Monthly Archives: May 2013

A Time Outside of Time

Dear Friends,

It has been nearly six months since this experiment of Treewise began. It’s one of those things that sounds like it should be longer, but that also feels like we just started. We began with one thing in mind, and then life happened – as it often does – and we’ve picked a new path as we’ve gone along. Yesterday Katie commented, “It’s been an adventure”, and I would add to that saying sometimes you look up from the adventure and wonder where the heck you are!

We’re going to step back for now, and figure out how (and if) we’re going forward. If you have any opinions or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you.

Expect us when you see us.

Mike

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Without Her

A little over three years ago I suffered a loss that took my breath away. It literally swept my feet from under me and changed the way I saw the world. Grief is like no other feeling on earth.  It is vast and deep and terrifying. Until you have lost someone who is so much a part of you, and so much a part of your world that the rooms in your soul echo after they leave, you cannot begin to imagine the coiling monster that is grief.

My sister passed away unexpectedly at the age of twenty four. The cause was not known at the time, and an autopsy took months, but still came back largely inconclusive. In the months between her death and the autopsy results, my family lived in limbo. There was no closure, no real explanation – just time passing, without her.

Losing my sister shook me to the core. It raised questions that I had never considered. It brought my own mortality into view. Whoever you are and however you view the world – at some point something is bound to turn your focus to the big questions. Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What happens after death? What is our purpose?

The big questions never baffled me when I was younger. I held easy and confident answers for all of them. Knowledge and experience are very different animals. All the philosophy in the world won’t bail you out when you are sinking.

For months I lived in a world of questions, platitudes and terrible advice. The things that people say in these circumstances are senseless and horrible. I was told to be glad I had her for that short while at least. They say that time heals all wounds. You need to put it behind you and go on living, people advised. It was her time to die.

Three years (and a bit) later, I can say with absolute certainty that time does not heal all wounds. The body is so much easier to heal than the spirit. When it is a matter of tissue and blood and bone, healing is a natural progression. The spirit does not simply clot and form a scar tissue by itself. You actually have to do the work.

It took me a long time to find the bottom of what I had thought was bottomless grief. Layer after layer I searched for answers, and only unearthed more questions.  When I finally made it through the sadness, hopelessness, bartering, guilt, rage and fury of the many stages of grief, I discovered the journey was directly into the center of my existence, and the road back was a process of examination of everything I knew. It was a road composed of the big questions.

Strangely enough, my answers to the big questions are the same now as I would have given a decade ago. They have not changed, just grown in perspective and conviction. Time has not healed my wounds. There are wounds that never heal. The nature of our existence is experience. What we believe in theory often holds true when we must live it. It is the living that matters.

I believe that when we die our bodies return to the earth. I believe that the essence of our being lives on. Energy does not cease to exist. She is in every sunrise, every blade of grass, every bird call and every star in the sky.

We live on, but never without her.

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kpKatie P is writer, reader, drummer and certifiable nature nut. She lives rural New Brunswick, where she spends far too much time frolicking in the bulrushes. She also blogs at Wyldwomyn.ca

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A touch of yoga near you…

As you step onto the wood flooring, you can feel the warmth and comfort of where you are. There is a peacefullness that bellies the hustle and buslt outside. A gentle breeze from the fans above cool the room from the heated performance it had just experienced. The smell of pepermint permeates the air and mixes with the sound of music. Calming, soothing, relaxing.

This is how I feel when I walk into the studio of Nirvana Yoga downtown Fredericton, New Brunswick. There are several yoga studios in and around the Fredericton area. There is Moksha Yoga, Dynamic Fitness, Satori Centre, The Iris Centre (Dr Cook does mindfullness training as well and is amazing), Lokamotion, Lifesong Yoga, Jane McKeown Yoga, and Yogasana Studio (technically in Charters Settlement about 15 minutes outside of Fredericton). Some of these (many) offer Hot Yoga which has gained a great deal of popularity in recent years. For me though, my personal favourite is Nirvana yoga haven and resto juice bar.

When you first enter Nirvana, you will see the resto bar side. It is an open concept, with an assortment of seating choices and a wonderful organic vegetarian menu that changes daily. Turning to the left will take you to the restrooms, changerooms, and the yoga studio. It is not a large studio, but that is a part of what makes it feel so wonderful when you enter. An all natural cleaner made with what I believe is peppermint is used to wipe down the mats that are available for all to use. They also provide blocks and bolsters for those who require them. There is no need to register for classes, they are by drop-in.

For more then a decade I have wanted to try yoga. Something always got in the way. Even when I was attending rituals, the guided meditation was my favourite part. Yoga is a bit like that, but instead of just the mind working, your whole body gets involved. Every Friday evening there is a Healing Yoga class at Nirvana lead by Paleki. His slow pace, descriptions, and general peace lead to a really wonderful class. Even a beginner, like me, feels comfortable participating. It is at your pace. Paleki gives you alternatives to more difficult poses and is always helpful with anything you may need. There is one exercise in particular that makes me feel particularly happy inside – it involves opening your hands like a book before your heart and envision something happy and wonderful and then ‘gifting’ it to yourself, to your heart. The feeling I have after this exercise is contentment and joy.

