Quiescence of Winter

I feel in the deep harsh sleep
of the trees in Winter’s holding,
awareness of frost creeping further
more firmly grasping
the roots and rootlets
thawing one day,
seizing up two nights later.

I feel in the deep harsh sleep
of the trees in Winter’s holding,
vulnerability with no leaves protecting
branches and twigs
exposed to ice and wind,
birds hopping to and fro
days short to garner nourishment.

I feel the deep harsh sleep
of the trees in Winter’s holding,
anger at too many cut down to fodder
the festive season’s misbegotten
desires for greenery’s mirth,
dying desiccated to be tossed aside
forgotten and unthanked
when the celebrations’ end.

I feel in the deep harsh sleep
of the trees in Winter’s holding,
sorrow for the losses of kin
destroyed by the greed fuelled machinations
of those obliviously determined
to carry on despoiling forests
despite all the damning evidence,
for knowledge of harm done
remains unconvincing
let alone to have progressed to knowing
the true spiritual cost of failure to
honour the trees’ rooted wisdom,
enleafed grace and branching benediction.




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.

[You can find out more about TreeSisters at https://www.treesisters.org/%5D

Behind Those Eyes

What wild intelligence
in the shadowed folds
of the brain
behind the bear’s eyes
clomping through the early snow
seeking by sight and scent her den
for wintering and birth?

What wild intelligence
in the small ridges
of the brain
behind the fish’s eyes
swimming through the waters
evading predators by sense
acute to every danger?

What wild intelligence
in the ancient cortexes
of the brain
behind the human’s eyes,
walking into every land
plundering by wile and wit
the riches of the earth?

Or for us is it wild stupidity
and rampant greed,
which other creatures
do not express,
for whom enough suffices,
our brain and intellect disconnected
to our wild soul
that is bringing
destruction the habitats
of bears and fish,
to say nothing of our own?

Wild Ragged Musics

The screaking of the Heron
the cronking of the Raven,
wild ragged musics
reverberating around
a sea loch on a mist
shrouded morning,
the sun’s weak attempts
to lift the damp
hanging in infinitesimally
tiny droplets
coating the world
in a damp cool
autumnal cloak.

The Heron lands
inelegantly at the loch side,
moves with ageless deliberation,
one slow footfall after another,
waiting poised considering
finally striking out
head lunging down
success hunger averted.

The Raven wheels
elegantly around the cliffside,
staying airborne until
choosing to land abruptly
on an enbrackened ledge
disappearing from sight,
continuing its calling
waiting for an answer
in sound or sight of another.

The Heron screaked.
The Raven Cronked.
Each adding to the soundscape
with their wild ragged musics.

A Loss, A Memory

When I let out Wyntre Cat this morning I walked to the breakfast room window to see where he headed off to in the wind whipped garden. What I saw was that he stopped and sniffed a body.

Still in my jammies, I rushed out the door to find that one of the young squirrels who frequent our garden was dead. The little body was sodden, stiff and curled in s semicircle with the tail underneath. I went inside to get a paper towel to lift it off the wood chips under the yew tree where it lay. From what I could see there were no obvious wound marks, but its jaw was a bit off alignment. I placed it somewhere for safe keeping until I can bury it once the rain stops. I wondered if it had not fallen from the tree or off/against the wall in a gust of wind yesterday, because it was quite windy.

I felt sad. As I was making my breakfast I began to cry. I was grieving one of the characters in our garden community who would not be playing there any longer. Who would not scurry away when we came out of the door. Who would no longer be heard churring and chittering when unhappy from a neighouring garden’s tree.

More than that it reminded me of another loss, another death. This time of a magnificent pine tree. Her name was F’Bellasina. She stood in the garden of a parsonage where I lived in a small town in Massachusetts. She was cut down on 7th July 1995, if memory serves for the year. On 4th April that year there was a late blizzard that caused quite a bit of damage. My then husband, who was the pastor related to said parsonage, cut down a lovely maple he deemed a danger, to no one really. I have a branch of Wellthuga as one of my walking sticks.

