The Story of the People’s Tree ~ “An Interrupted Initiation” ~

On the first Sunday of October of the Year 2019, a strange little man made his way to the Carson National Forest in Northern New Mexico, near Red River. He had traveled as fast as lightning from Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest, old Cherokee Country, now called Georgia. The little man had long, dark hair cascading almost down to the ground, his complexion was a soft cinnamon brown and he wore a long-sleeved, hip-length buckskin shirt and fringed buckskin leggings under a breechclout. The two aprons of his breechclout were held together by straps tied to a broad woven belt decorated with seven embroidered wild roses.

Around his waist he had tied a small buckskin pouch dyed in red and white colors. His head was covered with an otter-skin cap adorned with shells, and he sported a beautiful necklace made of deer dew claws and dried juniper berries. At his arrival in the New Mexican forest, the little man made his home under an Amanita Muscaria that had popped its head from the magical realm of the complex connections all trees share below their feet. The particular tree chosen by the mushroom as its protector was a beautiful 68-year-old Blue Spruce Tree, the Queen of the Forest. Since the little man’s arrival, he had been training Blue Spruce Woman for some kind of important mission that was still an enigma for her. The only precise thing the little man had told her was that they had exactly one month to get ready for what he called “the Rebirth Day”, and there was a lot to cover in such a short time. Below are the conversations and events that occurred during the tree’s training, which the little man would rather call an initiation.

-I have my roots to communicate with the world around me! protests Blue Spruce Woman in a telepathic conversation with the little man. Why do I have to speak in human languages? And why do I have to sing in German in the first place? Last time I checked, this was not a German-speaking area!

-But it could have been, sighs her tiny teacher in a jaded tone.

-I would have imagined French, maybe, continues the tree, because of all the fur trappers who came in the area from France through Canada, but… German!?!? Most people around here speak Tiwa, Spanish and English, and I think those three are enough already, thank you…

-You know, proceeds the little man, French and German are not that distant from each other, and English and French aren’t either, plus all the world languages are living entities, just like you, me and all the two-leggeds… The relationships between languages are also as complex and intricate as ours. German was once the second European language most widely spoken in this big country of ours, because of the massive immigration from Germany, Switzerland, and the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires. Then World War I happened, and pamphlets –made out of trees, kindly reminder– urged the new citizens to “stop speaking the enemy’s language”.  So ‘POOF’, it was gone, out of fear and man-made hatred. Only the Amish and Mennonites overtly kept speaking German. Back in the day when the ancestors of those two languages met, clashed, exchanged and developed into what they are today, a man and his people straddled both, in a native tongue French scholars call “Tudesque”, kind of a mix between Old Dutch and Old French mixing into future German! According to ancient texts, he also spoke some Latin and understood a bit of Greek. His name was Charlemagne, “the King with the Grizzly Beard.”

-Grizzly Bear??? the tree snickers.

-BEARD!!! chuckles the elf. You know, ‘grizzly’ means with golden and grey tips of the hair. But they say Charlemagne did not even grow a beard: only his hair was very long, following the Merovingian and Carolingian tradition. As for the Bear with no ‘d’, I think we owe that “grizzly” description to Lewis and Clark, when they described what Sacajawea and her husband showed to them during the famous expedition that would change so many things…

-I see, says the tree. Well, as for Charlemagne, it’s cute to be remembered through a nickname related to a nice golden bearD.

-I guess… However, even though his beard speaks of gold and his bust is gilded in his chapel, not all his actions glittered…

-Glittered / Gilded / Guilty… For some reason it’s what I’ve just heard, says the tree.

-Maybe that’s how he feels and you caught his energy somewhere… Some of the man’s actions are dark, like when he destroyed the Irminsul near Paderborn, Germany. That’s why I would like you to sing in German to honor the fallen, well rather felled tree.

-Who was Irminsul? asks Blue Spruce Woman.

