Ancient Wild Power

During our New Moon calls, we invited our network to share their thoughts about the Wise Woman archetypal energy and the Crone life phase. This is a guest post by Loran Hills (guest posts do not necessarily represent TreeSisters’ view on a subject).

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In the long ago past, it was believed that women became wise when they no longer shed the lunar “wise blood” but kept it within. The word hag, defined as an ugly old woman, especially a vicious or malicious one, usually brings up feelings of revulsion. Yet, hag originally meant “Holy Woman,” queen of the dead, incarnate on earth.

Hag has no male form or counterpart. She is a diviner, a soothsayer, a woman of prophetic and oracular powers. The hedge was once considered the boundary between the “civilized” world and the wild keepers of primal mysteries. The Hag is She Who Straddles the Hedge.

Wild women have been called corrupt, depraved, immoral, sinful, wanton, and wicked. They live in a state of nature, not tamed or domesticated.  They are unruly, ungovernable, visionary, savage and ferocious.  These labels teach us to fear our power and deny our wisdom.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, “A good deal of literature on the subject of women’s power states that men are afraid of women’s power. I always want to exclaim, “Mother of God! So many women themselves are afraid of women’s power.” Divine feminine forces are vast and they are formidable.

Do not fear the hag who cackles.

Baba Yaga spoke to me the morning after the last TreeSisters’ New Moon call. She lives in a hut in the woods. She tells stories at the hearth. She speaks in mysteries.

Baba Yaga knows the priestesses at Delphi who planted the seeds, watered the plants and harvested the wheat. She bore witness to the fallow fields in Ireland and the battlefields full of blood spilled by men, not the blood of life, the life-giving dark womb mother of us all. She sent a message from our Mother:

We all came from mother, from wet blood and slime and placenta full of nourishment, breasts full of milk spilling over in joyous laughter.

Dry breasts and thin babies. No water. Why? What are you doing to me? When will you stop? The keening, the wail of the banshee, the shrieking wind. We frighten you and you hide your eyes in shame. Bow down before me. Stand up before me. Hold out your hands. Receive my gifts, not of myrrh and frankincense, the gift of life, blood and milk. Fill your cups.

The oracle has spoken with her wizened crooked finger pointing at you. Yes, cringe and cower before my might. I can shake you loose, throw you off. Drown and freeze you. My breasts are drying up. My womb no longer bleeds. The crone will deny you life if you must continue. It’s your choice.

The Implacable One isn’t speaking sweetly to us. She’s warning us to take action, even if they are small steps. On the New Moon call, a TreeSister mentioned she didn’t have a website or the resources to plant trees. She is “being now more than doing.” Not doing is a form of action as well. Not buying toxic food, not using plastic shopping bags, those are actions too.

Expressing gratitude, listening to the calls, caring for each other, and offering support; these are all actions. Restraint, refraining, reframing, generating lovingkindness towards the planet and its inhabitants, all steps.

The crone stage and the knowledge of the ancient ones has been obliterated by our youth-worshipping culture, yet within us is a connection to the Divine Dark.  We need compassionate and loving discussions about aging.  We must celebrate the depths of wisdom that come from living a long time.

If we answer the Crone’s call, She will guide us through our darkest nights.  Claim the wisdom of the Elders, acknowledge their insight, and greet them without fear or aversion.  If we do, we will become the Wise, Holy Women we seek to know and understand.

I’m a mature woman, a crone, a hag, a wise woman. I call on my inner strength and courage, even when I feel moments of fear. I step into my cone of power and raise my arms to the moon. I stand with bare feet on the cool, damp earth. I draw down the silvery light to infuse myself with power.  I am both the ground and the sky.  I am the warp and the weft of the tapestry of my life.

My website, loranhills.com, is dedicated to shifting the paradigm on aging. I have a secret Facebook group, Skin Deepest, for women who want to explore their crone energy. Friend me on FB and ask to be added to the group if you’d like to join or sign up for my newsletter on the website to receive information about upcoming e-courses designed for sublimely brazen aging women.

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TreeSisters’ envisions elements within our organizational unfolding as a starfish.  Each leg of the starfish holds the whole of its DNA. If you cut a leg off, it can survive and grow a new starfish.  If you cut a leg off of the starfish it still survives. This is a potent concept we have adapted from The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations as we seek to become a network led organization.

