and trees feel pain? The arguments I see against this idea is that plants have no central nervous system or brain, so they can’t feel pain, they can’t communicate, they aren’t intelligent. However, just because plants don’t have the same systems as humans doesn’t mean they can’t feel or communicate those feelings, in fact, plants have analogous systems that work differently from ours.

 

 

This instrumentalist thinking, that plants or trees are mere objects, and that nobody should care or object to having them taken down, closely aligns with a disenchanted, instrumental view of the world. As I’ve shared on this blog before, one of the great losses to the western world came as our worldview was “disenchanted” through the rise of industrialization, materialism and rationalist science (and oh the irony, that is now science that shows that the world is really more enchanted than we can imagine!) Looking to some of the newest science to help us understand, since that’s what convinces people when other ways of experiencing the world can’t, we see that plants are intelligent–they learn, much as humans do. Plants communicate, sometimes over great distances. And yes, they feel pain and know if they are being eaten.

 

And so, we use the knowledge of science to explain what millennia of humans instinctively knew: that our world is living, breathing, intelligent and alive and that trees and plants and animals are feeling, breathing, alive beings deserving of respect.Of course, spiritual traditions and cultures spanning back across most of time have known that plants are more than a collection of living cells.  Its not new knowledge–its simply misplaced knowledge, lost to time and greed. And perhaps its time that we find that knowledge again.

 

Holding Space & Remembering

The powerlessness over something like a tree in a neighbor’s yard being cut down can be crushing. In a situation where humans are logging or engaging in other destruction and its done legally or within privately owned lands, what’s one to do?

 

One of the best things you can do for a being–of any kind–who is suffering or passing on is to hold space for them. Whether or not you have a spiritual calling for deeper work in this area, I believe all of us can at least hold space for what is happening, see it for what it is, and energetically support those whose lives are being taken before our eyes. You might do this by treating the tree or forest no different than a friend who is passing on. The same powerlessness exists in that situation as well. You can’t do much except be there, listen, witness, and hold the space.

 

A hawthorn tree...

A hawthorn tree…

I could speak about this at length, but each person’s methods for doing this work are, in some ways, their own. They are methods that develop as the need arises, intuitive things that each person does that is to the best of his or her abilities and gifts.

 

I can share a few strategies that are within my abilities and gifts.  Its not so much important what you do but that you do something if you feel led to–but here are a few ideas. First, I play music, and I have particular songs (folk songs) that are quite effective at easing suffering and allowing a more peaceful passing. The music is really effective for another reason–it can be used almost anywhere, especially when more overt magical work cannot take place.  Second, I take the time to simply sit, witness, and watch what is happening unfold. This is important–bearing witness. Third, I raise positive energy for the tree’s passing (and there are many ways to do this, depending on one’s tradition). Fourth, I do positive energy work for the others who have passed in the coming weeks and months–many are still there, they may have witnessed the loss, and they need support. Fifth, I apologize to the tree as it is cut, especially when a tree appears to be cut down for no good reason (as in the case of my new neighbors). An apology does much in the way of healing, and as a species, there is much healing to be done between ourselves and the land.

 

And finally, I remember. There are so many ways that one can remember. As I am an artist, I often paint trees that have been cut as a way of remembering them and their lives. Some stumps I pass quite often, and, each time I pass, I say a little prayer, make a small offering of water, or leave a flower or stone to honor the tree. Or simply walk by and touch the stump, pausing and acknowledging the life that was once there. If I can, I like to save some of the tree’s seeds or nuts and plant them in a field somewhere–this is a wonderful thing to honor a tree who has passed. This isn’t always possible, but if nothing else, I take a few leaves or branches and leave them in a nearby forest so that at least some of that tree can go back to the land and enter the nutrient cycles once again–this too is important. If nothing else, I burn a candle and honor the life that was that tree or that forest.

