Recently I was alerted to a powerful meditation on trees and I recommend it especially at this time of coronavirus. A time of staying home is a fitting occasion to meditate on creation. It can ground oneself, root us to Source, and teach us the importance of Gratitude and not taking for granted. [See Singing to the Trees: A Global Practice in Loving Awareness]
In my book, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, one archetype I present is that of the Green Man which is a fitting archetype to awaken a healthy masculinity in contrast to so much toxic masculinity that struts and strives to rule the world by way of economics, politics, media or empire building. If good things emerge from the current pandemic, a shelving of insipid masculinity might be the greatest blessing of all.
In his classic work, The Spirit of Trees, Fred Hageneder declares that “trees are the most successful life forms of Earth”—and the most dominant since they first appeared over three hundred million years ago. Besides the oceans, “mixed woodlands of self-sown trees untouched and uncultivated by man—and tropical rainforest form the richest ecosystem in existence” and provide habitat for the “widest variety of species.” Communities of trees “are fundamental to weather and climate, for a beneficial water cycle; for the development of minerals; for balancing the electrical charges between the ionosphere and the Earth’s surface; and for the maintenance of the Earth’s magnetic field as a whole.”
What is a tree? The body of a tree is mostly filled with sunlight. “Light courses through its structure, navigating vital processes and maintains the balance and health of the whole organism….The tree produces a continuous light show from its very cells.”
Trees are “cosmic antennae” that link the heavens and the earth. Radiation from supernovas—the gigantic explosions marking the death of a star far out in space—have been shown to influence tree growth. Thus “every star that dies in our galaxy is perceived by trees.”
Trees have assisted humans from the beginning. Our ancestors first sheltered in woods like apes still do today. When humans left the woods and discovered fire, “fire became the driving force in the development of the human species, and it was always trees which supported the human need for fuel.” We relied on wood for building shelters, bridges, barns and most of the stone tools from the Stone Age served to work wood. The great medieval cities were built “mostly in wood” and human writing first occurred on bark and wood tablets.
Sacred groves are a universal phenomenon—“almost everywhere in the world the beginnings of social and religious life took place under trees.” Greek deities were linked to particular tree species, Apollo and the laurel, Aphrodite and the myrtle, Athena and the olive, Pan and the pine.
No wonder Hildegard of Bingen called Christ a “Green man” in the twelfth century.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spiritualty of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. 20f.
Queries for Contemplation
Thomas Aquinas says that meditation on creation leads to God or Spirit. Is that your experience on practicing a meditation on trees?
What other meditations can flow from this experience, how do beings in creation lead you to encounter the Sacred?
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God