The Living Spirit of Old-Growth Forests: Paying Respect to the Tall Straight People

by Lisa Alpine Never before had he been so suddenly and so keenly aware of the feel and texture of a tree's skin and of the life within it. He felt a delight in wood and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree itself. --Frodo the hobbit as he enters Lothlorien forest in The Lord of the Rings. The realization of old-growth forests as civilizations that we are destroying at a horrifying rate is haunting me. I once thought of forests as just a few trees, not as a complete ecosystem whole unto itself. We are used to thinking in packages and units, not vastness. Especially since we have little or no exposure to the vastness of Nature---we have hemmed her in and preserved her in parks like museum exhibits. That is not wilderness. I understand now what naturalist Larry Eifert means when he says we must find the wilderness inside ourselves because it is gone from our planet. Taking a walk on a well-maintained trail through a redwood grove is not the way it was 150 years ago. It is like viewing an ant colony in a plastic home and thinking that is nature. We have sacrificed greatness and expansiveness for clutter and "safety". Since the white man's Gold Rush-frenzied invasion of Californian in the 1800s, only 4% of the original old-growth redwood forests are left. The Headwaters Forest in Humboldt County, is the largest unprotected old-growth redwood forest remaining in the world and yes--it is imperiled. The other west-facing old-growth forests, the mossy Douglas fir and Sitka spruce old-growth, have about 8% remaining. How can we now let multi-national companies and Texans-in-debt (Hurwitz) cut down the last of our ancient forests? My belief is that trees are alive--a species who can't speak up in their defense against our terror of nature or our greed. I had a dream last night. I have been asking the interviewees if they dream of oldgrowth trees. In my dream I hiked down a ridge to my favorite redwood forest leading down to a beautiful river. As I got to where the forest started I saw blackened earth and all that was left were charred stumps. I screamed uncontrollably that this was a sacred place and who had dared to cut it down? There were other people there mourning and lighting candles. The forest was screaming, too. The purpose of this article is to anthropomorphize trees and deepen our relationship to the forest kingdom. Our government sets aside stands of old-growth redwoods to protect the endangered spotted owl--what about the lives of the trees? They may not be "cute" and fuzzy and have puppy dog eyes like fur seals or the communication skills of the dolphin, but some among them have been here since Jesus was a tike. I'd say they have seniority, spirit and wisdom if we could hear them speaking to us.

I have woven together interviews with people as diverse as James Redfield, author of The Celestine Prophecy; Leslie Gray, psychotherapist and shamanic healer; Eliot Cowan shamanic healer and author of Plant Spirit Medicine; Paul Hughes, Director of Forests Forever; Dr. Joshua David Stone author of many spiritual and psychological books; Larry Eifert, artist and author of The Distinctive Quality of Redwoods. They all share the common thread of cherishing and protecting our old-growth forests, believing that trees do indeed have soul and purpose beyond pressboard. When I walk in an old-growth forest the feeling is the closest to a real religious deepseated meaning I've ever come across. --Larry Eifert Larry Eifert is a world-renowned naturalist painter who's main subject has been the mighty redwood giants along the Humboldt coast. He is the author of The Distinctive Qualities of Redwoods and his murals can be seen in many state and national parks. He not only paints the redwoods, he has studied them in depth and points out their unique qualities in his book: "Redwood forests are some of the least understood, yet most visited forests on earth. The greatest accumulation of plant mass ever recorded was a coast redwood stand in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It contained over 7 times the living matter per area of tropical rainforests, making this the highest accumulation of life on our planet. Redwoods grow in a family circle and have interconnect root systems, enabling trees to join forces in collecting water and stabilizing themselves against wind and flood." What feeling do you get in the old-growth redwood forests that are left? They seemed inaccessible at first, though I was drawn to walking in them like a cathedral or art museum. I forced myself to paint and learn about them and I gained a religious fervor for them. When I walk in an old-growth forest the feeling is the closest to a real religious deep-seated meaning I've ever come across. I don't know if one can put their finger on it. On the other hand, the forests are now so small. It feels like I am in a primordial forest, but when I see trails and hear traffic that feeling of old-growth forest is gone. I think it is important to save the Headwaters (in its original state) and not cut it up with roads and campgrounds. Have it be the last place people can experience wilderness that they can't get with just one tree. Aside from the Headwaters, there is not really an old-growth redwood forest issue any more. To me, they represent museums, not real forests. Tourists come here and see redwood groves beside the road on Hwy. 101 and think there are lots left. This is not true...they're only beside the road, not on the hills. I like to make the distinction between a redwood tree and a huge old-growth forest like the Headwaters. People ask how many acres does it take to make a forest. Spotted owls need several 1000 acres. For me, I'd like to not see light at the edge of the forest where it has been clear cut, not hear or smell cars, or see worn trails.