 

Sometimes you come after the trees or trees have been cut, but an area is freshly logged. Nearly all of my suggestions above will still work well. I like to keep a small flute in my car and if I see such an area and feel compelled to stop, I will stop, play a tune, and then continue on my way. I find myself doing this often now that I’ve returned to Penn’s Woods, especially given the amount of logging that takes place here.

 

There is much more that I could write at this point, but I feel that, for now, this is enough. I hope you find it helpful. I will close by warning you that this work is not taken on lightly–and it can be very draining, even with proper preparation and protection. Even so, its important work, and work that some are called to do, just as I’m now called to write and share.

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62 Responses to “Druid Tree Workings: Holding Space and Helping Tree Spirits Pass”

  1. cartercoe Says:

    Hi, Nice article as always. I’m curious how you view the use of sustainably managed wood products whether lumber, wood pellets, paper and packaging products? This is an area of obvious conflict for individuals who love trees but recognize their benefit to society in many processed ways.

    • Willowcrow Says:

      Hi Cartercoe,

      Thanks for the comment and great question :).

      I think a lot of it has to do with intention. Humans have been cutting and using trees for a really long time, in the same way we harvest plants for food and medicine, etc. You can cut a tree or a forest down a few different ways–some of them being more respectful than others. We can also do other kinds of tree management techniques. There are coppace woodlots that go back thousands of years in the UK, where the hazel rods are cut, but the root mass of the tree keeps sending up new growth. I have a few friends who have a small homestead, and have had to cut a lot of trees down to bring in light. One of them insists on cutting the trees by hand–because then he really understands the tree. Another is a woodworker and spooncarver, and he’ll make all kinds of things from the trees that he cuts to bring in light. Again, I don’t think its the act of cutting but the act of cutting unecessarily and without mindfulness.

      What I’m really referring to in this article is a lot of unnecessary cutting. Like when I arrived at my old homestead, there was an acre of cedar that was cut down because the previous owners “didn’t like the trees.” It was dumped in the back of the property, not even used.

      So perhaps what I’m getting at is approaching any interaction with the land with mindfulness and intention.

      I’m wondering–what is your take on it?

      • Couldn’t agree more. I hate to see unnecessary cutting. Even for the necessary cutting my heart sinks a bit, but I perhaps selfishly believe it is for the better good when used to promote quality of life.

  2. Reblogged this on sacred skedaddle and commented:
    Friends suffering the pains of our world, those sensitive to the holes being made in the thread of our existence, as one friend depicted: this article is a refuge.

  3. Richard Says:

    Although I was born in England I now live in Washington state. USA. As you may have heard we are currently suffering tremendous fire damage in our forests and grasslands. They are said to be the worst fires in the history of Washington. We have no noticable rain and none is in the foreseeable future. Our air quality is poor to downright dangerous. Whilst interviewing some First Nation people, they were saying they believed we have done far too much to Mother Earth and she is now paying us the complement of returning the favour. I am inclined to believe them!!

    • Willowcrow Says:

      Richard,
      I’m inclined to believe them too. Its a matter of balance–we’ve tipped the scales far in one direction, and now the scales have to go in the other for a time. I think this will be true with increasing intensity throughout our lives. Mother earth needs to rebalance. The fires–those lands were tended by Native Americans who did controlled burning. As I understand it, many plants there need the burns–its part of their growth cycle. Have you read Tending the Wild? You might find it fascinating.

  4. Reblogged this on Vibha and commented:
    This was really important to hear. Someone who so sweetly revers the tree spirits. I wish some day we will be as non-violent as we could be to those who do not deserve any violence.

