This “fairy tale” from my Journey Oracle divination deck really happened. Here is a story of a way to offer a ritual of rebirth to a clear cut.
A woman lived near a beautiful forest with the elemental big forces of towering trees that sometimes were sparkled with dew or veiled in mist, and often were swaying to the symphonies of rain and wind. The woman heard the forest was in danger of being cut down and so she sent out messages to find someone of like-mindedness to protect the trees. Although she called out to save this abundance, no one came but the loggers.
When the darkness, turmoil, and wreckage subsided, the woman climbed over the torn and broken forest to a large cedar still standing by a small stream now gone almost underground from the silt-covered drifts of branches across its flow. “What do you need that I can do?” she asked as she leaned against the massive trunk. With her inner eye she saw the jumbled remains; she saw tree stumps stretching into the distance, and she saw a small jar of red paint. The stumps in her vision had dots of red paint on their jagged tops. “I will touch every tree” she thought, and gave herself a year to be in process with this task.
The woman climbed over branches and fell through brambles in the destroyed forest, touching her finger first into a small jar of red ochre, and then onto each tree stump. The task seemed impossible, but as she crossed each acre, the woman felt a coming into power. Each season the clear cut rewarded her with gifts of returning life: birds ate seeds from burst cones, deer nibbled tips from fallen cedars, and tiny green shoots pushed up to soften the haul roads.
At the very beginning of my year of touching trees, I found a tiny burl of wood atop a stump, and put it in my pocket. After I touched my finger into the ochre, and then on a tree, I wiped the excess red powder onto the burl in my pocket. Soon this became part of the ritual, and I always made sure I had the burl with me.
It did take me one year to walk and scramble and climb over 80 acres of clear cut to touch every tree with a dot of red ochre. At the end of that year I decided to paint an photo-realist image of the cut, but soon came to a halt. How could I just keep painting downed and abandoned wood? And then I remembered the red-smudged burl.
Photo-realist work does not have to be based on a photograph. My understanding is, rather, that the process is an exact rendering of how the shape, colour, texture and form of the subject is actually seen, with no attention given to how the idea or motif of the subject is usually portrayed. So I decided to paint what I saw in the wood cells of the burl.
And just at the edge of the bank, taking her shape from the roots of a mostly dead salal plant, a figure appeared.
A spirit of the forest I supposed, holding a wooden face that was cracked but not broken. Her body was frail within much larger clothing, her skin diseased and her fingers only bones. Her expression quite haunted me. We humans so regularly seem to not know what we do, until after we do something.
And yet the spirit’s energy felt upright, resilient, watchful–more than fading or collapsing. Perhaps the red ochre contributed. Although it is not known why Stone Age burials sites contain bodies painted with ochre, it is speculated that ochre represents “a return to the earth or possibly [is] a form of ritual rebirth, in which the colour symbolizes blood and the Great Goddess.
I like that. Touching trees is a releasing of energy
returned to the earth, a blessing for rebirth.
After the woman completed her agreement, one of the new owners of the clear cut came to her house. The woman thought “you cannot trust a thing like this” and wondered if the owner would criticize her being on the land.
“I heard you touch trees with a special healing paint,” the owner said. “I need to cut down a leaning tree and was wondering—can you show me what to do?”