I’ve already done a lot of creative work around trees. In 2016 I chose trees as my year long art focus and I blogged about aspects of that. As part of this, I created my own tree themed deck of oracle cards which I think speaks volumes about the symbolic gold there is to find when it comes to trees.
I have also written a few plant spirit posts about particular trees and also trees which have been important in my life.
There are approx. 100,000 species of trees which we identify by looking at their leaves, tree shape, bark, bud and flowers, fruits and seeds. There are native and non native, coniferous and deciduous, tall and small and all have their own marvellous qualities and associations. For example, Oak, quercus robur, means strength.
“Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop”
We find trees scattered throughout our language. We have family trees, we have tree hugging, we can’t see the wood for the trees. We have trees which commemorate, we have trees which are engraved with long dead relationships. We have trees which act as landmarks. We have witness trees and trees in place names.
Trees inspire and shelter, they are majestic and wise, reliable and reassuring, a solid presence throughout a human lifespan.
They are habitats and food, with their own complex web of predators and pests, parasites and symbiotic relationships. They are layers of life, rings of the years, memory keepers, teachers.
“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.”
– Hermann Hesse
6 of cups
In the wild unknown tarot, the six of cups is depicted with a tree. As with other examples I’ve discussed, this is one case where the wild unknown card feels so much more poignant to me than other decks.
In a lot of tarot decks, the six of cups is about childhood, nostalgia, naïve happiness, and generosity but this has never been a meaning that has chimed with me. Instead I choose to look at it from a different perspective, asking myself what fuels me, what brings me to life, what grounds me. If you look at the image of the tree with it’s multi coloured roots, you’ll hopefully get a sense of what I mean. Where other people look to childhood memories to make them happy, I chose to look at anything which makes me happy, which feeds my soul.
“Storms make trees take deeper roots”
– Dolly Parton
In order to stay strong and to thrive in this world, you need to pay attention to your roots. Dig deep, ground yourself and nourish the very core of your wonderful self.
There is also an aspect of balance in the 6 of cups – the outer world of the tree mirrors the inner world of the roots. This reminds me strongly of the bear animal spirit card and the idea that there is a time for everything, but no time can be a time for everything. A link I’ve shared quite a bit is one to Terri Windling’s blog post about bears and it feels so relevant here.
For [Terry Tempest] Williams, the bear embodies “opposing views, that we can be both fierce and compassionate at once. The bear is above ground in spring and summer and below ground, hibernating, in fall and winter — and she emerges with young by her side.
The winter months have always been a challenge for me. I love sunshine, dry weather and warmth… now, however, I am learning to appreciate winter’s stark gifts: it slows me down, turns my thoughts inward, keeps me closer to hearth and home, strengthening the introverted side of my nature, without which I couldn’t write or paint. I am learning at last to follow the bear; to trust in the process of hibernation and gestation. I am learning patience. Slowness. Stillness.
All things have their season. And spring always comes.
– Terri Wilding