the Grandmother Tree
at River House

on the Assabet River in Concord Massachusetts

Conventional scientific wisdom is that Nature has no Being and no Consciousness; and, that all the tales of the ancients and aboriginal  peoples concerning nature spirits are just so much gloss trying to explain things science has now far better explained.

If you believe that then, don't read on.  If you are thinking about living in a place which invites you with great power toward the peaceful and meditative contemplation of nature with an open mind, then these words and pictures are for you.

In the works of Rudolf Steiner, who was a scientist of the spiritual, he often refers to the concept that the forces of life and the forces of consciousness are somewhat in conflict with each other.  We do know about near death experiences, which universally declare that upon leaving behind the dying and once living body, ones' consciousness expands and intensifies.  We do know that among the cell structures of the human body, the nerve cells and the brain cells, which don't have the same regenerative power of other cells, are seen to be the center of our consciousness when we are in the body.  Consciousness seems to work best in those parts of the body where the creative and healing powers of life, in the regenerative sense, have withdrawn.

Spiritual tradition speaks of tree spirits as Dryads - as the female-like spirits of trees.  Traditional female spiritual wisdom speaks of the stages of maturity of women as composed of: virgin, mother and crone, each having its own powers and capacities.  Those who meditate on nature often come to recognize that in what we might call a dead tree is in fact the  physical locus/home of a very mature  tree spirit  tradition calls a Dryad, in its crone stage of wisdom.  The life forces are no longer active, and what remains spiritually connected to the so-called dead tree is one of the most powerful types of consciousness of any nature being.

This view is from the left side of the river frontage, about 5 yards from the water ....


About ten yards off shore from the side of the river nearest the house, and easily seen directly opposite the second floor deck, is this naturally diminutive Grandmother Tree.  It stands alone, regal and upright - a stark apparition of treeness.  The living trees all gather on the shores of the river, but this Grandmother Tree sits in the river itself, as if it has been there from some distant time when the river was small, frisky and young.  At the base of the Grandmother Tree is a collection of driftwood that has accumulated over the years after flowing downriver and getting caught there; or, having been put there by the local beaver who often is seen playing at the base of the Grandmother Tree.  Birds land not infrequently in the Grandmother Tree as they cross the river, as if stopping by to say a brief hello.  There is a Dove that on occasion sits there about half way up the Tree, preening for as much as an hour at a time.

The next views are from the second floor deck.  We can only notice the Grandmother Tree in these shots by focusing on the base of the tree that sits in the river and is surrounded by driftwood.  During the summer there are sometimes green leaves that grow at the base.   In the winter She stands out more, because all the trees are without leaves at that time.  Only in the spring and summer and fall does She alone remain proudly clothed in the bare essentials of Her stark and unadorned form.



We can have the idea that nature does not possess a mind, such as we do.   This is a difficult view to maintain  when we sit and contemplate the river from the yard or the second floor deck.  It is just that this nature-mind is mostly quiet and still, and when it has thoughts  the birds fly by, for the flight of birds is nature-thinking.  Nature-mind is whole - undifferentialted.   The Grandmother Tree is not separate and individual as are we, but rather a modest locus - one of many centers - of something deep and vast and joined to eternity.   Our minds seem to us to be separate and are full of rushing and striving, while the nature-mind just is.  Its becomings and doings live by the slow rhythms of the Seasons, and its moods are changes of light and color as the sun moves daily across the sky, or when the clouds darken and nature-mind relieves Her sorrows in the rain.   To live at River House is to discover, slowly and surely, how to once again be at One with Nature.

Here is Emerson, one of the wisemen of Concord: Nature is a thought incarnate that turns to thought again as ice becomes water and then gas.   The world is mind precipitated, and the volitile essence is forever escaping into the state of free thought.

the diminutive Grandmother Tree in the Fall (a gray apparition of power and grace)


and the Assabet River at flood, as it spreads out two or three hundred yards into the across the river wilds,
which floods never bother River House itself, joined as it is to the love and protection of the Grandmother Tree.


Waters flow and the Fire of light streams in plays of color.  The Air too moves and dances the leaves of trees.  Yet trees themselves are of the Earth, and their trunks and branches are the power of the Earth itself rising into the light.  This living earth skeleton of trunk and limb then serves the green world, becoming seat and home to an infinity of leaves, whose passion in the Spring is only outshown by the Brightness of their Fall into sacrifice to the forest floor at the first hints of Winter.  Though the leaves pass away yearly, the trunk and limbs of ancient tree wisdom seem never to succumb to gravity and are always devoted to the light and the Sun.   Once more - the diminutive Grandmother Tree in Fall ...