  5. […] Druid Tree Workings: Holding Space and Helping Tree Spirits Pass. […]

  6. Thank you for this beautiful and thought-provoking post! When I lost my father I travelled to the woods and felt comforted by the endless cycle of life as it plays out in Nature… the peaceful acceptance of and the natural face of death… nothing to be afraid of at all! While I walked through the forest I wondered about the afterlife of trees and plants. Knowing and feeling they are spirit at the core, their life doesn’t cease when their trunks wither… but can trees suffer trauma at the hands of humans? I believe they can, but it depends on the individual tree how they deal with it. I ‘talked’ to my favourite tree in Greece about it, when I was shocked to see it cut back so far it had almost lost its crown. It is an ancient tree, probably over 800 yours old. I laid my hands on its bark and silently asked if it was in pain, if it was suffering in any way. The feeling I had from the tree was that it was totally at peace, it was serene and cutting it back had not made a difference at all. Likewise, I suppose some trees deal with a sudden and untimely passing at the hands of humans with grace and acceptance – and some with shock and pain. It all depends on the individual tree and they way they are treated at the time. Thank you for sharing the way you assist them… it inspires me to be more awake and consciously assist more trees and plants in the world around me!

    • Willowcrow Says:

      Wendy,
      Yes, this is a very good point–just as humans have different levels of acceptance when faced with the end of their lives, so do trees. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  7. Sarah Fuhro Says:

    thank you Dana, I have gone through similar crises with trees cut down around me, reasons: tired of raking leaves, or they have sticky pine cones, or they might someday fall on the house. I know that feeling of helplessness, of failure. Your suggestions are balm to my heart.

    • Willowcrow Says:

      Sarah,
      Yeah, I’ve heard that a lot. Tired of raking leaves? Really? I’m glad my suggestions are helpful ;). Its so kind to hear that one’s words are a balm to the heart. Thank you. I hope you are doing well friend–I miss you very much!

      Dana

  8. We humans now have great difficulty extending consciousness to non human beings of every sort. It is a sad time. The work of soothing and remembering goes on. Still, joy is available to bring balance to our lives. Thank you for this fine post.

  9. CWhitmore Says:

    I sometimes find it is hard to imagine that people find it so difficult to accept that the world around us is alive and that we live in symbiosis with it. But people are blind to the things they feel don’t directly affect their lives. Now a days, with society so divided financially, some people think they deserve whatever they have no matter the cost, and others are so concerned with survival that it’s no wonder they cannot fully see the world around them. Anyway, there are a lot of things that contributed to this problem, but in any case, it’s regrettable. And painful. But your post was thoughtful and beautiful, so thank you for saying it.

    • Willowcrow Says:

      Thank you for your comment, Cwhitmore! I do think that when people are struggling with daily life, its hard to see past it. We are so wrapped up in our busy lives…but that creates disconnection and allows many of these things to happen.

  10. Reblogged this on Unfolding the Heart and commented:
    This amazing blogger put words to what I could not on the pain and healing of taken down trees.

  11. I have always had relationships with trees, ever since I can remember. Frequent conversations. I am fortunate to live among trees now, who show me their feelings every day. We did a thinning project a few years ago. We probably cut 1,000 trees. It needed to be done. I spent several days asking them which ones, and they helped me to know. I held a space for them, let them say goodbye to each other, and said goodbye to them. They really didn’t seem to mind. The ones we kept (many thousands) are so much healthier now, and grateful. We tried to take into account stands for cover for the deer, squirrels, bird houses, nests, etc. As the southwest gets dryer and dryer, we have to adapt to climate change, and we need input from all living beings – especially trees. Senseless cutting, I just don’t get. I don’t. It hurts me deeply. I do hold space and ceremony for them, but so so sad. I love it when it rains and I can feel the happiness of the trees. The feeling goes deep into my heart. The gratitude of trees is such a wonderful, uplifting feeling. They are sentient beings with huge souls. Thank you for posting this. I miss maples. We don’t have them here.

    • Willowcrow Says:

      Thank you so much for sharing. I love how you engaged in mindful cutting because it was necessary. Trees have a long history of being used by humans, and when done with respect, no, they don’t seem to mind. (Reminds me of the book The Giving Tree!) What did you do with all of the wood?

