Among my Ada’s people in Siberia it is customary to have many different Sacred Trees. Family Trees, personal Trees, beneath which our umbilical cord was buried in summer or burned in Winter – or as with neighboring peoples – hung into the tree as an act of thanks.
After we bought our land here in Muskoka my husband and me went across the 106 ha property and got acquainted with all the Animals, their dens and nests, the Shrubs and Flowers and most important, all the Trees. We were looking for the Grandfathers and Grandmothers – the oldest Trees and also for the tallest Trees and maybe the Baj Yjaschy, the very magnificent ones.
We had right away recognized a magnificent large Spruce, over 45 meters in height with a crown overflowing with cones and home to a Squirrel family. To this, our tallest Mother Tree we cleared a winding path through moist and mossy under bush and honoured Her with a red ribbon, a Tschalaama of life.
Then there was the oldest Tree, a majestic Grandfather Maple with a then still lush crown. When I first saw it, touched it, it was clear, this one was volunteering, to be our teacher about the forest and the land we now were stewards of.
In a dream my Ancestor told me that this was to be our Kham Yjasch – our shaman Tree and that I needed to dedicate it.
But how? I had never done anything like that and was too small when my Father did any work like that.
So I journeyed to my Ancestor Spirits and was given specific instructions as well as a chant, that I was to do. I told Peter what we were to do and why we were to approach the Grandfather from a certain side, walk around it a certain amount of times and what each of these “walk arounds” were dedicated to.
Then we were to go bring a stone with a natural hole from our home land and put it on a white ribbon and affix it to the Tree to form the connection to the lands we come from.
This was very auspicious, especially for Peter, because in his North Friesian heritage, this practice of hanging a “Hühnergott” in order to dedicate something is very present and practised to this day.
Over the last 22 years we regularly visit our Shaman Grandfather and bring Tschalaama = prayer ribbons, feathers and food offerings, telling Him our prayers, secrets and fears…..
He has aged a lot – as have we. There are now many large Piliated Woodpecker holes in His mighty trunk and we have the feeling, that His years are numbered.
My Ada used to say, that a Tree has 3 Lives:
The “wet life”, when the Tree produces leaves and fruit and grows. Then a Tree should not be harmed or cut – There are very strict offerings and formulas you have to do and say, ifffff you have the need to break this tabu: A specific chant/ lament to the Soul of that Tree, offerings of Milk, Tea and Grain or flower……
Then there comes the “dry life”, when the Tree does not leave out or flower any more, when it loses branches and the animals use it as a home. This kind of Tree is OK to cut down and use its wood. Finally there is the “soft life” when the Tree fell over, decays on the ground and is re- absorbed by our Mother the Earth. Pulp from a soft Tree is good to bring into the garden.
There are several other very special Trees on our property:
The small Maple I planted 22 years ago and that is now grown nicely and is the Centre Tree for my Obo.
The Grandmother Tree, another huuuuuge Maple in a very remote location, that we also visit on a regular basis and that also has many Tschalaama on her mighty trunk
The Enchanted Tree– or also called Fairy Tree by my students – in the middle of a wet section surrounded by other magical plants.
The Critter Tree is a towering Hemlock that at different times was/ is home to our Raccoon mothers, Porcupines, a Marten family, a Barred Owl and – just about everyone else who lives here….
The “Friendly Tree, is a huge Paper Birch with a portal in between her split trunk. In Siberia a Tree with a 2 part trunk like that automaticly marks the Tree as having Sacred Powers. Many a student went there, prayed, sat with Her, then when ready, crawled through that portal and came out the other end a fledgeling shaman…..
Blessings to All Kham Yjasch!
Blessings to All Trees everywhere upon Mother Earth!