Stillness and the Born Survivor

When we moved into our home back in February 2001 there was a massive shed in a pretty small back garden and trapped behind the shed was a very sad and misshapen Willow. The deconstruction of the shed brought more space, but when it had gone we saw that the fence that had been behind the shed was rotten, so that had to be replaced. When it came to taking away the old fence it became apparent that the roots of the small Willow had grown through the concrete of the original fence post. It all had to come out, and subsequently even the roots of this poor tree took a beating. When it was finally out of the ground it looked like a couple of branches with a ball of root. Both me and Cerri were really sad as there seemed to be something about this poor tree that held the Spirit of Place. The new fence was put in, and we re-planted the Willow, giving it pride of place in our newly developing garden. Although at the time neither of us new if it would survive, or wither and die.

I’m sitting on our sofa now, and as I type this I can see the Willow. Bird feeders hang from its branches, and blue tits, starlings, sparrows, blackbirds, doves, and even the occasional peregrine falcon and sparrowhawk, have hopped around in its branches. The bare branches have now been covered in big seed pods that attract bumble bees in the early Spring. And soon, as I sit in our garden, the wind will blow through a canopy of leaves that give off the sound of the forest in our little suburban patch of Tir na Nog. And although we have 12 Ogham trees in our little garden, to me it is the Willow that stands as sentinel, as Guardian of our home.

As Druids we know we can learn much from the example of trees. The Willow is a born survivor. Yet it remains still, allows the birds to run through its branches, is caressed by the wind, and is kissed by the Sun. And as I stand outside each morning during my daily meditation, it is this lesson I take from my friend. That some of the greatest lessons come from stillness, from observation and inner contemplation.

Let the rest of the world move around us. For a while each day be a Human Being, not always a Human Doing.

By |2016-10-14T11:01:30+00:00April 24th, 2012|Categories: druidry, religion|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |15 Comments


  1. Erinwolf / Nightshade Wolf April 24, 2012 at 10:40 am - Reply

    Arh yes the Majestic Willow Tree, I have a deep affiliation with this my blessed Birth Tree. Born on April the19th, Saille, still awaiting the April showers here in Australia. Seabhac, I am the Hawk upon the Cliff. I look forward to meeting you next month in Adelaide with Spiral Dance.

  2. Wendy April 24, 2012 at 10:55 am - Reply

    it wa so lovely to see that willow looking so healthy… and your garden looks amazing now! :o)

  3. solsticedawn April 24, 2012 at 11:00 am - Reply

    Thats one of my favourite sayings too, that we’re human beings not human doings. There seems to be this perception that we need to be “doing” something all the time, with no time for reflection, and daydreaming! “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits!”

  4. Rachel Schmidt April 24, 2012 at 11:45 am - Reply

    What a beautiful garden. 🙂
    And a beautiful thought: “Be a Human Being not always a Human Doing” I love it.

  5. teileag April 24, 2012 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this story, Damh! What a strong tree the willow is and how much we can indeed learn from her… Blessings

  6. Maria April 24, 2012 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    You reminded me of quite a few things I needed to remember today. Thank you.

  7. stephencthomas April 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Shows what can happen if you are given the chance to have the threads of word flow through you! Yep, I wrote a song once with the whole human being/human doing thing in it. Great thought!

  8. stephencthomas April 24, 2012 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    Wyrd, not word. Damned auto correct!

  9. cuhulain April 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    We have to abandon the current idea that we are “rulers of the earth” and replace it with the idea that we are “stewards of the earth”. Nice article!

  10. Diana McCleery April 24, 2012 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    Willows *are* survivors. Knew someone who stuck a row of about 15 green willow sticks through her garden as decoration; every single one sprouted and started to grow branches! Was she ever surprised…Willow bark infusion will also help other woods to graft and sprout; willow can teach her skills to others. 🙂

  11. Ursyl April 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    I’ve seen a way to make a willow fence, though since I want sun for my vegetables, I’m not going to try that method around my little garden.

    We have two special willows in our backyard. The one at the top of the hill, in what cannot be a very good location for a tree who loves water, there’s a big old double willow. I fear that one of the intertwined trees has not survived, though at the time of our renewal ceremony, my husband used that tree (those trees) as a metaphor for our marriage.

    We also have a curly willow near the house that I purchased as a stick our first spring living here. Didn’t realize that she’d grow to some 40′ tall! As I’ve needed to trim branches occasionally, those have served as gateposts into our outdoor ritual space at our UU from Beltane through Lughnasadh (weather permitting).

  12. […] seen two wonderful posts about trees in Druidry this week – Damh the bard here and on the fundamentalist druid blog here – […]

  13. Willow April 25, 2012 at 10:49 am - Reply

    The Goddess named me Willow, for she knew that i was as my name sake, a survivor, After 2 cancers 10 ops later i am still here, misshapen perhaps but still praising the strength my name has given me,I named my home Willows grove and our little group is willow grove.

  14. Sylvia Walter April 25, 2012 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    We had the same experience when we moved into our cottage. A small yew was being taken over and covered by ivy. We carefully unwound the ivy,gave our little yew room to breathe and now it’s growing stronger every day. such joy.

  15. Joe Banana April 28, 2012 at 2:32 am - Reply

    I also take this as a lesson and put the end of the message as quote for my blog.

    I also made a response to your post on Druidry Proof and Faith as I think that wellness does matter for a spiritual development.

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