      I have a friend who does anthropological research in California. She told me, two years ago now, that climate change and the drought is taking such a toll on so much of the wildlife and plants there–I can only imagine now how its gotten worse. If the people are taking every last drop of water for themselves and the crops (and the lawns, sigh) what is left for wildlife? That, too, requires our attention on a spiritual level.

      • I hand peeled over a hundered of them, which we used in our house. We used those we could get to for fuel, as we heat with wood and solar. We piled some for bunnies to hide in, and used the rest for erosion control. Yes, our creek dried up 3 years in a row, having never dried up according to people who have lived here for generations. When we have a little water, a lot goes for agriculture. In NM, wildlife does not count as a “beneficial use” for water, and the stream has no rights of its own. There has been a big die off or trees because of drought. Their resistance is low from drought, so opportunistic moths and beetles have their way. This year we had lots of rain! Our trees are so happy, and since we thinned, there is more water to go around. So sad all the fires in CA, OR and WA! It was nice this year to have a break from catasprophic fire. Some fire, of course is good for a forest, but not this kind. Not such drastic destruction. I know what you mean about people taking all the water. The thing that gets me the most is golf courses! Not much spiritual awareness with that!!

        • Willowcrow Says:

          There was this article I came across a while ago talking about the “suffering” of a bunch of rich Californians because they couldn’t water their lawns and how bad they were “hurting”. Here’s a link to it (and what I wrote about it on Facebook a while back!): http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-0618-mountain-house-20150618-story.html

          This story is so horrible its laughable. From the article: “If we’re unable to procure supplemental supplies, it’ll be catastrophic,” said Rick Gilmore, general manager of the Byron Bethany Irrigation District, which supplies Mountain House with its water. “Even if we are successful, I don’t know how much water we’re going to be able to acquire to fulfill our needs.… Some folks are going to feel the pain.” The article continues, “In Mountain House, lawns, shrubbery, parks and athletic fields are at risk.”

          Is this quote about basic sanitation or human access to water? No. Its about the fancy landscaping and their athletic fields. Oh no! The fancy shrubbery! Some perspective, please.

          “Catastrophic” water loss that causes “pain” is when families get their water shut off in Detroit , or people have to watch their crops that feed them wither and die in a drought. When we think about “needs” its what is needed for survival and basic sanitation.

          We don’t “need” to water fancy lawns, and this is not a catastrophe if it goes brown. In fact, its unsustainable and a true blessing–for it paves the way for something new, something better. This is where Permaculture design can be so helpful–we can design drought-resistant and yet bountiful landscapes that suck no water and produce food and forage. You can have your shrubbery and eat it too. But in order to make these kinds of shifts to how we understand and interact with our landscapes, we first have to get ourselves out of the model that says we don’t need to take our local context or ecosystems into account, that water (and other resources) will always be abundant, and that everything will stay the same as it always was.

  12. phil Says:

    according to m pogacnik if the tree has just been cut off at the base….the elementals assigned to that treee are bound there for ages …he seems to use a crystal which they enter and he then finds another tree which they can hop into….explained all in his book nature spirits and elemental beings…a must read…

    • Willowcrow Says:

      Hi Phil,
      Thanks for this reference–I’d not heard of his work before. What you are saying I have sometimes found to be true–the stump can hold the tree’s spirit long after its passed–really, until the stump breaks down–and sometimes we have to help. This is why you can still feel a resonance in old stumps–because someone (or multiple someones) are sometimes still there. When a tree is cut, its not like an immediate physical death. Its root system is still alive–and it may resprout. This makes the spirits inhabiting it stuck there, as you mentioned. I like the crystal idea–that could certainly work. That kind of more advanced work I didn’t get into in this post, but I will in a future post when its ready to emerge :).

      • Donovan Says:

        I sense this from the ash stump in my yard as well. There is something there, but it’s not the same something that inhabited the full tree when it was still standing. Perhaps there are multiple spirits that inhabit a tree? Or a spirit could move in after the original one has passed? I’m not even sure what I believe about the existence of spirits and the supernatural, but I definitely sense something is there, whatever its nature may be.

