The tree of the cosmos, the ranked tiers of angels among stars and planets, plus apples, a cod, a potato, a pickle, Danish flags, a troll, Krampus, birds of paradise, an Icelandic cottage, a dog, a cat, a pear from Prague, and nearly forty years of other memories, including a quail and a mosquito house: the spirit of the forest given elevated shape as a Christian symbol and a symbol of loyalty and the never-ending wells of spirit, birth out of death (or, better, out of darkness) and a great coming together in joy.
Most of these are traditions brought to the tree, and can be found in a non-Christian form out in the world. The blood offering of the haw.
The light offering of the sumac.
The spirit of lichen.
Spring flowers at winter solstice.
The whirlpool of the pine.
The sage catching snow out of the living air.
The bunchgrass holding it.The spring flowers of the hazel bridging the years.
The chokecherries calling birds to shelter under the pines.
The water flowing from the living rock.
The blood offerings of the rowan, and its answer out of the sky.
The singing tubes of the rye grass.
The wells of darkness of the birches making light.
These are intense experiences that bind one to the earth and erase time. Out of them, my ancestors created the celebration of time itself, as an extension of these energies, not as their replacement.
The birth of the earth into a world of human care is, however, not a part of time. It’s root is not in the time, the ball above, a gift from a Christmas market in the Ruhr so many years ago, so that my tree and my uncle’s can be one, the tree symbolizes, but in the earth it grows out of. Is the tree sacrificed in a pre-Christian way, or is this Christ’s sacrifice: the severing that is his birth? Well, the cottonwood knows, with her buds awake at Midwinter and her roots already growing.
She knows that it is both at once. Reading narratives of time onto the Earth reduces energy. It is one of the sources of entropy. I think we call that death. At this season, the wise, ancient choice, the choice of our ancestors, is life. Whether it is the siya?’s offering …
… or the lichen’s weaving of life and stasis…
… neither are sleeping now. They are, in short, not objects. Neither is the tree.
Or the seeing of it.
In all cases, we see with the eyes of the ancestors. They are alive in us. Whether it takes the form of bunchgrass under the pines, waiting for the fire, which will surely come.
Or the fire we bring into our houses to kindle ourselves and stop the flow of time by turning it into attention.
The Mind Itself
They are alive in us. But here’s the heart of it:
we are also alive in them. Each of us is many, not one. They are all within our world of care.