The year we moved into our home, an ash seed pod or ‘key’ fluttered down from the tree over the wall and took root in a crack in the concrete floor of our yard...
A year later, I noticed the sapling struggling, so I propped it up against a milk pail. It almost reaches the second floor of our house now.
The young tree’s silvery bark and soot-black, pointed buds – each of them imprinted with an embryonic copy of the branch they one day dream of becoming – somehow remind me of the limbs and hooves of a fawn. I feel that this makes sense, somehow, since deer and ash grew up together, evolving from the same forests.
Known as the Goddess Tree, the cosmic Tree of Life in Norse mythology and the Druidic World Tree, spanning the universe with its roots deep in the earth, the ash tree stands for strength, connection and rootedness in wisdom. Indeed, the creation myths of many ancient world cultures display a belief that the essence of humankind itself originated from the ash tree.
Somewhere, long ago in the dreamtime, we grew up together.
And yet today, ash is threatened with extinction. Hundreds of lichen, fungi and insects depend on ash for survival; it is a vital part of our ecosystem. Without it, we also suffer an immense spiritual loss.
Jane Gifford writes in 'The Wisdom of Trees':
“The ash is a key to healing the loneliness of the human spirit out of touch with its origins. It can provide a sense of being grounded and of belonging… so that we can better appreciate the many ways in which positive thought and action today can create a brighter tomorrow.”
The ancient cultures believed that the wisdom of ash teaches us that unity and harmony with the natural world is our heritage and our birthright. The Goddess Tree speaks of connection and belonging - our kinship with the great family of all things - and stimulates our soul-psyches into a kind of remembrance which bears great relevance today.
When we heed the magic of ash, we sense that our innately human strengths of compassion, courage, innovation, creativity and cooperation empower us all to affect great change. Despite a narrative of fear which seeks to convince us that we are separate, lost, and helpless, we may remember who we really are, and recognise our own power.
The future may look uncertain - but there is hope. Respected ecologist George Peterken says: “There is genetic diversity in ash… I would expect them to evolve their way round the fungus.” Perhaps we, too, will evolve our way round this intense and challenging time.
As for my baby ash tree, for now I shall love it, water it and grow flowers up around it in the hope of brighter days ahead. For as long as I can, I will let its buds live out their dream of someday becoming branches, leaves outstretched, dancing in the bright summer sun.
This poem is inspired by my garden; I dedicate it to the baby ash tree.
by Caroline Mellor
The blackbird sings
in the shimmering sigh
of evening and I think,
she must not know
the prisons we built
when we set ourselves apart
from the clouds and the dew
and the thundering rivers.
If she does, she sings all the
same. The earth goes on,
falling in love with the sky
day after day, over and over
again, inviting us into the hope
of each new sunrise.
The ancient trees whisper
their stories of Brahma's eye
opening and closing, of
Indra's jewels glittering away
in some giant, starry web,
and it's a gift, all of it,
held together by threads
of breath and light.
Even if it is all you can do
to breathe, to be,
among all this,
the light is in you,
dear one, and you are
the opposite of alone.
Caroline Mellor lives close to the sea and the green hills of southern England with her daughter, cat, and husband. As well as being a mum, writer and certified massage therapist, she enjoys travel, one-pot cookery, gardening, Yoga, and drinking red wine. When not partaking in one of the above, she is probably daydreaming about her next holiday. Caroline's work has featured on Elephant Journal, Rebelle Society, Be You Media Group, Women's Spiritual Poetry, The Green Parent, ABC Magazine, Viva Lewes, the Brighton Argus and Permaculture Magazine. You can connect with Caroline through her facebook page or her blog: "Tales from the Seed".
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