-It was the great “snake tree”, one of the many embodiments of Yggdrasil, the Old Norse name of the cosmic tree that connects the nine worlds or realms of the North Germanic peoples. Yggdrasil means “Yggr’s horse”, and Yggr is another name for the god Odin. They say Yggr’s horse had eight legs, so I’ve always thought that those “legs” were really the nine realms minus one: the tree trunk, or Odin’s world, or even Odin himself as the tree-horse rider. You know, like that image Native men use: when a man rides his four-legged horse, the two of them become one, and their union represents the four directions East-South-West-North through the horse’s legs, Above through the horse’s ears pointing to the sky, Below through the horse’s tail pointing to the ground, and the Center through the rider…

-Ah yes, I love that image!

-Back to the “horse” tree, many have forgotten about this, but almost all the human cultures in the world once honored the symbolism of your tree kind, dear Blue Spruce Woman, one way or another. The Germanic tree united men and women with gods, giants, the dead and many more subtle things related to life, death and rebirth, the triad that honors cycles. Those people knew what they were talking about. Nowadays, some spiritually-inclined people are remembering those nine realms as dimensions projected into our own beings through energy centers. Nine was the number with which the Norse identified Freyja, their Queen of Heaven who was asked to switch realms or worlds to end a war. She was a peace token between her tribe, the Vanir, and Odin’s tribe, the Aesir. I’ve always wondered if it was because of the cats drawing her cart. You know that cats are interdimensional beings, and they are also said to have nine lives… Anyway, nine, to the Norsemen, was the number of creation, because of its “math-gical” combinations “in mirror”.  If you look closely at math operations involving 9, you’ll notice that, for example, 9 X 5 is 45 (4 + 5), and 54 – 45, a “mirror subtraction”, equals 9. It always works, no matter which single digit interacts with 9 in the way I have just shown you. Therefore nine is associated with mystic creativity, perpetual reproduction, renewal and rebirth… Full Circle! And you know that everything circular is also a symbol for the feminine, an eternal reminder of a Mystical Womb… It is no coincidence that Freyja’s beloved, Yggr aka Odin, pierced his flesh and hung for nine days from the Yggdrasil to gain the magical knowledge of the sacred / secret runes.

# odin's horse and runes

Yggdrasil with Odin, unknown artist

-Ouch! exclaims Blue Spruce Woman. That sounds like a more ‘hardcore’ or at least longer version of the suffering of Christ on the cross, but it also reminds me of the Lakota Sundance. The dance is not only held in the Dakotas, by the way. One summer I remember my raven friends said a tree was taken down in Tres Piedras, near here, to perform a Sundance Ceremony…

-Yes, trees are often sacrificed to perform important ceremonies. It’s great that you mention it. And I like the parallel you draw. I should invoke Yggr / Odin with this new title from now on: “Sundance Northerner from Across the Big Sea, come to me”. Well, maybe it’s a bit long in a conversation, though. I guess I’ll stick to ‘Odin’ / ‘Ode… in’, heehee.

 At this new mention of Odin, two ravens fly from the high branches of the Blue Spruce in loud caws caws that soon vanish in the clouds. One raven is headed towards the West, the other towards the East. A red-tailed hawk sitting on the highest branch bids them farewell with a coarse screech.

-Oh, the Eagle is awakening, says the little man watching the tree top.

-Excuse me, says the tree, but my upstairs tenant is a HAWK.

-I know! A hawk that represents the third eye of the world, the one who gives us back our connection with the heavens… Hawk is always connected with Eagle, at least when they roost atop the Yggdrasil. Don’t you see it? You and every other tree are versions of the Yggdrasil or Irminsul!

-Heeheehee… giggles the tree.

-What is so funny? Your reserve is expressed through silly laughter? asks the little man who is trying not to feel offended by the tree’s apparent carelessness.

-Oh, no, I was not laughing at what you said at all, clarifies Blue Spruce Woman. It is quite an honor to be compared with Irminsul. I just can’t help laughing every time Squirrel runs up and down my trunk! The little legs tickle my bark!