During our previous three New Moon calls, TreeSisters introduced the Starfish Model in the form of three conversations.  One conversation is about the power of the Wise Woman archetypal energy and how to bring that wisdom into the core of TreeSisters. The second starfish conversation is how individual women can bring their gifts into TreeSisters as a way of collaboratively achieving our mission.

The third conversation is an inquiry into how the vast array of teachers, facilitator, and coaches within the network can become a co-creative element within our new non-profit business model.

In 2015 we are shifting from being a charity that requests donations to support our mission to being a charity that offers educational on-line courses as a means of both achieving our mission and funding our organization. Our ultimate vision is that our courses will fund our organizational costs, thereby enabling us to channel all of our monthly network donations straight to the trees.

On March 9th we had our first in a series of the Instructor Starfish calls in which we created our container of inquiry around the following question:

In what ways can TreeSisters tap into the brilliance and passion of our network’s vast array of facilitators, coaches, and instructors as we co-create a new “educational services for fees” business model?

Clare began the call with a meditation around the educational matrix that TreeSisters has created as a guide to what makes a TreeSisters course unique. There are six major elements that create the TreeSisters course signature and that contribute directly to the emergence of nature-based feminine leadership.

These elements represent the qualities that can be counted on when you sign up for any TS course (whether it is one of our custom courses or a course offered by one of our partners or the network):

  • Reconnection
    • Themes that grow and strengthen a woman’s root connection to Self, Sisterhood, Soul/Spirit, and Nature
  • Embodiment
    • Body based facilitation where possible to strengthen embodied listening, intuition and creativity – experiential journeys as opposed to talk shops
  • Sisterhood
    • Consciously seek to build relationship between women and create a shared experience of sisterhood
  • Feminine
    • Celebrating the feminine principle/feminine emergence and the uniqueness of woman while celebrating the masculine principle and men
  • Nature-based
    • Consistent focus on self as part of nature and learning through/from nature
  • Invoking the New Story
    • Has a positive vibration that inspires and builds the energetic field of the New Story

This matrix really hit home for the instructors on the call.  We all believe it really highlights what makes TreeSisters unique in the transformative education field. After some meaningful sharing about this matrix, we shifted our dialogue and explored three particular questions that come under our key inquiry:

  • In what ways can we create win/win relationships in which TreeSisters hosts courses that make great teachers’ work available to our entire network whilst also fundraising directly to cover our organizational costs?
  • What would need to be in place so that instructors would be inspired to partner with TreeSisters as a means of actively building and maintaining TreeSisters while promoting their work to a wider network?
  • In what ways can TreeSisters support aligned courses and instructors within our network that are not directly part of our official organizational offerings?

This first Instructor Starfish call is only the beginning of catalyzing a network wide dialogue that seeks to bring our entire network into our core vision and to be co-creators with us.

I will be posting the harvesting from our calls, but in the meantime, if you have any thoughts, ideas, or comments about this, please post them here in the blog’s comment section and let’s begin a digital starfish dialogue together.

(If you would like to be added to the Instructor Starfish mailing list please email info@treesisters.org , subject line: Instructor Starfish, and request that you be added.)

Edveeje is the Director of Operations for TreeSisters.  She lives off-grid on ten acres of raw mountain land in the Mother Forest of Southern Appalachia where she is passionate about the power of place and how our relationship to Nature can infuse, inspire, and call forth, not only our souls, but our part in the Great Turning.

Are You A Nature Evolutionary?

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Similar to the TreeSisters mission, ONE (the Organization of Nature Evolutionaries) seeks to respond to a deep need in each of us to recover our innate connection with Mother Earth and our inner Wild, while cultivating the best of our human capacities to be in service to the Sacred.

ONE is a living network of people and nature beings working together and supporting one another in our co-evolution toward a revitalized planet in which the Sacred in All is recognized and celebrated.

We find that by tuning in to our hearts we become intelligently receptive to the messages of the trees, plants, animals and landscapes. As we come into alignment with our deepest selves, we can hear the voices of the natural world and become clear about what actions we are called upon to take.