Save The Redwoods is now buying hillsides around parks, even if they have been cut, to protect watershed in hopes that in several hundred years there will be an oldgrowth forest there, not just a pocket of trees. Do you believe trees have spirits? Yeah, I do. I am not sure they are the same spirits we have. Where do you draw that line? I think they must have great experience and the fact they all join their roots together suggests a community or family. It is interesting to think there are all these groups to save the whales or the gnatcatchers, but there are few groups saving lessanimated creatures. I think that is a young job--chaining yourself to a tree. The young activists here are fervent in what they believe. People really care about the redwoods once they get to know them. It just takes loving and understanding them. I don't think you can understand them by whizzing past them at 60 miles-an-hour. I make my living doing nature art all over the country and I keep coming back to these forests. It is in my will to put my ashes in a redwood forest and let my nutrient go back into the soil. Have you ever seen plant spirits or devas in the forest? I don't think so. I have had deep feelings. I feel these forests are strong and knowledgeable, like an old man. Yet they seem so fragile and unprepared to fight for themselves, like an old man. Like the Dyersville Giant in the Roosevelt Grove. A woman in 1919 stood in front of bulldozers to protect that grove. The Dyersville Giant fell awhile back. It had been the tallest tree in the world. It was one of the most tragic things I've ever seen, like a cathedral that had collapsed. I was one of the first people to see it down and I walked the length of the tree. When I came back a week later it felt like rigor mortis had set in, just like in a human body. Have you been in the Headwaters Forest? I flew over it years ago before most people knew it was there. The Headwaters was brought to people's attention because Hurwitz came along and was planning to liquidate all those trees. Otherwise, it might have been cut acre-by-acre slowly and disappeared without anyone knowing. Hurwitz may be a blessing in disguise! My sense is that in a hundred years no one is going to care if we gave money to a crook .You don't stop to think what Yosemite cost when it was purchased, all that matters is that it is preserved. Same with the Headwaters in a hundred years. Is there anything else you want to say? I would have you stress we are talking about the forest and not individual trees. It takes many components to make old-growth forests. If you take any of those away, the forest loses its integrity. I am sad to say there are virtually no streams in oldgrowth forests that run clean and pure with fish like they used to. I can name only three. It is important to realize that the forest is really more than the trees. --Paul Hughes

Paul Hughes is Executive Director of Forests Forever in San Francisco. He has been involved in the environmental movement for 25 years. Forests Forever's mission is to protect and enhance the forests and wildlife habitat of California. Their top priority is to save the Headwaters Forest from logging. What percent of old-growth redwood forests are left in California? Just 4% and those forests are particularly important because they harbor unique parcels of land. How much of the Headwaters is part of that percent that is still standing? The 6,000 acres of virgin redwoods in the Headwaters constitutes almost all the privately-owned redwoods in the state. When you fly over the Headwaters in a private plane you can circle them in 15 minutes flying time. It is shocking to realize that this is all that is left of a 2.2-million-acre redwood ecosystem that existed just 150 years ago in California. Have you spent time in old growth-forests and which is your favorite one? Trinity Alps Marble Mountain Wilderness up near the Oregon border. It has the most spectacular old-growth trees with trunks covered in moss. Do you believe trees have a spirit or soul? I believe they have tremendous spiritual power. It is important to realize that the forest is really more than the trees. It is all so interconnected and interdependent. The trees are the most visible part, the most glorious part. Nowhere else but in a cathedral forest can you find such deep solitude and the silence. Do you believe trees are living entities? Some redwoods are 2,500-years-old. Any time you have a living being who has aged and grown that much, you are talking about a reservoir of energy beyond human comprehension. How can you deny that when you walk through the forest and feel that magic and energy? There is much that science hasn't taught us about these ancient forests. There is an extra dimension there we haven't plumbed yet. Let's say trees have a life force and sense of family among themselves. Why are they allowing us to decimate them? There are two sides to this coin. One is the forests have enlisted us to save them because we are part of the forest--we are part of a global ecosystem. You could say we are that part of the forest that is seeking to save itself with a human voice. On the other side, why is this destruction going on? Thomas Malthus said: "Nature is a cycle of boom and bust." It is inevitable that mankind will destroy the environment we depend on. But we have the ability to change if we make the effort. We know how to, but we have to muster the will as a species to do it. Do you ever dream of redwoods?

