I don’t remember where I heard this story, but I was told that the trees carry the memory of the land. There are some people who have the ability to “talk” to the trees, to access this memory. When I first heard this at the ripe old age of 21, I was intrigued. I’ve always loved trees, in fact used to “reach out” to them energetically when I was a distance runner, asking their help by lending me the power of their endurance so that I could run farther. I did this starting at about 15 because it just ‘felt right’ to ask them, and at that point had not heard the story of being able to talk to trees. I always imagined that they responded to my requests for help, and I always ran strong and finished every race — even on a strained tendon. Don’t recommend that one, by the way.
So several years later I learn of the Tree Talkers and decide I’d give it a go. This was a time when I was doing a LOT of active energetic experimentation. In rather short order, I could indeed feel the energy of the trees. I learned that the older the tree, the more readily I could access this. Since I was on the East Coast, that meant Oak trees and Maple trees were particularly good. One day, I was down by the river with my friends and touched a trunk of a massive, centuries old Oak. Immediately the modern world disappeared, and I saw a rapid review of the history of the river basin over the course of centuries – far older than just this tree but instead the memory of the forest itself. The vision ended with a pack of wolves leaping over a fallen log. One other member of my experimentation group immediately spun around to me and said “what did you just do?!” I asked what she felt, and she said it felt like a wave of energy just rolled out and through the area. It made her dizzy enough she had to sit down. I told her of the vision that the tree shared with me.
This was by far the most dramatic personal Tree Talker incident. The day I drove by a set of 3 ancient maple trees being cut down to make room for a road expansion and felt the horror of it from the tree’s perspective, that’s the day I began to shut it down. Trees have a very definite awareness, of which we in general are utterly oblivious. Seeing and feeling trees being cut down is a painful experience for me, and I don’t mean pain as in physical. It’s deeper than that. Imagine someone reached into your mind and began to remove your most cherished memory. It doesn’t hurt, not physically, but as the bits and pieces go you feel a sense of loss, a sense that you are no longer whole, and are missing something important. Your heart aches because it remembers, but the mind no longer has the memory. In this case, the land aches because it remembers, but the tree is no longer there. And the world is no longer whole, missing something important and yet utterly unaware of exactly what.
Now I live on the West coast. Nothing is the same. Instead of a temperate forest, I’m in chaparral country. I don’t like chaparral country – I don’t like the plants. Their energy is all ‘wrong’ – there is a desert mentality here I don’t care for. But today I was out for a short hike, and we stopped at several of the beautiful live oaks. These are nothing like the oaks of the east coast, but they are a type of oak and their name is “live oak”. I was looking out over the land, leaning against this chaparral live oak, and I’m remembering the Tree Talker story, remembering that I AM a Tree Talker, though long out of practice. Then I realized I could continue to reject the plants here, or I could accept that I chose to move here and learn how to attune myself to this land, to these plants. To become a Tree Talker again. I’m very good at attunement, if I try. With that mind, when we stopped at some sort of pine tree, I reached out to touch it and for the first time in almost a decade, I felt something. I never really worked with conifers all that much, but what I felt was … the best description I have is ‘flowing sticky sap’. I felt the energy flow of the tree, and it felt sticky, indeed like pine sap. That was the moment when I decided, yes, I’d learn the plants here. Learn to hear them, feel them. Help carry the memory of this land which is now my home.
To do this, I decided that I’d learn one new native species of plant per week, perhaps a month. Armed with information, I’d then go on a hike with my camera and look each target species. The goal is to learn the area, and what plants are here. Learn them, visually recognize them, and then learn their energetic signature – what I can pick up of it. The more I do this, the more I will begin to be attuned to this land.
Today’s plant is the Manzanita – an evergreen shrub with distinctive red bark. This particular specimen featured peeling bark, and I took a picture of it with the sun in the background. The light is shining through the red bark, making it look as if the branches are being licked with flame. They most definitely were not, just a trick of the light, but very breathtaking. I call this picture Fire Bark.