F’Bellasina had assured me she was healthy and had no intention of falling down on the parsonage or the house next door. She was a very tall tree, well above the high roof of the second floor of the parsonage. The morning the assassins were due to arrive I went out to be with her. At one point her energy cross the barrier of consciousness and species and poured into me. I ran shrieking up to my study. I was inconsolable, screaming not my fear but F’Bellasina’s. She was not ready and did not want to die that day.

I felt her memories and sensations of wind blowing through her needled. I felt her delight as the local squirrels ran circles around her trunk. All of her tree memories surged though me in quick succession. I felt her confusion and despair. All I could do was slowly extract myself from her intense sensations and let her spirit go before the chainsaws got to work.

I went off for the day and ended up way outside of Boston at a friend’s house. When the friend saw me she noted my aura was ashen. She plied me with tea and cuddles and eventually took me back home. The tree murderers had left the stump well over two feet off the ground. The sap ran blood red over the top of it. I wept again and could not engage with my husband that night who had initiated that act of desecration.

Even as I type these words hot tears stream down my face. Salty still.

The loss of the little squirrel brought back the memory of F’Bellasina in sharp relief. I cannot and would not want to barrier these feelings, past or present. This loss is personal to me. That little creature was part of the fabric of the life of our garden. There will now be an empty space. I hope the other one returns in due course. I does not help reading earlier of two retired circus lions were killed and mutilated in a supposed sanctuary, beheaded and skinned.

I admit that I do not shed tears for those humans lost in mass attacks at the hands of other humans, although I do offer prayers for the peace of their souls at such an abrupt crossing of the threshold. I am more connected and always have been to the wider natural world of plants and animals. I get my energy there, not from people.

Of course, I grieve and feel for those humans closest to me, family and friends who make up my tribe. But it is of a different quality. Feeling deeply about the natural world around me, and sensing its inhabitants and denizens is the way I am. I make no apology for this, will make no excuses. It is with the wider natural world around me that I connect. It is there where my heart hurts most deeply and finds its most profound delight.

Today is a day my heart hurts.

A Different Way of Being

As I begin the adventure of this new blog, I realise that it will require me to engage with the world around me in a radically different way. It will demand that I move more deeply into connections I have already established, but so far in a rather superficial way, and to make new ones. Gray Bear is about what I observe and how I feel about that, and though oddly this blog has the word vision it it, Vision here is about a more profound level of seeing, of communication, of interaction and of humility.

It will mean that I must learn a different way of being in the world around me, which no doubt is the reason I was prompted to begin this journey. Writing about what I experience, what is communicated to me and through me makes me accountable in a way that just doing it does not. It matters not whether the encounter and communication are with a leaf or a mountain, whether it occurs on this level of being or the deeper and farther ones. What matters will be my openness to be present for the encounter and to really listen and see what is presented to me. And then faithfully share what is given me to share. There may be parts of experiences or encounters that are for me alone; I acknowledge this from the outset and will honour those experiences and encounters as they unfold around me and enfold me in them.

I cannot say how often I will be sharing here, as the timing of the encounters are only partly up to me. What I can say is that I will be faithful in sharing what is offered to me, and what I take away from these meetings that have yet to begin. I feel the pull to start shortly, to take time to be present with energies and beings not like myself, meaning not human, but real and viable whether in flesh (I use that term not to exclude the non-fleshed but physically present ones), or spirit, or both. At the same time I will approach these encounters with the Dryadic energy in me, the link I have with the energies of the Tree Folk, to whom I feel kinned. This second level of self-awareness will have implications for the sort teachings that will be shared with me and the learnings I will take away. Because of this dual identity, I will hear with different ears, see with different eyes and perceive through different senses from only human ones.

I am sure that this summer will be a rich time of establishing links and connections that will continue long after this season, this year, and perhaps this lifetime turn into others.

Sharing in a different way

In my original site – Gray Bear in the Middle – I have developed a format for sharing that I am happy with for most things I write and have to share. However, in the recent little bit it has arrived in my awareness that there are other sorts of things to share, different aspects of being and perception, that I don’t feel fit in with Gray Bear’s model. I will continue to write Gray Bear in the Middle, as it is part of me, but I will use this new site to honour another aspect of my being that is urging itself to the surface.

I hope you will read, enjoy and follow here as you have Gray Bear in the Middle.