I had a dream last month of being in the forest. You cannot have sanity without sane relationships with your environment. --Leslie Gray Leslie Gray Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist whose work in ecopsychology links modern psychotherapeutic practices with shamanism. She has taught at UC-Berkeley and the California Institute of Integral Studies. She is of Oneida and Seminole heritage. Have you any experience with plant spirits? Yeah. I collect what is referred to as plant helpers or allies. I use those when I do extraction work such as sucking. How do you work with plants? I work with plants shamanically. I teach people how to use the spirits of plants for their own personal healing. I also teach how plants were used pre-contact among the indigenous peoples of North America. In both my workshops and classes I bring plants in and have the students work with aromas that affect consciousness. Aroma is one powerful aspect of plants that is overlooked in American culture. For example, if I am working with someone and they have a breakthrough, I will often anchor that realization in the aromas of either cedar, sage or sweet grass. When they smell that aroma again, it reconnects them with that realization. It is a very important way to help things not slip back into their subconscious. I think that Western psychology has suppressed the ecological subconscious and until it reincorporates it as a field, it is not going to be respected as restoring sanity and mental health into the world. Psychology works with only the individual and has not included the psyche of non-human experience. Western culture has a great deal of difficulty relating to the non-breathers like rocks and trees (trees do breath). What is your connection to trees? I always include the tall straight people in my prayers and am acutely aware of how much I have to learn from them. I have a reciprocal relationship with them. I leave offerings for them. I think that is much of the dilemma we have today. The reason we are suffering from environmental degradation is we have lost this reciprocal relationship of what plants give us. And we don't express gratitude. Without increasing our identification and heartfelt empathy with plants, we are in danger of destroying them and consequently ourselves, since they are our source of eating and breathing. This identification with life, of which both plants and we are, is not some primitive world view that only indigenous people have. It is an essential world view we need to cultivate if we are going to turn things around ecologically. Do you think the older trees or ancient forests have more wisdom than the younger? Those trees are our elders.

Have you spent time in old-growth forests and what feeling do you get from them? A real sense of ancestors. One of my first teachers in shamanism taught me a way of journeying where you sit at the base of an old tree and stay there for 24 hours without food or water. You sit and allow yourself to receive. It is quite astonishing what happens. Trees start talking to you. Many shamans say the best way to apprentice yourself is to a tree. I am made a little bit nervous by going to the wilderness as a panacea. There is nothing inherently consciousness-expanding in just being out in nature. Teddy Roosevelt is a good example of that. It is better to go into your neighborhood park and identify with your natural world, than go on safari and be there for amusement and sport. That doesn't guarantee a balanced relationship with nature. Nor does it guarantee a humble sense of our place in it. Nor does it guarantee that we will take what we learned in nature and weave it into our daily lives when we get back. Why do trees allow us to abuse them? They aren't. They are teaching us in the oldest school there is: the school of consequences. The laws of nature. Guess who doesn't breath when the forest is cut down? Not every living thing teaches by revenge or force. They are giving us a very tough education via consequence. Nature is very generous unless we unravel the web of life. We human beings will suffer the most if we create nuclear destruction. The earth will just take a few million years and regenerate herself. And we humans will be fossils! A forest without elders is a very empty forest. It is like a child without parents left there to fend for himself. --Tim Corcoran Tim Corcoran is the Director of the Headwaters Outdoor School in Santa Cruz. He teaches classes in wilderness areas chosen for their abundance of wildlife, creeks and forests. Classes range from Nature Awareness, Earth Philosophy, Bow and Arrow Making to Edible and Useful Plants. Have you spent time in old-growth forests? I've been going to old-growth forests all my life. In our Nature Awareness class we go into the Marble Mt. Wilderness which is old-growth and I teach people to communicate and feel the energy of the trees. There is so much spirit and power there. Do you believe that trees have souls? I believe that trees are living beings that have all the same types of experiences we have. They are feeling beings. They experience the world very differently because of the way they live. Because they can't move, they spend their time observing the world and watching. I believe trees hold the space for all beings. The reason we

