Ruis Elder is the tree that represents the month of October in the Celtic Tree Calendar, and specifically rules October 3rd through the 30th. This is the last tree in the Wheel of the Year before the 31st of October (known as Samhain). Samhain is a hinge holiday that marks the end of autumn and the beginning of winter. This is a time when the veil between the worlds is most thin, and one can make contact with the spirits of their loved one and their ancestors.
The Celts believed that communication with their relatives and friends and animals that had crossed over provided needed love, guidance, and encouragement. For them, this was also a time to give gratitude and count one’s blessings. Here we take stock of what we have grown through the year and with the help of the crone, we let go of that which is not longer needed. She helps us to reap what is good and cut away that which is complete or unused. She helps us to reevaluate and sweep clean our slates so we can begin to plan our new adventures and aspirations for a new cycle. (You can read more about this tree month and all of the fifteen trees of the Celtic Tree Calendar, with their particular teachings, rune, ogham, astrology, totems, and healings in my new book The Healing Power of Trees: Spiritual Journeys with the Celtic Tree Calendar.)
During this time of increased spirit communication, I was able to have a powerful experience and communication with my ancestors in which I could truly see the value and validity of what the tree teaching of the Elder is talking about. I was able to connect and communicate with my elders in a way that made me feel appreciated and understood and encouraged.
I was at the first class of Nicki Scully's Alchemical Healing series; a wonderful teacher named Reverend Kathryn Ravenwood was leading us on a guided journey to commune with our ancestors. We were working with forgiveness and our lineages.
With my eyes closed I followed the mediation. In my mind’s eye I traveled with bees that took me to two beautiful gardens. The first garden, in England, was to represent my mother’s lineage. In the lovely English garden I spoke with my maternal great, great, great grandfather, who had been a merchant. He came right up to me and told me that he wanted to apologize to me. He said that he had enjoyed his feeling of superiority that he had experienced in relation to his wife and other female members of his family. He was sorry for using this power to intimidate and lord over these women. He was sorry for belittling the powers of the feminine. (Indeed my mother never really felt supported or honored for being female, and I suppose that idea was handed down through the family.) He also communicated that he sorely grieved the deforestation of England and his lack of connection to natural law that was lost with the onslaught of Christianity. He explained that in my search to understand my own ancient heritage that he, too, was able to feed something he had longed for within his own soul. He too was able to feel the healing power of the trees and his own deep connection to the land. I was quite touched by this connection to this man.
The second garden, in Swansea, Wales, represented my father's Welsh lineage. In this garden I met with my own grandmother. She had been an evangelistic Christian, and she told me that she grieved her rigidity and judgments. She realized that the divine power of healing is not restricted to one path of human belief. She told me that she had interpreted her belief in Jesus and in healing in too narrow a way. She said that she honored my healing work, and was very proud of the knowledge of herbs and healing passed on through the females of her family. She had been a faith healer, and she was glad to give me her blessing and to encourage me in my healing work now that she had a higher perspective. This was quite remarkable to me to share an affinity for healing with my grandmother and a respect for a heritage that had once been so very connected to nature and its healing properties.
The bees then traveled back to me; they energetically brought both lines of my ancestry together and placed them into a beautiful Chalice of the Divine Feminine that magically appeared in my hands. From the golden chalice grew a beautiful miniature world tree. I then heard the words, "Ancient Sovereignty." I experienced a blessing in that moment, and a sense that I was doing just what I was meant to be doing.
I had always wondered why I was studying the ancient Celtic mysteries and the trees. These words gave me a connection to the lands of the British Isles and the trees and Celtic ways. I felt encouraged to keep working with the trees, and to share what I was learning of the Celtic cosmology and the Celtic Tree Calendar. This was indeed a happy and satisfying journey!
I have had other connections with ancestors and relatives and friends who have died. These have come through dreams, guided meditations, and synchronicities, as well as through study and the preparation of The Healing Power of Trees. I have also seen the healing power of these visitations with clients and students. This is something I have experienced. This is something that is real to me.
Life is full of the unknown and the unseen, but not unfamiliar forces. These connections and communications have enriched and enlivened my life. Life would seem dull without these connections to my own lineage. I am grateful. I embrace the understanding that the dead cross back and forth at will, and that I can commune with my loved ones who no longer live on this plane. It is my experience that this is an entirely natural contact and its purpose is to heal our hearts, heal our relationships with the departed, and help us move beyond our fear of death. It is also my experience that this time of year lends itself to these communications as the fabric that separated these worlds does become very thin and it is easier to make contact.
I am grateful to my ancestors for reminding me that my relatives are watching over me, and that my dreams are a continuation of their dreams. Perhaps it is possible that healing can come through this communication, not only for myself but also for them as they let me know what they would have done differently had they the consciousness at the time. I can learn from their past mistakes. The Celts believed heavily in communion with those that had passed on, and they believed that those communications provided support and guidance. I am grateful to the teaching of the Elder tree that allows me to understand that these communications are natural and a birth right. I am happy that I am a continuance of my lineages and that although they are not visually present in the dimension that they support me to follow my own aspirations and to grow beyond judgments, beliefs, and habits that do not lead to love and acceptance. I am reminded to be a good steward of the planet and to all growing things and to be grateful for this magical kingdom that we inhabit. The trees teach me this and my ancestors remind me that we are ever growing in our consciousness.