To Three Oaks Dying Old

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Recently the Condo Association cut down three dying oaks, each over 300 years old, had that surrounded my garden condo.

I sing of thee
Thou stouthearted survivors
Of ancient forests
Silent witnesses of when the world was green

I sing of thee
Thou providers of substance
Of homes and food
Ancient mothers and fathers
To birds on the wing and squirrels ever restless

I sing of thee
Formable guardians
Of house and family
Shaders from worry
Life-giving wisdom given on the songs of leaves

I sing of thee
Now lying lumps
Of dead wood
Unripen acorns for mournful squirrels to bury

I sing of thee
Old friends
Of comfort
Now shadows, thy stumps ever silent tombs

Note: This was inspired by “To An Athlete Dying Young” by A.E. Houseman

Finding The World Tree in Oaks

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Whenever I ponder the World Tree, I often reflect on my own relations with trees. In my experience, They are magical beings, Each with their own personalities. By carrying their own vision of the world inside Themselves, each species of tree offers something of Themselves to the Axis Mundus, which is the World Tree.

In imagining this Axis Mundus, I think back on my experience with a white oak, which lived next to my third story condo. During a hurricane (more than fifteen years ago) the tree fell through my living room. Between the chaos and the debris, I stopped to marvel at this immense tree laying on the floor, taking up my living-dining room. The crown, the branches, the leaves, the acorns, and the trunk all spilled out over the floor. Amongst the debris were some squirrels and two of their nests. (That is a story for another time.)

As I touched the felled tree, I felt that I stepped through a door to other worlds. All of these worlds, whether they were below, above, or in-between, were connected through this tree. Moreover, all life was centered in, around, under, above, and through this tree. For me, it was a disorienting, yet remarkable experience. From that, I gained knowledge of the World Tree.

Now when I picture the World Tree, I see a towering, massive tree with branches reaching to the sky, and roots reaching deep into the earth. This broadleaf tree offers shade from the sun and shelter from the rain. The leaves reflect the passing seasons, but they never leave the tree completely bare. Also, this tree provides food for the beings living in it and around it.

Again, I flashed to a huge oak in my life. This oak of my adolescence sat next to a stone wall in my family’s yard. A clothesline ran from its lower trunk to one of the posts of our patio. This oak tree was said to be a least two hundred years old, and seemed as ancient (at least to me). Whenever, I hung out wet clothes or gathered in the dried ones, the Tree would talk to me. In the summer, I would look up into the crooked branches, and watch the leaves move in the breeze. In the fall, “She” would drop acorns on me. (I thought of this Oak as “She.”) In winter, a few brown leaves would wave at me. Through it all, the Tree was there for me.

To guide me further, the Oak introduced me to the squirrels. These mammals seemed to be everywhere: eating acorns, buying acorns, chasing each other, and building leaf nests. During the mating season, the squirrels would gather leaves to refurbish their nests. When I was feeling my teenage angst, the squirrels would cheer me up with their activities. The squirrels were partners to the Oak, as they were nurtured by Her, and they cared for Her.

This Oak nurtured me through some stormy times. She counseled me and gave me her strength. She offered the world to me, for which I was grateful. With her help, I made it through adolescence.

Therefore I regard the Oak to be the World Tree, the Axis Mundus. Furthermore, the lore about oak trees in various cultures supports my idea. For example, the Celts, not only considered oaks to be Chieftain Trees, but also the Doorway to Other Worlds. To the Romans and Greeks, the oak represented Jupiter and Zeus (respectively), the heads of their pantheons. These Gods spoke through lightening which was caught by the oak. This lightening would travel from the oak’s crown to its roots. This means to me that the oak acted as the Axis Mundus. Not only that, but the oak also contains the sheer life force of the Universe. That is how I imagine the World Tree.

Works Used.

Hageneder, Fred, “The Meaning of Trees.” Chronicle Books: San Francisco. 2005.
Hidalgo, Sharlyn, “The Healing Power of Trees.” Llewellyn: Woodbury MN. 2010.
Hopman, Ellen Evert, “A Druid’s Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine.” Destiny: Rochester VT. 2008.

Tree Magic: The Oak and Prosperity

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My first experience with the magic of the oak was during Hurricane Floyd in 1999. A massive oak crashed into the livingroom of my condo. As the tree spread herself out in my home, she sent out her magic to protect us. Since then, no harm has come to my condo building, despite numerous hurricanes and other storms.

Since then, I realized that a part of doing magic with the oak requires asking the tree first. The oaks surrounding my building will answer by dropping their leaves for “yes” and waving them for “no.” An acorn dropping on my head is the oak requesting that I do magic with them.

