Magic In the Trees, Part 1: Coming Home to Trees
Home again. My recent journey to Guatemala has brought be home again, again and again, to a place that will always be "home" to me--Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, back to my home on Lake Payette, Idaho, and ultimately, to my home within myself. I feel a distinct sense of peace, a deep empowerment.
The following is the story of this journey, that begins with me at a nice "local" spa in Jocotenango, near Antigua Guatemala, where I began coming five or six years ago for the sauna and consistency good massage at affordable prices.
I‘m in “Mundo Natural”. In Spanish that means "Natural World", and apt place for me to find myself right at home. The landscape and life in Guatemala is full of the natural world, with its tropical and sub-tropical climates. Its the "land of eternal spring". Guatemala itself is derived from the Nahuatl name Cuauhtēmallān, or "place of many trees". As I write this it wonder how I never connected the dots (until now) between Boise, where I grew up, in "The City of Trees" to the Guatemalan tree place name.
Laid out on the table at the Natural World spa, I am treated to a full and beautiful healing experience. Fabrizio, the masseuse, does an excellent job of finding and releasing tremendous unknown-to-me tensions in my left knee that had me breathing deeper than usual through that unexpected pain.
The release I associate with Tijax, the energy of healing and one of the 20 days in the Cholq’i (Mayan sacred calendar).
Inside each one of us, the 20 energies of the calendar reign over the main joints—portals of energy in Mayan cosmology—and Tijax dominates my left knee...I can sense my healing—past, present and future—all at once as Fabrizio skillfully assists me in releasing the blocked energy there. Afterwards, I feel just great, no pain, smooth and easy
And from there, I began to see.
With my eyes closed and breathing deeply through the pain, I suddenly became aware of the commissioned artwork I just created for my client, Kay, in her home in New Meadows, Idaho. Kay asked for some specific imagery in this piece, all of which appeared to me as if in a dream. The Stellar's Blue Jay appeared to me as I laid there, as well as the Cardinal, chipmunk, Ponderosa pine comes, and, on the side of each piece, twin Ponderosa pines, each cut in half to frame the outer edge of the composition. Going to this recently completed project in my semi-coherent dream state hardly seems odd since I just installed the project days before traveling to Guatemala. But I' struck not just by the movie inside my head, but by the verticality of the two tall and narrow mosaic pieces.
They remind me of the Twin Towers, or, perhaps, an antidote to their tragic demise. Somehow, the reminder of this mosaic project I've just finished connects me to the depths of my psyche, certainly to a much deeper connection with nature. And then I realized what I know now and what I didn't know then: how to connect deeply with nature, to promote the harmony inside myself in spite of the craziness of the world around me. How to see the duality in all things, how to achieve balance. I mentally compared the tall narrow glass mosaic twin towers that I'd just made--filled with light and inspired my nature--with the darkness and destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001. I realize how much healing I have received from the trees, especially the giant ones outside my house.
My home in McCall is surrounded and protected by these huge trees. " Ponderosa" means heavy, massive. Ponderosa Pine bark smells like vanilla or butterscotch--a scent I automatically assocaite with my great grandma and grandpa Sherlock. The 4-8 inch long evergreen needles, thick and flexible, three to a bundle, droop gracefully from their branches. Large trees live for 500 or more years. For the first 150 or so years, young ponderosas have nearly black bark. They have beautiful, big cones which are a favorite of Kay's.
Before leaving Guatemala in 2020, I had a dream about coming to this area of Idaho and traveling to a grove of pines where I was aware of "giants" there to protect me and impart their special wisdom to me. I was fascinated by the thought of giants--something I had chalked up to fantasy or myth--suddenly appearing in my dreams as guides, "big people with big ideas". Not long after I began living here on Lake Payette, I became aware that the giants were, in fact, the ones surrounding my home here. Over the last few months I've spent more time getting to know these special, ancient beings. In honor of their tremendous power, I have named some of the biggest ones--Jun Ajpu and Ix Balamkej, after the hero twins in the Pop Wuj Quiche Maya creation story, Ixmukane and Ixpiakok, the original grandparents and Daykeepers of the Cholqij sacred calendar, and Ixchel, the goddess of the moon.
When Kay asked me to create a pair of mosaic light paintings for either side of her entry way door that included the Ponderosas, I was thrilled. Because of the narrow 8" width of the windows, I designed the windows to include just one-half of a Ponderosa in silhouette on the outer eadge of each panel. This accommodated the limitations of the design, as well as presenting a sense of being "between the trees".
This feeling is one that I can only describe as extraordinary. Recognizing their tremendous age (and experience).their height, and the depth of their roots, and the enormous space this comprises is, well, awesome to say the least. To say that I feel protected is an understatement. Over time spent listening to and meditating with the Ponderosas (and their neighbors the Douglas and Giant Firs, Tamaracks, and Lodgepole Pines) has opened up my awareness and attention to their access of both cosmic and telluric intelligence.
Spending time in nature, I've become much more attuned to the language and wisdom of nature's creatures. The Stellar Jay is one who has taught me a great deal about focussing my attentions and intentions on my deepest sense of purpose and my truest passions. Blue jay is a bit of a "bad boy", a jack of all trades, a trickster, a robber, a mimic who will imitate red hawks and other birds. The blue jay is very clever and has taught me to use my cleverness to achieve my highest goals rather that dabbling in too many objectives. I've discovered more clarity in myself learning from the Blue Jay.
From the chipmunks I have learned to balance my working, storing and organizing efforts with play, physical activity. Now, I use my voice more, especially in speaking with nature. Many people might call this "crazy', but I have learned that if you speak to nature with a loving and open heart, nature will speak back, often at the most synchronistic moment, drawing my attentions to something important.
The cardinal that appears in one panel is not a regular"visitor: to this area. Kay loves them though, and I felt it would be a fun addition to the project, a visitor from another dimension, an "impossibility" made possible through this artwork.
At the bottom of that panel I had room for something, and decided to include some little wild Arnica flowers that are indigenous to the area. How surprised was I when, upon leaving, I noticed some of these little beauties under a Ponderosa on Kay's property. "Good medicine" I told her.
The warm wood tones of the entry way really allow these two pieces to shine. They frame the works so well and bring light into the space.
Casting a beautiful reflection on "Grandfather Time"....
When I came back home to McCall, I returned to this reality much as I did after the massage. I felt something very different. I felt very reenergized, cleansed, healthy, whole. I felt this tremendous emotional, mental, and energetic release of old energy from my body, and a deep "awakening" to both my own art, and the power of the Giant trees.