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"Syrupy Golden Light"

Not my words, but the gorgeous description from Roz, one of the volunteer performers on our poetry and tree walk, 'The Giving tree' last weekend. The light on this event really was astonishing, on both evenings.

It meant that the atmosphere for exploring where trees and poetry intersect with our felt sense, was heightened, and lent a magic to our journey through Alice Holt forest in Saturday and Sunday twilight. Here's a little clip of some moments to set the scene!

We were joined by a purposefully small group of walkers each evening, so that the event remained intimate. Local tree warden Ben Hamlin and I had been working on this project for a couple of months, and we knew we wanted to offer those present a special experience. Ben introduced us to the botany and social history of the trees, and yet The trees themselves were the real presiding presences in our piece, and both the performed poetry and his patter as our walking guide offered spaces to re-imagine and feel into our relationship to the trees.

You may remember the Willow poem in my last blog? Well, Lyn, (pictured) is performing the part of the maiden in Thackeray's poem 'The Willow', waiting for the person who never comes. We could never have planned it, yet the golden syrupy light was right there doing its thing backlighting her and lending a beautiful poignance to the lines in Thackeray's poem: 'But the red sun went down in golden flame, And though she looked round, yet no one came'.

Here's another example of the evening light helping us - one of the trees Ben talked about on Saturday's walk was his personal favourite, the Field Maple. This tree (pictured) is the only maple native to the UK, although we have other kinds living here too. It is easy to identify, because although it has the trifurcating leaves common to all maples, these have soft round edges. To me its a kindly, gentle tree in character, and because it's not everywhere, its always lovely to stumble on one. In the golden light, its leaves became translucent and glowing.

Yet another arresting moment came in the arboretum,when we turned a corner on the path towards the end of our walk and discovered the sinking sun alighting on the dense ivy and fir foliage ahead of us. At least four walkers gasped at the same time as we were confronted by this mesmerising shaft of light.

Theres so much I want to tell you about our walks. Of course you can't directly experience a moment second hand - just its traces- and yet I hope I am conveying something of these meaningful traces to you. What I want to offer you next however, is a treat for your own imaginal space right now. I invite you to, in a moment, soften your gaze and imagine you are at a clearing in the heart of some woodland that you know. To take a few minutes to really imagine it in your minds eye, through all your sensory memories: How it smells, what you can hear, where your gaze goes and what it alights upon Then, when you are ready, listen to this audio clip of Rudyard Kipling's poem and see where it takes you.

It would be brilliant to hear about your experience of this, along with any other reflections on this blog in the comments.

I also want to take this opportunity to share with you about a couple of things coming up at The Soul Shed. If you like this idea of exploring trees, moment by moment, for their affect on you in their powerful presence, then you might love these. On Saturday 22nd October, in the beautiful historic Culver Suite in Farnham Library, The Soul Shed is offering a day of Deep-Mapping and Mask-Making with the trees in the library gardens, and the opportunity to make Tree masks to express what you discover.

And if you are further afield and would also like to explore the place where inner and outer territories meet in our felt sense, please do check out the online course coming up - Deep-map your instinctual nature. It's a four part journey spanning September and October into your energy centres exploring your own corner of the world - your personal square mile of location- in between community Zoom calls. All you need is your presence, your phone camera, and a journal. The timings are friendly to our members in Europe, America and Africa - all three.

I look forward to these possibilities of creating with you soon very much.


Thank you to Forestry England for welcoming our event to Alice Holt Forest

Credit to Lyn Goodburne and Roz Tandy for the photos.

Massive appreciation to James Nicholas for recording the clip of the Rudyard Kipling while in Edinburgh between performances of his play, 'The Signal Man'

And thank you to Ben Hamlin, our walking guide, and Tree Warden for Binsted, Rowledge, and surrounds.

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