INTERVIEW WITH: Claire Blotter
INTERVIEW BY: Linda Milks
DATE: Friday, June 22, 2007
PLACE: Sausalito, CA – Claire’s Apt.
Several years ago Claire and I met at a benefit for the Women’s Sacred Grove. This group formed to get a mortgage to purchase 14 acres of old growth redwood forest in northern California to protect it from being logged.
This fundraiser was held in Oakland where the main attraction was an opportunity to walk a labyrinth which Margie Adam had specially made for traveling. There were about 25 women there and a remarkable gathering and discussion unfolded during this event.
I was in a new phase of NSP and I discovered that most of the women there were also working on some kind of project where trees were the major focus. Claire spoke of a book she was writing based on stories inspired by her connection with trees and she also told us of a film she had made about songbirds.
Save the Songbirds is an award winning documentary about the plight of these small birds trying to survive in urban sprawl areas.
I know you’ve had a special relationship with trees for a long time. Would you like to start at the beginning?
Yes, let’s do that.
When I was a little girl in Palm Springs, CA, there was a huge tamarisk tree in our back yard. And because of the desert winds, it was bent over and you could crawl up and lay down horizontally in it. I lived in a rather chaotic family and I would go in the back yard and lay in the tree and it was very comforting to me. And when I got older my mother didn’t like the tamarisk tree because they shed their needles and she said it was a dirty weed tree, so she chopped it down and killed its roots.
And that was very traumatic for me because it meant I no longer had this tree to lie in and comfort me anymore. It was both a physical support as well as an emotional support and the loss of this was very traumatic.
How old were you when this happened?
We moved to Palm Springs when I was in the 3rd grade so I guess I was about 8 years old.
So I was aware of the magic of trees before then but then I lived in this desert without many trees. There were just some cactus and tamarisk trees and some palm trees but not the green lush trees of northern CA.
I knew I wanted to go away to college so after high school I got a scholarship and worked really hard. And through the colleges I went to I kind of worked my way up the west coast to where the redwoods are. One of the places I found myself in was the redwood estates which is in the Santa Cruz mountains. And this is a big redwood grove with houses among the redwoods. It was a little community with just a grocery store and a post office and was about 15 minutes from Los Gatos. And someone on my street began chain sawing the redwood trees just down from where I lived. And I just freaked out, I couldn’t bear to hear the sound, it felt very violent.
At the time I was getting my masters in creative writing at San Francisco State and was commuting back and forth. I was learning about poetry and performance poetry so I borrowed a little tape recorder from a sound poet friend and I started to interview people about trees and their relationships with trees. I spoke with children about trees and also the men who were chopping the trees down.
So I got all this audio information and started taking pictures of trees; younger ones, older crone trees. And I took pictures of women and girls. Child, mother, crone…And then I took the same sequence with the trees.
That’s a wonderful juxtaposition, I didn’t know you had done this.
Yeah. And then I edited the footage of it into a soundtrack with people talking about trees and then music and also the chain saw sound. And then I had three screen slide projectors so that there were giant redwoods on the ceiling and down the walls on two sides and then in the center I showed the sequence of aging by first showing younger woman and younger tree and so on. And I used some improvisational dancers one of whom was pregnant. And so the pictures of the trees would be projected over and around this pregnant woman as well as the other dancers.
I recorded Pachelbels Canon in D over Susan Griffins “Forest the Way We Stand” ???? which was beautiful. And we also did pygmy music and gave out pine nuts and did a small ritual with that. And I did this at San Francisco State University and also at an art gallery in Los Gatos and my family came for the show at the gallery.
At that time this was a big scale mutli-media event for me at the time because I wasn’t a very technical person. But I had this vision and I had to do this.
I would argue with the guys who were in my neighborhood chopping the trees down and this confrontation went on for about two years. And I was getting all this on tape.
After about a year the boulders started falling down the mountain and crush houses on my block. Because so many trees and roots were gone they could no longer hold the boulders in place. And there were law suits from the people below us because of this.
