Reclaiming the Ancient Tradition of Tree Wrapping by Jan Johnsen

Our modern insulated lifestyle with its technological advances has diminished our contact with the earth and we are now virtually cast adrift, isolated from the strength and resilience that trees can offer us. We spend such little time amongst these grand woody beings that we have lost – unknowingly – an important stabilizing and grounding anchor for our psyche. This changes once we remember to honor the energy that trees emanate. The Zen master, T. D. Suzuki, wrote in his book, Zen and Japanese Culture “Every old tree of any sort inspires a beholder with a mystic feeling which leads him to a faraway world of timeless eternity.” One way to encourage all to ‘behold the trees’ is by celebrating certain trees in our midst through an ancient custom I call tree wrapping.

The tradition of wrapping tree trunks or adorning branches of special trees is a visual statement that says, “We honor this tree and respect its vital presence.” It is often done with fiber rope, natural ribbon, or fabric and it is used to highlight unusual trees, as a supplication and/or protective measure.

Tree wrapping has been practiced for thousands of years in countries across the world. In Japan, it has been elevated to an art form and derives from the Japanese Shinto belief that all natural forms are imbued with spirit. Their tradition consists of wrapping the trunks of specially honored trees with a braided and twisted rope called a ‘shimenawa’. This rope, made from rice straw with a unique left hand twist, holds white zigzag paper streamers called ‘shide’ which act as protectors for the tree’s spirit or kodama. Joseph Campbell, in his landmark book, Hero with a Thousand Faces, refers to the shimenawa as an ‘august rope of straw,’ and “one of the most conspicuous, important and silently eloquent, of the traditional symbols…of Japan.” In a fitting gesture of renewal, each New Year the shimenawa are burned on a community bonfire and are replaced with new ones. What a lovely New Year’s tradition!

The Europeans, too, practice tree wrapping, of sorts in their annual Maypole dance. This festive community occasion celebrates the most fruitful time of year around a pole (taken from a hawthorn, maple or birch tree) decorated with green leaves and branches to simulate a tree. The Maypole dance of Sweden takes place at the summer solstice. Several long colored ribbons are suspended from the top of the pole and the celebrants, each holding the end of a ribbon, weave in and around each other until the ribbons are woven together around the ‘tree’, meeting at the base.

It is believed that the Maypole celebration derives from the Siberian custom of tying narrow fabric bands or ceremonial silk scarves to the branches of a vigorous tree. This tree now serves as a prayer tree, an intermediary with the invisible world, and each band transmits prayers for peace of the world and personal peace. A variation of this tradition is also practiced in India where local villagers pay tribute to the goddess, Devi, by similarly adorning tree branches in her sacred grove.

It is clear that the activity of tree wrapping is a lovely way to celebrate our arboreal neighbors but it is more than this– wrapping the trunk or branches of a tree reminds others of the ‘message of the trees’. When we wrap the trunks of our beloved trees, we are subtly advocating a kind of tree awareness which in turn promotes an active stewardship of the trees in our midst.

By wrapping certain trees we are re-establishing a respectful partnership between people and plants. This timely endeavor is not some ‘feel good’ activity but a call to remember the ancient understanding of the power of trees. We will in time see, as noted by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin,(video) that “…we have only to go a little beyond the frontier of sensible appearances in order to see the divine welling up and showing through.”

Ortho’s All About TreesMs. Johnsen was named 2003 Instructor of the Year by the New York Botanical Garden. She has also received an AICP achievement award and a Progressive Architecture (PA) award for rooftop greenhouses in NYC. Jan has several books to her credit – her book, Ortho’s All About Trees, is published by Meredith Publishing. She is an engaging speaker and gives talks and workshops throughout the U.S. on the true healing power in plants and places.


Living Shamanically: An Introduction by Rebekah Shaman

| by Rebekah Shaman

Now I know what you are thinking? How is a woman born and raised in London, in one of the busiest, modern cities in the world, writing an article about living shamanically? And my answer is – it makes sense in a divinely paradoxical way that I would have to learn how to live in flow with nature, as it did not come naturally. I am a Londoner, and have lived here for most of my life. For years I hated it; the dirt, the pollution, the lack of space, the chaos, the impermanence, the concrete, the cars, the car parks, the hugeness of the city. For those who know London it can be a very isolating place, despite the growing population, twenty-four hour lifestyle, and myriad things on offer and to do. Despite this being my ‘natural habitat’ something about this way of life just felt wrong and unnatural….