-Wonderful! exclaims the little man in great relief, and a bit ashamed of his hastened assumptions. This is yet another confirmation of the presence of the Divine in our talk. The birds who dwell in your branches were already a reminder of their master Odin. Now the squirrel is here to make the connection between above and below, through your body! The squirrel of the Yggdrasil was named Ratatoskr. I believe it means something like “drill tooth”.

-Huh? What is that for another weird name? asks Blue Spruce Woman.

-Well, they called Squirrel that way because of what your little friend is doing right now: sinking his claws and teeth into your bark… ‘Rata’ would mean ‘traveler’, and ‘toskr’ is Old Norse for ‘tusk’. I see Ratatoskr as the messenger between the mundane and the divine, below and above, or, adds the elf as he sees a rattler approaching the tree, between Snake and Eagle, well, Hawk for now.

-I think “Traveling Tusk” is a good name for a messenger, agrees the tree. What do you think, Squirrel?

For half a second, Squirrel stops his back-and-forth journey along the tree trunk to chirp his approval of his new name.

-All right then, “Traveling Tusk” it is.

After a brief pause, Blue Spruce Woman wonders: “Am I the only one hearing the faint call of a trumpeting elephant in the direction of Red River?”

-Now that you mention it, I think I heard that too. But there’s no zoo in Red River, I don’t think it’s possible, answers the elf. Wait, what am I even saying… As an emissary of the magical realm, I should never deem anything “impossible”! Maybe it’s because we mentioned “tusks”. But for the time being we have a very important task ahead, so why don’t we start all over again? We were trying to sing in German here. Let’s get back to it: Ein, zwei… counts the little man moving his tiny hands in the manner of a choir leader.

-All right, sighs the tree. Ein, zwei,

-Hisssssssssssssss… The rattlesnake seeking to coil at the bottom of the tree covers the final count of drei with a whistling sound and the tree is back to her rehearsal: ♫♫ Ô Tannenbaum, Ô Tannen… ♫♫


What was that now? wonders Blue Spruce Woman, interrupted in her singing.

Before she can process her thoughts, trying to sense what has happened through her powerful root information system, her teacher sings the next line of the German Christmas Carol in a sad tone:

-♫♫  Welche Träume hatten deine Stacheln? ♫♫ [What dreams had your spines?]

-Now wait a minute, earlier you said it was “Wie treu sind deine Blatter!” [How faithful are your needles] What happened to the original lyrics? complains the tree.

-The Saguaro Fall happened, sadly answers the elf.

-Oh I can sense it now! Why has this cactus fallen to the ground down there by the Great Continental Divide?

-Because of another kind of “divide”… explains the elf. They’re building a huge wall in Saguaro Land to reinforce the separation between two countries even better than the invisible line that separates “voters” from each other here, he sighs. My only hope is that before its life force leaves, the saguaro flesh may serve for somebody’s enlightenment, just like my mushroom does when its flesh is sacrificed… Anyway… I just hate borders.

-What is a border?

-A man-made separation between two places, because some humans think your wonderful Queendom in the Woods, or Mountains, Rivers and Oceans are not an efficient enough “separation”. You see, they want to control who’s in and out of what they decided was their territory, many times imposing their presence where other people once lived. My beloved Cherokee people are not “guilt”-free in that department, by the way.

-But nothing is ours and only ours! protests the tree. My branches would be useless if they weren’t meant to shelter birds, squirrels and insects, or to give soothing shade to those weary of the Sun!

-Not too many two-legged beings still think the way you do; apart from us Nûñnë’hï, of course, proudly adds the little man.

-By the way I meant to ask: what does Nûñnë’hï mean exactly?

-When we adapt to the human world, we can display any ‘nationality’, another concept coming from a border mind… So Nûñnë’hï has as many translations as Cherokee people talking about us. But the renderings I prefer are either “people who live anywhere” or “people who live forever”. What humans don’t know, though, is that some of us get really attached to special human beings, and we choose to accompany their souls, or vice versa. The forest animals here see you as an elder; for Nûñnë’hï, your 68 Earthly years make you a very young creature; and out of concern for your need of spiritual training, Nanyehi’s spirit asked me to accompany and prepare you for what is to come.

