Jul 15, 2011


Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Monday evening during a rather intense thunderstorm I sat watching an albeit somewhat pixilated Kill Bill Vol. 1, for the umpteenth time, and noodling on the computer. I didn't realize just how a bad a storm it was until an incredibly loud crack of thunder shook the wall next to me and something shiny flew across the living room a couple of feet from my face. What I thought must have been a shard of glass from a broken window turned out be lightning. There was no damage at all to the window or to me. The tree outside the window, however...

Our phone lines also got a good jolt that night and we've been replacing things all week, starting with the router which was magically transformed into a paperweight. So I've been offline for a few days. Turns out that thing about turning off and unplugging all your appliances during thunderstorms might have some merit.

We've been learning a collective lesson about the frailty of our technological society. In our endless to quest to subdue and control nature, nature keeps winning. Just ask the good folks in Japan who thought loading up one of the most seismic areas on the planet with nuclear plants was a good idea. There's power and then there's power.

We were fortunate. I wasn't hit by a refracted lightning bolt. And we've been able to replace our damaged electronics without incurring too much expense. Mostly, I've been left with a sense of awe.

When I was taking pictures of the tree for the property manager, I found myself overwhelmed by the beauty of the tree itself. Trees have always amazed me. I've been drawing pictures of them and writing poems about them since I was a child. They're one of the few things I've always been able to draw well. I drew trees with images of women woven into them and great serpent roots. I drew trees with open eyes.

My fascination with trees has grown over the years; the mythology and geometry. When I read Robert Graves's White Goddess years ago, I learned that many ancient cultures had elaborate mythical and cultural interrelationships with trees. Graves wrote extensively on the Beth Luis Nion alphabet and calendar of the Celts, for instance.

The Norse Yggdrasil is one of many "world tree" symbols; it's origins probably tracing back into its shamanic forbears. Trees are often used by shamans as entry points into non-ordinary reality because the roots go into the lower world, the trunk to the middle world, and the branches to the upper world.

When I first began learning about some of the deeper symbolism of trees it answered unasked questions that had been rattling around my subconscious: Why had I always been so entranced by trees? Why does the contemplation of them lull me into a state of reverie? Why of all the emanations of nature is it trees that I find so ineffable?

The tree is one of our most potent archetypes as a symbol of life and unity between the seen and unseen worlds; spirit and matter.

As I examined where the river of current had run down the tree into the earth, the myth that sprang to mind, though, was Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There, Eve met the serpent -- the shining one -- who coiled up the tree, or spine. And, in one of those strange vignettes where myth merges seamlessly with the world of form, I learned that a neighbor who bears one of the many names of the great mother goddess was hit in the leg by one of those shining sparks of electricity that shot through so many of our windows that night.


  1. Wow! What an experience! I really love storms, even though they can be terrifying! Every time we have a thunderstorm I freak out about turning off my computer, but since I always seem to be right in the middle of something that I don't want to quit doing I take my chances and leave it on anyway. I'll probably continue to do it anyway, even after hearing your story. :( Do you shut yours down during thunderstorms now, or not?

    Our landlord is pretty much ruled by fear and so had the huge, magnificent tree in our backyard cut down because he was afraid it was so old it was going to fall on the house. We were all grief-stricken for a long time after that, I thought I would never be able to go out into the yard again without that grief overwhelming me. If we had had the money to move we would have moved. A neighbor came out of her back door as he was out in our yard surveying his handy work and screamed at him "What the fuck have you done?!?" She felt like moving because of it too, and told him so. Shortly after that lightening hit a tree in his own yard and it fell on his house. I can't tell you how vindicated we all felt.

    I don't know anything about archetypes... I tried reading "Women Who Run with the Wolves" because I am a wild woman and I ran with a wolf. Well, he wasn't actually a wolf, but his name was Wolf and he looked so exactly like this photo that I secretly suspect someone came along and photographed him behind my back:


    Anyway, I really wanted to read that book but I just couldn't get into it. In fact it annoyed me. I mentioned elsewhere that I'm not politically inclined... I'm not too intellectually inclined either.

    I am inclined to love this planet though, and I think I love trees most of all. I have an INCREDIBLE affinity for trees! Some of my most absolute best friends are, and have always been, trees. And from as far back as I can remember I have used trees as "entry points into non-ordinary reality"! :) They the most trustworthy, infallible gauges of my sanity ... if I can feel a tree's joyous, grounded in the earth kissing the sky energy move through me then that is an indicator that I am balanced and sane, if I can't then I am out of balance and spending FAR too much time in my head, which I have to confess is most often the case. But not to worry, because not only are trees magnificent to behold, they are also magnificent therapists!

  2. There's a trick to reading Women Who Run With the Wolves. It can't just be read from beginning to end like an ordinary book. Do that and it makes no sense. I break it down here.


    I do shut everything down during storms now, particularly the really bad ones. That particular storm was like nothing I've ever seen. After it moved off, we could see it in the distance and my husband said it looked like Iraq. It was crazy. I've also got everything with a phone line running through surge protectors now. That bolt of lightning hit the phone lines in the ground. We lost everything, router, phones. When I looked at the credit card terminal, I couldn't believe it. All the paper had unspooled and was draped in curly cues around the machine. It was crazy.

    Sad about your tree. My husband still complains about a tulip tree his neighbor took down when he was a kid. It was mostly on the neighbors property so there was nothing they could do. Devastating. That poor tree that was struck by lightening eventually had to come down. Parts of it were dying and then the top blew off and hit the neighbor's garage. It was sad but some things you can't help.

  3. PS: Regarding that tree our landlord had chopped down, I am creating a BEAUTIFUL garden out there now, which I would not have been able to do with that dear sweet tree shading most of the yard the way it did. Just goes to show there are positive aspects to any situation that may have been perceived as totally negative!

    And btw, all this talk about thunderstorms and computers has totally inspired me to get my computer area organized! I already have all my stuff plugged into surge protectors, but I read that during a thunderstorm it should be unplugged from the main outlet because surge protectors would be useless in a direct hit by lightening, and the way I am set up right now it would be a total pain in the ass to reach the main outlets, and the storm would probably be over by the time I accomplished it anyway, hehe.

  4. Hahahahaha... when my PS comment posted I did not see the one I had just submitted about the women running with wolves book up above it. I was shocked and dismayed to think it had been lost in some black hole out there in cyber space. Then I realized that was posted elsewhere. Whew!


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