Thursday, April 28, 2011


Hallelujah for Trees! (art by Hallelujah Truth)

Hallelujah for TREES! Many of us remember the awe we felt as children when we pulled ourselves up onto the limbs of a TREE and climbed or rested, holding the woody flesh in our hands, pressing our cheeks, chests, and stomachs into the TREEBODY, and balancing there suspended in the air with the greatest trust in the TREE. If these arboreal musings summon memories and arouse longings in you, perhaps, YOU ARE a member of the TREE PEOPLE!

In honor of EARTH DAY 2011, I would like to sing praises of the TREES and those who celebrate TREES! First, I would like to acknowledge a small nonprofit organization—The Hostel in the Forest—which dedicates itself to educating wanderers who arrive at their gates to spend a night or two in their TREE houses! YES! We, adult TREE PEOPLE, get to be childlike once again, climbing up amongst the TREES to nap, dream, meditate, make art, and sleep.

Our House in the Trees at Hostel in the Forest
Chiboogamoo with Liz Schowalter thankfully coming down stairs (not a ladder) of the house in the TREES (photo by yours truly)
Located in Brunswick, a humble but bustling town along the Georgia coast, The Hostel in the Forest reveres nature and is a living example of how we humans can live happily and sustainably. While refreshing their TREE SPIRITS, visitors not only learn about sustainability but also participate in the chores required to live sustainably. Helping in the organic garden, cooking vegetarian, hand washing dishes and sweeping leaves and pine straw from unpaved paths are a few of the tasks everyone participates in.
Me, Hallelujah Truth, painting up in the TREES! Yes it was a cold March but pine pollen was already everywhere! (photo by Chiboogamoo)
At The Hostel in the Forest, life-style is also shared. There is the glass yoga house, a mammoth labyrinth, the drum room, the art studio, the sweat lodge—all are meant for communal use. In addition, while sleeping up amongst the TREE tops, TREE PEOPLE sleep in plein air, floating in the canopy of the pine forest! Although the convenience of electric lighting is appreciated, everyone uses composting toilets, eats communally, and shares one open air shower (privacy is respected).

Open Air Shower
Composting Toilets

Art in our Tree House, part of a much larger mural that glowed in the moonlight!
An endearing custom practiced at the Hostel in the Forest is the GRATITUDE CIRCLE before dinner. Since my Chiboogamoo, my sister-in-law Liz Schowalter, and I visited in March, all of us TREE PEOPLE had the good fortune of gathering around a roaring fire outside the dining dome. Imagine! About 30 of us (most of us strangers) held hands, introduced ourselves, and expressed what we were thankful for. Most of the “thanks” were directed towards the TREES and being quiet in nature without cell phones, computers, TV, or any other electronic distractions. Thank you Hostel in the Trees for being committed to education of the spirit and nature!
Bone art at the Hostel in the Forest

A TREE recently played a significant role in the movies! Anyone who saw James Cameron’s movie, Avatar, knows the reverence expressed by the indigenous people—the Na’vi—for the TREE of SOULS. This reverence is another way of understanding of our spiritual connection to TREES.

In Pandora, the TREE of SOULS is related to the Na’vi’s deity, Ewya, and is able to connect directly with the nervous system of all living things there on Pandora. If the TREE of SOULS dies, so does the culture and well-being of the Na’vi. Aren’t we, here on MOTHER EARTH, like the Na’vi? A Jungian analyst thinks so and has just published a book on this topic!
Recycled bottles in an outdoor kitchen at the Hostel in the Forest

Right now, TREES are a focus of Jean Shinoda Bolen’s new book: LIKE A TREE: HOW TREES, WOMEN, and TREE PEOPLE CAN SAVE THE PLANET. I haven’t read it yet, but this book continues a theme in Dr. Bolen’s recent books: The Millionth Circle and Urgent Message From Mother. In these, she is calling women together to make deep changes in the way they think and behave. My simple explanation of this aspect of Jungian theory is that “internal change” (at the subconscious level) manifests “external change” (in the real world). To simplify the concept even more—Our tangible world mirrors what we think. Furthermore, Dr. Bolen advocates that when enough of us get together to support MOTHER EARTH, we have the power to HEAL HER! Thank you Dr. Bolen (please forgive me if I haven’t explained your ideas accurately)!

This HALLELUJAH to TREES would not be complete without recognizing the extraordinary work that one female scientist has done with TREES. Meg Lowman, author of LIFE IN THE TREETOPS (1999 and many subsequent ones) created an entire new field in ecology looking at and exploring the tops of TREES. By examining the TREETOPS of the world, also called the “eighth continent,” Dr. Lowman, along with other canopy ecologists, is documenting the biodiversity of forests and championing their conservation.

A current example of her work takes us to Ethiopia, where she is involved with preservation of TREES in areas called, “church forests.” Because church forests have been deemed sacred, these TREE areas have been preserved up until now. But they are threatened by habitat destruction.

The “mother” of canopy ecology, Dr. Lowman, is at work proposing that “science” be done to document the “value” or “ecological services” that these church forests provide. Even though most of us know that TREES possess an inherent value (Hostel in the Forest, Avatar, and Jean Shinoda Bolen) scientists collect facts to show “ecological” value. Relevant facts that Dr. Lowman is proposing be collected from these church forests include the number of endangered plants and insects housed in them and the amount of fresh water, food, and shade the TREES provide to the local people.
Hallelujah TREES and all that they provide for our bodies, spirits, and environment. I love you TREES! That’s it for Coffee with Hallelujah. SOUL BLOG with me and tell me if you are a member of the TREE PEOPLE tribe and why!

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Thank you Chiboogamoo for being such a great companion, for loving TREES, and turning me onto Meg Lowman. Liz Schowalter, you were so cool for sleeping on the top bunkbed in the TREE house, and I had fun climbing some Live Oaks with you at Jekyll! Thank you TREES
Hallelujah Tree Spirit


  1. The Ents in Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings trilogy are an ancient race of trees being slowly burned, destroyed and decimated by the forces of evil. They have gnarly faces and can move. In one part of the book, two hobbits, Merry and Pippin are carried aloft through the forest in the branches of one old Ent, until they get to a stand of more destroyed Ents, the old tree's friends-very sad.

  2. See See--thank you for your contribution to images of trees in our psyches and from our culture. Is there art work of the ENTS?

  3. One of the main reasons I love living in Georgia is the trees. They are everywhere and I love watching them change through nature's cycle of birth-maturation-death-and rebirth. It makes me feel very sad to see beautiful, old trees being destroyed to make room for McMansions. I'm making it one of my goals this year to plant some trees with Trees Atlanta. I'm proud to be a tree hugger!

  4. Dear Spiritual Art Pilgrim Karen, how wonderful that you will plant trees to manifest your love of these magnificent living creations! Thank you for SOUL BLOGGING!