# little people by thomas e mails

Nûñnë’hï, by Thomas E. Mails

-You are scaring me; it sounds like I am going to die or something. I prefer not to think about that too much… shivers Blue Spruce Woman. Tell me, Nanyehi is your chief?

-Nanyehi was one of those humans who really understood us, and to whom I did not want to say goodbye. The circumstances under which she was born made her special, and her family encouraged her to go out there in the woods and talk to us, little people, so we would appear to her often. We always choose who will be privileged enough to see us! She lived back in what humans call the 18th and 19th centuries. Nanyehi’s name was often translated as “one who goes about”. And she truly went about, straddling worlds and realms in her soul as she straddled those two centuries in her skin costume. But the little people knew she was really named after us, in a slight deformation of our Cherokee name. Can you hear the similarity? Nanyehi / Nûñnë’hï. She always felt that our homes, beautiful mushrooms like this one here that scientists call Amanita Muscaria, were a metaphor of her status of both red and white woman… That’s why I wear this red and white pouch in her honor.

-Was she of mixed ethnic heritage? asks the tree.

-Her father was Delaware and her mother Cherokee, even though the Delaware were once part of the Cherokee, but this is not what I mean. I am not talking about tribal clans or skin color. Her daughter Betsy had a white father, but it’s not what matters here either. In the traditional Cherokee culture, there were two systems of government: white for peace and red for war, even though red is also the color of love, el amor, in Cherokeelandia, and I believe in the rest of the human world as well! Nanyehi lost her love in a battle against Creek warriors. She felt tremendous pain when she saw Tsula Kingfisher lying on the ground beside her, mortally wounded by an arrow! Her rage was so intense that she rose up to the enemy, giving back courage to her people and leading them to victory. She was still very young and earned herself so much respect that day that she became a Ghigau, an elder before her time, if you will. She was both war and peace: you know, like in that song, Love is a Battlefield. She was all in one Ghigau, all in one Beloved Woman, red and white…

-So she was pink? asks Blue Spruce Woman with a smile.

-Haha! Yes, like a rose, a wild, pink Cherokee rose, our little Tsistunagiska, whose skin was as delicate as rose petals. This reminds me of a silly Valentine poem…

-What is a Valentine poem?

-Aaah… Saint Valentine is another person I hold dear to my heart, even though I did not get to meet him in person. I was not born yet when he endured torture and execution for his faith.

-What nonsense! exclaims Blue Spruce Woman, horrified.

-My dear one, if you only knew what men have done in the name of their faiths… That man was a good man though. He performed miracles, enabling the Great Spirit to work through his hands. The last person who benefited from his healing gift was a blind girl who recovered her eyesight thanks to Valentine: he acted as a hollow reed to let Spirit heal her eyes, as he had already healed many other ailments. Then legend prevailed, and the Roman people (Valentine died in Rome) had it that just before his martyrdom, Valentine wrote a sweet note for the girl to read, now that she could, and he signed: “from your Valentine”… You know how romantic Italians are… Since then, people send each other love and friendship notes on his feast day: February 14th.

-Oh how sweet! Blue Spruce Woman is melting in romanticism.

-If you still consider it sweet knowing that notes are written on paper aka dead trees, we’re getting closer to our goal here…

-Oh, sighs Blue Spruce Woman, that’s true. It reminds me of my poor Old Captain, she says talking about a big gamble oak stump nearby, whose rings look like the intricate labyrinth of a big fingerprint.

-One day, she goes on, men came and cut his trunk to turn him into whatever they thought they needed. Old Captain remained stoic while the awful metallic sound cut through his flesh. Now that I know this Valentine story, I hope Old Captain did become paper where love poems were written, or then a music instrument, like a guitar, or a nice trunk to keep treasures, or even this hollow tube you mentioned to describe Saint Valentine’s healing ways.

