Council of Waters and Trees
Council of Waters and Trees is a way of exploring how to heal our relationships with the more-than-human world. It combines several methods, each of which is powerful in its own right. This booklet briefly explains each of those methods. Realizing how they fit together is a matter of experiencing the Council of Waters and Trees.
Perhaps the main principle of this work is this: nature connection and culture repair arise together. We can’t truly reconnect with the more-than-human world unless our culture supports us in doing so. It begins with small groups, like those who gather for the Council of Waters and Trees. We witness each other’s journeys of healing our relationships with the more-than-human world.
Humans are a beautiful species, part of nature, in no way separate from it. And it is in our nature that we need each other. But we are in times where the larger culture is one in which we easily bring harm into our relationships, both among humans and with the more-than-human world. When the hurts of human relationships overcome us, we can find solace in natural places away from the human-built world. But the healing effects of our time among the trees and rivers, oceans and open desert skies are reduced if we have no way in which other humans—our friends and family and colleagues—can bear witness to our process. It is difficult form them to do so unless they also are in a similar process. Together, as we remember our kinship with the more-than-human world, we can also remember how to be tender-hearted with each other.
The Council of Waters and Trees uses the method of Council to create an experience of some of the qualities of an intake culture. Specifically, it is where we can speak from our hearts and share our experiences, knowing they will be heard and witnessed and simply held without interference. Nobody will try to fix us, debate with us, or correct us (according to their perceptions) while we are in council. Mostly we listen to and witness our companions; and when our time to express our experience comes, we know those who sit in the circle with us are indeed receptive.
This open-hearted receptivity in which information and experience is shared freely, heart-fully, and without judgement, is part of what is meant by “Aloha.” It is an exchange of tender energy. Aloha is a field of healing and well-being, a kind of medicine. One of the principles of Council of Waters and Trees is that all medicine is relational. This means that the gifts each of us bring as individuals are activated only in the context of relationship. It is when someone feels sorrow that our gift of compassion blossoms and grows. And our compassion makes it possible for others to share their gift of carrying sorrow, which often has a transpersonal quality. A part of Aloha is the reciprocity of giving each other the gift of our own vulnerability, our own tender needs and wounds. In the setting of council, those who are assembled in the circle bring their own particular medicines. None of us are expected to be everything that is needed. But we can be present, and we can contribute, and together we can create an experience of an intact culture.
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