Taking Ents as the sentient trees of Tolkien I see that those of us who are called to re-wood, re-tree the planet, or even our little bit of it as being involved in Entwifery. This makes sense to me as a TreeSister, for TreeSisters are in the vanguard of re-treeing as a sacred undertaking. It is both a practical and sacred undertaking because it is linked with our reawakening to feminine based cooperative leadership. Entwives had a particular meaning in the world of Tolkien, and I borrow the word and alter the concept here, nuancing it into a reality beyond his mythological system into the real world where we live. Myth can inform us. Myth can teach and warn us. In myth reside the stories of our gods that we are making present and embodying in our spiritual practice and from there the myths begin to take on life here and now and also evolve, can shift and can become tangible presences in practice, and in linking the intangible in the myth with the tangible in ritual and/or other kinds of positive action, there emerges wholeness, a linkage that empowers and nurtures, nourishes and challenges, calls one to action and to reflection.
Entwifery, not unlike midwifery, is about preparing the mother for the arrival of her offspring. In our case the mother is Mother Earth. It will do no good just to shove a tree into the ground without first preparing the space spiritually and physically for the imminent arrival. After the tree is delivered to Mother Earth, there is the after-care, the follow-up. If there are problems that need addressing then those engaged in Entwifery, the Entwife, and I use the term not as the partner of the Ents in this case, must be willing to address them. TreeSisters or any woman called to work with the trees in a profound way, as Entwives, as those who work with our Mother Earth in the establishment of new creches of trees, must be willing to stand with her during the birth of new/renewed forests and woodlands. We must be empowered to advocate for her needs and rights to bear the trees of the future, something upon which we all depend. It is a sacred calling. It is one that needs to be undertaken with fierce gentleness, and a willingness to stand between the powers that naysay and to advocate for our silent mother.
Of course, Entwifery is also needed for trees who are dying, who are to be cut down to assist them to let go and release their spirits and energies, to let their presence be released with honour and dignity. This is much harder than helping to nestle a tree into the earthy arms our Mother planet. I have had that experience in a profound way many years ago. At the time I didn’t know what was happening to me, but I have never forgotten the feelings that washed over, into and through me.
The story of my introduction to this side of Entwifery is as follows:
I was living in a parsonage in Everett, MA. There had been a very blizzard on the 4th of April, this was in 1994/94 as I recall. There had been some damage to a couple of the trees on the property and my then husband, who was pastor of the church whose property it was cut down one of the fairly young maples, In the early summer he thought the big fir tree should go, it towered over the three-storey house.
I kept trying to tell him the tree had no intention of falling on the parsonage or anywhere else. She was perfectly healthy. But he would not listen and convinced the Deacons the tree had to go. It was the day after his birthday, 7th July, that the deed was to be done. I got up early and went out to the tree. I told her what was going to happen.
She was angry and terrified and kept saying she didn’t want to die. I told her I had done all I could, but that the men would not listen to me. (As I write this I do so through tear blurred eyes, because it is all so real again.) Finally, her energy/spirit/soul lept across the boundary of being and entered me. I ran screaming into the house and up the stairs to my study.
I could feel the wind in her boughs, the tickling of the squirrels running in spirals around her trunk, the soft caress of rain on her needles, in insects scurrying in the folds or her bark. I could feel and see her life memories through her senses. It was amazing and terrifying. At one point I manage to regain myself and worked to release her so she would not be there when the chain saws came.
I went off for a doctor’s appointment and then went to a friend’s house outside of Boston. When I got there she commented on the dreadful colour of my aura. She later took me home and was also appalled at the sight of the stump of the tree, (she had been at the birthday celebration the day previous) a perfectly healthy tree, standing a little less than a yard high. The sap was running blood red.
The force of that experience taught me a great deal, mostly about trees and working with them at their ending. The tree told me her name: F’Bellaseena. It is a memory that is still raw, some thirty years later. I know what it is like to be another kind of being and that was a gift, but at a terrible price for F’Bellaseena.
This is also the cost of those who receive the sacred calling to Entwifery. We will come to be that close to another kind of being in its birthing and its dying. And that is how I, as one with strong Dryadic sensitivities, have come to see, the way in which I understand Entwifery, for it blends advocacy and action, devotion and dedication. Entwifery connects our devotion our Mother Earth and our dedication to be present for out tree kin, it links tree advocacy, springing from the call of the sacred in our hearts, with the voice we give to it by our actions.
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