Tree at the crossroads near the Ard’s Friary, Ireland

Dendrites. Synapses. Axons…These are ways to describe different attributes of nerves. As a child I looked at hundreds of projected slide images of these while my father- a neuroscientist “practiced” some of his lectures on me. They are beautiful to look at – dendrites look just like trees. In fact the word dendrite means “of, or pertaining to, a tree”.

Walking in the woods thoughts become clear. We relax and open. Inspiration to breath in tree. The trees breath out, insight and new thoughts. The forest is a sea of ideas, imaginations, the place where everything is “grailing” or coming into being. The World Tree of Yggdrasil ( Norse Mythology), the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Old Testament: Genesis), The Bodhi Tree (Legend of the Buddha attaining enlightenment sitting under the Tree), The Kabbalah Tree of Life (Esoteric Mystery Knowledge) – all these imaginations of the tree are central.

In Ireland I walked out of the little house where I stayed towards a small intersection where a country road and two laneways coincided. A stone fence lined the road, there was a small hillock behind the wall and at the very edge a little yew tree. I climbed up on the stone wall and set my back against the tree trunk. I let myself greet this friendly guardian of the crossroads. There I discovered a jolly lively gathering that included some earth beings in the roots. I was shown the canopy of the tree that had the shape of a fountain. The spray of branches seemed to toss off images, story fragments into the air, like a game, as if showering fairy tales onto/into the unsuspecting passersby. I had the feeling that walking on the road the people passing by this spot would find themselves inspired “ out of nowhere” with lovely new ideas, e.g a thought of which way to go, or what to say to an unsuspecting admired love, or perhaps just a pleasant daydream.

These gifts from the tree are riches beyond measure – what I am calling “Grailing”. And like Parsifal , who was in the presence of the Grail so effortlessly at the beginning yet failed to ask the compassionate question of the king and so lost the grail and the grail castle, what might we be losing when we fail to ask trees for inspiration, guidance and wisdom?

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