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.

 


How Clean Is Your Biofield? Recognizing and eliminating EMF in your environment

There has been a great deal of research in the last several years about the impact of electrical, cellular, microwave and other energies on the human body. Our electromagnetic fields or EMF, also known as our biofield, can be affected or disrupted by the electrical signals or radiation emited by such common devices as cell phones, computers and electrical lines. Detecting unwanted radiation and eliminating it has become a new focus for those concerned with their health.

Read More.

Meet the “Elephant Whisperer” Helping the Asian Elephant

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center in the Chiang Mae province of Northern Thailand. They host a number of vibrant programs: you can visit, tour, volunteer, feed, and even sleep with the elephants! Founded by Lek Chailert, known as “The Elephant Whisperer,” ten years ago on just 250 acres, the Park now encompasses over a 1,000 acres and her humane approach has spread to nearby privately owned elephant “rides.”

Read More.

Moving Transplants Into the Summer Garden by Priscilla Warshowsky

| by Priscilla Warshowsky

Here in the Northeast, we have had a rocky spring with the temps swinging from beach weather to rainy, cool November type days. Finally it seems to have settled, the soil is warming, and we can think about getting those transplants into the garden and planting seeds for flowers and vegetables. Whether you have planted tomatoes, eggplants, or peppers from seeds indoors in March/April, or bought transplants from the local nursery, it will be almost time to move them into the garden or into large pots.

Read More.

Celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd

People around the world are celebrating Earth Day on April 22nd. From the official Earth Day website www.earthday.org, we read: We are now entering the 46th year of a movement that continues to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action. In 1970, the year of our first Earth Day, the movement gave voice to an emerging consciousness, channeling human energy toward environmental issues. Forty-six years later, we continue to lead with groundbreaking ideas and by the power of our example.

Read More.

Starting Seeds Indoors for Spring Planting

| by Priscilla Warhowsky

Who doesn’t love to walk into the garden and pick a summer ripened juicy tomato to eat off the vine or slice up later with basil and olive oil? It’s almost a rite of summer for gardeners. Many summer vegetables that love heat such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers can be started indoors as seeds in late March to mid April to get a head start on the season. Starting seeds indoors is easy, fun, and you get to watch your creation from seed to plant to your dinner plate….

Read More.

Monsanto Linked Pesticide, Not Zika Virus, May Be Cause of Birth Defects

| by Cheryl Shainmark

In a shocking new development, reports have come in that chemicals, not the Zika virus, may be responsible for the birth defects reported among pregnant women in South and Central America. As seen on www.ecowatch.com the report, written by the Argentine group Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns (PCST), suspects that pyriproxyfen–a larvicide added to drinking water to stop the development of mosquito larvae in drinking water tanks–has caused the birth defects. The authors said that the pesticide, known by its commercial name SumiLarv, is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a Japanese subsidiary of Monsanto.

Read More.

Oklahoma Fracking: 680 Earthquakes in 2015

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Oklahoma just had its 12th earthquake in one week! Among the recent quakes to hit the area was a 4.2 magnitude temblor on New Year’s Day that caused minor damage but no injuries. The state, notorious for their oil drilling and fracking activities, celebrated the end of 2015 with a whopping total of 680 earthquakes for the year. As reported in The Huffington Post, “Oklahoma’s energy regulator declared in November that the state now has more earthquakes than anywhere else in the world…”

Read More.

Monsanto Charged With War Crimes by Dr. Mercola

| by Staff

Earlier this year, dozens of food, farming, and environmental justice groups announced they will put Monsanto on trial for “crimes against nature and humanity” on October 16, 2016 (World Food Day), in The Hague, Netherlands. As noted by Andre Leu, president of the International Foundation for Organic Agriculture (IFOAM): “Monsanto is able to ignore the human and environmental damage caused by its products, and maintain its devastating activities through a strategy of systemic concealment…”

Read More.

Moving the Giants: A Film of One Man’s Inspired Quest to Save Ancient Trees

| by Staff

Twenty years ago, David Milarch, a northern Michigan nurseryman with a penchant for hard living, had a near-death experience. After this experience, angels let him know that the earth was in trouble. Its trees were dying, and without them, human life was in jeopardy. The solution, they told him, was to clone the champion trees of the world – the largest, the hardiest, the ones that had survived millennia and were most resilient to climate change – and create a kind of Noah’s ark of tree genetics…

Read More.