Saturday, 28 November 2009

Tree Planting - The journey, a ritual, and a little bit of magic

This post is for me. Its personal, and sad, and maybe you'd rather not read it. But if you do, I really don't mind as long as you understand that this is something I need to air to myself and this is my forum to do so.

Tree planting

Today was tree planting day at the nature reserve. I've been looking forward to this day and planting our Hazel tree. I'd found this ritual on the web and wanted to use it to bless the tree, the site and my baby girls.

Tree Planting Ritual

Begin with the tree, the hole already dug, a pile of earth beside the
and a bowl or watering can of water.

Stand facing East, and say:

"In recognition of the Earth my mother and of the sky my father, and of
true source beyond all things, I ask that I may plant this tree, to
bring clear
air to the blue sky, and rich soil to the dark earth.
May it grow tall and strong
- its roots reaching deep into its home,
its leaves reaching ever higher
towards the sun."

Hold your hands over the pile of earth and say:

"I ask that this earth might be blessed, and that it might feed and
this young sapling well."

Pick up the tree and as you plant it, talk to the tree, either out loud or

"May you grow fine and tall."

When it is planted, hold your hands over the water and say:

"May this water be blessed, may it refresh and sustain this young

Pour the water around the base of the tree, and then holding both arms
towards the tree, say:

"In earth and water will you grow. In the air will your leaves speak as
reach towards the fire of the sun. We respect and honour and
admire you,
O tree, and all trees, for you represent both Peace and
though you are mighty you hurt no creature. Though you sustain
us with
your breath, you will give up your life to house and warm and
teach us.

We give thanks for your blessing upon our lives and upon our lands.
you fare well in this chosen place."

In reality it didn't happen this way. I woke up flustered and grew more anxious as we neared the site. I'm surprised I have any tears left to shed, I feel like I've irrigated the entire county and all of its neighbours these past few months.

We had told my 3 year old daughter that today we would be planting a tree. As we all know, the world revolves around every toddler so my daughter obviously understood that to mean that she would be doing the planting. She picked up our precious sapling and flung it around like a majorette twirls her mace before plonking it unceremoniously into the hole, upside down. I heard my intake of breath as my heart rested in my mouth and I gasped 'be gentle'. It all turned out all right in the end, the tree was planted. My daughter helped pack the earth around the roots with her hands, as she did on the days her sisters were buried. You've got to love that girl, I''m sure she was born a healer.

The 'rabbit guard' was placed on the tree. In my minds eye, I had thought of these guards as protection against deer. Do you know how happy I was to hear that it is there to protect against rabbits, although it is hares that are a real problem for the trees? An abundance of hares, how magical :)

The picture below was taken today. A wonderful view of the Cotswolds.

The Journey

In March my baby girl was stillborn. Blindly groping around in the dark, asking for direction and place to rest our loved child, we stumbled across a green burial ground. We connected with a sensitive, healing soul who thoughtfully lined our baby's grave with twigs and flowers. If only she knew how much she touched our hearts and helped us heal.

In June, we returned for a visit. I had a kindred spirit visiting from Seattle. She has become part of family over the years so we brought here on route to the Rollright Stones. The sun was shining, the birds sang, butterflies and ladybirds blessed us with their presence and as we picnicked we felt peace in our hearts, beauty in our minds and daisy chains in our hair. It was a happy day.

We saw the plaque for the first time. I had struggled so much over choosing the right words. Many of you know that I believed I couldn't draw. During my initial period of grief this remained true in my heart. Again, this sensitive, healing lady offered her help and drew the template for Nina's plaque. I hope she knows how much she is appreciated.

On July 30th I went to hospital for tests. I was advised that the baby I was carrying was dead. It was so heartbreaking as i had a scan a few days earlier and the baby was so full of life, kicking around, moving so much. I think I'd managed to stay so strong up until this point. There had been tears, of course. But who is strong enough for this?