ONE started as an inspired vision of Pam Montgomery, author of Plant Spirit Healing, who is a leading teacher on Plant Communication. She invited her students and colleagues to dream with her an organization which would respond in a sacred manner to the messages we were receiving from the natural world and to act on their behalf.

Collectively we found that these inspired actions manifested in: ceremony, healing, education, stewardship, spiritual activism and creative expression.  You will find these categories on our website as signposts to the various paths of carrying spirit into action — similarly to the way TreeSisters guides us through the “Map of 5 Choices.”

Central to our work are healing ceremonies both for humans and for places and elements of Nature. Ceremony is a way of communicating directly with the natural world, and it begins in gratitude.

We hold “Gratitude Circles” on new and full moons to unite in consciously giving thanks to our more-than-human relatives. (Like TreeSisters, we’ve been guided to focus our work in accordance with moon cycles.)  Over the course of the turning year we center these circles around themes which change with the seasons.

For example, the upcoming theme for spring is Soil and Seeds.  Anyone can participate in the Gratitude Circles. If a moon-honoring group is already formed, you may simply bring in the element of gratitude—in this case for the soil, seeds, and earth-honoring farmers–and focus a united intention for the regeneration of soil and the integrity of seeds.

If you are not connected with a group in your area, you are invited to join the virtual tribe of ONE, and know that the ceremony you hold, seemingly alone in your living room, is actually connected in spirit with all-of-us.  The ONE website offers guidance on creating ceremony and invites everyone to share experiences and insights.

The seasonal themes are elaborated in our monthly newsletter, where Nature Evolutionaries share their wisdom and experience as well as their creative inspirations related to the theme. We welcome your comments or articles.  This spring we hope to hear from farmers, conservationists, seed savers, as well as those who may write poems to the soil or meditate on the spiritual significance of seeds.

Gardens, large or tiny, can be focal points for consecrating our reciprocal relations with Nature. ONE celebrates the makers and keepers of Sanctuary Gardens and would welcome any photos or reflections on your experiences with nature beings in the garden.

Many Nature Evolutionaries are healers, and all of us are sometimes in need of healing. ONE partners with the Collective Healing Network—a place for both asking for healing and joining with others in offering prayers for healing (you find this network through our website)  Our newsletter and blog regularly feature meditations and practices for self-healing with the elements of Nature.

We believe we are all helped by sharing our skills and collective wisdom. ONE brings together researchers and teachers in a wide variety of fields that connect the Heart of Nature with the Heart of Humanity. Our website  includes descriptions and listings of their classes.

In cooperation with people from the Federation of Damanhur, members of ONE have been working to reweave the interconnections between the realms of humans, trees, and nature spirits. Some of these efforts are described in the ONE blog post on “Tree Orientation.”

We honor all those who with reverence and respect are taking action on behalf of the beings of Nature. We see Tree Sisters as a shining example of this spiritual activism.   If you are a TreeSister, we think you are also a Nature Evolutionary!

What is a Nature Evolutionary?

-One who serves the sacred and recognizes the sacred in all things

-One who lives in co-creative partnership with all life

-One who takes up their rightful place as a part of Nature

-One who strives to live fully awake, remembering their True Self

-One who recognizes that to harm the Earth is to harm oneself

-One who advocates for equal rights for Earth and All her beings

-One who infuses the sacred into the Green Renaissance

www.natureevolutionaries.com

April Thanhauser lives on Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Breton Islands where she engages in and teaches communing with Plants. A practitioner of reflexology and plant spirit Healing, she is especially devoted to healing through limpias–spiritual bathing with plants. A long time explorer of spiritual traditions, she is interested in finding the openings where the spirit of Nature infuses devotional life. She is also a storyteller and puppeteer who delights in the cooperative making of community celebrations and ceremonies in honor of the natural world.

 

Winter’s Cosmic Gifts

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Yesterday was the Full Moon; a time to be fully present to what we are creating and manifesting in our lives as well as a time to celebrate all that has been and all that is to come.  As I looked at the Full Moon cresting the mountain ridge through barren treetops, I thanked her for all the gifts given over her Winter waxing and waning.