So I felt like there was some Celtic tree spirit that I had known that this was the wrong thing to do and bad for the environment and everyone there. And I was intuitively moving on this understanding which helped me a lot to trust my intuition and to this my intuition as a real force.
So I was just really tuned into trees and listening to trees and gave all my energy to trees for about 9 months. I was talking about them, taking photos of them and doing this performance piece.
What year was this?
It was around 1979 – 1980. I was in my late thirties when all this was going on.
What do you think the impetus was for you to put so much time and energy and heart into doing this?
I think what happened was that I went to graduate school in creative writing at San Francisco State and then I was asked to do poetry readings. I would get up and read my poems and I learned that my vocal intonation, the emotion in my voice and the intention behind it all was very important in communicating with people. We don’t just talk ideas we talk feeling and sound and it’s very important for healing as well as communicating with people.
So then I looked at movement too and bring that in as part of the poetry readings and then I transitioned again into multi-media. I realized that if I were a poet, which is to me somebody who is on the edge of what’s happening in the culture, and I wanted to communicate then all of the modalities and technology for doing this had to be integrated in to what I was doing. And as I was learning this I started by integrating in some visuals, slide projections. Because saving the trees was important to me in my gut. The trees were getting killed and I felt it as if it were humans being murdered, that’s how intense it was for me.
I wanted people to feel it and with that chain saw sound, grinding in there, was really driving it home to people. People in the audience were disturbed by this and commenting on the sound being so loud.
My work evolved through doing this and using multi-media and I ended up going out of the creative writing department and into a special Masters degree of speech communication, creative writing and women’s studies.
So this was the first experience of feeling that there was a real important path for me in following my intuition with nature and I needed to do that project.
For me at the time I felt that this environmental issue, these trees, was also a women’s issue. And that’s interesting because the environmental movement was just really beginning back then.
Susan Griffiths book, WOMEN IN NATURE, really affected me. In one of her poems she names the trees in the forest as a kind of blessing and celebration of trees.
I then moved to San Francisco and really wasn’t a city person. I missed the trees and the country too much and ended up moving to Bolinas.
(A small village on the pacific coast in Marin County known for its progressive, artsy environmental residence.)
When I got to Bolinas I felt I was in magic land. There were so many intuitive magical things going on that couldn’t be explained in a rational way.
I was struggling with making a living and I had been teaching at SFSU and Marin College and JFK University and was also working on art and creative writing pieces of my own. These jobs required quite a drive and I wanted to stay in Bolinas and not commute so much.
I have a wonderful friend who has a cottage in Pt. Arena on the coast in Mendicino county and she said I could go and stay there and be by myself and write. This cabin is in the middle of the forest and you have to bring everything in, your water, everything as it has no electricity. I was excited to be there but also very frustrated so I decided to ask the trees what I should do.
What kind of trees were these? And what year are we in now?
Mainly redwood trees, very beautiful tall redwoods and other coniferous trees. And this was in the early 80’s.
I remember sitting down on the deck of the cabin and looking out into the trees. I asked a question and then I just sat there for maybe an hour and just listened and focused to what I was getting inside my body. Sometimes there are words, sometimes feelings or just a knowledge about what to do. Eventually it does translate into words most of the time.
So I said, ‘how am I going to make a living?’ I was having such a hard time with this and I sat and sat and sat there. Then I suddenly heard the words, “go teach in Mill Valley.” (Mill Valley is a small upscale town in Marin just north of Sausalito)
And I thought, go teach in Mill Valley? I was teaching writing workshops and theatre workshops when I taught at the university and I had actually tried to teach in Mill Valley but couldn’t find an affordable space there.
So I just thought this was really weird and I went back to Bolinas and forgot about it. And or the next 6 months I had even more difficult struggles with earning money and my finances were in even poorer shape than before.
So I went back to Pt. Arena and sat down with the same group of trees and after about 20 minutes of listening I heard, “you didn’t do what we said. Go teach in Mill Valley”.
Whoa – this was too weird. If I had been thinking of teaching there or even if it had been an idea in my head, it would have been one thing. But I had checked into that before and there was no affordable place, it just didn’t work.