-Good… Maybe Old Captain went up in flames in a fireplace though, but let me ask you this: how would you react if I told you that right now little kids across the state are preparing New Mexican adornments to hang to a very special Christmas tree?

-I still think it’s sweet. Even though it means the sacrifice of us…

At these wise words, a bald eagle appears with a shiny object in its beak and drops it on Old Captain’s stump. Then the eagle lands on a branch underneath Blue Spruce Woman’s “hawk tenant”.

-See! I told you Eagle was near! happily exclaims the elf. I wonder what’s the hidden meaning of his gift. Can you ask him, sweet seer, beautiful Veðrfölnir?

The little man is trying to catch a glimpse of the two birds roosting in Blue Spruce Woman’s tallest branches.

-Is that the hawk’s name? asks the tree. I had always wondered how I should call my hawk companion, but that sounds quite impossible to pronounce for me! Can you repeat it slowly?

Veðr-föl-nir, articulates the elf. It means something like “beaten by the wind”.

-Hmmmn… I think I’ll just call my hawk ‘Windy’ then, she smiles.

A screech from the hawk sounds like the bird’s approval of this simplified name.

-Let me check what Eagle has dropped on Old Captain’s stump, says the elf.

As he approaches the shiny object, the little man can tell it is a piece of tin can, and when he grabs it to take a closer look at its inscription, he recognizes a Mexican beer brand.

-“Te-ca-te,” he deciphers in the faded letters underneath the drawing of a black eagle.

-Ah, a Monarch butterfly once told me about that thing called “beer”, a strange beverage men drink, remembers Blue Spruce Woman.

-I guess it was during one of the Monarchs’ migrations through that famous border we mentioned earlier, adds the elf.

-Probably, yes, acknowledges the tree. I remember the butterfly told me that ‘Tecate’ was the name of a place in Mexico which means “a tree that was cut”. Isn’t it a strange name?

-Wow!  Strange indeed, says the elf. On this can piece I see a single ‘T’ drawn on a black eagle’s body, and the letter looks a lot like the image of the “column tree”, the Irminsul; and there’s a broken branch pointing down the eagle’s right wing. The eagle has always been chosen by powerful men around the world to symbolize their might. Maybe that’s what it means, symbolically? Maybe the eagle brought this to illustrate what I mentioned earlier regarding Charlemagne, who broke the tree of life…

The elf’s idea seems to trigger a soft lament rising from the stump.

-Old Captain, is this you?? wonders Blue Spruce Woman, her voice filled with hope. Could he still talk to me despite having been severed from home for some time now?

-I’m sure he could, answers the elf, but I believe this sobbing sound came from someone else. There is a tiny white spider here on the stump, and I would swear the sobbing sound came from her! Maybe she got hurt when Eagle dropped the can piece.

-Noooo, you don’t understand… complains the spider in a faint, sad voice. I am the one who hurt others…

-Is that so, little one? wonders the elf. You don’t seem very harmful to me, but rather in need of comfort. May we help you in any way?

-Maybe, answers the spider. You see, my spider appearance is just that, but I am inhabited by the spirit of a man, a man you mentioned earlier. I cannot take this pain anymore.

-What pain? asks Blue Spruce Woman. Who are you? And what can we do for you?

-I am the spirit of Charlemagne. I am so humbled by all I have been hearing since the beginning of your initiation. I am the one who destroyed the Irminsul, I am the villain of your story, and you still wonder if you can help me…

# vilain of the story

-Well, says Blue Spruce Woman, Old Captain used to tell me “men are strange creatures, but a sure way to try to understand them better, is to remember that hurt people hurt people.” So, you must have been hurting a lot to destroy the sacred Irminsul… ventures the generous tree.