  13. pix rainbow Says:

    Thank you Willowcrow. I had to witness the cutting down of a very beautiful tree in my road this year in the spring. It was in full young leaf and so beautiful. I was at a loss as to what to do, but did try to hold the space like you say, and felt impelled to sing. I could feel the pain of the tree and the others around it. When I pass the stump my attention is drawn to it, so now I know what to do. Next time a tree is cut down I will do some of the other things you suggest, like salvaging some of the leaves and placing in nature in ceremony somewhere. Thank you for writing your blog.

  14. laurabruno Says:

    Thank you, Willowcrow! I have heard rumors that all the street trees on our block will be cut down next year in order to improve the sidewalks, which sit lower than the road and will just flood anyway. I’d much rather have the trees! No one’s admitting to the intended tree cutting, so I don’t even know where to begin, except I’ve been planting trees like a madwoman on our lot and now the lot next door, just to ensure we’ll still have some.

    I had planted a red maple earlier this year at the back of the second lot before taking over that lot and briefly pondered removing it in favor of a fruit tree. I would have done my best to find a new home for this tree (free from Arbor Day Foundation), but your post synchronously arrived to make me rethink that move. I didn’t know you could tap red maples, and surely at the very north side of the yard, the paw paw’s can use a friend to stand behind the apricot and plum trees! So, just FYI, your post saved a red maple in this yard — perhaps an energetic exchange for the one that was felled.

    Blessings and thanks,
    Laura

    • laurabruno Says:

      Just curious if you have any Druid protection methods for trees like the old ones on our block. I’ve done energy healing on this stretch of land, but the other people here are so down on their luck and un-involved in anything that I think the trees here are subject to whatever the city decides needs to happen for the sidewalks or power lines. They are unlikely to consult anyone here and when I’ve asked about the rumor, no one admits it. The maple in our yard is small enough to relocate somewhere else if I had decided to replace it with a pomegranate, but these trees are much higher than the buildings. If they go down, it will take decades to replace them with the next generation. Other than Runes and warning the trees themselves and their elementals, can you think of anything more that can be done?

      • Willowcrow Says:

        Hi Laura,

        Well, I’m not sure the druid tradition has a lot in that regard, but other traditions certainly do. In the druid tradition, the Sphere of Protection ritual that is practiced by all AODA members would be what I would use. I’ve used that to protect a lot of spaces. The ritual takes practice, but its really effective. The best version of it shows up in JMG’s Druid Magic Handbook, and you can find a version of it in a few other places, including the Druidry Handbook and also on the website: http://aoda.org/Articles/The_Sphere_of_Protection.html. Another place you might look is using some of the protective workings of the Golden Dawn, or even some of the protective stuff from Hoodoo. Those offer some workings that can pack a punch! I hope this helps! 🙂

  15. Michelle Says:

    Thank you for this post–it came at just the right time, as my neighbor cut down a big, beautiful, perfectly healthy tree yesterday and I was deeply saddened by it. I’m reblogging this at Greenwoman Studio with many thanks.

  16. Michelle Says:

    Reblogged this on Greenwoman Studio and commented:
    This post couldn’t have come at a better time: yesterday my neighbor cut down a huge, beautiful tree, much to my dismay. I thought I would share it with all of you who might feel the same sense of loss when you see a tree taken down needlessly.

  17. jasonheppenstall Says:

    Dear Dana – thank you for this beautiful post. I also looked on in horror last year as neighbours destroyed an immense and beautiful tree that had provided much joy. It always pains me to see people paying so little regard for our fellow beings.

    But here comes the irony – I myself cut down trees. Yes, I know it sounds bad but since buying a woodland here in the UK three years ago I have cut down several hundred of them. The reason for this is that the woodland is ‘managed’ – to the extent that I coppice the trees (mostly oak and chestnut). The wood is then used for making furniture, turning into charcoal (barbecue and biochar), growing mushrooms in or just as firewood. It’s an ancient system that has been going on for thousands of years, having only been abandoned after the last major war, when fossil fuels became cheap.