probably are still here is trees keep us centered. Without trees, humanity would be out of control. I can give you an example about myself: In Santa Cruz there are oldgrowth trees in certain areas of town. They are a part of my life. If I don't spend time with them, I don't feel as peaceful. I think old-growth forests do it in a much bigger way. There is not a person on Earth who is not affected by a beautiful tree. Removing our old-growth forests is a huge wound to humanity. I also notice that the older trees teach the younger ones. A forest without elders is a very empty forest. It is like a child without parents, left there to fend for himself. People who are in tune with trees will feel this difference. How do you talk to a tree? There is a number of ways. I might feel a chill and I will know in my body which tree is calling to me. I'll approach it, admire it and appreciate all it does for the world. I'll realize the millions of beings that are allowed to live off one old-growth tree. I'll study it from a distance appreciating its beauty. I find that trees really enjoy that and love to interact with humans. It is such a tragedy when we ignore them. Oldgrowth trees even offer songs to sing. There are lots of different spirits that live around old-growth trees. Have you seen anything like that? I've been seeing things in the woods since I was a child. The major ingredient is faith--if you don't believe it is possible, you won't see them. You also have to spend lots of quality time--I call it "dirt time"-- just sitting and being with trees--climbing them--watching them. In our culture we want things quickly but these things don't happen quickly. The beings and trees that live in old-growth forests have to feel safe. People who want to experience a oneness with trees or see devas need to take the time to be in the forest. Interestingly enough over the years I've met a number of loggers who have told me they see these things and experience the energy, too. You won't get many of them talking about it because people think they are nuts. Have you seen plant spirits take human or fairy form such as gnomes and elves? Yes I have. It is a hard thing to talk about because it is such a difficult concept to understand. When I was a kid certain aspects of my childhood were not good. Even at 6-years-old, I went into the woods alone and spent nights there. I was never afraid. Children see spirits and are told they are not real so they stop believing in them. It is a real disservice to us. I've sat up in old-growth trees for many days and been given songs. I sat in an old Douglas fir for 10 days and saw it cut down. It was the elder in the forest. I heard the forest spirits scream and felt their tremendous sadness. Trees know way ahead of time when they will be cut down. They can feel the loggers coming and they can't run away. One time I went to an old woman's house to do some work and there was an ancient ponderosa pine in her yard. I commented about that tree and she told me that her neighbor was going to cut the tree down because he wanted the lumber. She grew

up in that house and that tree was her friend since childhood. She had fought for that tree at the town planning meetings but the day was coming when it would be cut and she was devastated. We put our arms around it and you could feel it knew it was going to die. I am not anti-logging. We all live in houses made of wood--everything uses everything else in nature. But we need to ask their permission and many times the trees are more than happy to give their lives up. The communication will come through the inner vision. They provide homes for us and if it is done in a conscious way, everything works out. But when we get our greed involved and close our feeling selves down, then we take and take and take and don't give anything back. Now there is so little old-growth forest left that not one single tree should be taken. I think we will be an angry civilization if we completely eliminate the old-growth forests from the world. I used to be pretty radical to save a forest. But now I am older and choose to do it through prayer. Some people look at an old-growth tree as a home to hundreds of beings and others see money. We have all played our roles in that. I want to be careful not to condemn loggers because we all have wood in our homes. If we want to take the time to love and understand trees then we should also take the time to understand loggers...it's all related. Do you have dreams of trees? Trees I know come visit me in my dreams. Is there anything else you would like to say? Climb in em, sit in them, be with them!! You don't have to go to an old-growth forest. Look around your town, there are trees just waiting to be with people. The Creator's love medicine flows to you through our brothers and sisters who have roots. --Eliot Cowan Eliot Cowan, author of Plant Spirit Medicine, began practicing herbalism in 1969. Together with his plant mentors, Cowan rediscovered the ancient shamanic practice of plant spirit medicine. Cowan is the apprentice and designated successor of Don Guadalupe Gonzalez Rios, an elder Huichol Indian shaman and plant spirit healer. Eliot lives in Mexico with his family. I was in luck because Eliot was in the Bay Area for a short period teaching an apprenticeship program. Do trees have a spirit? Absolutely! Plants are much more similar to us than different. They have a physical body made of the same elements as ours, they have minds and feelings, and intelligence just like we do. They also have a spirit similar to our own spirit. They are really brothers and sisters to ourselves.