For three months we have waxed and waned with the Winter Moon and opened ourselves to her cosmic gifts.  Through the TreeSisters’ New Moon Calls and the Wisdom of La Luna blog posts we have grown still and quite as we listened around Her fiery hearth.  We have danced to the truer rhythm of our soul’s drumming.  We have looked deeply at what we long for and created a vision for the unfolding Year of the Soul.  We have entrusted Earth with the seeds of our dreams germinating deep in the ground; trusting life to come forth when the time is ripe.

We have learned that rest is a sacred Sabbath always available to us if we can value the Feminine Principle of the life-death-life cycle that swims in our blood.  We have honored our unique rhythm of life and sculpted our days and dreams from Winter’s clay.  We have accessed an older and wiser self who has whispered the secrets our younger selves so long to hear.  We have sipped from the Wise Woman archetypal chalice and our wombs have grown warm with its nourishing wisdom.

No matter the weather, Winter has been good to us. The Moon has taught us many things throughout all her cycles, but her most profound gift this Winter was the power of the New Moon and the need for us to rest and envision the life we long to embody and experience.  The visioning of the New Moon and the beingness of Winter are twin flames that will light the fire throughout the unfolding year.

Knowing that a new season and a new lunar phrase knock at the cosmic door, this Full Moon I honored Winter and I celebrated the New Moon.  The seasons and the phases of the Moon are embedded within every woman’s womb and they whisper to us in every stage of our lives.  And though Winter’s vision and wisdom begin to pass into Spring’s germination and growth, we will carry the essence of her throughout the year’s unfolding every month when we look at a dark night sky and feel (rather than see) the presence of the New Moon beckoning to us to remember Winter’s wisdom.

As you bow to the wisdom of Winter and the archetypal presence of the Wise Woman & Crone, what are the gifts, insights, breakthroughs, visions, and dreams from this season that you want to honor and celebrate during this Full Moon?

Edveeje is the Director of Operations for TreeSisters.  She lives off-grid on ten acres of raw mountain land in the Mother Forest of Southern Appalachia where she is passionate about the power of place and how our relationship to Nature can infuse, inspire, and call forth, not only our souls, but our part in the Great Turning.

 

Moon image by the lovely Ursula Dutkiewicz

Tree Pose

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By Clare Waldron

I have always loved tree pose since teaching yoga in many schools in central London, it seemed to be the children’s favorite pose too. I can’t count how many times I have done it, probably thousands. I have always felt a connection with trees and take great inspiration from them with their many varieties.

They show us how to stay rooted, strong and flexible, whilst reaching for the skies. Trees are so important as a habitat for all sorts of creatures, for peoples livelihoods, to help clean the air and preventing precious top soil being washed away. I could go on and probably you can think of many reasons too why trees are so important to us, to our health and the health of our planet.

This is why I have recently launched a campaign called Tree Pose for Trees to raise money and awareness in a healthy fun way for two reforestation charities; Treesisters and Trees For Life. Now is the time to find ways to re-balance our relationship with the Earth and what better way to do it then by supporting wonderful charities that have the infrastructure in place and are already making huge headway in their reforesting projects.

So let’s all get involved one way or another (a big thank you if you have already!)…by sharing and forwarding this post to friends, family and colleagues, donating on the virgin charity link TreePoseForTrees, or getting involved on social media by taking a picture of yourself or others in tree pose and posting with the following text:

Here’s my Tree Pose for Trees in support of TreeSisters

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It’s easy for you to get involved too:

  1. Kick off your shoes and take a picture of you in tree pose – the more creative the better!
    2. Share your tree pose with the world on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram using the hashtag ‪#‎treeposefortrees
    3. Donate £2-£10 to the charities via uk.virginmoneygiving.com/TreePoseForTrees
  2. Nominate 5 friends. Your money will be split equally between both charities to help reforest the planet. Please copy and paste this text when you share your tree pose, have fun!

Download the TreePoseForTrees Release.

Namaste

Clare Waldron

unnamed (3)Clare is a London based yoga teacher and ayurvedic massage therapist. She has been teaching yoga to adults and children for 6 years. She holds monthly women’s yoga workshops in Bermondsey and a yearly retreat to Turkey. She has trained with many wonderful yoga teachers, most recently she completed the women’s yoga therapy training with Uma-Dinsmore Tuli. Clare has a BSC in Environmental Science and likes to support earth-friendly projects. In her spare time she likes writing for her blog, walking her wolf-dog called Xochi and spending time in nature, cooking yummy vegan food, listening to music, dancing, reading and spending time with loved ones.