    The thing is, cutting down the trees in this way doesn’t actually kill them. In fact, they grow back very vigorously, producing several stems (rather than just one) and thus removing more carbon from the atmosphere. Doing this in small zones – a new one each winter – on a 12 year cycle has turned the woodland into a haven for wildlife. It is far more biodiverse than climax woodland, which in the UK tend to get overgrown with non-native sycamore. But apart from that it allows me and my family to live our lives within the cycle of nature. (I write a blog about it http://www.talesfromfoxwood.blogspot.co.uk)

    And yet … whenever I am about to cut into a tree or take off a large branch with the chainsaw I can sense pain and even fear. I apologise to the tree in question and assure it that it will grow back. I also make sure that cutting is only ever done in winter when the trees are dormant, the life force having retreated to the root system. A druid friend of mine (also a woodsman) always carries out positive energy work on his land before cutting, and leaves offerings.

    So, anyway, my suspicion that trees possess intelligence was confirmed last year when I immersed myself in a forest in Sweden and ‘opened up’ my channels of perception. I wrote about this in a book, in case you are interested, called The Path to Odin’s Lake.

    Blessings,

    Jason

    • Willowcrow Says:

      Hi Jason,

      Thanks so much for the comment and sharing your blog link and book! I will check them out :).
      Yes, I’m familiar with the practice of coppacing and studied it when I studied natural building in Michigan–I’m glad to hear you are doing it! As I said in another comment, I think a lot of this has to do with intention. When you manage your woodland, you are doing the work that I’m suggesting–talking with the trees, managing the woodland ethically, making charcoal–all of these practices are in line with nature and the trees are being used for good purpose. It sounds like you are sequestering a good deal of carbon as well. I think there’s an enormous difference between the practices that you describe and typical tree cutting or logging out here–and its all in intention and mindfulness :).

  18. Thank you for the practical steps on what to do when confronted with these situations. I often feel alone in my sadness for the loss of trees and keep quiet because I fear most people will look at me as if I had three heads. I may keep quiet but I will now near witness and help this being. I’ve begun this with the many animals who are killed by vehicles asking our roads, as a way of dealing with that horror.

    Also, your post reminds me of my outrage as to how power companies are mutilating tress, cutting big V-shaped notches through the crown for the electrical wires.

  19. fionaonthego Says:

    I really enjoy your posts. Thank you. I am not familiar with this type of work but instantly connect with it. I have only had a conversation with one tree. Hopefully the first of many! I am not really sure how to proceed with communicating with trees and plants. I am about to move onto a farm which has a rainforest area. I’m not sure how to go about working out what to do where. Any suggestions as to how to ask the “locals” (trees, elementals etc) for suggestions, guidance, advice, warnings etc (pls remember I am a total novice with peaceful, healing intent but no experience)? Thanks again for your insightful and inspiring posts. I always keep them as unread until I have time to sit and really contemplate what you write about. 🙂

  20. Donovan Says:

    I have the stump of a giant ash tree in my yard that had fallen victim to the emerald borer. This blog post has given me ideas for ways to approach and interact with it. Thanks for writing this 🙂

    • Willowcrow Says:

      Oh the Borer. Its hard to deal with the borer. Its just hungry, you know? Its just hungry in the WRONG continent. I am so sad and mournful for the ash trees. I hope some will adapt and grow a thicker, tougher skin. Or that crows will grow to eat the borers….

      • Donovan Says:

        Yes, indeed. I heard that researchers at Michigan State are researching the possibility of introducing a parasitic wasp that preys exclusively on ash borers too. Introducing new species is always playing with fire, but it would be great if we could find some sort of solution so ash trees can return to the landscape.

