All my Relations

by Toria Betson

Some of my best friends are trees.

I felt a strong affinity toward grandfather tree, the first time we met. Battered, scarred, burnt by lightning; we both have had rough pasts. I don't know how old grandfather was, but when I reached my arms around to hug him, they barely made it around the sides. His trunk bulged where long ago a farmer had nailed barbed wire. The wire still stuck out from under the scar. No longer attached to a fence, it was a reminder that one could break free from boundaries, and grow beyond the pain of the past.

I knew one day grandfather would cross over. He had been through a lot. His large sturdy roots could be seen clinging tightly to the cliff he precariously stood at the very edge of. One evening we had storms, the kind with large hail and strong tornado-spawning winds. We huddled together under the stairs that night. The next morning I stepped outside, looking forward to breathing in the freshly cleaned air, and soaking up the sun in the cleared blue sky. There was a hole in the horizon, where grandfather tree had stood.

Grandfather taught me to see the aura of the forest. At least once a week, I would stand with him, to ground myself and to connect with the universe. After greeting him and asking permission, I would stand with my back against his trunk. I would close my eyes and feel myself merge with him. I would feel my feet as though they were roots, going down into the earth. I would feel the earth's energy rise up, nourishing me, up through my feet, legs, body, and out the top of my head. My upper body felt as if it were extending up into the sky, bathing in the light. I would feel this light energy come down through me, exiting deep into the earth. I could feel the energy flowing through me, confirming that I am connected with everything around me; we are part of one. In and through, the energy buzzed as it flowed. When I would open my eyes I would feel all tingly and renewed. One day, I opened my eyes, and I could actually see the auras of the forest, undulating around and between all the trees and plants.

Today I leave offerings, where his twisted and sun-grayed stump remains. I call him 'spirit tree'. The upper part of his trunk stretches across a ravine. Animals, insects, and mushrooms are making him a home, as he slowly crumbles into earth. Where now light reaches the forest floor, new plants begin to grow. The sweet perfume of wild roses flirts with the spicy masculine scent of sassafras.
After grandfather crossed over, I started looking for a new 'special' tree.

Until I found the 'right' tree, I decided to visit the largest tree in the woods, the tree who appeared to stand guardian over the rest. I went up to the tree and asked permission to lean against it, but felt a distance, as if it said 'No. That is not my purpose'. This tree was clearly not a tree to assist me, neither in healing nor in exchanging and building energies. Each day I pass around it, and give it my respect.

Then I began visiting a grand old maple, I call 'grandmother' tree. Grandmother is so welcoming! If I quiet my mind, she will speak to me in a soft whisper.

"Stay still my child", she says this morning, as I am about to move on, continuing my daily early morning hike through the woods. I lay my head against her massive trunk, and close my eyes. I find comfort in the scent of the decaying leaves at her feet. "Listen" she whispers. I hear the wind rustle the leaves. In the distance I hear the rapid low rat-a-tat-tat of woodpeckers, the haunting call of a hawk. Above, in her branches smaller birds are fluttering. Two squirrels chatter with each other. "Now" she says. I open my eyes, and just twenty feet away are two white-tailed deer. I am invisible to them! Had I gone on as planned, I would have missed watching them as they grazed up and down the hills and back again to nuzzle each other. A movement near my face, ants! Lots and lots of tiny ants, but they are walking right by, like I'm not there. Grandmother is home to all. "Now you may go" she gently nudges. I turn to leave, feeling as though I had been in a trance where time had stopped completely. I look down so as not to step on a branch that might crack, signaling a warning to the deer. There at my feet lies a large black feather. A sign to me which says, of course this was a real conversation! Grandmother has much to teach.

I did eventually discover the 'healing tree’ that was meant for me. I never would have chosen this unassuming and relatively young tree. I have walked by it, time and time again, but never paid it much notice… until I saw the faint scar, which that day jumped out at me – a scar in the same shape as my totem animal. I asked permission to stand with the tree, and felt the same 'buzzing' feeling I used to feel with grandfather. As I looked up, I saw how very alive and vigorous it is. Thousands of new branches sprout, all up and down the trunk. The tree seems so radiant, I must have been sleepwalking right by it all this time!

After visiting my friends I feel alive, renewed, and vibrating with energy. What a beautiful way to start the day!

Victoria Betson has been a student of 'all things metaphysical' since her childhood, in the 60's. She lives, creates, and gardens, in her home in the woods, with her husband of almost 20 years, and their two children.

Toria began as an artist, tarot reader, and psychic. Through the process of healing her self, and with the help of her spirit guides and the universe, she found her life taking an unexpected path, that of a spiritual "healer". Word of mouth has allowed her to distantly assist others from around the world, through shamanic journeys, energy healings, and tarot readings. http://www.geocities.com/toriastarot/.

Toria also writes blogs for www.HealthyNewAge.com and some of her other articles may be found at www.saskworld.com.