Reading a Tree Conversation: Josephine Porter Institute

I began a two year part time training in biodynamic beekeeping at Spikenard Honeybee sanctuary soon after I had completed these first tree conversations. The training was held outside of Floyd, Virginia, USA. Nearby was the Josephine Porter Institute a well established  farm researching and producing  biodynamic preparations used in biodynamic agriculture. One lunch hour I drove at breakneck speed along the winding roads through the foothills of the Blue Mountains. I arrived  breathless and hastily  looked over all of the treasures for sale.

In spite of my sense of hurry I recognized an opportunity to have a conversation with one of the founding members , a great eccentric, Hugh Courtney. One thing led to another and we began to speak about interspecies communication. Probably I raised the subject and I soon ran to my car to fetch the tree conversations drawings . He took a close look at them and was rapturous with a mixture of recognition, understanding, inspiration, interest and he expressed a wish to share the work with others through his newsletter. It was heartening for me as I was hesitant to share the work being unsure how to explain it and not being willing to have to defend it.

He looked for some time at the very first conversation I had done.

In this very first piece at the end of the experience quite suddenly after a very cautious, gentle layered building up ..four rather grotesque figures forced themselves onto the bottom of the page. I was puzzled by them and in particular the very different quality of their “presencing” themselves. Hugh looked at these and began plying me with questions.

He recognized some kind of disturbance, distress, even anger. As he asked and probed I told him about the fifth tree not standing beside the “four sisters” but near to the house and considerably older- I thought it was well over 100 years old- This tree was not ever really receptive to my advances and I experienced a kind of coldness and pushing away. Hugh asked about the location of the house in relation to this tree- how close was it? When was the house built? Was there any chance that the placing of the house ,digging of the foundation might have disturbed the roots of this larger tree? Well my goodness, the house had been moved to the property in the 1930’s and then further additions built afterwards, but it is highly likely the construction did cut into the roots of this “mother” tree. As it turns out I had done a “conversation” with it and it was quite aggressive and disturbed.

The Fifth Silver Maple: The thumb if the four sisters by the pond are the fingers Claremont, Ontario November 2011
The Fifth Silver Maple: The thumb if the four sisters by the pond are the fingers Claremont, Ontario November 2011

Hugh suggested that I might ask the tree what I could do to make amends. I decided the first thing I would do was stir BD500 and spray it around the roots-singing and praying-acknowledging the careless ignorance of the human beings who had been so inconsiderate and asking forgiveness. I thought that would be a good first step.

The next morning I went out for a walk. I played about a bit on the swing hanging from one of the branches of this tree. I felt an enormous gratitude for this swing. I went walking around the property with my dog and as I walked back towards the house I could see the “four sisters” on my right and the large tree on the left. Suddenly it became apparent to me that together they were like a hand that was emerging out of the ground-not fully emerged but just the fingers showing. I felt the presence of a great being that was the overarching guardian of this area. I returned to my studio and soon after out of the corner of my eye I saw a great movement and heard an enormous crash- I realized that a branch from one of the “sisters”- let’s say the pointer finger of that great hand- had fallen and taken hold of a branch of the tree that was the “thumb”( the angry tree) – the very branch that held the swing I had been sitting on just recently- so that both very large limbs had fallen to earth together. The mass that was on the ground was equivalent to a whole tree!!

I wondered if this event  was connected to the healing gesture I had performed the day before. There certainly was a great release. It was the end of an era.


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