Wise Woman Week at TreeSisters

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We have declared this week at TreeSisters to be “Wise Woman Week” in which we are actively inviting the crone archetypal energy to our organizational hearth. One of the greatest things we are learning is that we must not rush Winter. She still has deep visioning work to do.

This New Moon was the last one of Winter and is a catalytic time when we are suspended between the waning energies of Winter and the waxing energies of Spring. It is a pivotal time and in our New Moon Call we explored how we can maximize the energy of this next lunar cycle by accessing the Wise Woman/Crone archetypal energy.

Though we are tempted to shake off the cloak of Winter and embrace the coming Spring, the next three weeks is a time in which the most important thing we can do is truly listen to our intuitive selves and the wisdom gained in the winter months. This kind of deep listening occurs in the silence and stillness of a woman’s winter cave.

This transitional time is critical for the ripening that is happening within our creative wombs. The Wise Woman archetype whispers the wisdom of being fully in the moment we are in: Winter.

In honour of this liminal space, I wrote the following poem with a couple of inquiries afterwards meant to stir our imagination about what the Wise Woman archetypal energy may be whispering to us in this transitional time:

Earth Stirs, But the Moon Whispers

The days lengthen
coldness still reigns
though brave buds
summon Spring
and the soul reaches toward the sunlight.
Earth stirs
but the Moon whispers:
“Don’t give in so soon.
Don’t trade Winter’s wisdom
before it ripens in you.”
No,
Stand still.
Be Winter;
Frozen
like the solitary snow flake
bedazzled by your authenticity.
Stand still
at Winter’s gateway of initiation and healing
as you reclaim
the Inner Crone
in all her radiance and glory.
Yes, the Wise Woman in you
asks to be invited
into the center of your fire
where she can lead you
by the hand
into the light of what is yet to come
if only you have the wisdom
to wait a bit longer
than you think you should;
Confident in the middle of your dark knowing
as Spring unfolds.
Reclaim what has been forgotten.
Carry the seeds of your dreams
awhile longer in the womb center of your being.
Let Winter incubate
your wild if onlys
in the tender embrace
of these cold days that remain.
The Crone beckons you to rest
if you are to heal and to rebirth
the self you were
so many eons ago
when you were forest and moonlight.

  • Imagine yourself at eighty-five years old. Look deeply into your own eyes. What is the message your wizened self has for your younger self? Listen with your intuitive ear and write down or sketch what you hear.
  • If your Crone Self were to write a letter to you what would it say? What advice would she give you?
  • In what ways can you invite the inner Crone and Wise Woman to your winter hearth over the next four weeks?

 May the Wise Woman and Crone join you in your Winter cave as you listen deeply to the wisdom that wants to become manifest in you.

 

 

Edveeje is the Director of Operations for TreeSisters.  She lives off-grid on ten acres of raw mountain land in the Mother Forest of Southern Appalachia where she is passionate about the power of place and how our relationship to Nature can infuse, inspire, and call forth, not only our souls, but our part in the Great Turning.   

Image courtesy of Ursula Dutkiewicz

Image courtesy of Ursula Dutkiewicz

 

February’s New Moon is the last one of Winter. It whispers important things in the cold darkness and we must listen closely through the frozen ground to the Crone Wisdom she longs to impart. The New Moon and Crone Wisdom are inseparable; twin flames that rise up through every woman’s soul and that light our path through Winter’s ever deepening darkness.

This New Moon is the last one of Winter and is a catalytic moment when we are suspended between the waning energies of Winter and the waxing energies of Spring. It is a pivotal time in which we can yet summon Winter to continue its visionary work in us while also turning our face toward the increasing energy and new growth of the Spring to come.

I truly believe the quality our entire year is a result of how well we have lived Winter and embodied the New Moons within her. Winter offers an energetic gift and asks us to envision the year of the soul that we long to embody in the new unfolding year. The deeper we allow ourselves to envision the life we long to create – one season at a time – the more potent is it’s unfolding.

