Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Circle of Trees

This past winter I read Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd, an autobiographical book about Kidd's journey to the Feminine Divine. I love Kidd's writings, and this had been on my list -- and bookshelf -- for several years.

One of the sacred places that Kidd would retreat to was a circle of trees where she and her chosen sisters would learn to develop ritual to honor the Feminine Divine and the Divine in themselves. Since I love being among trees, I especially resonated with this pilgrimage of hers.

For the past several years, I have gone "into hibernation" at the Winter Solstice. All of Nature does except humankind, and to me the frenzy that is attached to the Christmas season is contradictory to our natural need to slow down and go within. So I "enter the cave" on Dec. 21 until Spring Equinox around March 21, which has meant that, while I still went to work each day, I came home (to the "cave") each evening and sat by the fire reading, writing, or creating art (at least, I tried to do that!). This past winter, during hibernation, I read Kidd's Dance and decided to create my own circle of trees I could wear. I have lots of pendants that represent trees, and never enough days to wear them all, so I created a necklace using all of them! It's heavy, but that's ok. I wear it for meditation purposes or for other sacred ritual. Because of all the pendants, when I move it sounds like the whisper of leaves talking with each other.

The central bead is a beautiful electroformed green jasper that shows the shape of a tree in copper on the stone. I added a goldstone above it to represent the sun and smoky topaz droplets below to represent moist, deep roots. On the reverse, I have selected words that read, "Broad trunks branches root form a circular temple". Other pendants include: a pocket watch face with leaf hands backed by a crop circle depicting a fruit-filled tree protected by a vintage watch crystal, and topped by a lucite egg and a Green Girl pewter pendant depicting a tree with the words "Grow Strong"; a rectangular jasper frame encasing a glass bead acorn and andalucite heart; a trio chain of roots, maple seed wings I made of polymer clay, and another acorn, this time of tiger eye and brass; a jasper donut with hangings of a glass leaf, an antique key (which resembles the shape of a tree), and a brass acorn; a green and gold stone rectangle that resembles a lightning strike with a piece of bark from a struck tree adhered to the reverse and the words "antennae reaching heights" on either edge; a tree agate heart and a moss agate disc that resembles the moon; a clay stamped pendant depicting a Mother Tree by my WomenSpirit (a twice annual retreat honoring the Feminine) sister, Helen; and the inside of an antique pocket watch resembling a crescent moon surrounding a peaceful face with a petrified wood bead dangle, on the reverse is a photo of a bristlecone pine, the Earth's oldest living being. I've also included a wooden ring, prehnite, rhyolite, handmade lampwork glass beads, and amber chunks to the necklace. While all of these pendants are special and sacred to me, I later added an even more special hanging: a bodhi leaf a friend brought me back from India found under a legendary bodhi tree. I sandwiched it between copper and mica to protect it. What a gift! (I often ask friends who are traveling to places I've never been to bring me back a small bit of Mother Earth: a stone, a leaf, a shell, sand, a feather, etc. I keep these bits of Earth either in my office/studio or in a piece of jewelry to help me remember that it is about ALL of Mother Earth, not just the piece we stand on.) I brought back lots of rocks, etc. from England last summer, some from in the crop circles.

I love creating art that honors Mother Earth!

Lightning-struck trees are believed to hold extra power (understandably!). Andrew and our artist friend Heather and I were sitting on our front porch last fall when a thunderstorm was coming through the mountains. Protected from the storm, we were enjoying the sounds and smells and views of the wind and rain. Suddenly, lightning struck a tall pine tree about 200 yards south of our home. I saw the immense flash out of the corner of my eye, and felt the energy from the strike impact into me! The sound was intense. We all looked at each other, stunned (from amazement, not electrical shock...). What power! Now, that tree has died, although it is still standing tall.

They stand in strength and fall in grace.

I hope you have a day graced by trees.



  1. Your 'circle of trees' is just fabulous. Each piece of it with a special meaning to you (and to the earth). What a lovely talisman to create for yourself.

  2. What a fab piece of art. Boy, would I love to go bead-shopping with you!!! :)

    Thanks for posting a lead to this on Altered Books.