Nevertheless, I went back to Mill Valley and looked around and there just were still no affordable places. But then I thought, well I don’t have to worry about finding a place I just need to teach here somewhere. In the library they have a free space where you can teach a one time class. So I advertised in the Pacific Sun ( small community newspaper) that I was offering a free class on women’s writing at a certain time, etc.
So I show up at the library and there is a street fair that day which made me think that no one would come because of all the activity and parking issues. But there were four women who came and were very interested and ready to go. So I taught the class and at the end one women asks, well are we going to do this again? Are you teaching someplace?
And I told them that I was just doing this because the trees told me to come and teach in Mill Valley. And the woman said, do you think the trees would mind if you taught in Sausalito rather than in Mill Valley because I have a house there and we all can meet there. We have some friends who would be interested too in coming to your class.
So they got 7 -8 women together for this class that I taught there that went on for a few months and then there was an off-shoot group that wanted to meet in Mill Valley. This got me teaching in both Sausalito and Mill Valley plus I had the Bolinas workshop which gave me enough money to support myself.
And now years later, I’m teaching part-time at Mill Valley high school which was never something I thought I would do. So I really did go forth and do what those trees told me to do and it wasn’t just a one shot deal. I’m still earning a living teaching in Mill Valley.
And this is 20 years later.
When you had the experience of sitting with the trees in Pt. Arena was this the first time you had gone back to the trees intending to have a serious connection with them since your multi-media events?
And what was it about your relationship with trees that would cause you to place so much authority in their suggestions?
Living in Bolinas, I had been trading energy with trees for a while. I had also taken a class with Starhawks collective and one of the things we did was to communicate with trees. We would ask permission to communicate with the tree and we would breathe in the energy of the tree and breathe out our energy to the tree. And then you just listen and you get feelings, ideas, thoughts. And when it’s time to go, you bring your energy back from the tree and you give back the trees energy. But you always ask permission before you go into this.
And I had been doing this for quite a while. There was one tree near Bolinas where they had the Sun Festival back then and I would habitually go there to trade energy with this tree and receive messages. So I became familiar with the feelings I would get when sitting with trees and watching them and listening to them. And if you sit there long enough you can see the flow going on with the leaves blowing and the wind wraps around you and the birds come and you can just feel that they are sending out love. There is a qualitative shift that happens in nature that you can feel and observe.
But it’s about sitting in a place long enough to let the energy in, to let the place become itself without disturbing it. It reminds me of the Jon Young CD’s you lent me on SEEING THROUGH NATIVE EYES. You have to sit and listen and drop your preconceptions and you don’t even have to believe that the trees will talk to you, you just need to empty yourself and listen.
Another thing is that I’ve been meditating daily since I was 25. So being able to drop down and let in another reality was a regular practice for me.
And in Pt. Arena there is a lot of tree energy there without many humans coming in and out of the picture.
When I was on Vancouver Island once I was driving and just had to stop the car and cry because the energy of the trees and the wildness there was just overwhelming. The tree energy there was very big, very powerful.
Can you say more about that distinction of the wild tree energy?
I went to Seattle for the first time about 5 years ago and I could feel the wildness of the places and animals up above me in Canada. And I was called to be there because of this energy and it was very wonderful. It had a different quality to it than down below, meaning in the US.
And when I went to Hawaii for the first time to visit a friend I had been chatting with this woman on the flight and when we got off I turned to her and said, ‘you think someone would have told us about the vibration of all these plants. I mean it’s such a big deal that everything is vibrating so palpably.”
And she said, “what?”
And I said, ‘well you know, all the plants are vibrating and no one even talks about it!”
And she goes, “I don’t see anything vibrating…”
But I saw that even in the airport, all the flowers had this spirit energy and they were vibrating with this very quick energy. And as soon as I hit the airport there it was.
So it was visual to you as well as energetic?