The Crone has lived through decades of Winters and danced under hundreds of New Moons and has entered a phase of her life in which her vision and understanding have grown potent with knowing born of experience. She has learned how to be Winter and to sit gracefully in the midst of her own darkness and listen to the still small whisper of soul. She now embodies the wisdom of the New Moon without effort or intention.

I have a deck of cards called Wisdom of the Crone (www.wisewomenink.com). One of the cards in the crone deck is entitled Winter and it says, during Winter “time is suspended. The Earth appears to be fallow, yet deep down in the rich frozen ground, seeds slumber. This is a time for rest and contemplation, a time to examine our shadow sides and ask where are our weaknesses? How can we further our growth? As you endure the long night of winter, appreciate the stark beauty and warmth of the fire. Trust that the sun will come.”

The wisdom of the Crone and the New Moon are interlinked. Both invite us to contemplate, to rest, to examine our lives and to befriend our darkness; knowing one day we will be the Wise Women others come to in search of the path to walk. The more fully we can live and be Winter and embody the vision of the New Moon each month, the richer is the wine that fills the chalice of our Cronehood.

 

Edveeje is the Director of Operations for TreeSisters. She lives off-grid on ten acres of raw mountain land in the Mother Forest of Southern Appalachia where she is passionate about the power of place and how our relationship to Nature can infuse, inspire, and call forth, not only our souls, but our part in the Great Turning.

Why The Tropics?

Costa Rica Rainforest

By Nicole Schwab

Today, in my third and last post of this series on Treesisters’ Reforestation Strategy, I want to say a few words about our geographic focus.

Our starting point, once again, was Clare’s initial mission statement, namely that Treesisters aims to “reforest the tropics”. But, what do we mean by “the tropics”? Are we referring strictly to the geographic area lying on either side of the Equator, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn? Are we referring to “tropical forests”, as ecosystems characterized by high average temperatures and significant rainfall?

And more importantly, why are we focusing on the tropics in the first place? Shouldn’t we broaden our geographic reach to cover the entire planet?

To answer these questions, we went back to our strategic focus, which entails funding: (1) afforestation and re-greening to control soil erosion, restore and maintain watersheds, and restore top soil, and (2), the protection of intact forest landscapes.

First, with respect to afforestation and re-greening, we decided to prioritize:

  • countries experiencing important land degradation and desertification issues;
  • countries covering the world’s 3 major water basins, which experience important water quantity and quality issues, further exacerbated by climate change (the Niger basin, the Nile basin and the Ganges basin),
  • countries with important soil degradation issues (soil hardening and erosion), and high rates of poverty, and
  • countries that are the lowest performers on IUCN’s gender and environment index.

Using a variety of relevant data sources, these criteria led us to identify as a priority the countries highlighted in yellow and red in the map below.

forestconservation-nicole

Second, when it comes to Intact Forest Landscapes, the obvious question is, where are they?

Intact Forest Landscapes cover less than 10% of the Earth’s total land area and consist of humid tropical forests, and boreal forests in the Northern and Southern latitudes. They exist in 66 countries, with two-thirds of these forests concentrated in just 3 countries: Brazil, Russia and Canada.

Using satellite-imaging data from a variety of sources, we decided to look at which of these forested regions suffered from the highest rates of deforestation, and which presented the highest potential for landscape restoration in their immediate vicinity.

This analysis led us to identify a second set of priority countries, highlighted in dark and light green on the map.

Interestingly, as you can see on the map, the analysis suggests that indeed, our geographic focus should be on the tropics – broadly defined. This makes sense, not only as a methodological conclusion arising from our criteria, but also because:

  • Tropical forests are more efficient in cooling the Earth (as a result of their higher rates of evapotranspiration and carbon removal).
  • 16 biodiversity hotpots out of 25 are located in the tropics, and most of them are forested hotpots.
  • Most countries in the tropics have scarce conservation resources – and their natural resources are under threat.

In summary, the above map and the reforestation criteria we presented will be our guiding framework for the identification and selection of projects to receive funding from the Treesisters network.

Treesisters’ reforestation strategy may seem massively ambitious, especially given we have only just started funding our first trees. Yet we felt we needed to clarify our broader vision, and share with you what we are working towards. In doing so, we are laying out the container that can hold our collective dreams and energy.

