Some time ago I went for a walk to my beloved sacred woods near me – I began with a clenched, almost scrunched up feeling, a contraction in the breath of my life. I had felt a calling to go there, to the wild – the sun was shining, rain was predicted, the wind was coming up and I felt a moment, a doorway, an opportunity. To unclench.
Deep within me is a need to listen – to the wind, trees, leaves, to the undergrowth beneath my feet, and the undulating land, so ancient – and to my body. Here in these woods there is a barrow, and many beeches, together with oaks and others – I feel deep reverence and love for them all.
I wandered wherever I was called; my body showed me intuitively.
I spotted a beautiful beech leaf early on, full of the colours of autumn. This leaf held the promise of a turning, the composting of life back to the earth. With it’s rusty orange, green and browns, I gave thanks. To the cycles of life.
As I walked, the deepest feeling I held was gratitude – I hugged every tree who called me! Slowly, inexorably an emptying inside happened, letting go the ancient story of separation and limitation. I had let the issues around us of humanity today, the scarcity of petrol, the wounds of our nations, the fears and nature struggles for survival, fill me up too much.
The trees were emptying me out – to fill me again with something more profound. My heart, often full of grief for our current world, was opening again. I gradually touched something of the mystical realm, with colour and kaleidoscopic expansion –a touch of ecstasy whispered in my being, a reminder of the true essence of life. My body filled up with what can only be called prana, chi, or one of those other ancient words we use for lifeforce energy. A vibrancy emerged within and around me – I felt renewed as I meandered.
When I first came to this wood, I was only interested in the older majestic grand mother and grandfather trees, their ancient huge trunks full of the breadth of long life. Now I meet their children, their grandchildren and all in between. They are a huge tribe, some merged together in the mists of time, and they live together – in harmony. This word truly resonated on that walk. Beeches in particular seem to live in villages, and we now know all their root systems connect somehow deep underground. I have always sensed this on my walks. And they have welcomed me into their village as a fellow member.
When I came to the ancient barrow, the burial place for peoples long gone, I heard again their call. They had looked after our land with graciousness and humility, using their listening and honouring to live lightly on this earth so we could live here. I felt again the deep shame of our culture who have not listened or learnt this lesson, leading us to the very brink of extinction. But I also felt life, hope and some lessons to be learnt.
Those ancient ones had known intimately the connection between our bodies and the body of earth. I was able to feel a dance around me, the colourful headdresses and ceremony, of celebrations for each cycle of life and death, gifts and abundance, of reciprocity. I felt the mystical sometimes sacred connection I have for this ancient time.
Moving from contraction, fear, limitation, I was able to reach connection, sacred pause, and knowing. As I felt the wind whirling around, teaching me to bend and surrender, feel the ebbs and flows of her dance, I continued to listen.
I heard another phrase – ‘giving back’ –to learn to ‘give back’ is to live on this earth in harmony. By giving back, we are ready to show a reciprocal relationship with mother earth . By giving back, we learn to not just use up resources but to replace whatever is lost, feeling humility and gratitude for our use of such things as wood, oil, land. Giving back is in every ancient tribal culture, the way of returning to the land all that has been shared as a deep and powerful sign of respect. We have lost this aspect of life at our peril.
By following my instinct for my walk and trusting my body, I was able to return to a deep joy, a feeling of trust that life can give me what I need and can teach me. A sense of gratitude that I was able to hear the wisdom of the earth today. A touching and moving sense of ecstasy that this earth was able to speak to me and that I was, at least today, able to listen. And my contractions moved to expansion. My body felt free, alive, light and vibrant once again.
Those lessons from this walk have stayed with me, to be shared here. There are many of us hearing these lessons. And now is the time to put them into practice. For all of us.
I give thanks to the trees, ancient barrows and wild places, for revealing themselves to me so freely ; living in harmony, giving back in reciprocity, accessing once again a deeper life force, honouring the cycles of life. If we can embrace these gifts fully, we would counteract our current approach to the world and our issues. I fervently hope that each of us can feel this state of wild wisdom, bringing us back into deeper connection to the natural world, so we may eventually live from this place. Our world depends on it.
Thankyou mother earth for holding me and teaching me always.
Origin of picture unknown.