Something happened to remind me to remind people how important it is to pray when there is need to take a life. This could be for any reason: plants I am gathering for medicinals or food; a farm animal I have raised for food; or a prayer for the hunters to bring in the game food.
I have shared stories recently of Hem, my tree friend. In his grove stands an aged tree who had been a sapling two hundred years ago when people clear cut the Hemlocks of this valley for the tanning industry. This tree was angry and mornings Alan and I could feel under attack from its projections of fear.
When I visit Hem, we experience much joy in each others’ presence. This elder tree would watch, and project its resentment. It clearly did not trust humans. But I would talk to it. I would ask it not to try to poison my relationship with Hem, because I am not like those people who clear cut the trees of its memory. And I asked it to forgive me so that I could enjoy Hem. This tree was not budging in its opinions or its suspicion. Yet something changed.
Yesterday morning I felt fearful, so I consciously stepped into the fear as my Wind Clan friend Brigid Hopkins suggested I do when my repressed emotions present themselves for healing. I stepped into the fear, and deliberately intensified the emotion. As I did this, the fear faded, and behind my eyes I was no longer Susan, but the tree I am telling the story about. I was so afraid of the loggers daily coming closer and closer to where I was planted, and feeling keenly the deaths of my people, some dying after lives as long as six hundred to one thousand years, their lives abruptly ended without prayer, without ceremony, without permission.
Her story was heartbreaking.
I brought prayer. I brought ceremony. I called upon the help of my tutelary spirits for something I could not do on my own. This venerable tree has carried her fear for over two hundred years, the tree version of PTSD. With the help of the tutelary spirits, we created sacred space for her healing and her peace of mind.
If these loggers had been conscious of the spiritual beingness of these trees , would they have been so wasteful, or so careless of the value of their lives?
Long ago I read of a Native American practice of praying to the spirit of the being whose life was being sought to meet the tribe’s need to survive. Offerings were made and prayers were said. The spirit of the being was assured that no part of it would be wasted. Every part would be used. And eventually the humans too would lay down their bodies to return to the natural world. All of this was consciously realized and accepted. The prayers made the connection to the spirit of the animal for the spirit of the people and the needs were met and gratitude given.
Here is a “fill in the blank” kind of prayer to ask for and give honor to the gifts of the Earth. Or maybe something else will move you to write your own ceremony. I pray that you will.
Holy Mother Earth, Sacred Father Sky, and all who live in-between. Today I have the need __________________ (fill in the blank by naming your need). I seek _______________ in order to ___________. (I seek medicinals in order to heal, or I seek the deer in order to have meat for the coming winter, or I thank this animal that I have raised for its life in providing me with meat). I know that my own time of dying will come, and at that time I will give my own life to sustain those who come after me. Amen.