Yeah. Yeah. I couldn’t believe this woman didn’t see it. You know you have to be careful with these things because you can get into trouble! (we laugh)
So basically, I was up in Matole at the Sacred Grove of redwood trees with a group of women and we were practicing entering the trees and then writing about our experience. And I had my eye on this great big grandmother redwood tree as being the one I wanted to work with. So I go to my tree and ask permission if I can enter the tree and it goes, “no”. And I go, “well why not?” And it said something like, my energy is too big right now and it would pop your breakers and you’ll have to take a smaller tree right now because that’s where you’re at energetically speaking. So I went to a smaller tree, and this tree said I could go in and I got a message about forgiveness. Forgiving myself, something like that, I don’t remember exactly what it was now. But there is always a theme that they will give you and it comes from somewhere deep and profound. That’s what I’ve always found.
But it’s interesting I got that very clearly form the big tree, no you’re not doing this, it isn’t OK for you. The more you look at trees and sit with trees you see just how amazingly patient and powerful and rooted, grounded, magnificent creatures they are.
From just being with them and watching them move in the wind you really get that they are this energy force. And the idea that the animals go by and the little bugs and the birds and the tree is witnessing all of this – you get that it’s a very slow and interesting life. I just think of what it’s like to be there.
It’s dark, it’s light. People come by, people don’t come by. Growing – hours of boredom maybe? You know there’s just so much to learn and see about how they are adapting. And when you see how they grow, some are all crooked and they go for the light. And some die because they can’t get to the light and some have that extra umph to push.
It’s almost like Siddhartha watching the river. All the wisdom of the world is right there in that river and you just have to sit there and watch.
The other thing is, when you go up to a place like Pt. Arena or Mendocino, the air is so clear. And when you realize they’re giving off oxygen and taking in carbon dioxide and they are doing this practice for us all. They are there helping you every single minute and supporting you and we’re all connected and it’s such a very real thing.
And I remember individual trees on my grandfather’s farm. There was a weeping willow and it was an amazing creature. This was in NJ.
The eucalyptus is an interesting tree, there are so many people trying to wipe it out because it’s non- native. I feel like the eucalyptus has a kind of teenage energy because it’s not their fault that they were brought over here and spreading like wildfire. And yet they’re being killed in a big way. And I always thank them for the give-away.
I do that a lot with trees. If there’s a tree that’s been chopped down, I thank it for giving away its life so that we may live. Lot’s of them are being sacrificed right now.
It’s a very controversial issue because so many people are committed to having native plants and it’s difficult to figure out what to do.
You were mentioning the grandmother redwood tree and others. What is your understanding and discernment of their different personalities and how they communicate with each other as well as with other species?
I think that they have different personalities within the species and different shapes. I think trees are very compassionate and that they are putting out their compassion all the time. They are supporting us all the time and not only with their carbon dioxide / oxygen exchange. We just don’t listen and see them. This is one of our inter-connections with the planet and we are just flalling because we aren’t connecting on an energy level with what’s around us and with what can heal us.
There are all kinds of trees here between the houses and they are feeding us, supporting us. And I think it must be a struggle for many of them because they don’t have many of their own kind around them. I feel like the trees who live in a forested area are happier in some ways because they are connected with more of the cycle of the larger habitat than the trees are here. And I sense maybe a more celebratory energy with those trees.
Is there a particular species you resonate with the most.?
I like redwoods a lot. I like the northern CA trees. When I was in Bellingham, WA my friend up there said that, “we’re really in a tropical rainforest here”. There is so much rain and wind but then there are all these beautiful trees.
I think some people hunger for trees more than others on a deep level.
As a metaphor there’s this thing that’s rooted in the ground and reaches up to the sky and it brings everything together. And there is a spiritual sense about reaching up toward the heavens. But equally it’s reaching down into the earth and bringing the world together.
Would you explain how you sit with a tree and meditate with a tree?
There are two ways. The first way is I just sit on the deck and pray and ask the tree a question to help me figure things out and I’m here to listen. And then I just sit and listen. I think we don’t listen enough because we’re such a fast food culture and we want everything now.
And so I’m looking at trees and then the energy starts shifting, the movements shift, the vibration shifts…
I wanted to make peace with a friend, a musician, whom I used to work with but was estranged from. There was a piece of music that I needed to get from him for a performance piece I was doing. So I took a hike up in Mill Valley and went deep into the forest and lay down on the ground. And I asked the trees, how should I approach this? What do I need to learn?
