Saturday, November 10, 2007

Missing A Dryad To The NorthEast.

Just over four years ago, I moved to this cozy cottage -- the home of my heart -- snugged squarely in the middle of an oak grove. The ancient oaks that give this spot its character, basis, and meaning grow in my yard, in the V.'s yard to my West, in the new renter's yard to the North, and, importantly, in my neighbor M's yard to the East. Immediately upon my moving here, the oak trees took charge of my magical practice, of my spiritual connection to the Earth, Life, and Everything. From the first morning that I set up my altar in the small room directly to the West of the Greatest Oak, I've danced in the presence of these oak trees, heard the music of the wind through their ancient branches, watched fireflies amongst their leaves, practiced witchcraft with my roots intertwined with theirs, invoked them in all my incantations, been blessed by the practice of photsynthesis within their leaves in the bright sun of early afteroon. They've informed every breath that I take, every spell that I cast, every dream that I dream, every breath that I take. Their acorns feed my familiar squirrels, create the ground in which I grow things, and decorate my altar. Their leaves fall every Autumn, forcing me into a physical spiritual practice that I resist as much as I need. In the spring the "oak fluffies" remind me every morning exactly how important sex is to my spiritual practice. Goddess, I wish that you could be here at Beltane to see what they drift across my gardens and my decks -- so much oak sex.

This morning, one of them fell. And I am bereft as I never imagined that I would be, and there is a huge hole in my heart and in my magical practice.

Last summer was v. dry. This summer, the drought was even more pronounced. M. and I noticed that several of our oaks were suffering. She, traveling all across the globe for peace, contacted several arborists (what a blessed profession!), found an organic arborist, scheduled his visit while she was in Japan and Russia, and arranged to have him feed the oaks and strengthen them against the opportunistic pest that attacked them when they were weakened by the drought. I was lucky enough to have a convocation of witches here in the heat of summer to do Reiki on my oaks on a hot Sunday afternoon. At the v. least, the oak tree in my woodland garden is still visibly strengthened by that.

But I'm delaying telling the sad part. I, the granddaughter of a woman who believed in pulling the band-aid off fast, and all at once, in order to minimize the pain. For shame.

The oak tree in M's front yard, to my northeast, didn't make it. That lovely oak tree that was a hundred years old when America was born, that lovely oak tree that watched the Civil War, that lovely oak tree that saw a neighborhood of bungalows and cottages spring up in the 1950s when GIs came home from the war and, after going to college, married and had families, that lovely oak tree that was growing when humans first walked on the moon, that lovely oak tree that shaded the hippies of the 1960s, and that cooled M's house and my house every early summer morning since they were built -- that oak tree is gone. Some nice men came early this morning -- you can start making loud noise in Arlington as early as 7:00 am -- and, within a few hours, cut that three-story oak tree down, ground its roots out of the ground, turned the small branches into mulch and the large parts of the tree into firewood, and left a scar on our street, in my heart, in the basis of my magical practice.

I went to my altar this evening and all that I could feel was a huge "absence" to my northeast. I think that I may understand how victims of amputation feel, what it's like to feel a "phantom limb." Shit. This is going to take me a long time to adjust to. I'm going to go over tomorrow when the sun rises and offer thyme and olive oil and wine to the now-ground-up stub of that ancient oak. I'm going to invoke that spirit whenever I sit at my altar, I'm going to ask forgiveness of the dryad. I guess that I'll eventually learn how to practice magic here without it. But, I'm going to miss that oak tree.


elizabeth said...

Oh, Hecate, I am so very sorry.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hecate, I am very sorry for your loss. I wish all of our trees could thrive and live such a long and full life. And around where I live, it is a daily occurrence to drive past a tree-filled property one day, and the next - it's gone. All for the sake of the developer's dollar signs. For another strip center that will sit empty for the nexst year or more. Or a gawd-awful neighborhood of houses that won't outlive the first mortgage. I swear my area (and most of the world) is inhabited by Orcs. It's as if trees and green spaces are abhorrent to them. And when they clear cut an area only to build a cruddy neighborhood and replant some cruddy fast-growing weedy, ugly non-true tree, when towering pines or oaks, etc were there just a month's horrid.
I may never see your trees, but I do mourn the loss you have sustained. How I would love to someday have a place so graced w/natural spirit and beauty.
Healing blessings coming your way,

Anonymous said...

Hecate my sister, may your offering this morning work to heal the hole in your worldview caused by this loss. I saw you as shaken as I have ever known you to be last night, and wrote this for you. Naturally you had left by the time I got it done ( :) ) so I must leave the dropping over here so it does not go to waste.

Should circumstance and the Goddess ever bring you to to west Tennessee you must come by and see Mohawk. This is the damdnest piece of vegetation you can imagine and since it is quite impossible to photograph I have done the best I could to describe him for you. Oaks are just...different, arent' they? You are surrounded by them as I am by hickories; oaks are exceptions here. Hickories have their own virtues which I am slowly coming to appreciate (mostly I curse them for the nuts which drop on the roof right over my head sounding like incoming grenades) but oaks...they are...well, you know. Meet my buddy:

Hecate, I am directing some oakly vibes in a northeasterly direction from the big fella in my backyard I call Mohawk. He's had a damn interesting life, judging from the fact that the trunk goes up about 30 feet, divides; the limb aiming east(ish) is 2 ft wide for about 3 feet, then has apparently been squoze at some point as it shrinks to about 6 inch diameter for its remaining extent.

The other half of the trunk heads off to the west(ish), curving severely until at about 60 ft up it is essentially horizontal, curving then to the left for about 4 feet then aiming slightly upward again. There are no branches on the bottom or north side of this trunk, basically they all go upwards as if to balance the slope of the trunk. You see why I call him "Mohawk."

Great meditation tree. Connects to the past of the land and the events long before I came here. There are trees on this lot which I would cut down if I had the money, either to encourage others to grow or for sheer nervousness that they would squash me like a bug if a bad enough wind caught them right. But not Mohawk. If nothing else has brought him down I am not about to even think about it.


Aquila ka Hecate said...

Hmm, I wonder if that citizen-oak didn't see her own destiny and rejoice in it?
For all I know,it was in her plan from the start,to go that way.
Well, she's kicked at least three of us citizen-humans into a state of thought, and who knows what may come of that?
Plan an altar in the space.

Terri in Joburg

Anonymous said...

I am so very sorry - Oak trees are especialy treasured trees for me. My name even means Oaks in Spanish. My deepest condolences to you, your neighbors, both human and non, and the other trees.


whiskey girl said...

Hecate, I am also very sorry for your loss.

I don't know if it's related to what your tree suffered, but last year in preschool at the wildlife sanctuary, Iris and her classmates gathered up & grind acorns to make acorn bread, a little loaf for each child to take home to share with family. This year, they're having a hard time finding enough acorns, the children may wind up with a mere acorn muffin!

When I drop Iris off, I take a walk through the woods at her school. It's just a little patch of woods, always within the distant hum of the highway, but a beautiful, precious place filled with life.

donna said...

Two of our neighbors cut down their huge pine trees last year. I felt that loss so much, and still look where they were sometimes and miss my old friends.

The droughts in California are really hitting the oaks hard here as well. And the pines.

Some people just don't get how important our tree friends really are.