|One of my very favourite trees - Hawthorn - JM 2013|
When I work with trees, or use trees in my healing work, then I am mostly connecting to the known ( that is - the understood) essence of the tree. And in this way, it is as much about symbol and archetype, about what the tree represents, than the physical reality of it.They have symbolic significance in most spiritual traditions. In Celtic tradition each native tree is known for its healing properties and divinatory meaning, a month of the year and a letter of the Ogham alphabet. Each species of tree and indeed each individual tree is considered to have its unique energy.
Now, of course we can't have the kind of conversation with trees that we might have with each other - but I know from my own experience that it is perfectly possible to communicate on some level with the living energy of a tree. You can't have a conversation with your dog or cat (as much as you might believe that they understand English!) but you and s/he understand each other well enough. You find a way. Much of it not so much to do with what you say, but simply how you are with each other. How your energies blend.
Every good gardener knows intuitively that coaxing things to grow has got something to do with the relationships with plants as well as the condition of the soil. Why do we speak of "green fingers"? I have known people who can simply poke a hole in the soil with a finger, plant a cutting pulled off of a hedge on the way home, and end up with a thriving new plant. Some people manage to kill anything green than they come into contact with despite doing exactly the same things. So, it's the same with other living things, including trees.
How to "speak" to trees
Slow down. The energy of trees is at a completely different pace to our own. But if we allow ourselves to stop and really "be" with a tree, then it really is possible to sense its energy and vibration and for the tree to sense ours, in its own way. Trees don't have consciousness in the way that we experience it as human beings but they do have "presence". The tree's knowledge, wisdom, the things that it has experienced, its very essence can be made available for you to sense and know.
Be respectful. Trees are living beings. Approach them and ask permission to be with them. You might be able to sense a tree's energy just by being in its energy field. If the tree is large or old, then its energy might be very tangible. Otherwise touching the tree is a good way to connect to its energy. Hugging, if that is your thing, or simply sitting with your back against its trunk. Take in its textures and smell. Take your time and give the tree an opportunity to connect with you.
If you are going to remove branches or twigs, look for fallen pieces before you think about taking living wood. Either way - ask permission to take anything and then thank the tree. This is as much about honouring yourself as it is the tree. Absolutely don't eat anything if you don't know for certain that it's edible. And I suppose I should also say that some berries, leaves and bark are poisonous too so be careful what you put in or near your mouth.
Meditate with the tree and allow its energy to be known to you. As I said before, you can't "talk" to them but you can communicate.
Be prepared for what you sense. Tree energies are very tangible and each season brings its own particular energy to trees. The resting energy of winter is very different to the rising sap of spring or the burgeoning fruitfulness of autumn. Trees can wield great power. For example, I find the abundance of rowan berries in autumn almost overwhelming and I have a sensitive friend who vomited in reaction to connecting with the energy of a very ancient Yew tree (Yews have a particular power and no she didn't eat any of it) However, I have never found tree energies to be anything other than benign. Powerful, yes, but not harmful.
Visit the same trees in different seasons to experience their different "moods"
Allow the healing and magic to happen :-)