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A place of wonder under your nose

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

This is the second in a series of companion blogs to the book 'Take it to the Trees' by Samantha Taroni and to the ethos of Deep-Mapping at The Soul Shed. It includes a link to a free chapter of the book.

The idea of the deep map is one constellated by Mike Pearson in his book ‘Theatre/Archaeology’ and I first came across it while studying Theare and Landscape in 2003. He also talks about Y Filltir Sqwar (Welsh), which translates as a literal square mile of our deepest somatic knowledge:

'The intimate landscape of ones childhood, that patch of ground we know in a detail we will never know anywhere again. Site of discovery and putting names to things, people and places. Working with difference and similitude – favourite places, places to avoid – neighbours and their habits, gestures and stories – textures, smells – also of play, imagination, experiment – finding the best location for doing things – creating worlds under our own control, fantasy landscapes'.

My suggestion for this Deep-mapping with trees project is that you become intimately acquainted, over time, with the trees and wildlife in your current square mile, and approach this with a playful curious spirit borrowed from the time of those childhood neighbourhood explorations. It's pretty much a given that you will get to know yourself better in the process too. Indeed you may want to bring in memories of trees and times spent with them in your childhood square mile too, as its likely to be rich in material in your creative imagination.

This is fairly easy to set up in practical terms . You can either place your home in the centre or on the edge of your square mile, and if you’d like a physical version in your hands you can find it on Google Earth to print out. Or you can find the nearest patch of wildlife near you and work from there. If you are a city dweller do make sure you have somewhere with trees included! The point to this is not measurement or topography of the most precise order - but to narrow down the field into something manageable and meaningful that you can really explore in a significant way. So if you need to make your mile out of town, that’s less important than it being a place of significance to you that you will enjoy returning to over the course of your journeying.

Your next invitation is to locate a first meaningful tree in your landscape - one you would like to get to know better. and that you start to approach it with a spirit of playful curiosity. here are some suggestions:

  1. Notice how you feel when you are approaching this tree, which might change over time. And notice how you feel leaning against it, or sitting beneath it. Does your tree have an effect on your breathing? Your emotions?

  2. Focus on a detail of your tree and look at it in detail with all of your senses. How does the bark smell? What does a leaf feel like this time of year? What is also living near the roots under your trees canopy?

  3. Look up. How does the sky look through the gaps in your trees branches?

  4. Tune into all of these impressions and write a poem about being with this particular tree

  5. Imagine your tree was telling you a story about its life - Write it down.

  6. Draw a detail of your tree or its silhouette or take a rubbing of its bark with charcoal.

  7. Research everything you can learn about the life cycle of your tree.

  8. Make something in textiles inspired by your tree.

  9. Pick another idea and share it in the comments below

The idea behind the ‘Take it to the trees’ project and book, in a nutshell (acorn?!) is that spending time with the trees living near us is good for us humans. And that it has the capacity to deepen our sense of place and belonging to it, as well as helping us self-regulate and resource, and even re-generate ourselves and our lives creatively, in some really helpful ways.

If this is all appealing to you, then do keep your eyes on what is happening in the Take it to the Trees page on Facebook, or follow @deepmappingjourneys on Instagram. you can also subscribe to the Soul Shed Website here to be in touch with our current events and offerings.

The book 'Take it to the Trees' is available on Amazon in many countries, and if you enjoy it please do leave me a review for others to help them find it too! Its also free on Kindle Unlimited.


Update: 14 months on we are in a new year of exploring the other beings that are interconnected with the lives of trees, and have so far been deep-mapping with Moss and Lichen, exploring the Understory, and are currently spending time corresponding with Birds in Trees. If you are loving the sound of all this, subscribe to the Soul Shed and get involved!

I hope to share creative time with you soon.

Here are some more resources:

More from The Soul Shed

And finally, to the first blog in this series (with a link to a free chapter from 'Take it to the Trees')


Bibliography. Theatre/Archaeology. Pearson and Shanks. Routledge. 2001

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