Jul 15, 2011


Monday evening during a rather intense thunderstorm I sat watching an albeit somewhat pixilated Kill Bill Vol. 1, for the umpteenth time, and noodling on the computer. I didn't realize just how a bad a storm it was until an incredibly loud crack of thunder shook the wall next to me and something shiny flew across the living room a couple of feet from my face. What I thought must have been a shard of glass from a broken window turned out be lightning. There was no damage at all to the window or to me. The tree outside the window, however...

Our phone lines also got a good jolt that night and we've been replacing things all week, starting with the router which was magically transformed into a paperweight. So I've been offline for a few days. Turns out that thing about turning off and unplugging all your appliances during thunderstorms might have some merit.

We've been learning a collective lesson about the frailty of our technological society. In our endless to quest to subdue and control nature, nature keeps winning. Just ask the good folks in Japan who thought loading up one of the most seismic areas on the planet with nuclear plants was a good idea. There's power and then there's power.

We were fortunate. I wasn't hit by a refracted lightning bolt. And we've been able to replace our damaged electronics without incurring too much expense. Mostly, I've been left with a sense of awe.

When I was taking pictures of the tree for the property manager, I found myself overwhelmed by the beauty of the tree itself. Trees have always amazed me. I've been drawing pictures of them and writing poems about them since I was a child. They're one of the few things I've always been able to draw well. I drew trees with images of women woven into them and great serpent roots. I drew trees with open eyes.

My fascination with trees has grown over the years; the mythology and geometry. When I read Robert Graves's White Goddess years ago, I learned that many ancient cultures had elaborate mythical and cultural interrelationships with trees. Graves wrote extensively on the Beth Luis Nion alphabet and calendar of the Celts, for instance.

The Norse Yggdrasil is one of many "world tree" symbols; it's origins probably tracing back into its shamanic forbears. Trees are often used by shamans as entry points into non-ordinary reality because the roots go into the lower world, the trunk to the middle world, and the branches to the upper world.

When I first began learning about some of the deeper symbolism of trees it answered unasked questions that had been rattling around my subconscious: Why had I always been so entranced by trees? Why does the contemplation of them lull me into a state of reverie? Why of all the emanations of nature is it trees that I find so ineffable?

The tree is one of our most potent archetypes as a symbol of life and unity between the seen and unseen worlds; spirit and matter.

As I examined where the river of current had run down the tree into the earth, the myth that sprang to mind, though, was Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There, Eve met the serpent -- the shining one -- who coiled up the tree, or spine. And, in one of those strange vignettes where myth merges seamlessly with the world of form, I learned that a neighbor who bears one of the many names of the great mother goddess was hit in the leg by one of those shining sparks of electricity that shot through so many of our windows that night.

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