-Yes I did! I had a lot of weight on my shoulders, and it was sometimes overwhelming to have so many people counting on you, and so many others who were plotting against you… But will you still be as gentle if I confess that I also ordered the massacre of 4,500 human beings because they believed in the power of their Irminsul instead of agreeing with my interpretation of the Divine? I was so sure I was right to have my soldiers destroy the tree by then, because soon after we did, water sprang from an otherwise dried creek… I even used it to prove the Saxons wrong in their faith, just like Saint Boniface had done earlier with the Donar’s Oak… Some time after destroying the Irminsul, I went back to my paternal home in Herstal. It’s kind of funny that Eagle has dropped a piece of a beer can to illustrate my destructive act, because in this day and age a famous beer brand is manufactured near Herstal. The place is called Jupille, hence the beer name: Jupiler. On its logo there’s a bull instead of an eagle…

-Well, adds the elf, maybe beer found its way in this strange encounter of ours because the beverage was also considered sacred in Old Norse lore. I am remembering a story in which beer was consumed to rekindle atavic memories of one’s lineage, someone close to the goddess Freyja.

-Ah, maybe there’s a connection, wonders Charlemagne. The truth is that I am currently remembering more and more details of that fateful day when the tree was felled. I did not enjoy doing it, but I truly believed that through that symbolic act I would be done, once and for all, with the Saxon wars. Unfortunately a few years after the Irminsul’s demise, the worst clash was yet to come, in which, like I said, I ordered the beheading of 4,500 men.

-4,500 people is really a lot of people, laments a shocked Blue Spruce Woman.

-Yes. I see them every night in my torments. Back then I had decided that all the Pagan men who refused to convert to Christianity had to be beheaded on a tree stump… Their blood ended up painting the river red.

-Oh what a terrible image… sobs the tree. Maybe that’s why your spirit came to visit us here, close to ‘Red River’?

-See how you are!!! says Charlemagne-in-his-spider-disguise. You are still trying to understand me and my motives.

-Well of course, mediates the elf. I am training her to understand human ways, regardless of their reputation as “humane” or “inhumane”, because this understanding, together with reaching the state of non-judgment, is what will make her invincible, through compassion and unconditional love. That’s how she will overcome and live forever. She is a wonderful student.

-And I wish I had been a student before being a warrior, sighs Charlemagne.

-Sometimes all is needed is to show compassion and forgiveness towards oneself, continues the elf. Not only for your own sake, dear Charlemagne, but for the rest of us as well… I believe it is vital, actually.

After a short pause, Blue Spruce Woman suggests:

-For now I think maybe what would ease your pain would be to tell us how YOU understand the circumstances that led to those acts that haunt you, don’t you think so, Charlemagne? Try to analyze the reasons behind all this.

-I agree, says the Emperor. You are wonderful, Blue Spruce Woman, and Herr Professor Elfe, your knowledge and wisdom humble me… Maybe I could start with a formula I learned in the Basque language. I was not too tender towards Basques either, so I learned a bit about their culture, as a way to ask for forgiveness…

-Isn’t it in the Basque Country that an oak tree symbolizes the traditional freedoms of the local people? asks the elf.

-This is correct, confirms Charlemagne. In my Earth wanderings as a lost soul, I have learned about that tree, called the Gernikako Arbola. And Basque tales also start with the mention of a plant… So let me use this formula as the proper beginning of my story:

Munduan asko lez, arto koxko lez (I think it means something like “As the wide world is reflected in a corn kernel”), I was told to feel respect for my roots and to take pride in my lineage. I was told that the more, the better. I was born in a family whose main goal was to maintain and acquire power, by any possible means. My father was a proud follower of the greatest Frankish leader: Clovis, who did not hesitate to kill relatives in order to secure power. It was seen as acceptable back then. Every day I was reminded of my status as a defender of the Church. Ever since the days of my great-grandfather, Pippin of Herstal, Winfrid aka Boniface had made sure that the alliance between the Papacy and our family was a lasting bond. I think I was actually “inspired” by the memory of Boniface when I felled that tree. I felt I was walking in the steps of that religious man, who had felled the Donar’s Oak and then built a chapel out of the tree’s wood. But now that I think of it, I believe I followed “the wrong saint”…

-What do you mean? asks Blue Spruce Woman, intrigued.

