The Beech Tree

I have become rather enchanted by a magnificent Beech tree I saw at the Geelong Botanical Gardens on Sunday.

Since my visit the tree has been entering my dreams. On Sunday night visions of it kept waking me up. At some point during the night I began thinking about the scientist, Suzanne Simard’s research into the way trees communicate with each other in a forest and how these communications stem from a ‘Mother Tree’.

I began wondering if Botanical Gardens can be classified as forests. If such places are forests they are forests which contain trees from all over the world. Could such a diverse and hybrid forest contain a Mother Tree? In my half awake state I decided that if there is a Mother Tree in the Geelong Botanical Gardens it would have to the Beech. The gardens were established in the 1850s and the tree was probably planted very early on. It is very tall and there is a plaque at the base stating the tree is on the National Trust Significant Tree register.

Images of the tree have been returning to me during odd moments since then. In my mind’s eye the top of the tree looks even more ethereal than it does in my photo and the tree itself has assumed a gentle, soothing energetic presence.

Intrigued by this I did some online reading. I was fascinated to learn the Beech is regarded as The Mother Tree is some cultures, both ancient and contemporary. In Japan a 400 year old Beech is considered the Mother of all Beech trees in that country. In Celtic Lore the Beech is called The Mother of the Woods.

The Beech also has long connection with writing. Paper and book covers have been made from the tree for centuries. The very first printed books were printed on Beech tree paper. Before that the bark of the Beech was used to write messages on. One legend has it that the Irish god Ogma, one of the Tuatha de Danaan, wrote the Ogham Alphabet on Beech bark.

For these reasons the tree has a symbolic connection writing, knowledge and creative expression. Because books can convey knowledge down through time the Beech has a symbolic link with the idea of bringing past knowledge into the present and on into the future. Developing this theme it is said that meditating beside a Beech tree enhances communication with one’s ancestors and ancestral knowledge.

silvery light
dancing across my dreams
– ancestral wisdom

Wandering locally

These days my wandering is localized.  My times of flying off to distant destinations and wandering as a tourist though other people’s lives are over, at least for now.  I really don’t like flying – it hurts my ears and damages my equilibrium on all kinds of levels.  I’m over long distance driving right now too.   I’ve done too much of it and besides, its expensive and burns up fossil fuels at an alarming rate.  These days most of my driving is confined to the wider area around my home.

Often I leave the car at home and walk along the treed avenues nearby.  This part of town is known as the ‘old town’ though by European standards it’s just a baby.  Here in Victoria, Australia it passes for old for some of the houses date back a hundred years or so.   The trees are big and shady.   Footpaths are mostly grassy tracks.   All in all, it’s a good place to wander.

I don’t miss the wider world.   It can come to me through my computer or I can find it in the shops around about.  Yesterday I went to a large warehouse that stocks unusual items the owner collects in Japan.   I bought some old glass sea floats.   Back home I hung them on a clump of sea worn twine I found as I wandered along these southern shores.

Faraway places
echoing in my footsteps
I wander home



Where do we come from?

On the physicist Bjorn Brudberg asks us to consider the Big Bang theory and the concept of the expanding universe:-  

Once I asked Google –  “What was before the Big Bang?”

I received a number of answers.   The one that intrigued me the most was the idea that the Big Bang emerged from a singularity.   This singularity was the last remaining trace of a previous universe.   This previous universe had gone through a period of expansion after its creation from its own Big Bang.  After eons of time the energy released during that Big Bang dissipated and the universe that preceded ours began to implode back in upon itself.   Eventually all that remained was the singularity that eventually exploded in the Big Bang which released the energy which birthed our universe.   In time this energy will expend itself and our universe will implode.  It too will become a singularity that will, at some point, explode in another Big Bang.   A new universe will then come being.

While I may not have grasped the finer points of this concept I was struck by the similarity between it and a Hindu creation story that is recounted in the Upanishads, an ancient text compiled around 800-200 b.c.   Once again I may not have grasped the finer points of the story but as I understand it goes like this:-

When the god Brahma breathes out, all life comes into being.   When Brahma breathes in all life ceases to be.   When Brahma breathes out again life comes into being once more.  All existence is Brahma breathing in and out, in and out, in vast cycles of time and no time.

Are Brahma and the singularity one and the same?   Perhaps it is that our universe is part of a an endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth.




March Madness

A haibun for

Today is the first cool day in ages.  During the past week the temperature have been over 38 degrees Celsius day after day.

Across this southern Australian State bushfires rage.  Not down here on the coast but through the forested hills to the east where I lived for many years.   I hear the names of familiar towns on the News and feel for the people still living there.

