treework exercise with a poplar near the volga, astrakhan, russiaMeditation with trees connects us with what Native Americans call “the standing nation”. This meditation can be a sitting meditation, or can be exercises inspired by the trees, by our spirit guides, or by the wind. Sitting with one’s back against a tree for healing is a technique handed down by some Native American cultures. Finding a tree with whom to do spiritual work is a technique known to Slavic peoples.

In Five Phase Symbolism, the Wood Phase is assigned to the Gallbladder meridian and Liver Meridian. The Gallbladder meridian ‘wanders’ along the side of the body; the organ itself is called extraordinary (some would render this word ‘psychic’), it is associated with the decisionmaker, the messenger who takes the Emperor’s (heart/spirit) orders to the General (liver/intuitive action). Our body is like a tree when we practice shui long dynamic exercises: our roots go down into the earth, our fingers touch heaven, and we receiveenergy from both—while we connect earth to heaven through our own body.


parable of the world tree

this story was given to Serguey by one of his spirit guides:

On one of the planets in our galaxy there grew a remarkable breed of Trees. Their wood, believed to have special properties, was very highly valued. It is difficult to say exactly what those properties were, but the product was eagerly sought by inhabitants of other planets who paid enormous prices for it. As the wood was not available anywhere else, those who were involved in the business of harvesting it quickly became very rich.

Eventually the time came when the planet became depleted of these Trees. All attempts at cultivating them had failed. For reasons no one could understand, they simply would not grow by artificial means. Finally, only one of the Trees remained alive. It was exceptional, not only because it was the last of its kind but also for its gigantic size. No other planet could boast a tree of such dimensions. Its crown was hidden high in the clouds and its branches were so thick that each of them was like the highest tree on any other planet.

Earlier, some of the planet’s residents had been speaking up against the destruction of the Trees. Their voices, however, were not heeded because lucrative commerce was at stake. And when they tried to demand protection for the last remaining Tree, the powers that be still ignored their pleas. For the commerce continued, though now it consisted only of cutting off individual branches from time to time and selling them at astronomical prices.

Since the time when the Trees began to dwindle, the appearance of the planet gradually changed. More and more, it came to resemble a desert. One by one, entire species of animals, birds and insects disappeared from the planet’s face. Many types of plants stopped growing. And now, as each branch of the last Tree was removed, yet another plant or animal species would vanish. Oddly enough, no one saw a correlation between these events.

Finally, only a few branches remained on the Tree. Now the planet was a veritable desert, yet the cutting of the branches did not stop. The voices of the protesters remained unheard. And who would listen to them, for now even the tiniest piece of the precious wood fetched a huge fortune. When only one single branch remained on the Tree, it was decided to chop it off because the Tree was dying anyway.

As soon as the last branch was destroyed, the humanoids who inhabited the planet perished with it. It turned out that every limb of this Tree was connected with a particular species of living beings: plants, mammals, birds, fish and insects, as well as all the different humanoid races. In cutting off the branches, the humanoids had severed their own life lines.


Finding one’s personal tree can also be done through another tree. This is a record of how Isabeau found her tree in her new home through visualizing her tree from her former home:

remember the tree . . .

she stands still in the canyon, the pine who was my friend, between two hills, golden and brown leaves falling all around her, but not from her own evergreen branches; grey clouds stream across the glimpse of sky visible overhead; leaves rustle along the road, birds dart and dive among the bushes swathing the hill; the leaf littler moves with unseen creature’s feet . . . I tell her I’ve missed her, and I’m glad to see her again.

and as I remember the tree I ask her, who now? who in the standing nation will sit with me and watch the world unfold, and whisper secrets to me about acceptance, about endurance, about growing, about triumph? Who is my healing tree now?

and the vision of her, the feel of her bark against my back metamorphoses into an oak, a huge oak standing in the middle of a meadow, huge branches casting the only shade in an otherwise sunny vale; the two trees are like one tree, twisting in knots, twisting their branches through my back, through my arms, out my fingers, and the leaves follow suit; green leaves rustle in a breeze and carry a scent I can’t name but remember in clean springs breathing deeply on morning walks; the branches and leaves grow, I grow taller, my legs become the roots as my ribs and arms stretch to the sky, and the coolness of the earth meets the coolness of the fall with fire in the leaves and we become golden, all together, except the pine who stands ever green.

I lean back against them at their beckoning, and the pine pushes sharp branches through all the parts of my body where I feel pain–through my right hip from back to front, heavenward; through my left shoulder in the same direction; several sharp branches twist through my heart, from back to front, impaling me on the tree, the branches coated with blood that is black, then blue, taking it out of me; branches go through the uterus, from back to front, reaching heavenward with the others; more branches pierce my throat and my thyroid; every organ of the conception vessel is pierced and cleaned by the growing spears and I hang by my weight on the circling tree, high above the ground, looking down, surrendering to the intertwined trees and trusting their growth through me, their taking out of me what should no longer be inside, removing the cold from my blood, the fatigue from my spirit.

and the leaves are still growing from my arms, still red and pink and orange and gold, scattering sunlight like the sun; soaking up the sun and bringing the heat down, through the branches, through the trunk, through the wounds, through my legs, into the dark earth.

and the angel Gabriel lifts me off, sets me down on a beach where it all started, where in my mind’s eye I asked to remember the tree, as the sun gilds the gentle ocean and warms the clean sand. And I am warm, and light.

so it’s a lone oak I seek; an old oak I seek; a tall, dancing oak I seek. and it’s around here somewhere . . .

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