The particular oak magic that I do annually is to gather acorns. I would bury some for the squirrels, some I would pile up for them to eat, and the rest I would bring inside. After placing them on my altar, I would ask for the blessings of protection and prosperity from the oak.

When the white oak, next to my condo, was overcome with shelf fungus, I decided to wage war. I went out with a claw hammer to bash it off. As I went to do this, I heard a voice say no. Pondering that, I realized that either I was hearing faeries or nature spirits. (They abhor iron or steel.) So I returned with my heavy walking stick. As I pounded the fungus off, I could feel a sense of relief. The shelf fungus was blocking entrances to Otherworlds. It was also suffocating the oak.

Since I am wary of faeries and nature spirits, I thought the best thing to do was to gather acorns for offerings. I spread them in a circle around the base of the tree. I hoped that the faeries would think kindly upon me for trying to keep the tree alive. I received an answer through my oracle deck when cards featuring acorns kept appearing. The faeries said thank-you.

TREE MAGIC: ENDING ANCESTOR WORK

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To officially end my Ancestor work, I held a ritual to release the Ancestors back to the Underworld. To do this, I asked the white poplar assist me in this. Since Hercules wore the white poplar when he went to the Underworld, I believed that this tree would be willing to help. (I have a family connection with Hercules.)

On a piece of intention paper, I drew a circle with the Ogham few for the white poplar inside. I regarded this as a shield that would separate me from the Ancestors. Traditionally, the white poplar allows people float above their problems.

I held the ritual during the time the Mundus (Gateway to the Underworld) was opened. During this ritual, I burned the intention paper. As it burned, I asked the white poplar to release the Ancestors from my magic. Then, I asked the Dead to leave and return to the Underworld. Finally, I asked Hercules to guide the Ancestors back to the Underworld. Afterwards I thanked Hercules and the white poplar for their generosity.

Before doing this ritual, I was plagued with strained calves, and was in a great deal of pain. When I released the Ancestors to the care of the Gods, the pain subsided. Apparently, I had been carrying them in my body. So I was able to “float” instead of being held down.

The following is the chant I used:
I ask the White Poplar who crowned the brow of Hercules
I ask in the name of Hercules
I ask the Manes, Lemurs, and Larvae to leave me

I ask for protection
I ask for successful healing
I ask for help in rebirthing

Dear Ancestors
I love You
May you find peace and rest.

I release my Ancestors from my body
I release my sisters from my body
My sisters who died as children

May They be nourished in the Underworld
May They be protected in the Underworld
May They be welcomed in the Underworld

I thank the White Poplar for her help
I thank the White Poplar for her protection

I thank Hercules for his help
I thank Hercules for his protection

I thank that Manes, Lemurs, and Larvae for leaving
I thank that Manes, Lemurs, and Larvae for troubling me not.

I am grateful to the White Poplar
I am grateful to Hercules

May my body be free to hold me
May my body be free to love me
May my body be me

I welcome my body to hold me.
I welcome my body to love me.
I nourish my body for me.

Tree Magic: Healing Ancestors

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For the past three months, I have been working with a group to heal our ancestral lineages. We strive to uncover the Mother and the Father wounds, and then heal them with our magic. I chose to ask the silver fir to help me with this work.

After asking, I took a branch from a small fir growing near my condo building. Then, I set up my Ancestor altar, with the silver fir acting as the Grandfather and Grandmother Tree. I burned the branch in a small bowl, and asked for assistance in healing my family wounds.

The next day, while I was swimming at the local pool, I heard a whisper to find a pine cone to burn. I repeated the Ancestral ritual with the pine cone. Staring into the flames, I saw strange whorls that were coming from the cone. In my trance, I received a message to buy a specific book.

The topic of the book was the past lives of humans, who were souls from other planets. Since the book had not been published yet, I pre-ordered it for future delivery. Surprisingly, it arrived by mail two days later. Apparently, I was to read this particular book as soon as possible.

I was perplexed as to why the silver fir directed me to read this book. I considered past lives to be far-fetched. For me, the Dead stay dead unless they have unfinished business with the living. Moreover, what did the past lives of aliens have to with my Ancestors?

My Scottish grandmother would tell us of how her family were descended from otters. In human form, the otters mated with people. I have read about beings from the Otherworlds procreating with humans. Perhaps the idea of otters or space aliens ending up my family line did not so farfetched.

I think that the silver fir was informing me that healing my father’s line was for the Gods. I should pray to the Gods, instead of using my magic. The tree was telling me that my father’s lineage was beyond my magic. With the guidance of the silver fir, I put aside my Ancestor work, and offered prayers for healing. Accepting the strangeness that is my father’s line was what I needed to do, according to the silver fir.