Thursday, November 23rd, 2017
Archive for November, 2017
The 25th November is the start of National Tree week and in the first week of December we have Tree Dressing Day.
As many of the trees around us lose their leaves to the autumn and the winter, both these events offer a chance for communities to gather and celebrate the wonderful trees located in your neighbourhoods.
Most trees carry a story of some kind and significance, from knowing who decided to plant the tree in the first place to knowing more about who the person was and how they lived. Every tree contains the seed of some kind of story.
In my late thirties I was drawn to trees and was eager to learn more about their spiritual significance. I recently remember seeing some trees on a patch of land that was lovingly tended to by local people and hosting three trees, all adorned with colourful ribbons flowing from their branches. This memory then reminded me of a custom I grew up with in the Caribbean when come Christmas, they would adorn trees in the same way at Christmas time. In fact, that’s what used to happen to the huge Tamarind tree that sat on the corner of my mum’s home on the island of Barbados. And then of course, once one memory comes, so does another and I recall the beautiful yellow ribbon that had been tied around a tree at this years Notting Hill carnival that made my heart sing.
Tree Dressing day was founded by Common Ground in 1990 and I love what they had to say about the cultural and social history of Tree Dressing on their website, “Trees have long been celebrated for their spiritual significance. The simplicity of tying strips of cloth or yarn to a tree is universal and timeless. The old Celtic custom of tying cloth dipped in water from a holy well to a ‘clootie tree’ echoes the practice in Japan of decorating trees with strips of white paper, or tanzaku, bearing wishes and poems.
The twenty-first century trend of ‘yarn bombing’ in Europe and North America transforms the local landscape with bright fabrics and yarns, like the Buddhist tradition of tying ribbons around the trunk of the Bodhi tree in homage to Buddha, or the annual Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan when coloured strings are tied onto trees and plants to call upon the power of nature to protect loved ones.” Go here to read the full article
Earlier this year, I planted a rescue apple tree at the front of my house. It’s full bloom of leaves are now down to a few mustard brown leaves scattered towards the tip of the tree, fragile and flickering dangerously in the wind. In the summer, when I was lamenting the fact that my tree still hadn’t shown any sign of producing Apples, a gardener told me that my tree is a perfect tree to dress.
“To bear apples the tree has to send all if its energy from the roots to the fruit leaving very little energy to be distributed throughout the rest of the tree.”
So for now I can delight that these winter months will give my delicate tree time to rest and hibernate so it can replenish its stores.
The similarities in all of these tree customs and festivals remind us that as a human race we hold so much throughout the depths of our long cultural and social histories that are the same.
So as many trees lay bare we can remember the connection we hold together. We can dress our trees as a way of saying thank you and as a reminder of the diversity we both share through our different lineages and species that need to be celebrated. Our trees are a sign of hope, that even though winter may be here, be comforted in knowing that spring will eventually arrive. Until then we can give ourselves much needed permission to rest and celebrate our beingness. Let’s say thank you to our trees for all that they have given us throughout the year.
I’ve collated a list of the titles of my favourite Tree books that includes a few words about why the book makes the list.
Click here to download the list
Any book from the list would make a meaningful gift for the nature lovers in your life.