  21. judy collins Says:

    Thank your for this article. The tree work you are doing is very sacred. I want to share two things. The trees have told me that, as you suggest, they would like a flower left at the site where a tree is cut down. Specifically they asked for a white carnation. Always white carnations. I walked among trees for 10 years daily having been given the gift of hearing them talk to me, and they taught me many prayers, and a mantra they would like said to any cut down tree, if the body is lying there, or to any dead limbs, or even to Christmas trees discarded on a curb. They asked for the mantra to be said silently for them: “All’s well, Sleep well, Farewell.” This sends the spirit to a better place in accordance with divine design, and is a co-creative act with the tree world and divinity. Thank you again for your work.

    • Willowcrow Says:

      Thank you so much for the comment, Judy. I, too, hear the voices of the trees and the land. Its always a difficult balancing act–I find myself speaking to my tree friends on my walk to campus and have to catch myself when others are around. What a world we live in.

      I have a similar prayer, its “Rest in peace, my friend. As you journey to your next life, may your path be filled with happiness and abundance.” I say it for the fallen animals killed along the road, and so on.

      I have worked with the Christmas trees for years also. The ones on the curb I have found more fulfilled (as they were adorned, loved, during the season) than the ones who are cut but aren’t purchased—those are the ones that are left in the fields and empty stands when the rest were purchased. That’s important work.

      Thank you for your work — sounds like we walk very similar paths :).

  22. laurabruno Says:

    Here’s a happy ending to the tree cutting dilemma: https://laurabruno.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/3-tree-interventions-and-a-1010-1-day-special/

    The reality just completely shifted overnight after a vigil with the trees. Thank you, faeries, or whoever pulled rank and saved these trees. 🙂

  23. Pepperdoog Says:

    However terrible it might be for the tree, as long as the stump is left there is a good chance stump sprouts will start to regrow. And seeds can lay dormant on the ground or just below the surface for decades, waiting for a better time to sprout.

  24. Tracy Says:

    Thank-you for this article. Some tree’s are scheduled to be cut down in our street and my children and I feel heartbroken about it. I have tried to stop it to no avail. I hoped there may be someway to warn the trees beforehand and encourage the spirits to move on before the tree is cut down to save them from suffering. They are healthy, beautiful trees and I am so sad to see them go.

    • Dana Says:

      There is–just sit and talk with the trees, tell them what is going to happen, and tell them you will hold space for them. Encourage the spirits to move out if they can. Do just exactly what you said above–and see what happens.

  25. Marsha Hack Says:

    Thank you so much for this article, it’s just what I needed to read. I have a magical, 60’+ tall × 20′ circumference, silver maple estimated to be between 80-100 yrs old that is 6.5′ feet from my house.

    For over 22 yrs have cherished this tree which I use to call “My Protector Tree”, because I felt it protected me & my little family. However, last year during a storm I lost an 8″ × 22′ branch which hit my neighbors gutter & took out my phone line. After much research, I have come to realize it’s a matter of time before it comes down.

    Since it overhangs my roof & 2 other neighbors roofs, I made the painful decision to remove it before someone is hurt. I have interviewed many tree surgeons & have located one that can remove it the safest & most sensitive way with a price I can afford.

    I plan to cut a large knot from the trunk & carve a picture of my tree inside. I have a friend with a sawmill that will mill 2 huge, prefectly straight branches for me in exchange for the 12′ x 20′ trunk. I will place the knot of my tree in the center of the oversized headboard I will build.

    Your article will help me spiritually disconnect in a way that will leave me with peace. I will burn sage, Palo Santo & leave a treasured rock in my tree’s spot to celebrate it’s spirit that will always be present.

    • Dana Says:

      Hi Marhsa – I’m so glad that this article helps you and so glad to hear that you have found a way to honor this amazing tree. Giving such thought to how to use the wood and honoring the spirit of the tree sound like wonderful ways to help this tree pass.

