As a child, the highly symbolic Brother Grimm’s fairy tales were read to me in the original version and I always wondered what these magical mystical forests from the traditional tales were like. They were forests in which you could get lost; they were dark and mysterious with fairy doors and other mysterious creatures, places to find lots of amazing gifts.
Last month, I had a truly beautiful experience. I had the opportunity to visit an incredibly old forest in British Columbia, just like the ones I had heard about as a child. The energy in this forest was indescribable. All the trees were as old as 300-800 years; some had fallen down naturally and ferns were growing over them, covering the entire floor. Giant Douglas Firs can grow as old as 1000 years. It was a sensual experience to walk through the muddy forest in rain boots, hearing the squelch squerch of each step and feeling the softness of the ground underneath my feet. The smells were rich and strong.
Trees have a calming and balancing effect on us. Our human heart generates a measurable bio-electro-magnetic filed. Scientists have shown how trees also generate a bio-energy field similar to the field of the human heart. The trees’ bio-energy field of the heart comes into coherence with the human heart when they get close to each other and visa versa. What we experience is being in resonance with the trees. Each tree has a different field. You can experiment with your eyes closed, touching different trees and with a bit of practice you will be able to keep them apart based on their different energy.
Plants also certainly have a consciousness. They sense light, have smell receptors and can even hear. Scientists have shown that the sound of a munching caterpillar alone causes a reaction in plants. However, their consciousness goes beyond that. They can pick up on intentions. Cleve Backster’s polygraph experiments with plants in the sixties show that plants are able to pick up whether they are truly threatened to be harmed.
Backster, who was a criminologist, had the idea to hook up one of his plants to a lie detector to see if the plant would respond to a threat. He came up with the idea to burn one of the plant’s leaves. The moment he conceived of the idea, before he even moved to go get matches, the polygraph responded indicating distress; the plant had picked up on his intentions. When he came back into the room with matches the plant responded with a new high on the graph. When Backster decided he had caused enough plant panic for one day and made up his mind to forget about burning the leaf, the plant, which was still attached to the polygraph, calmed down completely. The plant had responded to his actions and to his intentions. Backster has beautifully demonstrated with this and other experiments the unified field of consciousness as it connects all life.
Peter Wohlleben, in his book “The Hidden Life of Trees”, describes how trees help each other out through their underground root system. The root system supplies each tree with water and nutrients, connecting it to the other trees and anchoring it to the ground. According to Wohlleben, trees communicate through scents and through their roots with each other. They warn each other of parasites and other dangers. They are a perfect example on how we all need each other.
Trees of the same kind literally support each other and feed those members of their tree family which are located in areas of less water or nutrients. They know that if some of them die and disappear it creates gaps in the forest, and then hot sun and strong winds can alter the growth conditions for the entire forest. You could say trees have the ultimate unity consciousness of being one, which we humans seem to have all forgotten about.
In the old forest, we came across some living tree stumps (see picture above). They had no greenery anymore to capture sun light and to use photosynthesis to produce plant food. Yet, they were clearly still living. They were alive thanks to the underground root system because they were still being fed by their neighbouring trees.
Being present with the trees, all of a sudden, we began to notice a peculiar thing. Many of the trees seemed to show up in pairs, being nurtured from the same entangled base of roots or at least standing close together or right across from each other, sometimes even with the path between them. As much as the trees shared their energy all around, there clearly seemed to be a certain frequency going between those pairs.
Walking through this forest, it occurred to me how the trees in this old forest are beautiful role models for our relationships. We all are tied and connected through our roots to a greater community and within that community we form one-on-one relationships, which undergo different experiences and changes. The stronger our one-on-one “relationship roots” and our connection to the whole community are, the more likely it is that we can survive any challenges.
The bark of each tree acts like a coat or like armour providing the tree with insulation and protection from the elements. The stronger and older a tree is, the better it is protected from outside influences. Perhaps the bark is comparable to the growing awareness and experience which comes with age and also symbolizes the energetic boundaries we learn to set with the outside world. Lots of us humans might need to examine if our bark is solid enough to repel negative influences. Is our bio-magnetic heart energy field strong, vibrating at the level of love and joy?
Look at the giant hollow Red Cedar in the picture above. It caught fire and smouldered for several days but then continued to live. Sometimes our relationships “catch fire” and burn out like this tree. Despite a fire, our relationships have the potential to continue to stand strong and grow tall when the fire has reached its end. This tree is now an amazing hollow cave, perhaps more beautiful and special than before: a living sign that when we open up to anything being possible, we can rise even out of a huge crisis.
Sometimes other people set fire to our relationships, intentional or unintentional. This giant red cedar which once stood 71 metres tall is a sign of hope. Vandals set it aflame in 1972, ending its 700-year life. It had to be cut down to prevent the fire spreading to other trees. But do you see the new plant growing on top of the old tree? This tree is an example of how something new grows out of the ashes of the old. When an old relationship dies, we can trust that a new one will grow from the ruins of the old.
We need to acknowledge the loss of the old relationship and grieve it. Our conflicting feelings result from the fact that a familiar pattern has changed or ended for us. Grief is perfectly normal when a relationship ends. It might end due to death or separation/divorce. As John W James and Russell Friedman remind us, “divorce severs the martial, sexual and social ties, but divorce does not complete emotional ties”. We might need to ask “What do I wish had been different, better, or more?” to help us find what is incomplete and to take responsibility for our part in the relationship ending. An incomplete past may doom us to repeat the same patterns again. Incomplete grief can cause “hyperviligant self-protection from further emotional pain” (James/Friedman) and be the reason for fearful choices. For the new plant to grow strongly on top of the old one, we have to go back to complete any remaining grief. Then the new one can grow healthy, strong and even more beautiful.
The same applies to our non-romantic relationships. Resentment, anger, misunderstandings, and our stories of how somebody made us feel not good enough, keep us from healing relationships and allowing new sprouts to grow from the old. Forgiveness, letting go, and the willingness to take responsibility for our own past, present and future feelings, and for co-creating all our experiences, turn disharmonious and painful relationships into ones which unfold with grace, joy and harmony.
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