Once upon a time there was a tree. He was an old pine tree. He’d stood there in the forest for many, many years. He’d stood in the forest through fires and floods. He’d stood there in spring and in fall. He stood there in snow and when bear and rabbits went by. He’d been standing there when people passed him wearing skins and hunting the deer with bows and he stood there now watching people build a camp for children.
He watched with great curiosity. No one had ever stayed near him for very long and so he watched. When the camp was built and tents were all put up children started to play around him. He enjoyed this. Some of them hugged him. Some sniffed him and argued whether he smelled like vanilla or butterscotch. Some leaned against them while they read books. Some just curled up at his feet. He thought that was the best.
He wondered if Gaia watched these children the way she watched over him. Gaia sometimes came to visit with him and he thought he’d talk to her about the children next time she came. Or maybe he’d just give a passing jay a message to pass on. There didn’t seem to be any great hurry.
He stood at the edge of an area that they had talks around a fire circle. He didn’t like being so close to the fire but they controlled it carefully and he really didn’t like that they had cut down a lot of his friends to use for log benches but he thought the talks were interesting some of the time and just plain silly some times.
One day a group of children came to listen to a man. He said he was a missionary. The tree didn’t know what a missionary was. The tree instinctively didn’t like this man. He was dark in a way the tree couldn’t explain just that he was dark.
A small girl leaned against the tree and got her self cozy at his feet and the tree felt happy. This little girl had chosen him all week to lean against and he had watched her go through camp. She was always humming and singing. He’d noticed she liked to sing a song called “This is my Father’s World.” He wished he could tell her it was really her Mother’s World not a Father’s World.
He hadn’t been really listening until the little girl started to push herself into his bark. He started to listen and then he started to get angry. He heard the missionary say that the world was evil. He heard the man say that it wasn’t the Father’s world it was Satan’s world and that the world was a terrible and bad place and he saw the little girl cringe and he knew he had to do something. He gathered himself together. He wanted to speak to the little girl but how? He finally decided he would try and talk to her the way he talked to Gaia. So he thought, “HE LIES!”
The little girl looked startled and turned around to study the tree and she nodded at the tree. She leaned back against the tree and he knew somehow that she no longer believed the man. She left the camp a day later and he thought he saw her again many years later but he wasn’t sure. She had grown and stretched up a lot taller but she sat against him with a smile during the night’s campfire program.
The tree never knew that that day everything had changed for that little girl. She had heard the tree. And later when she heard about Gaia she knew what she heard was true. And she always remembered the tree and thought of him fondly once in a while sometimes even when writing stories.
The oak leaf swayed in the breeze. It was a pleasant spring breeze and the tree was enjoying the slow back and forth swinging the breeze gave her. She was waiting because it was almost time for her yearly spring visit from the Druids that lived nearby her.
Every spring the Druids gathered and circled her. She was loaded with mistletoe and couldn’t wait for them to harvest it and have it gone. Most of the time she didn’t mind sharing her branches with the mistletoe but when it got heavier and heavier to hold up and when it started to steal too much of her water and food she was glad to be rid of it.
She had heard the Druids talking among themselves at the harvest about the uses they would have for the mistletoe. She was glad it was useful to someone. It didn’t communicate with her much. She heard the Druids talk about using it to help the people who came with breathing problems or problems with their sap.
She was anxious for them to come and take the mistletoe away. It had gotten very, very heavy on one branch and she was afraid it was going to break if they didn’t come soon.
From a distance she heard singing and the chiming of soft bells. They were coming! It was funny because some of the Druids addressed her directly and told her what they were going to do but there were other Druids that seemed to not know that she could see and hear. She wondered if they were blind to all plants and trees or just her. She sensed it made them uncomfortable when she tried to communicate. She wondered why that was so.
The Chief Druid stood before her in his trews and long grey tunic. She normally saw him in his long robes but this day he always came dressed to work.
“Darach, we come to ask you to grant us the pleasure of removing the mistletoe from your branches.”
The oak tree said, “Yes!” with all her might. The Chief Druid nodded and ladders were put all around her and the youngest in the group swarmed up into her branches and started carefully removing the great masses of mistletoe that had grown during the year. She felt lighter and lighter as they removed more and more.
She got so excited she dropped the last of the acorns that were left from last year. One bounced off the head of one of the smallest and youngest druids.
“OW!” The tree started to giggle and then the small Druid did too.
“You can hear me?” The tree asked. This made the tree very excited.
“Yes,” whispered the small Druid. “Can’t everybody?”
“No, only a few can hear me. I think the Chief Druid can but I’m not sure who else can. He is the only one that comes to talk to me besides when you are harvesting. I get lonely sometimes standing here.”
The little Druid moved down the branch she was sitting on toward the trunk. “Is is alright if I come talk to you? I will if you want me to.”
“That would be so nice. I’d really like to hear what you are studying and what you see in the other parts of the forest. Squirrels don’t tell me much and the birds never stay long enough.”
“I’d love to talk to you. Sometimes I get lonely too and the sheep don’t want to listen because they are too busy watching their lambs. Do you know any stories?”
“I know many stories. I can tell you about every thing and everyone that lives in the wood. I can tell you about all the people that have lived around here. I can even tell you were the best mushrooms grow and where the nearest honey tree is if you are brave enough.”
The tree and the little Druid heard her being called from far below. They wanted to begin the ceremony thanking the tree and the earth for providing healing and magic plants.
“I have to go but I’ll visit you soon.” And the little Druid slid down the ladder to the ground and joined the circle of bigger Druids around the tree. They sang the trees favourite song and she swayed with the breeze. That was as close as she could come to dancing with the Druids. The Druids circled around the tree singing and ringing their bells and soon they were on the way back to their village loaded with the mistletoe they had harvested. The last one in line was the little redhaired Druid who waved at the tree shyly when no one was looking.
It was going to be a good summer.
Vine is about prophetic powers and truth. The saying in vino veritas speaks about the power and effects of wine. The image of the vine tells us that logic may not always be the answer and to listen to your intuitive side.
And yes, I know Robert Graves probably made it up. So what. One word for you, BunniHoTep.