  26. Regina Says:

    Sincere gratitude for this blog i found just today. A couple weeks ago we lost seven, beautiful, fir tree people. We live on a sloped yard where (before we moved in) someone erroneously installed a french drain first and then planted the trees on top. Between the weight of the immense snow and ice, plus a watery saturation threshold in the soil having been reached they all fell silently in the middle of the night. To everyone’s complete amazement not one landed on our house nor did they cause structural damage to the deck. Two of them fell gently on top of parked cars on the street below. Two other firs around them have become destabilized and will need to be removed as well. They are still lying in our yard as we await the tree cutters’ arrival. Such a void and sadness has been left in me. All these years we lovingly referred to them as our Guardians and now the yard feels so exposed and bare. I will definitely follow thru on your suggestions to provide music and to witness. I have already been communicating with the remaining trees and animals, and physically touching all of the trees while sending them love. 🙂

    • Dana Says:

      Hi Regina, I’m glad you found the blog helpful. You might ask the fallen trees if they would like you replant new ones–and what kind. Gather their seeds and scatter them if you can. I’m glad this info has helped you–let me know how everything goes.

  27. Christina Says:

    Hi. I am so glad to have found this post, as I am in need of assistance. You are the second person I am contacting (because I found you second). I have not yet received a reply from the other person. I am copying the email I sent her below, as it still applies. After I will write what has happened since I wrote the email…

    “Hi. My name is Christina. I found your website while doing a search for tree spirits/healing trees. Last week I watched the neighbor across the street cut half the branches off of two trees in his front yard, then cut the top part of every branch off a large, old, oak tree, before finishing that day with cutting multiple branches off a few other smaller trees. The large oak literally lost its top 20-30 feet, if not more. As he was doing it, each time he cut through a branch, the pain and hurt I felt was overwhelming. I cried so much. Yesterday I heard a chainsaw start. I got to my window in time to see one half of one of the trees in front of his house, a birch, come down. Then he cut down the rest of it. The pain and sadness was even worse. I’m feeling it constantly now. It’s like they are all screaming out in pain, sadness, and fear. I’m in tears half the time, including now.

    I understand I can’t undo what was done, but I would like to give whatever love, comfort, and healing I can to them, and others around that are scared and sharing their pain. I have no idea what to do. Also, a big problem is I can’t physically get to the trees he did this to. I am hoping to offer help and healing through a tree that lives in my backyard, also a very large oak. I moved here almost two years ago. This tree was a large part of why I chose this house. From the moment I saw it I felt drawn to it.

    I would greatly appreciate any help or advice you might be able to offer. If you can’t help, but know someone or somewhere that I can get help, even a website or book, I would also appreciate that. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for all you do.”

    Not long after I sent that I heard the chainsaw again. I stood on my front porch, in tears, watching him up on what was left of the oak, cutting off large portions. As they fell to the ground I could feel the earth shaking all the way at my house. They (the other trees) all felt it. I don’t know if other humans could. He stopped after cutting about 1/4 of what was left. I hoped he was done. This morning I woke up to see a gaping space where the rest of the tree had been. The sounds of the chainsaw have continued all day from his backyard, though I can’t see what he is doing anymore. He also cut what was left of the birch stump down to the ground. The branches of the birch have been left to slowly die next to a flatbed he has parked on the yard. They are obviously not going to be used, just discarded somewhere.

    I do not know if the horrible feelings I am getting, the pain, suffering, fear, and sadness, are coming from one tree, multiple trees, or all. I can’t get anywhere near any of the trees, or what is left of the fallen ones, on his property. I have always believed they are connected and can communicate. I just recently found an article about scientists in Germany that have proved this (though I’m sure many will dispute this and consider them crazy), and proved they can communicate not just with those in close physical proximity. So, as I said in my email above, I would like to try to help the trees on his property with the help of the large oak I live with. I feel it is the best option, since I can’t get on his property. I have no idea what to do though. Their feelings are so overwhelming. It hurts…it really hurts. Any help or advice you can give would be greatly appreciated. If it’s easier to contact me through email that is fine. Thank you for reading this, and all you do. I will be subscribing to your newsletter. I believe there is a lot I can learn from your writings.

    -Christina


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