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Ancient Geoglyphs Found in Kazakhstan

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Ancient geoglyphs have been found in Kazakhstan. Reminiscent of crop circles, or the more famous Nazca Lines in Peru, the images, captured on Google Earth, depict over 250 giant earthworks designed to be seen from the sky. First noticed by an ardent Google Earth fan in 2007, NASA has now confirmed the pictures, and scientists from around the world are debating about the possible age and function of the man-made formations.

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The Magical World of Numbers: The Explosive Month of May by Elizabeth Summer

| by Staff

As we move into the fifth month of our calendar year, all of Nature seems to be taking off its spandex and bursting into the joy of freedom. The Number Five exudes this very energy no matter where it appears in a personal chart. Perhaps many reading this article are too young to have experienced the erratic energy of the toy called a “Mexican Jumping Bean.” This fun capsule jumps around in the palm of one’s hand in response to the “heat of the moment.” Never staying in one position too long, this bean impulsively moves in all directions….

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The Rebirth of Mother Earth & Humanity’s Lesson to Master by Judith Kusel

| by Judith Kusel

We are entering a time of profound earth changes as the inner core earth mass is shifting. When I talk about mass I talk about a type of substance that is like a river of fluidity at the moment, as the inner earth is inhabited and called Agartha. This is the outer crust of the inner earth, and then what we know as the upper earth, the inner core crust. I see this as a type of molten rock, or quartz and this is in the process of reforming into something else, as the ancient energy centers, which were laid down at the very beginning when the earth was created, are now awakening more and more.

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Navigating Your Future – Thoughts From the Wisdom Keepers by George Cappannelli

| by George Cappannelli

Navigating Your Future Thoughts From The Wisdom Keepers To Help You Minimize Obstacles & Maximize Opportunities In This Brave New World

By George Cappannelli Those of us who weren’t born yesterday and haven’t been hanging out with Rip Van Winkle in Sleepy Hollow, know we are in a time unlike any before it. In addition to the many challenges we face – climate change, energy, education, healthcare, immigration, wealth inequality, gender and minority inequality to name a few — we are also in a demographic revolution that will, over the next several decades, result in 50% of our population here in the U.S and Canda and in every industrialized country in the world being over 50 for the first time in history. Increasing longevity, decreasing birth rates and shrinking tax base are just a few of the startling and relatively immediate implications this demographic revolution will have for those of us who are older….

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Remnants of Ancient Sphynx Found In Israel

| by Staff

Remnants of Ancient Sphynx Found In Israel — Nearly a year after discovering the base of a small sphynx buried in northern Israel, archaeologists have finally cleaned and unearthed the statue. It is the first of its kind to be found outside of Egypt, and is believed to be dedicated to Mycerinus, who ruled Egypt circa 2500 BC, and was the builder of the smallest of the Giza pyramids.

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The On-Going Enigma Of Stonehenge by Peter Quiller

| by Peter Quiller

Author Peter Quiller discussing the early beginnings of Stonehenge. If we take an arbitrary figure of one hundred henge‑building men, they might have needed at least two hundred and fifty other active men, women and children to help feed and cater for them whilst undertaking their henge‑building and ditch-digging duties. Theoretically, as hunter-gatherers, those in charge of the food supply would have had to cover at least three hundred and fifty square miles of productive territory, away from the barren Salisbury plain area – a colossal undertaking in primitive conditions, particularly when you remember they would have had to do this virtually every day!”

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The Seer and The Sayer – Revelations of the New Earth

| by Victoria Hanchin

The Seer and The Sayer: Revelations of the New Earth by Victoria Hanchin Review by Cheryl Shainmark The Seer and The Sayer paints the most joyful picture of a post-2012 future imaginable — readers will be swept up by Victoria Hanchin’s infectious enthusiasm for this evolving co-created world of peace, unity, and right-relations with all beings. This is the Mayan Love Train, people, and, if this the future you want, then it is time to get on board.

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Screenings for “The Next 7 Generations”, Including 2 International Premieres!

| by

It was an honor to experience the potent medicine of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada through the sacred tool of the DVD. The Grandmothers’ debut in Canada was held in conjunction with Ottawa’s Peace Festival and National Aboriginal Women’s Awareness Week, The auditorium filled with aboriginal and non-aboriginal people, elders, grandmothers, children, youth, women and men.”

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