Since I have been in Norway, the theme of trees has appeared over and over again. The tree is a metaphor for time and family as well as a connection to the natural world. It makes complete sense here too as Norway has lots of magnificent forests.
I have met many tree Elders on my Nordic journey, leaning on their vast trunks, peering up at their broad branches, sitting quietly on their exposed roots. There is something very magical about being in communion with a tree. It was a reassuring feeling sitting close to the tree at the Hurum Gamle Kirke in Klokkastrua, in the knowledge she had known my ancestors.
Our connection to trees is essential, as is with water. A prominent Gagudju Elder “Big Bill” Nedijie (Kakadu Man) summed it up so beautifully in his 1989 book Story About Feeling:
I love it tree because e love me too.
E watching me same as you
Tree e working with your body, my body,
E working with us.
While you sleep e working.
Daylight, when you walking around e work too.
That tree, grass…..that all like our Father.
Dirt, earth, I sleep with this earth.
Grass…..just like your Brother.
In my blood in my arm this grass.
This dirt for us because we’ll be dead,
Well be going this earth.
This the story now.
This beautiful poem reminds me of a wonderful project that was presented by Christina Della Giustina titled you are variations at RIXC Open Fields. She comments that:
The answer to the question “how can we learn to think with trees?”
is the same as to the question “how can I learn to think with you?”
I think this is a very important point about the role of the human. We do not just exist for each other and because of each other. We exist because of the complex and dynamic relationships we as animals have to the natural world.
My thoughts wander to the wonderful short documentary about Encountering Another Being produced by Empathy Media. This film talks about deep connection to nature that goes beyond the scientific process of analysis. I am also reminded of Miriam Rose Ungunmerr talking about Dadirri.
But let’s go back to the tree…
Den Gamle Mestre
Yesterday I was immensely privileged to meet another Elder – Den Gamle Mestre – the Old Master. This magnificent Oak tree sits quietly on the main road to Noresund. It was one of my dreams to visit this tree and it was made possible by two wonderful women I befriended through the Viking group I met back in late August.
My friend Hege captured how big this beautiful Elder is with this short video:
Den Gamle Mestre was the inspiraiton for a poem by Jørgen Moe, a poet and bishop interested in collecting Norse folk tales. Moe lived at Krødsherad Manor from 1853 to 1863 as the Chapel of Olberg Church and the other annexes of the church in Sigdal’s Soknekall.
He recognises that it is the oak tree itself that acts as a guide and shows the need to build on “one faithful foundation.” Moe explains in the poem that it is the order of the tree between the root system and the peak, which makes it possible to ride the storms:
The ebbing winter time after time
Has crossed its crown
With sparse daylight, with night so long,
Without a Butterfly Tone.
Towards the rock was buried on its feet
From the snow’s weight, so that crumb stood
Then she raised his arms
As in the middle of summer warmth.
To go to Livet will vagne up,
And Stormstød race from Fjeldet,
Then humbles humbly the top of the youth tree,
Self-grinding  Gran progresses the trap –
But then my old, my dear eg
Stand right and rank in the wild leg
With knoted arm against the weather,
And so far, it has prevailed.
There are two things: first it has its rod
Slapped deep in the Rocks Revenge –
See that, it catches power and courage
To stand in the rough Stevne.
And then up against the glands of light
It still lifts the twists of the twins
And drink the juice from the juice,
Light, Life, and Power.
God obey every priest who comes here,
To be so calm and mighty!
I love him, old master dear,
To look at you pretty wicked!
Yes, teach me in spite of the heavy weight of the snow
To lift to Heaven Day by Day
In prayer, widespread hands,
So the winter fall ends!
But glides and suffers  towards Vaar
Along the thundery beaches of Krøder,
And the storms of wind are going on
And whispers the touched waters:
Then teach me to stand with sensual courage,
As you stood in the crowd a lot,
And divide the words of the word,
What will fall and rage. 
Dear Master! o teach me only
To drill a rod in that rock,
Who gives one faithful foundation,
And age him to let go;
And then, like you with your crown’s top,
Daily to cheer up and stand up
And drink the juice from the juice,
Light, Life, and Power!
Here are some images of our meeting with the Old Master. Such a beautiful being!
Trees and Water
Again and again I come back to this beautiful symbol of the Wyrd and its connection to Yggdrasil and Urd – The Tree of Life and the spring which feeds her.
Beth Moon’s stunning tree project is awe-inspiring: Ancient Trees: This Woman Spent 14 Years Photographing The World’s Oldest Trees