I lay there for about a half hour and as I was getting up to leave, I got the phrase, “ you don’t know what it’s like to be a man in the world today. You don’t know what it’s like to be a man in the world with this disability.” (My friend had a disability)
I had still been upset with him for getting so angry at me for what seemed to me to be nothing. But when I heard this phrase, “You don’t know what it’s like to be a man in the world with this disability”, and that’s when I got it on an emotional level. I understood what I needed to learn and then how to re-connect with him. And I did connect with him in a really profound way.
You could say that your unconscious mind knows everything and maybe it’s the energy of the tree that opens that. You could say it’s the tree talking to you or maybe that we’re just one energy. And if we have enough energy of tree that little jewel box opens, that high wisdom that we all have.
I have the experience of learning that seems to arise from within myself and then I have the experience of information coming into my awareness from outside of myself or from “another”. And I can differentiate these qualities.
Do you have a similar way of sensing where information comes from?
When I hear, “go teach in Mill Valley”. When I hear, “you don’t know what it’s like to be a man in the world today.” That feels like it’s coming from another place. But also, maybe our real state, that we’re all one – is something that we’ve gotten away from. Because our mind says I’m over here and the tree’s over there – but really it’s coming from me/tree, as one force of hightened spirit that’s in all of us.
If you meditate enough you get into that place of where you’re almost not really there because we’re really everything.
I wanted to mention the other way of being with a tree and that is to approach the tree and ask if you can enter. And if it says yes, then I literally breathe in the tree and hug the tree and glide into it and it literally comes in through my chest or my forehead.
And the way I was taught through the Starhawk Collective was to breathe in all the trees energy and you empty all your energy into the tree and then you just listen. And you’re in an altered state of not being in your energy anymore you’re in the trees energy. And then when you let go of that energy and reverse the process it’s important to get all of your energy back and give all the tree energy back to the tree. You’re asking a lot from the tree to give you all it’s energy and so you’re actually changing places. And then you thank the tree because if you think about it, this is a very big thing to do.
Can you describe how it feels while you’re in this process of exchanging energy so completely with a tree?
I’m physically holding the tree and breathing in the tree. And I sometimes bring my energy out through my chest if my chest is up to the bark of the tree. I’m literally letting go of my energy and then at my hips I’m simultaneously bringing in the trees energy and then I’m leaving into the tree. The trees energy feels purifying and it’s a circular process, cycling the energy.
You cycle it through your root and heart chakras?
Yes, I do it that way. And I think those are the chakras I identify most with the tree. The root chakra because of how deeply it’s connected. And even though it reaches up to the sky, which you might say the 7th chakra,
I think there is something about how it reaches out from the center that to me is the heart energy.
I’ve done performance pieces where I use the shape of the cross. As part of the piece I move in that shape and this means different things to different cultures. It represents the cross-roads; relationships in certain Native American mythology… In Christianity it is the hanged one as well as in the Tarot.
The tree to me is like the hanged one, that state of offering up and out. They’re letting go of carbon dioxide to give away, we’re breathing the oxygen in – it’s that place where you let go for the highest good for the community.
I don’t know where I get that from but that is the spirit that I read in trees.
Sometimes when I take a walk in the woods I’ll do little rituals and one of them is to raise my arms up in the air and expand them out to open my heart. And this is what I feel like many of the trees are doing, they’re reaching out all the time.
Do you think it would be possible for you to get into that space now and do real time communication with a tree? To ask a tree if it would like to communicate something to us?
You know I feel like I would need to go into the woods with you to do that and really I go when I have something that I want to ask the tree. It’s a respectful thing on my part more like do I have a question that I really need to bother the tree about. But not to do it just as a demonstration.
No this isn’t a demonstration. This is actually an offering to the trees. We’re here with this intention and this is all about you and is there anything that you would like us to know? This is a platform for you. This is my intention in doing this.
