What can a cicada skin and a Hawthorn tree teach us about birth and death?
At our last property, the one I affectionately call ‘the rural idyll’, we had three hawthorn trees. Hawthorns are highly regarded for their medicine. They have an affinity with the heart. They can help regulate the heart’s rhythms. They are like the shamanic drumbeat that carries us into a sense of calm and balance.
Don’t be fooled by their sharp thorns, all that heart medicine makes them beautiful souls. One of the trees came to be known as the Grandmother tree. She was so generous with her gifts. The Druids say that the first blossom of a Hawthorn marks the first day of spring. Well, they would have loved her. Her blossom spilleth over. And as the season progresses, that blossom turns into an abundance of haws, or berries. Perfect for making cordials and conserves. I also made plant essences from her blossom. They are a beautiful way of gently capturing the energy of the tree; its personality, its healing and making it available to work with anywhere. I think that the original genie in the bottle referred to working with plant energy in this way.
The other two Hawthorns also have their own character. One was only willing to offer up any of her gifts if you asked her very, very nicely and praised her for her beauty and gave her due respect and thanks befitting such a beautiful healer. The other tree felt somehow broken-hearted. She wrapped her branches around herself tightly as if protecting her own heart. I liked to just sit with her and ‘be’. She didn’t really want lots of direct attention. But in her own way, she felt grateful for someone acknowledging her pain and just holding space for her. I think we all know how that can feel.
I think that the original genie in the bottle referred to working with plant energy in this way.Georgina Langdale
These three trees have helped many customers of mine in times of grief. They take their Archeus plant essence. The grandmother tree offering love and hugs one drop at a time. The hurting tree sharing some of her protection and the touchy tree sharing her strong ethos around taking care of oneself. All three united in caring for the heart, for helping bring things back into a place of calm and balance. Helping one find the moment of calm between the breaths and the ‘where to from here’s’.
So today, on my morning walk with my dogs in the local reserve, I found myself paying special and particular attention to a Hawthorn tree that grows by the path. I walked past her and reached out and touched one of her leaves, admired her thorns. But she beckoned me back, turning me round to return to her trunk. Her bark was deeply lined and rutted, the beauty that can only come with age. On one side of her trunk was deep green moss, and on the other, the leeward side it was more silvery. This is a pattern you will see in any habitat that has sun and dampness. Looking deep into nature is always a joy and it teaches us so much. The more I looked the more I saw the dried remains of cicada skins. Not just one, but lots of them. And this made me think about birth and death.
The cicada undergoes its metamorphosis on the trunk of a tree that is medicine for the heart. Life starts and life stops. Life moves forward and life changes. The in and the out. Much of the cicada’s life cycle is in the earth, nestled in the earth mother. Then to ascend on the trunk of a heart medicine tree, to emerge in a new life, a new phase supported by such beautiful tree medicine. How beautiful.
Each phase of our life can mark a death and a birth. The bringing in, the letting go, the shedding of a skin. At times of change we hope our hearts will be strong enough to guide us through, we wish for courage and so often we seek calm. On the leeward side of the trunk we find a place of silence, the space between breaths. The cicada skin is slowly shed.
So much love. So much change. So many signs. I see the cicadas, their soul medicine and think of the lives that have been lost and the won. The changes in a life. The seasons of the soul. The way we have no choice but to navigate the where to’s, the what if’s and the if only’s. Hawthorn, you show us how to see with the eyes of the heart and cicada you keep the tomorrows coming. What beautiful teachers you are.