My work with healing by calling upon the spirit of plants has demonstrated that there is such a thing as plant spirit. I've seen their spirit heal people of physical and nonphysical illnesses. How do you experience plant spirits? First of all, spirit is by definition slippery to talk about. It is beyond the mind and words and thoughts. My experience is that the spirit of plants is very compassionate. One of the ways they demonstrate this is they take on a form that is intelligible to my mind. They may appear to me as a person or an animal and communicate and teach me much of what I know about herbalism. The first time I met a plant spirit it took the form of a woman. The spirit took that form temporarily in order for me to understand something. The nature of spirit is difficult to understand, but thank goodness they take on forms that are tangible to myself and others. What has been your experience in old-growth forest areas? I lived in the Santa Barbara area. It was there I began to develop my relationship with plants. I spent a great deal of time in the chaparral and I learned to appreciate that the chaparral is a primeval forest. Small in stature, but never-the-less, a firstgrowth forest. Would you say that old-growth plants are wiser? I'd have to say yes and no. On one level, I'd say no because all wild growing plants are in perfect harmony with nature and have a lot to teach us. Therefore, it makes them very wise and powerful. On the other hand, I'd say that old-growth plants have a special wisdom we can learn from. I remember a woman who called upon me to come by and talk to the plants on her estate. She wanted me to ask them what was the best way to care for them. The plant that caught my attention was an immense old oak tree. I sat by it, made an offering and asked what it had to say. The first thing it told me was it was dying and wouldn't last more than another 30-40 years. The reason it was dying was the previous owners had over-irrigated to care for the non-native plants and the oak was rotting from the inside out due to this. The oak told me: "The foreign plants they brought in recently are okay, but I've been around a long time. I know the rocks, the soil, the ocean and there is a lot I can teach your friend. Tell her if she is sincere about learning, she can come here with a question and sit under me. If they are not frivolous questions, I will answer them for her." What is your experience with redwood trees? Limited. To really talk to a redwood tree, you can't be in a hurry. They are in a completely different perception of time than ours. Ten years is nothing to a redwood tree. Do you see devas around plants and trees? Yes, if I make it a point to see them. I find that in order to perceive these plant spirits you have to get into a different state of consciousness. The ordinary waking state does not give you access to that state. There is another state that all of us are expert at--the dream state. One of my favorite questions to ask people is if they

have seen a fairy or gnome or legendary creature in their dreams. Almost everyone says yes. If you can learn to dream while you are awake, you can see and talk to plant spirits. Why do you think plants and trees let humans abuse them? Plants are very generous to us in every way. They also have impeccable manners, so you'll never see a plant getting into an adversarial relationship with you. The reason is that plants are the Garden of Eden. I understand that the image we have given the Garden of Eden is the primordial state of innocence and unity, and plants are still there. From the plant's perspective there is no separation. A plant is in total unity with you and that means the plant will allow you to abuse it. They have a wealth of wisdom to share with us, despite the misuse and un-appreciation for all they give us from food to clothing to shelter to medicine. Do you get the sense that the plant kingdom is aware of how rapidly we are paving over and cutting down the natural world? Of course, it is suffering the affects of the ecological crisis just as we are. It stands ready to help, but for the most part nobody is listening or asking. Hopefully, this is changing. Even 5 years ago it would be unthinkable for you to write this article. My work for 10 years in plant spirit medicine is a revival of old healing practices, yet it is viewed as completely fringy in our Western culture. On the other hand, my book is out this year, my mailbox is overwhelmed and demand for classes is unbelievable. For whatever reason, people want to connect and learn from the spirit of plants. Who could have predicted that 10 years ago? I would advise all who think what I have spoken of here to be mere fancy, to drive up to a densely wooded area and stand in the midst of such a woodland or forest and simply listen with the totality of your being. -- Dr. Joshua David Stone Dr. Joshua David Stone Ph.D. has published five books entitled: “The Complete Ascension Manual", "Soul Psychology", "Beyond Ascension", "Hidden Mysteries", and "The Ascended Master's Light the Way". Dr. Stone gives lectures, classes and workshops on a wide variety of spiritual and psychological subjects. He is also the organizer of the annual Wesak Celebration in Mt. Shasta. Do you believe trees have spirits or souls? Trees do indeed have souls! Their souls have not been individualized in the sense that the human soul has been, for they still belong to a great group soul which evolves through incarnating via the Nature Kingdom. This soul essence first formed the soul source for the mineral kingdom and will eventually pass through the animal kingdom until true individualization occurs upon entering the human kingdom. The human kingdom, as we know, eventually evolves and ascends into the spiritual kingdom. Viewed from this perspective, the entire kingdom of nature is truly our younger brothers and sisters! Do you see tree spirits or devas?