In September, we were ale to bury our second lost daughter. Once more, this wonderful healer and sensitive soul lined the grave with sunflower petals from her garden. This time, I made the felt myself from wool that I had dyed in blackberries. My daughter rescued a caterpillar that had fallen into the grave. Next, we placed earth gently around my baby's shroud and filled the grave up until it was full. This is something I hadn't felt able to do for Nina. It felt cleansing, a part of the ritual of healing. I've been such a mess these past months.

And a little bit of magic....

Earlier in the summer, Susan of Artspark Theatre sent me one of her travelling Alice's. We photographed Alice at the nature reserve back in June. It was the happy uplifting visit that we had to the burial ground. I'm thankful to Susan for lending us magic and bringing it to Nina.

I am blessed with a living daughter. Right now her favourite film is Princess Mononoke. A while ago, she asked me to felt her something from the film. I needle felted some tree sprites. Children of the ancient trees. To see these sprites is an indicator that the forest is healthy. Today we popped a tree baby on each of my babies graves.

In October it had been bulb planting day. We didn't make it ourselves, and once again, this magical lady to whom I have so much gratitude, planted wood anemone around my babies graves. I chose wood anemone after reading an Irish BTCV site page about how seeing wood anemone was a sign that there had once been a magnificent forest in that place. Wood anemone are now known as the ghosts of the forest.

The optimist in me hopes that if we retrace our steps and wind back time then the great forests will thrive again. With this in mind, we chose the wood anemone, and placed felt tree sprites around the graves knowing that the spirit of the forest will live again and this site will thrive.


Shanti Mama said...

((Hugs)). thank you for sharing.

patricia said...

Quite impossible for me to post a comment with words, they seem needless and absolutely unnecesary, I would post a hug, an embrace, the little tears my eyes are holding now, thrills of tenderness and admiration for your wisdom. Thks for sharing...

ArtSparker said...

A beautiful post, thank you for sharing a part of your journey with us. I love Miyazaki.

Yarrow said...

Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt post. I've tears in my eyes for all that you've been through, I'm so sorry for your loss but very moved by your dignity. Sending you hugs.

Btw, my daughter loves Princess Mononoke too and sounds like an older version of yours :)

lettuce said...

oh jasmine

what a lovely way to (try to) let them go


dorie said...

don't know the right words - you have told it so gentle and that I hope your sadness will be a bit softer and lighter to wear - send you my warm greetings, xD

Anonymous said...

I feel for you, and I admire how you've gone about these very sad events. Also, there was a little baby girl, August 1989 whose memory and loss I need to mark in some way as I have felt inspired by what you have posted here and I needed to be so inspired as grief never dies, neither does the love and all those years ago, as for so many parents, things weren't 'allowed' or considered. Don't feel alone in your loss but neither feel burdened by the weight of this sort of loss and pain that happens so much more than we realise unless we experience it ourself.

Yvette said...

trees are the watchers..the standing folk ...they know it all...they don't judge ..they are..forever and ever and watch over us forever and ever...your daughters are in their arms forever and ever safe.
Jasmine you give us such beautiful important....thanks

Suzi Smith said...

(((hugs))) jasmine.... sending much love xx

Martine said...

Don't know words to comfort you. Wish i had some. But i can see your little girls playing between the trees as little butterflies.

Forthvalley scribe said...

"Those we have loved and lost are no longer where they were. They are everywhere we go" ( St John Chrysostom)
I keep you in my thoughts

sue said...

sending a big warm hug to you sweet lady.. and lots of love xxx

Wildflowerhouse said...

Jasmine, I am sending my love and hugging you from afar. There simply are no words but my heart is with you my friend. Sharon

Lickety Splitter said...

Oh Jasmine. I am so sorry for the loss of your daughters. I'm at a loss for words, but my heart aches for your family.

t said...

Your strength is incredible Jasmine, tears fall for your baby girls.....


Poetic Artist said...

I do not have words to say. Except thank you for sharing.

Jo Potter said...

Dear Jasmine, Your post is very sad but special...
I found your words really touching about your daughters and the planting a tree ritual is such a wonderful and beautiful idea, to remember loved ones.
I agree with you about being in nature. It is very healing and trees do help to heal the soul...
Thank you for being so open, by
sharing your deepest emotions.
Love. Jo May.x

Renee said...

