my first connection with trees occurred on the day I was born… when my great-grandfather planted three holly trees in the garden by the side of the house.
This garden was a most magical place in my childhood, for one thing… it was very large and it was hedged so from child’s eye view it was very green. In the center, in a row… there were the three hollies. And throughout my childhood, this was a story that the family told to me and others… how the day I was born, pop planted these trees and so everyone always knew exactly how old they were. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that the planting of the hollies represented a visual watershed in peoples’ memories…. That unlike me… who only remembers my great grandfather’s house with these trees, there were battalions of people who didn’t. it became a kind of visual memory cue, that got mentioned at every family gathering.
And so these trees fascinated me. I was always sneaking into the garden and it was a place where I was absolutely forbidden to go… but the lawn was green and lush and there were buried sprinklers lurking in the grass, and I always had a sense that the trees were waiting for me… that they recognized me.. and welcomed me.
It was only after I began to study celtic mythology that I began to realize that my connection with these trees appeared to go deeper than simply this coincidental date. For one thing… one and three, three and one, separately and in combination, are numbers of great spiritual symbolism, and for the celts, magical power. I was born in march 31… and the three trees and me made another 3 and 1. now there were one male and two females, again another 3 and 1 combination… three of them, in fact.. druidic triad.
The holly is associated with the element of fire, and it is considered a masculine tree, as opposed to for example a willow, or ivy, which are considered to embody feminine energies. As an Aries, I have a lot fire in me… coupled with a lot of drive… and the work I do as a writer involves a very outward thrust into the world.
The word for holly in ancient irish is Tinne…which means link… and it is one of the strongest and the most resilient of woods and so it was used for objects subjected to stress, like chariot wheel shafts.
There have been long periods in my life, as I’ve reached the age where I can begin to look back, where I was subjected to vast amts of stress and I needed an incredible amt of resiliency and I realize now that my deep connection to these trees… provided me with this psychic reservoir that I could always draw from, even if I didn’t know I was doing it.
Holly is also a boundary tree… used from ancient times to demarcate borders and boundaries, hollies are frequently found in hedgerows. People who know, and even those who don’t, will agree, that while I may have may issues, boundaries are not one of them.
The ogham letter for holly stands midway in the alphabet, at the pivot point. It is the letter around which all the others revolve. And the occasion of planting the hollies did indeed engender this pivot point in my family’s history that somehow in the linking to my birth, somehow created this relationship between me and these trees that has continued to this day. These trees form part of the communion of energies that I feel around myself and have, I believe, fed me and nourished me and supported me at a truly deep, psychic-spiritual level.
Since then, there have been other experiences and other trees and each one has only brought me closer to the understanding that trees are sentient, they are aware, and like guardians and grandmothers, they watch over us, they support us, and they respond to us. They offer us gifts, and they will nurture us with them if we ask for it, and if we allow it.