The direct experience I have had with the devic and plant kingdom has been more intuitive and clairaudient than visionary, but nonetheless real. After a particularly cold and rainy period, I noticed that the garden of plants I share my home with were not reacting well to this environmental shift. My first impulse was to increase their supplements, sunshine and so forth, but got only a minimum of response. I then realized that I had neglected to speak directly to them and confer with the plant devas who help to maintain their growth along with me. That morning I did a special prayer and invocation asking the overlighting devas of each plant to please nurture them in ways that I personally was unable to. I also called upon Pan to help in the process and of course, on God. Then I turned it over, taking special care to speak softly and sweetly to the plants themselves as they respond to positive energy through the human voice. Within one weeks time it was as though a miracle occurred. Whereas before I was struggling with my indoor plant garden, I now had a thriving plant forest in my home. How can others connect with plant spirits? All of us are equally capable of connecting up with plant spirits. Some will be able to see them, some to hear them and some will simply feel them. The one prerequisite is that all contact must be made through love. The devas are very vibrationally oriented beings and it is intended that humanity and they work together in very close cooperation. We, as do the devas, must play our part in the care and nurturing of this gentle healing kingdom. I would advise all who think what I have spoken of here to be mere fancy, to drive up to a densely wooded area and stand in the midst of such a woodland or forest and simply listen with the totality of your being. Unless you have deliberately put inner and outer blinders upon yourself, you will not be able to help yourself from feeling the abounding presence of the soul and spirit of the life surrounding you there. As you listen within you will be able to sense the stirring of many things often hidden from ordinary sight. You may even be able to hear the soul of a tree speak its presence within your mind or gently touch your heart. Who knows but out of the corner of an eye you might just catch the glimpse of a woodsprite as she moves about attending to her duties. The plant kingdom is chiefly about love. That is why we feel that transcendent wellbeing when we are meditating in that environment. --James Redfield James Redfield is author of The Celestine Prophecy and The Tenth Insight. He is an extremely passionate and knowledgeable person when talking about saving what is left of our forests. Both your books place importance on the energy in old-growth forests and have environmental overtones. Why? If we are pursuing a spiritual life, old-growth wilderness areas, especially sites identified by Native American traditions, raise our awareness. When we are in proximity of these areas, we receive a buoyant energy, a connection to the divine. We tend to also get insights into who we are and our purpose here on the planet.

Are you involved with environmental groups? I am involved with Save America's Forests and several local Alabama wilderness protection organizations. Have you been in old-growth forests? Absolutely, especially in the Appalachians which is the oldest mountain range in the world. I'd like to comment that most people don't realize only 3% is left of the oldgrowth forests in America. These areas, especially our national forests, are open to clear-cutting. Congress allows multi-national corporations to come into our national forests and cut 1000-year-old trees to chip up and make plywood. Most taxpayers don't realize they are subsidizing the multi-national timber corporations in a kind of corporate welfare. Thousands of acres of our wilderness are being destroyed in this manner. These lands belong to our children and grandchildren. I am convinced that if the general public knew this corporate destruction of our public lands was taking place, they would be in the streets protesting. I was in Oregon to witness the clear-cutting of an old-growth forest. On Forest Service land I watched them cut down 1000-year-old trees that were 10-feet in diameter. We followed the process as a claw-type machine loaded them on trucks and drove them to a chip mill. The wood chips are shipped to the Pacific Rim and pressed into plywood. We are talking about a multi-national corporation that makes no contribution to our economy, just lines the pockets of the politicians. Another thing that is misleading is the ads on TV claiming that the lumber companies are replanting the forest. In reality they are clear-cutting, spraying the land with pesticides which kills everything, and then planting rows of pine trees. They are turning these diverse old-growth cathedral forests into pine tree forests and they call that protecting and replanting our nation's forests! Do you believe trees have spirits? I don't really talk in terms of tree spirits. I relate to trees as keepers of energy. In the end we may find that they are protective energy fields that nurture us. The plant kingdom is chiefly about love. That is why we feel that transcendent well-being when we are meditating in that environment. How can people get more in tune with trees? All it takes is being open. We have to slow down and see the uniqueness of a tree. If we think it has a consciousness, then we can look at it in a whole way.

Lisa Alpine is a San Francisco Bay Area writer who wrote this 20 years ago. It first appeared in Common Ground Magazine. If you would like to reprint this story or read about her many publishing ventures, she can be found at www.LisaAlpine.com

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