Ten years, when I lived there, the fires burned quite close to my home.  The worst day of those fires is seared into my memory.   The sky above my house turned a vile sickly orange and burnt leaves fell on my lawn.   The firefighters warned everyone to watch out for burning embers for the fierce winds were carrying them many, many kilometers from the blaze.    Around 3 in the afternoon I heard on the radio that one of the fire fronts was raging up the mountains towards the TV and radio transmission towers.  There was nothing anyone could do to prevent their destruction.   About twenty minutes later transmission stopped.   Only one television station that used a different transmission tower still worked so for over a week the only TV News we got was focused on the extreme fires that had burnt closer to the state capital.  The area I lived in was barely reported on.   One item that was broadcast though was the rising death toll from all the fires across the state.    The final toll was 173 plus countless animals.

Now, in these current fires, most people are not staying to defend their properties.   They evacuate instead.   I see them weeping on the News when they learn their house has burnt to the ground.  “I have nothing,” they say.  “Nothing but the clothes I stand up in and the car I drove to safety.”   One distraught woman spoke of staying to defend her house for as long as was safe.   She described the fires as sounding like a fire breathing dragon roaring through the bush.

Wild dragon days
torrid heat, blazing fires
– praying for rain

An aerial view of a house exploding in a massive fireball in Tonimbuk in the Bunyip State Forest. An aerial view of a house exploding in a massive fireball in Tonimbuk in the Bunyip State Forest.CREDIT:NINE NEWS



The light of truth

Yesterday we Australians learnt the Catholic priest, Cardinal Pell has been found guilty of child sex offenses.   The nature of the offenses that convicted him were explained carefully on the TV news.   The evidence presented revealed the man to be extremely perverse.

This morning I saw a News item which claimed some Catholic Priests have been involved in the sexual abuse of nuns.   I have no idea if these claims are true but I hope there are investigations into them around the globe.

A piercing light
revealing hidden abuse
– truth triumphs

unnamed – photo prompt –

The invisible becoming visible


DSCF0806 - copy.jpg

A while ago I made a spirit doll of a female shaman with horns.   This morning she caught my eye as I walked past the shelf she stands on.

Questioning me,
the antlered spirit doll
becomes archetypal

Why has she manifested in my life?

Going online I did some research.   Horned goddesses appeared in several ancient cultures but most, like the Egyptian goddesses Hathor and Isis, had cow horn headdresses.   These days images of magical females with similar horns are turning up in contemporary art and popular culture.   The Disney fairy, Maleficent is one.   Online I read a Jungian analysis of Maleficent.

“So this story of the Sleeping Beauty deals with what happens to our feminine feeling consciousness when it is repressed, ravaged and rejected by both our society and our own ego-consciousness.  When we reject this feeling and imaginative aspect of life, it gets twisted and becomes the negative mother—the witch who wants to kill us or curse us.  And we are left cursed with our masculine, left-brain thinking that cuts off our feminine wings and power, grounding us in a masculine reality that hates and fears the Divine Feminine’s beauty, freedom and power.   

But the negative mother doesn’t just make our lives miserable: she pushes us to become more conscious. Her curse ultimately becomes a blessing, since it makes each of us face our fate and live our purpose.  That’s the purpose of archetypal stories—they show us a path to travel that will bring us to greater consciousness.”  emerging archetypal themes

Maleficent is the 13th fairy – the forgotten one.   She represents the connection of women to nature.   In our patriarchal cultural this connection has been ignored – it has become invisible.

Re-appearing now
rewriting Sleeping Beauty
– magical healing

Maleficent is healed by love and the natural world around her is restored to health.    In this way the movie becomes a metaphor for reclaiming our forgotten relationship with nature – a sacred relationship of interconnectedness.

Ancient stories 
of goddesses and fairies
finding new forms

As fascinating as these ideas are they still don’t answer my question as to why the doll I made has antlers.    Following link after link online I eventually found an article about the deer goddesses and female shamans  deer mother  While I am familiar with the ancient horned god, Cernunnos, I didn’t know that there is archaeological evidence of horned females deities and shamanic figures that date to neolithic times.

Landesmuseum Halle (artist reconstruction of neolithic headdress found in Germany – image source here

These ancient female shaman are associated with the deer and reindeer of the far north.  Their sacred significance was about connection to the tree of life, motherhood, fertility, birth and rebirth

Returning to us
images of the sacred
spirit of nature


prompt:  Today’s d’verse prompt gave me a way into writing about something that’s been on my mind all morning.  My response stretches the idea of poetry and of haibun  so I hope that’s ok with Merrill – the creator of the prompt (and with the rest of the poets who write for d’verse).



Living alone I’ve become used to the patterns of nights where the wind in the trees shushes and the ocean roars in the distance.   The possums are a nuisance when they crash land on the roof after jumping out of the trees.   I don’t like their growling but then  I’d dislike it no less if there was someone to complain to about it.