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  • Writer's pictureCrone

My tree for the Tree of Life exercise

You'll not be surprised that I chose the poplar in the copse as my tree.


I did check with Stephan as ideally you are meant to visit the tree every day - and I can't do that. However, because I had already been visiting the tree for ten months and had done the seven pointed star meditation with her, he said yes.


He wrote:


You’ve already worked with her and the Azoth mandala – so keep developing the wisdom between you – whilst also bringing in the 4 levels of the ecosophical tree. Allow the ecosophical (4 levels) and alchemical tree (7 operations) to converse with each other - a conversation brought alive by the relationship between you and your tree. You are a foursome – a sacred deep ecological quaternity together.


Record what you can of the interactions and how your sense of of Gaia’s presence changes as you do this.


My first thought was that this tree seems to represent very closely my current ecosophical self.


A poplar's roots are shallow but wide reaching. This makes me think of my firework rather than laser mentality. My deep experiences are not all rooted in the same area of being. It may be birds, trees, mammals, even people! It may be sunsets or poetry or working as a team. It can be kindness and the smiles of strangers. It can be about awe and wonder, but more often is about connection and belonging. But the spread is wide... Yet there is no great tap root mining down to a single - or primary - source.


A poplar's trunk grows fast, but is not very strong nor is the wood much valued. My tree is straight - no big branches veering off. This seems to me to map on to my feeling of an essential purity of values that I am always trying to seek. Yet how strong are those values? I mean, I do align with the 8 principles in the previous post - and I feel that there is something... jagged in an environmentalist who isn't also seeking ways of better food-growing practices, or who travels on planes a lot, or who doesn't accept the value of all life, or who doesn't try to counter anthropocentrism. And yet my ability to stand up for these values is weak.


My poplar has lost many branches, but she is sprouting some new growth. I too feel that I have shed various 'lifestyle options' - riding horses, eating dairy products, buying leather goods, investing all my time in all-head, no-heart subjects - but I have sprouted others. The bird feeding and the volunteering, the courses of study, the blog.


She may, as a hybrid, be infertile. What fruits can she offer? This is key. It is how I feel. That I can offer the world nothing beneficial. Even poplar leaves are not tasty to many species as they have some covering.


Today, when I sat with the tree, I felt an alternative idea bloom. How poplars grow from suckers. How the spreading of ideas may be underground and rooted in sharing experiences, rather than in what I do. I also had a strong sense of the value of connection and co-operation - the mycelium and earthly processes of sharing and functioning together. I had a sense of never being alone or separated. I had a sense of the hidden passing of... beliefs or values... through shared feelings and experiences. I had a sense of the importance of the underworld.


When I thought of the alchemical processes, all I got from the tree is this: there is too much fire.


One part of the exercise - which, Stephan explained, was rooted in Goethe's approach - was to use all one's senses.


I listened, but all was silent. Though I know, from listening on other occasions, the sound of her thin dead branches rattling in the wind and, more subtle, the clacking of her leaves.


I looked and saw her straightness. The dead branches and the new shoots. I noticed how she is covered in lichen.

And I saw that where she has that scar in the shape of the heart, she is indeed... bleeding.

I recalled the wonderful scent of the buds and young leaves. Then I sniffed the lichen covered bark and it smelt like some powder that I had come across in the past... maybe a face powder used on stage? Slightly sweet. Very slightly. As though mixed with Bird's Custard Powder. And I sniffed here where the tree seemed to bleed.

Sweet. Really, very sweet. Is this honey fungus?


I have tasted poplar leaves and they are bitter.


She feels smooth, compared to an oak or sweet chestnut. Her leaves are shiny-smooth, almost plastic-feeling.


What I sense most strongly after this is connection - and a connection that is everywhere and between all living beings... but which is undervalued. No. Which is unsensed most of the time by most of us. We feel like a consciousness walking separate from all others - the bone-encased and blood-barriered brain all on its own in the cosmos and it, that atomised human me-ness, has become our all and all that matters. Nothing else, we believe, has anything like this - and that's why we are so special, exceptional, and the sum of all creation.


To sacrifice anything for this precious brain-being is perfectly fine - because it is, though just as unscientific, the rational version of a soul - which only humans have.


My fires burn so fiercely faced with this sense of exceptionalism. This profoundly irrational belief that the human arose de novo - unique and blessed with super-animal ability. And this deserves to have dominion.


Too much fire.

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maplekey4
Feb 06, 2023

Very interesting. I'm glad you chose your poplar. The photos of her bark are strong - the ridges, the lichen, the bleeding heart. Makes sense to use all the senses. Struck by your desire to find ways to connect and your thoughts about the suckers. The "too much fire" message feels very important and I wish you well as you explore it. xx

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