Jasmine I am sorry and I am honoured.

The baby's grave and the description and the picture are holy.

I'm sorry for your losses dear friend and I am honoured that you shared your beautiful soul with us.

Love Renee xoxo

Ruthie Redden said...

Dear Jasmine, as others have said, there really are no words good enough. i admire your courage in sharing all you have been through. The tree ritual & the way you have described it are breathtakingly beautiful. sending you hugs & thinking of you. x x x x

Tammie Lee said...

you are so generous to share your tender story. my heart leaned toward you every word of this post. I leave my heart with you. I love how your daughter twirled the sapling around, that is so toddleresque!

Kass said...

I've noticed you on several of the blogs I follow. It's a delight to see your photography and felting. I am so sorry for these losses. It's an emptiness no one can imagine who hasn't been through it.

ramblingwoods said...

I am so sorry for your losses... Words are inadequate...I don't know how to say this but this is one of the most spiritual posts I have ever read about such a loss. You were able to express your grief but your healing also... amazing...I am sending warm white light your way.. Michelle

Russell Constable said...

Thank you so much for sharing. Big hugs to you

Baino said...

Oh Jasmine. Repaying the visit and I'm so sorry about your little girl. Such a heartwrenching post and very sad for my first foray to your blog. It must have been so hard for you to write those words yet sometimes sharing them is part of the liberation of the spirit. I see we have some common commenters which is sweet. Treasure your little girls. Past and present.

parisa mahmoudi said...

Sooo Beautiful pictures!!! I had an Alice from Susan,too! That was fun. Susan is a really nice friend!

Lots of love


Hello Jasmine My Dear Friend, I am catching up and just now read your lovely tribute to your lost baby girls. So very sad. Thanks for sharing your lost in such a magical way. My heart goes out to you and your family. Huge Hugs Judy

Jasmine said...

Thank you all for your kind words.

I did feel some trepidation about posting this story, but I feel I needed to get things out. Not so much to let people know (although I now know that the blogging community is a safe environment for this) but more to stop letting it all build up inside. I do feel better now.

Another thing that has stuck with me, is that everyone that attended Nina's funeral (Catholics, Buddhists, Pagans, Agnostics and Athiests) all felt that this was a beautiful cam way to be laid to rest. A green burial. Many have regimentally been frogmarched to un-holistic ceremonies that just don't quite gel. Ceremonies that don't feel right. A green burial seems to be common ground between all faiths and spiritualities. Because who doesn't love nature, right?

Thank you again xxx

Anonymous said...

How brave, how open to share with us the loss of your babies. I am moved to tears.

Anonymous said...

I have just found your blog and this oh so poignant post. I feel for you - but if your two little ones are in the place I think they are, they will be happy. Hugs and love - and I'm now going to look at your felting posts.

lettuce said...

i know i wrote a comment here when you posted, but clearly blogger lost it, or something...

i'm glad it helped to express this - it does sound like a beautiful and fitting ritual.
I lost 2 babies but much much earlier in the whole process - and we didn't mark that loss with any kind of ritual, I wish we had.

your little girl sounds fab.


Jasmine said...

Lettuce - I did get your previous message and it as posted. Now that you mention it I can see that other messages seemed to have evaporated too.

I'm sorry to hear of your losses. My 2nd loss was only 3 months into the pregnancy but affected me deeply. Its odd how people react to this ind of knowledge. Nobody expected me to have a funeral although it was taken for granted that I would for the first loss. Only my mam ever asked me what I called my 2nd lost girl. Lizzie, above had some thoughts on tis too. She hopes to plant tree now to honour her loss from years ago. I think that is a beautiful idea because it seems that the memory never fades.


Thank you all once again or all of your messages. Some f the messages have disappeared, I'm not sure why. Please know tat if your message is not here, it was appreciated xx

ArtPropelled said...

Impossible to say what I'm feeling but send love and thanks for sharing your journey.

lulu moonwood murakami said...

Hi Jasmine, How amazing to read this. Thank you so much for sharing this part of yourself.I am in awe of how you are transforming your grief into something so hopeful.
Lots of love to you,