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Singing to Trees

We are at a crisis today because of global warming. The conference on Global Warming in Copenhagan will take place soon. Here are a few facts: One of the largest causes of global warming is deforestation of the rain forest. 15% of the trees lost to deforestation are used for toilet tissue. There are over 8,000 species of trees and 10% of them are facing extinction. When you lose a tree you also lose a community of birds, wildlife, insects, and plants that are dependent upon that tree. For example, the Bristle Cone pine, one of the world’s oldest organisms, 4,870 years old, is an important food source for small mammals and birds in eastern California, Nevada and Utah. Because of environmental conditions the Bristle Cone pine is not regenerating.

Trees have been speaking to me lately, whispering their secrets and singing their songs. During this past year of travel many have become my friends, including a copper beech tree at Tewkesbury Abbey in England. Five years ago, when I first visited Tewkesbury, I didn\\\'t know its name. I stood on the sidewalk and asked many passers-by and no one knew. Finally a man told me it was a copper beech. I circled the tree and saw the many faces and shapes revealed in its trunk and branches.

I thought of other trees I had circled in the past including an 800 year old alligator juniper tree in the Cibola National Forest that I called Grandma. When I lived in Sandia Park, New Mexico going to visit Grandma was like going to church. I sang into the crevices of her bark and offered cornmeal. I heard Grandma sing through the throats of the flowery Indian Paintbrush that grew under her skirts. When I moved to another town saying goodbye to Grandma was hard. I stood under her with my bare feet. Asking if she had a message, I saw a shining being, like light on pine needles. This being was cloaked in green. She asked me to sing, to be a messenger, to speak my love of the forest. In my vision, she placed a wreath of pine cones and wildflowers on my head. Afterward, when I opened my eyes, I looked down and saw at my feet a heart-shaped rock.

When I arrived in Atlanta in March 2007 I did a series of talks based upon my book Sacred Space-Sacred Sound: The Acoustic Mysteries of Holy Places. In addition I offered private voice sessions and astrology readings. A woman asked me if I would do a session in her home. She said, \\\"this might sound strange, but would you sing to the Sugar Maple tree in front of the house. My grandmother gave it to me as a housewarming present many years ago and the tree is dying.\\\" We went outside and circled the tree and as we lovingly touched its branches I sang to the tree the despair and love we both felt.

All over the world trees are dying through drought, acid rain and infestation of beetles and other insects. From Cottonwood trees along the Rio Grande to Sugar Maple trees in Atlanta, these dying trees need our care and, I believe, our songs. Singing is a way of creating relationship and one reason we are facing the ecological crisis we are facing today is that we have often forgotten how to relate to nature as a living being. Indigenous people around the world honor nature through song. I believe these rituals of honoring nature through song are part of a musical ecology of spirit that is needed again to remember our part as stewards of the Earth.

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