My last day in California was beautiful, windy and clear and bright. I headed toward the ocean, needing to say some kind of goodbye, but it wasn't the ocean who needed to see me. Over the last few years I've made peace with letting go of the ocean as my home base, as the earthly feature that most understands me. I spent years dreaming of floods, tides, waves, depths, and tidal waves - swimming, fleeing, diving, crossing, even learning to breathe underwater. That time has passed, and over the last year the living image of The Tree - really, networks of trees, The Sacred Grove - has come knocking.
So, Grandmother Eucaluptus called me over instead. Her huge trunk sheltered my body and my baby from the wind, and we settled in for a chat.
We talked about what called me back to California in the first place: not only my healing and my training as a healer, but deeper layers of karmic work and ancestral healing along my maternal line following my mother's death in 2009. I felt how Grandmother Eucalyptus had been rooted here in Southern California longer than that maternal line. I had some hard feelings about this, about such deep rootlessness in my family, but Grandmother Eucalyptus smiled and assured me this is the way of that place, and was right for the way I was bound to the family work housed by this place. Running my fingers along her bark, I discovered a half-bright, half dark and hollowed heart:
I made a prayer for acceptance of my payment, my grief, a request for release into a new cycle - work done, karmic debt cleared to this place which caught the rattled-loose, traumatized thread of my maternal line and offered them a place to breathe for a few generations, produce enough healing to carry new life out into the wider world again. Maybe rooting anew.
Tearfully, I looked up from my prayer and she offered me a different smile:
She told me she would be one of my tree gates - that she would be here, and I was free to visit and use her as a portal to this place, this time, these memories, this work, the ancestors who are connected here, or should I need access for some new reason. Such a gift.
The tree gate is as ancient as human relationships with trees and with our shared imaginal realities. Trees, with their dark earthy nourishing roots, their strong trunks, and their breezy canopies leafing skyward, are natural allies in both finding one's place and moving between worlds. You may already have a favorite tree in your life - or in memory, or fantasy - who offers you this assistance, even if you don't have language for it. Maybe you dream of trees. This morning, I woke to the image of an astoundingly huge tree, looking up from below at its cosmic canopy as it turned like a carousel. An other, massive tree gate.
So, here we go. Into the future.
...and also, in new ways, into the past. Arriving, I've had a distinct feeling of leaving one realm of ancestral work and moving into another. The Pacific Northwest/Cascadia was the landing-place for my paternal line, similarly rattled-loose by history and layers of trauma. I had strong inklings of this during my dreaming retreat at Mosswood Hollow last Summer - incidentally, the only time when I felt strongly I was carrying a little boy - and already as I settle into Portland, new ancestors are making themselves felt. I've started constructing a family tree from documents that surfaced through cousins last Summer - yet another tree gate. The place is reaching out in new ways. Research is calling. New writings are welling up. Stay tuned.