For anyone interested, here is the link to Nirvana Yoga http://yoganirvana.ca/. Namaste

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Reverse Tattoo

Crowwitch is a spectacular balance of chaos and order. This energetic hockey, soccer, ringette, karate, mom works hard to keep up with her two brilliantly funny children, and enjoy some quiet time with her devoted partner in the evenings. She also maintains a personal website called Crowwitch.

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Enchanted Landscape

The forest is quiet. The soothing, earthy scent of decaying wood and leaves drifts up from the well-beaten path. We tread softly here, like strangers unsure of ourselves. These woods are familiar to us, practically in our backyard, and yet we feel almost like trespassers. The sunlight dapples through the trees, creating dizzying patterns on the forest floor. I hear a bird chirp in a nearby tree, and suddenly the air is filled with sounds: the cheerful rustle of leaves, the creaking of branches, the chirping of birds and the scurry of squirrels, and underneath it all, as I strain to hear, a deep and almost imperceptible hum.

As we venture further into the wood, the path becomes narrower, rocky and uneven. I grow less sure of my footing and look nervously about me. Just a few steps to either side of us the ground falls away steeply, dense trees on one side and a murky green pond on the other. It is like we are crossing a bridge to another world, and with any misstep we are in peril. I feel a reassuring hand take mine, and Doug guides me further along the trail. We crest a small hill, follow a bend in the path, and suddenly a great tree looms above us. It looks dead, and yet something powerful and unsettling emanates from it. I stare up in reverence and awe. We don’t get closer to the tree – we aren’t welcome. We touch our hands to our hearts, instinctively, to show our respect before moving on. Then we turn, and go down a steep hill into a softly lit grove.

In the middle of the grove stands a large gypsum rock, which I’ve come to call the Fairy Castle. It glitters oddly in the sparse light. Something flickers as I approach it, so quickly I almost don’t take notice. Suddenly I know I am somewhere important, somewhere special. I am in a sacred place and I can feel there is a presence of something greater than myself at the edge of my perception. We begin to unpack our offerings…

Our local landscape is as enchanted as any haunted wood in a fairy tale. Our land is full not only of its own history, but also of its own spirit and sacredness. As pagans, especially those seeking the wisdom of our ancestors, we often dream of sacred sites far away, of ancient myths and gods of other lands. Few of us work directly with the land on a day-to-day basis, and when we do it rarely extends beyond our own backyard gardens. I believe this has rendered many of us – myself included – at times unable or unwilling to engage the spirits and gods in our own landscape. There are many local natural places I find personally and spiritually significant. As the good weather returns, and as the world grows green again, I am excited to visit and re-visit them with my family. Perhaps I can do so again with fellow pagans – other people who may appreciate the spirits of the place, and understand the importance of offerings.

What are some local places you consider special or sacred? Have you ever encountered or experienced the presence of gods or spirits in your natural landscape?

page-breakNatasha DNatasha is a busy new mom, nurse and down-to-earth Pagan living in Dieppe, NB with her family. She also blogs at Planting Seeds.

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Muscle Memory

I have been calling myself a pagan for a little over 20 years. For around a third of that I was very enthusiastically Wiccan. I then practiced Druidry for a couple of years while studying the Bardic grade with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. For the past five or six years I have been a Heathen (Germanic paganism, where my initial interest had lain), but at times it has been a challenge. I would like to share something that is helping me see it in a different light.

I recently visited an exceptional massage therapist, hoping for relief from shoulder pain I’ve had for years. My massage therapist explained – in terms I could understand – that I have layers of scar tissue over my muscles. This is usually the result of an untreated injury or over working yourself. It means my muscles can’t expand and contract properly. The scar tissue also prevents blood from adequately reaching my muscles, so they can’t heal properly. Without treatment first, exercise often builds more scar tissue rather than fixing anything. I have the same problem with my neck, back, chest, arms, and legs. She even believes my hands were broken at some point, which was news to me.

Even after just a couple of sessions with her, the change has been dramatic. While moving an unused door to the shed, I realized in mid-stride that I was feeling no pain or tightness in my neck or shoulders. I immediately had flashes of a time when physical activity came so easily. Through the years, I have been slowing down. Exercise feels different and the results aren’t the same. I thought it was age or I wasn’t trying hard enough, and I practically gave up… but what if the massage therapist is right? What if untreated injuries building up over time is partially to blame? The happy ending to this story is that with her help, I am at the start of a road to health.

This physical realization brought with it a spiritual epiphany. I had flashes of a time when my budding pagan spirituality seemed to flow so easily. A few years ago I was involved in some serious spiritual drama, and everything has been more challenging since. I even considered returning to those paths where things had felt smoother – Wicca and Druidry – but I found they were no longer so easy. I think it’s because it isn’t that path that’s the challenge. It’s the spiritual scarring, making everything more difficult and preventing proper healing. I have been hobbled on this stretch of my spiritual journey.

The best news is that this story can also have a happy ending. Now that I have identified the problem, I can find solutions. Just like with the massage therapist, part of it will include asking for help from people I trust. Another part will be getting back into the routine of strengthening myself, and without the barriers it’s a pleasant responsibility. If the comparison holds true, confronting some of these things will be painful… but in the end, worth it all.

page-breakMike CMike C. is a geeky Pagan, living a quieter life with his loving wife in Riverview, NB

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