Monthly Columns


Tree Circles for Healing

It’s a New Year, and when a new cycle opens in my life, I often go to a tree circle nearby to help move me through the changes I’m experiencing in life. So, I thought an article about various tree circles and how they can help would be appropriate to the season. When I stand within a circle of trees, I feel as if I’m in a grove of spirit beings rather than physical trees, beings who can sense exactly what I need at that moment. And I usually feel my spirit family of light moving into the trees as well, a whole community of light surrounding and supporting me. In my old home in Michigan, I used to go down to the meadow and walk through the woods, squeezing under fallen trunks at the end, to a circle of Aspen trees hidden there. And I heard them saying to come stand in the center whenever I was having a hard time, that they’d help heal me. Aspens are one of the sacred trees of the druid calendar, Edad in Old Irish. And that Ogham letter E always signifies that some struggle is coming to a close, a breakthrough not too far away. So, whenever I’d been processing some fear in my life and felt I was nearing the end, I went to the Aspen circle and waited silently in the center. And I could sense those trees coming to bright life as I did so, full of absolute JOY that they were being asked to heal me, that a human actually trusted them enough, even in my fatigue or discouragement. I felt their light and gratitude surround me, and how very long they’d waited to connect with humanity this way. And then, I was literally lifted through the final shadow barriers above my head into an expansion of my inner spirit that lasted for a week or more before the next phase of growth opened in my life. It was amazing, for I’d never tried that before. But it became a ritual for me in that home, trudging and crawling to that Aspen grove even through the snows of January. I was quite isolated at that time, too, and it was such a comfort to feel the helping friendship of those trees!

So, I began looking for other tree circles to try out. I lived in an Oak forest then, so they were everywhere. And White Oaks, of course, hold the very strong love and protection of the high God, but I often have a sense of a divine father as I stand within their embrace as well. The Oak circles have helped me most when I‘m in danger of collapse, ready to give up on something I’ve been trying to accomplish after too many obstacles. Inner strength and determination to persevere is what I gain from Oak circles. But the father aspect that sometimes comes in, too, has helped me with financial worries, mostly calming me down and assuring me I’m being watched over and all will be resolved in due time. In the home I currently live in, I have nemeton, a grove of 12 English Oaks, Quercus Robur. It’s the Oak of the Beloved part of God, the forever partner within. And inside my nemeton, I feel held mainly, embraced in a strong forever love that eases whatever I may be undergoing at the time. I’d expected to feel strong truth in my meditations within this tree circle but that isn’t what’s happened. My heart just plumps up with love on the inside as I sit there, and I know I have a forever Partner Who walks beside me every step of the way, even if He is invisible! And often new ideas for books to write or other work for good will drift into my thoughts as I sit in the nemeton as well. My dog also loves to sit inside those Oaks, waiting there much of the time I was out gardening for hours on summer mornings a few months ago. He made a bee line for it when he hurt his hip this fall, too, so tree circles are just as good for pets as people!

Then there are the Apple groves. They’re the Goddess trees, of course, the divine feminine. But when I sit within an Apple grove, I feel a strong connection to my family usually, to family holidays, comforting thoughts of home or suggestions around family issues that have come up in my life. It’s gentle in the Apple grove, unlike that strong Oaky masculine, apple trees more like the tender comfort of a mother’s hug on a hard day. And among the Apples, I get ideas for new recipes more often than not, home improvements, sewing ideas, holiday get togethers, the feminine parts of my life. My children are grown now and doing well, but if I were still actively mothering, I know resolutions to childcare issues could be better sensed within my Apple grove as well. Apple tree circles are like the comfort of a warm and cinnamon-y apple pie!

And then there was the week-end I spent in a Redwood forest in Crescent City, CA, after an especially rainy week that closed the dirt roads of the park to traffic. So, I got to wander through those amazing trees pretty much by myself. Redwoods are the tree of the virgin god, the world server and spiritual warrior. And a sense of absolute strength in facing any obstacle at all came through those trees, never giving up, no matter what. But mostly, I felt utter holiness and reverence for all life underneath those gentle giants, that all the uplifting messages of the sages are really TRUE. Evergreen trees always bring through eternal truths, it seems, so a sense of real justice and honor within my reach was very strong underneath those boughs as well. It certainly did call me to follow my path in no uncertain terms, to believe in love and love’s victory, no matter how many obstacles I still had to face. That was ten years ago but the wonder of that early morning in the majesty of those Redwoods hasn’t faded, an experience I will never forget and will ever draw upon when I need to. All these years, it has supported my druid life with quiet but intense certainty, believing in druidry as my life work, a world server impulse for sure.

And lastly, there’s a small circle of birches in the park where I take my dog. And this, too, has brought great comfort. Birches are the divine child tree, the same as each person’s personal highest destiny or fully awakened self. During the Birch moon, the first of the Celtic new year after Midwinter, I always feel a strong white ray of hope inside, a sense of what I’ll be able to accomplish by year’s end, the fulfillment of some long hoped-for goal in life. And the Oghama letter B, too, signifies a year of gentle growth and some new aspect of the self that will develop and be realized into life at the end of that time. So, the Birch grove is a good one for this time of year, late December/early January, to get a strong sense of exactly what I’ll be working on during the moons ahead, and to soak up the strong hope of breaking through the year’s barriers, gently, step-by-step each day, until that fulfillment arrives next Midwinter. But the Birch grove also holds a child’s gentleness, as well as a child’s unbreakable belief that love will always prevail, that people are basically good. It brings rest for my spirit, my inner child especially, when I’m really discouraged or when the world is particularly disruptive, as it was for me during the recent election. Stepping into that circle of birches also feels extremely safe, as if my inner child can unfold there and be held in the softest love, like a baby’s hug, a very, very special place.

These are the tree circles I’m familiar with but there are many more possibilities. Maples resonate with hands, the trees of action, so I guess they’d be good circles for blocks to action or ideas in this regard. Rose of Sharon trees resonate with peace on earth, Ashes with the backbone strength of the virgin goddess and her refusal to give in to violence, Elders with deep embodiment of truth into the bedrock of our spirits. Wouldn’t these be a useful circles to have nearby? I wonder what kind of tree circle experiences others may have had. Please let me know; I’d love to hear from you. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a druid community with tree circles placed in quiet spaces for folks to go to when times are tough or just for the hushed, slowed-down peace all trees surround us with? A tree circle park for children, perhaps? So, when getting together with your usual friends is curtailed this winter because of Covid, try some tree circle friends instead! Blessed be, everyone, this New Year and the whole skyturn ahead.


About the Author:

Jill Frew Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist and energy/light healer, who has followed a druid path of enlightenment for over 30 years. She is founder of The Celtic Heaven School, a nine-month program that teaches druidry, ascension, and healing. And she is author of the Alba Reborn Trilogy (the life story of a druid priestess and priest in BCE Scotland and their teachings of enlightenment), A Guidebook to Druidry, and Light Healing for Children.