Mother Willow, with poem “stand like a tree”

"Mother Willow," Oil pastel.

“Mother Willow,” Oil pastel.

Trees have been getting my attention these days, as they have at various times of my life. On a recent trip to Chicago, the company of two distinct tress brought nature front-and-center in the big city. One climber reached farther upwards than sandwiching buildings, a wonderful visual for the-sky-is-the-limit inspiration. Another reached wide with root-like branches, reminding that what we see above the surface often mirrors what lies below it.

“The dreambody is like a tree…”

“Mother Willow” (oil pastel) came to paper sitting around a fire with familiars at Crow’s Nest Center. The essence draws upon long-held memories. A willow uprooted by the neighbors, which was a magnificent home to many creatures. Sibling willows in a wetland area of my hometown DeWitt, Michigan. A branch that I grew into a three-year old tree in Belgium, then transplanted to a forest before returning to the States.

“… The top half is above ground and can be seen
and discussed in terms of medicine; …”

The essence of “Mother Willow” also stems from my acquaintance with the Celtic zodiac, which is based on a lunar system with tree characters for thirteen signs.  Willow is my biological mother’s sign, which I learned in the year that Lansing neighbors’ uprooted their willow. The tree’s much-beloved sight is missed by many of us who took in Her heights from our yards.

“… the bottom half is below ground in the form of roots
that can only be sentiently felt by the perceptive individual…”

Visualizing Willow as a mothering figure during a recent visit to Crow’s Nest Center, a complimentary sensation emerged: well grounded through roots connecting to Earth, while embracing with flexible limbs and verdant leaves. The process was nourishing. In this moment and truly every year, trees gift me with uplift and serenity. So it seems that the heart of “tree hugging” is giving back to these generous figures.

“… The trunk of the tree is a dream symbol that bridges the worlds
between deep sentient experience and symptoms.”

There has been much change afoot for me (as for many!) this year: switching art studios in Kalamazoo; increasing time in Southwest Michigan. As a companion, Mother Willow supports and transports unfolding processes in her own way, cycling with the seasons. Of course, every tree offers a special lesson — in essence, a certain medicine — to connect what lies below with what is before us and above us.

~ Arnold Mindell, “Dreambody:
The Body’s Role in Revealing the Self”

In closing, I pass on a poetic mantra, “stand like a tree”, which came while journalling various thoughts at Crow’s Nest Center. May the sharing shift your gaze wherever it need be!


Lincoln Park, Chicago.

“stand like a tree”

stand like a tree
bend with the breeze

feel the earth
beneath your feet

grow deep roots
drink one’s fill

rise to the light
& touch the sky

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