We know we can’t do this alone. We are walking this path together, with each one of you, and with all the other amazing organisations working around the world towards the same goal.

Selected Data Sources:

Mapping the World’s Intact Forest Landscapes by Remote Sensing. Potapov P., et al. Ecology and Society, 13. 2008.

FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005

Peter Potapov, Lars Laestadius, and Susan Minnemeyer. Global Map of Forest Landscape Restoration Opportunities. World Resources Institute: Washington, DC. 2008.

IUCN’s Gender and Environment Index.

Biodiversity Hotspots  for Conservation Priorities, N. Myers et al. Nature 403, 853-858, 24 February 2000.

Nicole is an author and social entrepreneur, co-founder of the Forum of Young Global Leaders, and of EDGE Certified – a global scheme certifying organizations for 20140910_5d3_07665-coul2closing the gender gap in the workplace. Her book, The Heart of the Labyrinthgives voice to her engagement on behalf of a world that values and honors the sacred feminine and is rooted in our connection to the Earth as a living being.

By Nicole Schwab

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In my previous post, I shared how, in a nutshell, Treesisters aims to fund projects that increase the number of trees or protect intact forests, and simultaneously improve community livelihoods and nurture women’s participation and empowerment. I also highlighted why we want to give particular emphasis to tree-planting initiatives that focus on controlling soil erosion, restoring and maintaining watersheds, and restoring top soil.

The good news is that there are many initiatives working to achieve these goals around the world. In this post, I want to focus a bit more on the “how” aspect of reforestation, by giving a few examples, and hopefully making our approach more tangible.

Project Green Hands (PGH), Treesisters’ first beneficiary project, is a great example of large-scale reforestation and re-greening in an area suffering from advancing desertification. While PGH has several tree-planting initiatives to increase the green cover of Tamil Nadu in India, we decided to support agro-forestry because of its comprehensive impact on the communities involved.

Under this initiative, farmers are accompanied in the planting and nurturing of tree saplings, which provide direct economic and ecological benefits. Not only do the planted trees add to farmers’ income (timber, fruit, fodder and fuel), but the presence of trees in farmlands reduces soil erosion, increases soil fertility and water retention. This is of critical importance at a time of increasing climate uncertainty. Ultimately, this leads to greater yields in the farmers’ main crops.

Another example is the Green Belt Movement, (GBM) initiated by the incredibly inspirational Wangari Maathai. She summarized it all very clearly when she said, “If you destroy the forest, then the river will stop flowing, the rains will become irregular, the crops will fail and you will die of hunger and starvation.” The GBM places particular emphasis on planting trees in degraded watersheds to provide water, fertile soils, and healthy ecosystems – all the while empowering women as care-takers of the forest.

When it comes to the protection of intact forest landscapes – the second leg of our strategy, which does not involve tree-planting as such – a distinct approach is needed. The Pachamama Alliance and its sister organisation Fundación Pachamama in Ecuador, are a prime example. By engaging in policy and advocacy activities, they focus on raising awareness and garnering international support to prevent deforestation of the Amazon, create and enforce strict protected areas, and give land access and rights to indigenous people and local communities.

Another option for preserving intact forests involves the sustainable management of surrounding areas and the creation of buffer zones and corridors. By restoring degraded adjacent forests and managing them in such a way as to positively impact the livelihoods of communities living nearby, they can become forest stakeholders and have reduced incentives for further encroaching.

The Khasi Hills restoration project in East India is such an example, whereby natural regeneration methods are used to replant lands surrounding untouched forests, thereby restoring and protecting forest wildlife corridors connecting sacred forests.

In short, we want to support the amazing initiatives of countless women and men who are tirelessly seeking to give back to the Earth, be it through emergency planting actions, re-greening of drylands, conservation projects or landscape restoration in the vicinity of Intact Forest Landscapes.

In my next and final post on Treesisters’ reforestation strategy I will say a few words about our geographic focus, and what we mean by reforesting “the tropics”.

Nicole is an author and social entrepreneur, co-founder of the Forum of Young Global Leaders, and of EDGE Certified – a global scheme certifying organizations for 20140910_5d3_07665-coul2closing the gender gap in the workplace. Her book, The Heart of the Labyrinthgives voice to her engagement on behalf of a world that values and honors the sacred feminine and is rooted in our connection to the Earth as a living being.

