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About the Ash(ley) Tree
As you can see, I engage in a variety of services. It was important to me that they be all in one place for many reasons, the most prevalent being I've always appreciated "Renaissance" people and I'm not a fan of the way the culture I was raised in tries to limit people, companies, websites etc; we each have the capacity to embrace that a single entity does multiple things, and to take each of those things in. I don't see the point in limiting ourselves or others, nor do I think it reinforces or increases said capacity, and so I choose to nurture the truths of multiple dimensions, dynamics, and complexity; all being apparent in nature with and beyond each of us. So, there.
That said, while things I offer mostly fall under only two umbrellas; Arts and Healing Arts; that isn't specific enough for me. I mean this beyond ideas like those around the term Healing Arts and its own potential limitations, misinterpretations, etc: The storyteller in me prefers an umbrella name that articulates the way all parts are connected.
Late one January, I attended a Tibetan Medicine retreat, like ya do (super relatable, I know). Deep in a mantra meditation, an image of a mandala came to me; with the things I do as each of the extensions from the middle; forming a perfectly symmetrical image telling and showing where I put my energies. As I explored further ways to deepen and expand my understanding, skills, and talents, I kept seeing similar symmetrical connections in my mind's eye. It felt close, but no cigar in sight.
That September, I was in India studying an Ayurvedic method of reading pulses (yet another universally relatable reference), and I was still mentally refining this idea. The concept of the Tree of Life kept coming to me; one day the words, another in an image of it from the visually stunning film, The Fountain, and another I was drawn to a necklace in a shop in Manali with a tree. The place was filled with all sorts of things I could have felt connected to. And this was way on the back wall, near a corner. The owner said that one was an interpretation of? a-The Tree of Life...
It's a concept that does seem to run through multiple cultures, worldwide, which felt more universal than a mandala, and therefore more comfortable for me to use - especially in terms of appropriation, and truthfully overall in the myriad things I incorporate into my work; I wanted a symbol less limited in its history, something recognizable by and relatable to any member of any culture, IF possible. SO, here I was, in India for the first time, experiencing so many things, and among them I received an answer to this question. As Thomas Amelio said when I interviewed him, "There’s something about India that...if you’re willing to listen to something beneath the cacophony and…all the contrasts; there’s something there that just will buoy you up and take care of you -- if you LET it… "
I liked the idea of something extending in all different directions; even into the ground; from a single source; and also constantly alive and evolving; always growing, adapting, and transforming. Simultaneously reaching into Earth for stabilization, Ether for expansion, and all the while engaging the inbetween.
Also true, Vrkshasana, Tree Pose, has always been a personal favorite Asana of mine. I often see it as simultaneously grounding into balance on one leg (IF that is available to you - and if not, trees come in all different shapes, so it also becomes a pose that makes it available for anyone to express their particular tree); opening the heart: aligning all central major energy centers (I say 'energy centers' because the Crown is not a Chakra, go back; repeat it; and if you wish or disagree, inquire within) and either extending out and upward toward the sky in prayer, doing the same with hands out at diagonals, or one's hands meeting at the heart; our human internal network's medium point between Heaven and Earth. - Also what we are according to TCM:
Also according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, I partly have strong Wood energy. Wood people benefit from self-nurturance, and especially in nurturing their roots because they always want to learn and grow. Wood is an ingredient that makes acting great for me; with each character and story, I can explore, experiment, expand, and, as my father says, 'You get to do your research!'
Trees teach us so much. We can learn patience around the true time it takes to grow. They display the perseverance and specific aspects needed to weather various storms. There is evident creativity and wisdom in the way each branch finds, and is constantly negotiating, its way toward light, along with the fortitude and trust it can take to continue until one actually feels the Sun's warmth. Trees reflect adaptability and provide medicine and shelter for those in need, regardless of familiarity or expectation of anything in return. As I said of the pose, staying rooted down while stretching up, and keeping stillness while also moving with the waters and the winds. Recent studies show us communication networks in forests and that as much as they collaborate, they compete; they find ways to achieve and to work together, simultaneously.
I'm not sure this must be said, but I'll say anyway that another reason a tree suits a company of mine is that I AM a tree-hugger.
Also? I'm, like, really tall.
Still, while I love when nature is rightfully associated and linked with the divine, I thought it felt self-aggrandizing to name my company after a Tree of frigging Life.
Nonetheless, I looked it up so The Universe would stop shouting at me. The first description that came up said that, in Norse Mythology, The Tree of Life is? An ASH Tree -- so literal a sign, and so I kept going.
From research on my Black Irish side of my family's Celtic history, a Celtic Tree tarot once gifted to me, and some kind and drunk Irish strangers I met in NY, I already knew Ash means Dream in Gaelic: In that tradition, the Ash Tree symbolizes a connection between fantasy and reality. (Ash-leigh means Dream-like). I could see the ways this verson of a Tree of Life could align with meditation, visualization, and all kinds of storytelling.
What I would learn over a few nights in my hotel room in India, (recovering from a bout of Delhi belly), is the Ash family has qualities of various different kinds of trees all wound into one (hear that, Alanis?). This makes it so that, depending on its environment and the variety of Ash, what stars out as the same kind of tree can end up in very different shapes.
The tree itself also has an interesting characteristic; as soon as a branch starts to grow on one side, another branch begins to grow on the opposite; never extending in only one direction; balanced on both sides; a-like a mandala.
Ash trees it also have a mirror of being used for holistic healing (as do most trees named some version of 'Tree of Life' in various cultures); every part of the tree can be used to support our existence.
I was thrilled to learn how many parts of the tree can be used to facilitate healing. In addition to leaves and bark, it offers both berries, and flowers. It is literally a (wonderfully diverse) tool for earthbound healing in itself.
All of the above, and more that I won't ask you to read, are possible reasons for it being chosen to be aligned with the Tree of Life; a connector of multiple worlds, a facilitator in re-viving multiple things, something that innately works toward balance, and also especially adaptable to ensure its own life in a way that can makes in a bit enigmatic with each physical emanation; a shapeshifter; a trickster of a tree.
All of the above built a case that helped my inner teenager roll her eyes a lot less at naming my company after such a special tree.
Ultimately, a thing I've seen across in many spiritual, psychological, and creative philosophies, is the more we allow our own authentic, genuine truth to shine, the more space we make for others to feel able to do the same. That in itself can be an act of service. Trees like the Ash reflect this as well, and so I surrendered to this being the company name.
Thank you for visiting,
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