Sometimes the trees themselves share lessons with us about how to work with them, to talk with them, heal with them. These are often presented to me as mystery teachings from the trees themselves–and I’ll be sharing some of these teachings with you. The first of these is finding the face of the tree.
I have found that each tree has at least one face and finding it can teach you a lot about that particular tree’s personality and energy. Finding the face of the trees will show you their individuality and unique personality–and yes, individual trees do have uniqueness of their own, both inside and out. This is similar to humans—all humans are humans, but we come from different ethnicities and different regions and those create variation. In the same way, all oak trees have a strengthening quality to them because of their nature: how they grow, their extensive root systems, their tannins, etc. But like people, each oak has his or her own personality and quirks. Finding the face of the tree gives one insight into those personalities and quirks that a tree possesses and gives mean for communication.
What do I mean by the face of the tree? Usually, somewhere on the bark, there is a face or a part of a face–some variation of the bark that allows you to see a message. You may see an eye or some other feature that shows you the tree’s nature (one of the images below has a heart in the bark…you get it). The face of a tree is almost always found in its bark—look at the irregularities in the bark, the knotholes, bumps, or other features and you will find the face of the tree. Some trees may have many faces (like beech trees, which I’m using in this post) or smaller face that combine into a large face. If you directly address the tree at its face, you will more likely get a response. How high up the face may be gives you a sense of the tree’s accessibility and friendliness. Faces that are well off of the ground may indicate that the tree does not wish to be approached; faces that are near the ground and clearly accessible may indicate the opposite. Some tree species, like maple or beech, have many many faces present on their smooth bark. Other tree species, like some conifers, require a bit more studying to see the face.
Let’s look at a few examples:
To find the face of the tree, sometimes you must sit across from the tree, and observe the tree. Observe it from different angles, observe it in different light. When the tree is ready, the face will be revealed to you.
There are trees that guard themselves closely, or don’t usually have faces that are accessible There are also trees that are well known within the esoteric and nature-spirituality communities as having energy that is not compatible with humans–yew and elm being two such trees. I’ve found that hawthorns, also, take a bit of work–the hawthorn guards herself well and does not like being touched by most beings–but she will reveal a face after meditation and study. Again, the face of the tree can give you insight into the nature of the individual and the kind of work you can do (more on this in an upcoming post).
Like our faces, which bear the brunt of our lifetimes—scars, lines, weathering and age—so, too, do trees exhibit such patterns on their faces. Faces may also be created due to cutting or other kinds of force–these faces often reflect the tree’s pain and can be used for land healing work.
Once, when I was visiting a six-acre old growth hemlock grove in South Western PA, in the Laurel Ridge State Park, I was shown the face of a tree. The old hemlock, over 5 feet across, bid me to come closer. He had a burl, and it had grown to have a lot of loose and dead bark on it and it was ready to fall off. He asked me to pull away a small part of the bark that was hanging and ready to fall—I did with very little effort, and when I stepped back, there was his face, clear as day in his wizened old trunk. There was the face of a wizard tree, an old man, looking back at me. I’ve since returned to visit this tree several times–the last time I was to visit, the tree gave me instructions which lead to me finding a much-needed gift for a friend. In this case, revealing the face of the tree lead me to a deeper relationship with the tree.
In a second story, I met an ancient maple while living in Michigan. The ancient maple, bearing the scars of time, had many faces upon her weathered bark. I found that in meditating upon those faces, stories of the tree would flow into me. Different faces had different stories to tell.
I encourage you to use this technique to find the face of a tree, and use the face to help connect to it. Spending time with trees is good for the soul.