If we both went to the forest, we’re prepared and spent 30 -40 minutes doing this then that would be the proper way for me to do it. I don’t think I can just go outside and do it with a tree out here. I would have to spend time in meditation in preparation for this.
I would go and think what I would want to ask it. It takes a certain amount of energy for me to have it well up inside of me and have a strong question I needed answered. Like, I really need to make money how do I do this? How do I forgive someone? Or to do a ritual to try and figure out how to help the environment. So it’s around a certain need that I would go and do this.
If you wanted to go sometime and ask the trees for guidance then would that work for you?
Yes it would. If they had something to say that would help me make the project accessible to more people.
If you went with that intention to ask the tree how you can best reach more people with this project and sat with the trees for half an hour then I think that would be a more powerful communication than if I did it because this is your question.
Sometimes they just give you love and healing and that can be the message, the best way to approach things.
I could help you do this if we went to a tree, say in Muir Woods, went to a tree that I’m familiar with and spend some time there and ask how to help heal some of the other trees such as the Oaks who are experiencing so much death now with this disease they have.
It’s really about getting yourself into a really still place then you can get into their world and that’s what’s needed. It’s a practice just like any other meditation where you need to slow way down and listen to those places inside us where we don’t often go and can’t hear unless we pay close attention.
Do you spend a good deal of time with the intention of developing a relationship with trees?
I take walks in Tennessee Valley and I will sit in this place where the trees are in front of me in a circle and another place where there is some water running through it. And it all starts to vibrate after sitting there for a while, after meditating there for about a half hour or more. Things get to be kind of surreal at some point, say in the last 10 minutes. And it feels so good to be in this higher state.
It feels so good to talk about this Linda because I forget how important that place is and that I do want to give it more time and energy. And there are people who live in place more and when you meet them it’s so great because you can feel that they are connected with that slowness and compassion. And how to hold onto that space and make a living in the world is tough.
Have you ever had a relationship with a tree where you felt it deepening and broadening as you got to know each other over a longer period of time?
I don’t remember that specifically but when I go to say the trees in Tennessee Valley I do notice how they seem to respond to different kinds of weather. Maybe it’s just my projection but they do seem happier when it’s sunny out rather than foggy but I don’t really think that they have moods.
My sense is that they have transcended to a higher place and that the difficulties they might have are just learning experiences that help them evolve to higher levels of spirit.
I feel like the trees in the wilder places are not under the stresses of living near cities and so many people are maybe praying for everybody and putting out all their good energy to help us all, to help the whole web of life.
So it’s with all seriousness and time and energy to focus on the trees that I will go to them to seek advice for a problem. And if they give you a message then you better follow it because if you don’t then you risk losing that connection with them and shutting their voice off. So I don’t ask unless I’m really stumped because there are easier ways to get answers to questions.
I can just go to the trees and sit and just listen and appreciate them and feel their love and compassion and in this way they can feed you and I don’t have to ask a question all the time. They don’t just limit themselves to words.
The more quiet and grounded we become the more we’re able to tune in to these wonderful rooted beings who are grounded all the time.
(At Claire’s suggestion, we go outside in her back courtyard at this point.)
You know I wonder if people go into a kind of trance when they’re talking to you about the trees. Because when I was talking about the trees I felt as if I were saying things I haven’t said out loud about my relationship with the trees before and things were coming out of my mouth that I didn’t even know I was saying. I felt like I was in a bit of a trance state and not really me almost as if it was coming from a different source and I wasn’t conscious of me at all.
Do you feel like you were channeling?
I don’t know, it felt like I was in an altered state and all that was important was to express this thing that is coming from a higher power or source than you are. I was talking about things that are very dear to me, things I haven’t spoken of before and so it was very special to do this interview and to let things come from that deep intuitive place rather than from my head.
Do you think you went into this space in the beginning or later in the interview?
It was when I started getting into describing what it was like. No one had ever really pushed me to describe what it’s like and I’m realizing that it is not at all a head place. And I was a little protective to talk about all this because it’s not a head place for me.
I could tell you were a bit hesitant.