-Well, there was this other priest my great-grandfather welcomed in his realm when their paths met: Hubert. I remember, as a child, I always begged my father to recount the story of that man’s conversion.

-Why would you? asks the elf.

-Oh because it was so magical, and it dealt with one of my passions: hunting. That man had lost part of his soul when his wife died giving birth, so he gave his son in adoption to his brother, and he withdrew in the forest. All he did was hunting, in quite a careless way. But one day a white deer appeared. Do you imagine? What a powerful sight. I know because it also happened to me… Back to Hubert. After chasing the deer for days, both were exhausted, but the deer suddenly grew Christ’s cross in its antlers, and he told Hubert how to hunt in a more respectful way, also commanding the man to go to Maastricht to meet another Benedictine man who would become his mentor: Lambert. Later on, I’m afraid a party sent by my great-grandfather did kill Lambert, because he had dared to criticize my great-grandfather’s union with his mistress… But this is another story. The fact is that… now I’m convinced that it would have been wiser for me to follow in the steps of Hubert instead of Boniface.

Charlemagne, in his white spider’s disguise, does not realize that as he speaks, four white deer are approaching Blue Spruce Woman. Apparently they are eager to listen to what he has to say.

-Which specific steps do you think you should have followed? asks the elf, immersed in Charlemagne’s story.

-Well, remembers the Emperor, I told you that once I saw a white deer myself. It was in yet another military campaign. We were supposed to cross the Rhone River, but I had no idea how we would do that, since I could not see any fording point. So I prayed for an answer, and, out of nowhere this white deer came and crossed the river through a ford that I still believe was created just at that moment… So we all followed the deer and went on our way to fight against the Sarracens in Zaragoza, which ended up in a big disaster. The Muslim ‘rebels’ who had negotiated with me back in Paderborn had sworn it would be easy to overthrow the local leader. They had left hostages whom I would take back and set free once Zaragoza was taken. But it was a total failure, Zaragoza resisted and nothing could be achieved to go further south and conquer Qurtuba. The only way was back. In my anger I kept the hostages with me, I allowed my troops to ransack Pamplona and we destroyed its fortifications, which triggered the rightful anger of the Basques. So, together with some Muslim factions that had followed us from Zaragoza, the Basques attacked my rear guard in Roncevaux Pass, and the rest of the story is well known by all.

-Forgive my lack of understanding, says the tree, but what does it have to do with the deer steps you should or shouldn’t have followed?

The four deer, very interested in this part of the story, step forward and surround the white spider. The elf, who hadn’t noticed their presence either, exclaims:

-Oh how blessed we are, my friends! If you still had any doubts about your embodiment of Yggdrasil aka Irminsul, Blue Spruce Woman, these stags have come to confirm your power.

-It’s been a while that they are here with me, smiles Blue Spruce Woman.

-This, this, this is such a blessing, stutters Charlemagne, very intimidated by those huge deer snouts sniffing him in his spider guise.

Ecstatic and his eyes filled with tears, the elf introduces those four creatures under their Norse names.

-Please, my friends, meet Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraþrór.

-Yet another set of names very easy to pronounce, teases Blue Spruce Woman. I guess they won’t mind if I call them ‘4D’.

-I’m sure they won’t, giggles the elf, because I’m sure they will take us to the next level… or should I say dimension… Tell us more about deer encounters, Emperor!

-Oh please call me Ka’, the first syllable of Karolus, that’s the only name I like to relate to now.

-OK, Ka. So let our new friends hear more precise memories of the visions, and maybe help you with their true meaning…

-You sound like you already know about it, says the spider “aka Ka”…

The elf only winks, inviting the Emperor to proceed.

– Well… In the second half of my life, and especially when I left my body to regain my soul consciousness, I really started to feel passion for deeper knowledge. And one day I realized: Saint Hubert’s white deer told him to go to Maastricht to spread faith in a peaceful way. Maas-tricht, in Dutch, means “crossing the ‘Maas’ / Meuse River”. The ending ‘tricht’ is derived from Latin, traiectum, meaning ‘crossing’. The town of Maastricht was formed at a ford in the river. So what if I misunderstood the message by the Rhone River? What if instead of encouraging me to ford the river to go fight against the Muslims, the deer really meant: “remember what Hubert did through me, remember to choose your path wisely. Crossing this river maybe is taking a wrong turn in your life story, and in that of your men.”

