On Sunday 22nd February, 2015 we planted the first Tree for Hope in the Findhorn Ceremonial Ground in a circle of friends.
Before the tree-planting I walked about the ground with Jonathan Caddy to find the spot for this particular tree - a sessile oak (Quercus petraea) from Trees for Life nursery. Why this particular oak? We chose this one because it is a native of this place, so by planting it we acknowledge to work in harmony with the principles of belonging and natural evolution of a place. This sessile oak also speaks for a common thread between what has evolved in Scotland and the Middle East as we have observed many species of oak growing in the Southern shores of the Caspian Sea. Lastly this tree was chosen because oak supports the lives of many insects, thus giving generously to its environment.
Why this place? Apart from the obvious reason that I live in Findhorn and am a part of this community, the ceremonial ground was chosen because it is a place for honouring lives, lives of those gone before and of those yet to come. Thus Trees for Hope's intention to put roots to the ground and support life was born here, with much gratitude to the Hinterland Group and especially Jonathan Caddy. When I walked the ground with Jonathan before the ceremony to choose the spot for our tree, I was very aware of the intention for this act. At one point during our walk, I knelt and touched the earth to transfer my gratitude through my hands and ask for help that I be capable to carry the project through. When Jonathan put the spade to the ground to open the earth for our tree, I felt my heart going totally wild. What a strange sensation! Why did it happen then? I could weep for sorrow and for joy then. Sorrow for knowing and feeling the immensity of damage done to life in the Middle East, joy for starting to walk on this path to bring life back, to ally with trees, wildlife, and people to give our lives our best expressions.
What Happened on the 22nd of February 2015
Jonathan had put out water, manure, wood-chips and the tree-guard. I brought the tree and compost from home. At about 2.30 friends started to arrive. We formed a circle. I started by introducing the project, my intention to plant more trees for hope with friends all over the Middle East, and read a poem by Nader Naderpur, a Persian poet whose work I adored as a child.
The circle then was open for blessings. One by one my friends offered their words of love and support for this project. Mary Oldaker, a dear soul, sang her song for Trees for Hope and we sang along with her. Katharina Brocke offered some magical gestures for protection and clarity on my path ahead. Alan Watson Featherstone shared his words of wisdom about the connection between this piece of land and St. Barbe Baker, also known as the Man of the Trees' ground, a little bit further up, and the connection between this work and St. Barbe's vision to bring trees back to the deserts. He also talked about his experiences travelling in Iran with me 10 years ago and how hospitable the people had been.
With the words of St. Barbe ' from my heart, with my hands, the whole world over,' I proceeded to plant the tree by dipping its roots in the bucket of water first, while my friends rattled and drummed to support the tree-planting. This was a very joyous moment, the culmination of many years of dreaming and desiring leading to this act. Fortunately Mick, the tree-man was right there beside me to help me plant the tree the right way. My friend, Swan Treasure gave a beautiful Peace Stone to the earth and Diana Broadbank gave a multifaceted crystal. Other friends joined in to put compost and manure around the tree and to firm the ground up with our feet. I watered the tree and passed the bucket around for other friends to join in the watering.
Finally when the tree was firmly planted, we held hands again sending two imaginary rings to the earth and to heaven. We stamped our feet to send a silver ring to the elemental beings and sent a golden ring with our hands to the sky to release the energy of the ceremony to the world. To close the ceremony we toned to the tree. And a Hope to bring wilderness back to our land and lives in the Middle East was planted in this blessed ground.