It’s almost when people ask you to describe your God or your spiritual beliefs. It’s very personal and it’s based on faith almost because it’s not something that can be proved. It’s based on my experience and because so much of my experience is different than regular experience. And I believe it’s real but to say it publicly is another thing and it shows the amount of faith that I have in this even though a lot of people would think this is crazy.
In some ways I’m pretty traditional, brought up a strict Roman Catholic, but these stories are real things that happened to me.
I strongly feel that with everybody I interview about this, they are telling me about their sincere reality and I accept it as such.
It’s interesting to see how you can go along with this secret reality that is so much a part of your joy in life and not really talk about it.
And I think there are a lot of people who keep this to themselves. And when they hear someone else speak about things like this it gives them the freedom to bring it up and remember and speak about it as well.
On another note, would you mention more about the spiritual tradition you grew up in?
I grew up Roman Catholic. I played guitar for folk masses at the Newman Center when I was going to UC Berkeley. I walked out of the church in Moro Bay when the sermon of the priest was evil and I never looked back. And then I studied about earth centered spiritual practices and rituals and find them powerful. I took some classes and workshops with the Starhawk Collective.
Anytime you work with people in a group and you raise the energy and ground it again is a wonderful ritual. And I work with that in basicly any activity people are doing.
But I think it’s important to move around and celebrate the earth and not just sit and listen to some dry speech that you can’t understand. So that’s why the earth based religions are attractive to me. I’ve studied the Celtic and Uruban Arisias archtypes and I think that the Great Mother and Coyote trickster are very powerful archtypes.
I’ve also taken yoga classes and was astounded that I could put my mind in my arm and stretch it farther and that just blew my mind when I started doing yoga. And then I immediately lost a lot of weight. I used to have a little bit of a weight problem. And I just naturally stopped eating meat, I just lost my desire for meat.
My yoga teacher said if you meditate for a ½ hour each day you’ll come to understand everything there is to know about meditation – so I did and I’ve been meditating for over 30 years now and experimented with various meditations.
About 8 years ago I started doing Zen meditation and I think it’s because there’s a similar structure to it kind of like the Catholic Church it follows a more traditional form and I like that too. It gives me some good tools to work with especially coming from a chaotic childhood. So I do Zen meditation every day now rather than the old form I used to do. And this has been so important to me it actually allows me to remain part of this culture without freaking out too much.
And I walk a lot in nature and I feel that’s part of the spirituality too.
So that’s where I am today. You know we talk about the high self and prayer which is all important but also the earth self that’s rooted in the ground is important. It’s about moving around and being celebratory and not just serious sitting down listening to someone talk. There needs to be a connection in group of people with the energies moving amongst us – that model is an important one for me.
One of the things that has been powerful about being interviewed by you is that no one else has really asked me to talk in any depth about this. It has kind of been my private world which I have experienced alone. And this is so meaningful and rich to share it with another person; I don’t have to carry this alone now.
Having told you about it makes it even more real to me. It now becomes a shared part of the collective and I think when it becomes part of the collective consciousness and people really own it, then were going to move on it. We’ll take care of the earth, take care of the trees more when we have enough people willing to speak and say that this is a real and important part of our world. These are real and potential relationships that we need to make as part of our own education, of being sensitive to other voices and moving to help the planet.
This is edgy, when I’m saying things that I haven’t even thought before and are not just coming from me. It feels like this is coming from a depth where I’m a mouth-piece for Nature. I’ve been pulling from a deep part of me for the words that best describe the relationship I’ve had with the trees. It’s so important to represent the trees in a way that speaks to their energy but also in a way that people can hear. Our work is bridging, acting as a conduit.
I’ve felt like a bridge in giving this interview.
Yeah – I didn’t feel like me. There are lapses of time when I didn’t feel like I was talking. For me to say, “you can’t save the earth unless you listen to the earth” sounds simple but it is a really radical thing. I haven’t understood this fully until I put words to it right now.
What we’re talking about is to get people to sit around and listen to what the trees want. It’s like when you go into another culture and you listen to what those people want within their culture.
Yes, and even just to bear witness is a powerful experience for both sides. Listening is a healing action.
Thank you Claire, for sharing so much of yourself for this project.