The four deer exchange winks among themselves while Blue Spruce Woman inquires some more.

-Did the vision occur before or after destroying the Irminsul?

-It was after the Irminsul episode, answers Charlemagne. Remember we had reached a deal with the Muslim rebels from Zaragoza near where the tree once stood. I chose to live there for a while. Was our defeat a “vengeance” from nature? Did Deer show me a path that would end up in destruction for my men?

After an uncomfortable pause, Charlemagne dares to directly ask the deer assembly:

-Was one of YOU the deer I saw? Are you eternal? Did you warn me and, since I misunderstood your message, avenged the tree?

The elder-looking deer finally speaks to the tiny spider that hosts the spirit of a torn man eager to be redeemed.

-My child, starts the deer, Nature and Cosmic Law never act out of ‘revenge’. This is a very human concept. All the Cosmos creates, is causality. You can also call it interconnectedness. Some sage mentors teach their students that “as above so below”. As you already understood thanks to this amazing conversation you’re having today, whatever you do has many ripples, both in time and space, in all the meanings of ‘space’. Once the Irminsul, a symbol of the world axis, fell, maybe another pillar started to shake… above.

-I am not sure I understand, worries Charlemagne.

-Well, recently, down here on earth, scientists are noticing how one of the “pillars” of a constellation humans have worshipped ever since they started roaming this earth is rapidly losing its brightness in the sky. The transmission of information is quite slow from up there to down here, and you receive perceptions of events with a significant delay. When the ‘above’ needs to send messages ‘below’, we are generally asked to materialize for you, because some say the constellation of the “blinking star” looks like us. So yes, maybe the symbolic felling of the earthly pillar did trigger the “blinking” of the pillar above. And we appear down here from time to time to remind you of the deer in the sky…

-I can’t really think of any deer in the sky. I do know about a hunter though, ventures Charlemagne.

-Well, remember then when I appeared to Saint Hubert, I taught him better hunting practices, answers the Deer elder. Deer and Hunter are one and the same, we are all one! Creatures from above, below and all around are related… But humans tend to forget that, so yes, now and then we come down to remind you of this basic fact… So let’s put it this way, Yad al-Jawzā needed you to remember your connection to the above. But, don’t worry too much, it’s only destiny fulfilling itself…

When Charlemagne hears the name of the mysterious star or constellation, the spider stays transfixed, and the Emperor’s spirit starts soul traveling to a place he knows nothing of. The power emanating from the name of the mysterious constellation is what seems to have taken Charlemagne to this astral flight: soon, the spider is entering through a star opening in the roof / ceiling of an old Moorish bath in the city of Granada, Spain. The eight-pointed star through which he enters the bathhouse is exactly the same as the ones the Emperor had ordered for the decoration of his Palace of Aix-la-Chapelle / Aachen. As Spider lands on a chessboard with very ancient pieces on it, a man clad in oriental clothes sitting at the table winks and whispers: “Welcome to al Hammam al Jawza. I am Badis Ben Habbus, the Zirid King of this jewel of a town. How do you like the bathhouse my Jewish vizier, Samuel ibn Nagrella, created for me? Everybody thinks we named the place after a chestnut tree by the river, but ‘Jawza’ does not only refer to the tree… That name also has a twin above, one of the pillars of Yad al Jawza… People from the time you were roaming minutes ago, before landing here, will tell you this is the name of the twin constellation, the ‘Gemini’, but let’s say that both constellations are related, oh so related… Do you mind joining me for a while? I have no game partner, and I believe you never really learned how to play, am I correct, dear ‘Shah Riman’?”

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11 thoughts on “The Story of the People’s Tree ~ “An Interrupted Initiation” ~

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