Honouring the Tree People:


Tschalaama in Winter

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.

Copy of DSCN7144

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!

Flight of Fancy

Reading through the accompanying book of the Mary El Tarot I am again and again confronted with the Kabbalah wisdom, the Tree of Life and its application to the Mayor Arcana of the Tarot.

So much so, in fact, that it tempted me to go beyond the humorous teachings of Lon Milo Duquette’s “Chicken Qabalah” and look deeper.


But with spring here, the craft show season starting soon, all my clients and me teaching Native Studies in schools, I felt, I should consult my Medicine Animals, if that was a worthwhile use of my limited time.

Shamanic journey.

It is full Moon and quite mild for April in Ontario.

I dress warm anyway, put my Reindeer fur onto a blanket on the deck and start drumming.

Right away I am in the Journey cave. The fire is on, but besides me there is nobody there. (that is usually the case, when the journey is about a personal interest and not a client or community issue….)

So I go to the News rock. To check for information. There is a Huuuuuuge hole in it! And I can see blue sky! I stick my head in the hole and see a simple landscape. Short green lawn with Clover flowers and a few Dandelions and clear blue Sky.

Oh, look there! There is Fretty! (he is a rather monochromatic cartoonish looking Siberian Ferret….)

OK there is Fretty!

He is perched atop a purplish pink balloon that is floating through the air trailing a long bow with a sign on it: “Happy…..”

? happy what? Oh! “Happy Hour”.

Fretty does not look happy.

And just as his balloon is about to disappear from my field of view the inevitable happens: He digs his long scratchy claws into the rubber and ”POP” balloon gone!

Unceremoniously Fretty falls to the ground muttering something entirely unfit for repetition.

Somehow he always makes me laugh and that ends the vision.

But over the years I have learned, that this is the intention and that the funny antic contains the information I need.

Here what comes to my analytical tonal mind is “flight of fancy” and whatever you need to make you happy.

So, it is quite OK for me to stick my head into these teachings and broaden my horizon = fly high on a strange balloon, see how another culture tried to explain the mysteries of life and death (and soul flight) as long as I know how and when to come back down to Earth and back to the solid ground of ancestral wisdom.

Picture language:

The Journey Cave has its entrance located in a large rock on our property and otherwise is our headquarter for me and the gang = my group of Medicine Animals and Helper Spirits in the Otherworld

The Fire: If the fire is on, I will find help, information there, if the fire is not on I can either make fire myself or I have to go to another meeting place ……

Newspaper rock:This is a huge gray granite rock wall where all kinds of petroglyphic symbols and drawings appear that give insights to all kinda of questions. I also can leave notes for Spirits and receive notes. The wall looks different every time I look at it. Sometimes it is all Crystal, or Obsidian or a wooden board with a construction plan on it… I never know…..

Fretty is a rather monochromatic cartoonish looking Siberian Ferret that is one of my Guides since age 2 1/2 and I should probably write about how I got him…. or better- how he was put in charge of me….until my Clan guardian from Ada’s = my father’s Clan appeared…..)

Green grass is personal growth – the fact that is short indicates, that I will probably not do this for very long.

Clover is good luck

Dandelions are a “Study flower” to me. When I was at university and also studying with my Inde’ teacher I had the first vision of a huuuuuuuge Dandelion breaking through the pavement right between the buildings of the Maternity clinic and the Psychiatric hospital of the university complex…..

That, my teacher said was me.

Am I reallllly a noxious weed that nobody can keep down or am I the nutritious plant, full of vitamins, that since beginning of humanity was used for food, medicine and healing?

It is this picture language that you learn when you write down your dreams and analyze them and “take notes”

You can not use a book, because the meanings depend on a mixture of your “first knowledge” and your aquiered knowledge as well as symbols that you successfully recognized before as relevant for you.

These will appear again and again….

Your internal picture language !