I recently attended a meeting of the Council of All Beings, a Deep Ecology practice which aims to embody the emotional awareness of our current environmental situation. A dozen of us took part, and spent the afternoon making masks and tuning in to the particular organisms which had chosen to appear through us, before meeting deep in the woods at the twilight hour to talk to some humans:-
I am a tree. An Acacia tree, of the African savannah. I speak for all my kind, and for trees in general.
I stand and life comes to me. Big cats rest in my branches, birds perch, dropping food for other plants and creatures who nestle beneath and around me. Giraffes eat leaves from between my long thorns, with tongues specially long and twisty to reach between them. Fierce ants help protect me; they live in specially adapted thorns, which swell to accommodate them, making their houses in my defences.
Sun falls, so hot. Some of my family are chopped up to make fires, by humans; why the need to create more heat when all is so hot already? I do not understand this.
Some acacias provide food for humans. Our seeds in particular are highly nutritious. Our bodies give medicines, perfumes, gums, our bark is rich in tannins; we make timber for furniture, tools, musical instruments. So much matter, so many wondrous ways to transform!
We give so much to human people, as well as to the other peoples of this vast landscape, and they bring so much to us.
This relationship, this interweaving, is the heart of our existence. We make a flat plain extend into another dimension, give height and shade. I love to grow into shapes which flow around the broken parts of me, when an animal knocks or claws a small part away. This is my art. To grow in response to my history, my life story. This twist in my branch, is a lion jumping after a leopard’s catch 23 years ago. The asymmetric shape of my crown is an elephant visit, six years past. The circular bulge in my trunk is from a snapped branch in my youth, when weaver bird nests were so heavy it broke. These shapes are my memories. My joy is to adapt, to grow strong around these times. My memories only exist as these physical remains. I have no other way of recalling past events. I have no imagined future. Only Now, an eternal moment, sensing shifting light and shade, of wind moving me, of water filling me, of roots pulling in minerals. Carbon enters through my leaves, and I make wood from thin air.
So many of my ideas I cannot put into words. You must remember, words are not present for any other creatures. Yet, we think and reason with chemicals just like you, who are our relations; our sense of total presence in the here & now can be shared by you if used wisely.
I never move from this spot I took root in. I touch the trees near me, through under the ground networks, and by catching airborne messages.
Our way of living has worked since before the continents separated. Acacia trees have co-evolved with many other organisms, each shaping the other, flowing behaviours, functionality, and materials between us. Some say we may have shaped your people, giving you words and ideas with our medicines; I do not know. I am just a tree, growing.
My gift to you, humans, is an example of how to flourish in a potentially harsh world.
The above text was written after I went to a weekend moot of chaos magicians, where amongst other things a Council of All Beings was held. Thanks to all those present, especially the facilitators of this powerful ritual.