 

Tropical Forest image from University of Arizona

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This photo was taken by the Apollo 8 crew in 1968 and was the first time we actually saw the Earth as it appears from deep space. This picture of an “Earthrise” was taken over the lunar horizon and when I first saw this image my cosmological perception shifted yet once again. Humans are so Earth-centric that it never occurred to me that from the Moon’s vantage point, it is the Earth that “rises and sets.”

In our continual quest to deepen our understanding and application of living systems within the organization, I keep asking myself, “What is it to be a woman in the 21st century, on the living planet Earth, in the Universe as we now understand it?”

Following the Wisdom of La Luna is one of the ways I am exploring that question. Several months ago we decided to apply the wisdom of the lunar cycle by using the four Moon phases as our four main creative phases at TreeSisters. 

Each week of the lunar month has a particular theme that naturally reflects an important aspect of the creative process that we use as the guiding framework for our weekly core team meetings:

The week of the New Moon is dedicated to invoking possibility, setting our monthly intentions, making new resolutions, and identifying new projects or aspects of on-going projects that require our focus for that month. It is a visionary week.

The week of the Waxing Moon is dedicated to focusing on the growth and development of our monthly projects and goals. We also look at what is organically emerging to identify things that we might want to focus on but that were not part of our original seeding at the New Moon. It is a week of growth.

The week of the Full Moon we put all our efforts toward the full manifestation of our monthly projects and look at our outcomes through a celebratory lens. It is a week of manifestation.

The week of the Waxing Moon we assess how well we did, reflect on what we’d like to change, make any important course corrections, and let go of whatever might not be working.

Each week at our core team meeting we use this lunar rhythm to shape our meeting and guide our choices for the upcoming week. The more we practice this, the more I am seeing important subtleties within this creative lunar cycle I had not previously fully appreciated.

This week as the Moon waxes toward full we are typically focused on the growth and development of our current projects and initiatives, however this week I began to notice some interesting things that seemed to come out of nowhere. Because they took the form of subtle suggestions or creative flashes not fully formed, I could have easily overlooked their significance. However this week during the waxing moon I was really paying attention to the power of emergence.

“Emergence is a noun that goes back to the Latin root emergere, meaning “bring to light,” and it came into English in the 17th century. Just as something comes to light or shows up where there was darkness or nothing before, an emergence happens.” (source: vocabluarly.com/emergence)

At the New Moon all is dark and as we look up at the night sky we even sometimes say, “There is no Moon tonight.”  Yet, in reality, we know that even if we do not see the Moon it is still present. We “don’t see it” because it lies in the same part of the sky as the Sun and its illuminated face is away from Earth. But we trust it is there and will emerge again.

Day by day the Waxing Moon reflects more and more light as it rotates around the Earth.  When it is in its full phase it lies on the opposite side from the Sun and its illuminated side faces the nighttime hemisphere of the Earth. During the waxing phase we say the Moon is emerging again and yet, in reality, it has been there all along.

The illumination of what was there all along, but previously unseen or unrecognized, is not only part of the lunar cycle. It is an essential and magical part of the creative process. This part of the creative cycle is called emergence.

Emergence is how living systems change and is grounded in the belief there are things not consciously known or planned that want to come into being. They do not require our effort, manipulation, or permission. Though we do not perceive them, they already exist – like an Earthrise and the New Moon. Under the right conditions they begin to come topside with a life all their own. Our role is to pay attention – especially during the Waxing Moon – to what wants to come alive and to nourish it.

The Wisdom of La Luna tells us that there is more to our creative lives than what we invoke and plan; more than what we can envision. There are invisible seeds we didn’t know about that are germinating below the soil; reaching for the sunlight of our attention. May those things be brought to the light and emerge in gorgeous and unexpected ways during this Waxing Moon.

Image of Earthrise found on Nasa’s Solar System Exploration.

Edveeje is the Director of Operations for TreeSisters.  She lives off-grid on ten acres of raw mountain land in the Mother Forest of Southern Appalachia where she is passionate about the power of place and how our relationship to Nature can infuse, inspire, and call forth, not only our souls, but our part in the Great Turning.   

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