Japan ~ Land of the Rising Sun
Earlier this year I was invited by The Voice Project to present a training course on the Platbos African Tree Essences in Tokyo, Japan. For the past twenty years, the Voice Project has hosted spiritually-based teachers and events from around the world. There is a magical story of how this came about, and it begins with Kumi Nakagawa.
Kumi, a Flower Essence Practitioner and yoga teacher from Osaka, Japan, contacted me in 2011 after experiencing the African Tree Essences during a Flower Essence seminar held by the Director of the International Flower Essence Repertoire in the UK, Don Dennis. Kumi wrote to me shortly after, saying that from the moment she held the African Tree Essences, she knew that she had to introduce them to Japan, that Mother Earth required this. So it was that the African Tree Mists first made their way across the seas to Japan. Since then, Kumi has made the long trip twice already to Platbos Forest, and is planning another for 2017.
In February 2016, Kumi held a workshop on the Tree Mists in Tokyo at the beautiful ‘Salon in the Sky’ owned by Junko Shimoyama. Serendipitously, Yuki Miyamoto, manager of the Voice Project was one of the attendees. Yuki had a profound experience with the Lion StarGate Mist. His energy field expanded instantly and dramatically. Much to his surprise, a persistent health issue cleared immediately. He was so impressed that he suggested to Kumi that they invite me to present a practitioner’s training course on the African Tree Essences in Tokyo.
Call of the Forest
The trees of Platbos work like this. The forest calls on those whom it needs to share its healing and wise teachings. Twelve years ago, the forest summoned me and my family through a magical chain of synchronicities. Since then, Platbos continues to weave its mystical way across the earth and through the ethers. For Eva Zeithamlová, now the sole distributor of the African Tree Essences in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Russia, Switzerland, Germany and Italy, an angelic messenger requested her to ‘spread the healing of an ancient forest that she would find on the edge of a continent’. Through this message, Eva found Platbos at the foot of Africa.
I use the word ‘magic’ often when I speak about Platbos. This is because its workings are unfathomable and mysterious. The more I witness, the more enchanted I become. In 2010 I found a book called “Visionary Plant Consciousness – The Shamanic Teachings of the Plant World”, edited by J.P. Harpignies. One idea in particular has been slowly percolating through my mind ever since. Michael Pollan and Wade Davis suggest that much like the honey bee who pollinates the fruit trees as she gathers pollen, so we too are cleverly utilized by certain plants to cultivate and spread them around the globe. This is called co-evolution: two species working harmoniously together in pursuit of their individual self-interests. The authors give apples and tulips, cannabis and potatoes as classic examples. In South Africa, the grape is an obvious one too. Each fulfils a different human desire and as a result they are extensively cultivated. Since the plant kingdom is immobile, they have evolved as nature’s true alchemists, producing an astounding array of molecules to entice their pollinators and propagators, and to repel their enemies. There is absolute genius in how they achieve this. One could perhaps see this as cunning manipulation on the part of the plants, yet since each specie attains their desire – the honey bee gets her pollen and the tree in turn achieves pollination and reproduction – it is mutually beneficial. What is amazing and humbling to me is that it is the plants who initiate and orchestrate the process.
Spiritual Offerings from the Forest
Platbos Forest works in a more subtle way than say, the apple tree. Its fruits of offering are of a spiritual kind.
Mysteriously, magically, unfathomably – the forest found me. Never having heard of it and living a few hundred kilometres away, I had no inkling of the forest’s existence in its far away valley. Yet, on a chance visit to Gansbaai, a coastal village about ten kilometres from the forest, I asked a seemingly ridiculous question: Gansbaai is windswept and bereft of trees. In all of the Western Cape, less than 0.05% is forested, and thus rarely does indigenous forest come up for sale. Never the less, without thinking, I flippantly asked a local estate agent if there was an indigenous forest for sale. The question was tossed over my shoulder as I left his offices. I did not expect his affirmative reply.
He brought my husband, Francois, and I to this ancient, bonsai-like forest where the most spectacular of all the trees are the wizened white stinkwoods. Trees that are not normally found as far south as the foot of Africa. The very same trees whose leaves Francois had etched upon our wedding bands because shortly after we met in 1996, we grew them from seed in our small home nursery in Cape Town and subsequently fell in love with them.
This was the magic of the forest at play: the forest found us, not the other way around.
At the risk of sounding arrogant, the forest could not have chosen a more perfect pair to serve it. We are both passionate about trees and forests and yet have differing skills to offer it. Francois said to me recently that the forest must feel very safe in my hands for I am like a fierce lioness protecting it. In turn, Francois has made many sacrifices for the forest and his extensive knowledge and understanding of trees and forest ecosystems, plus his amazing ability to repair and work with all the machinery necessary to clear the invasive alien trees that surround the forest, mean that the forest is kept safe from its greatest threat: wild fires.
The reciprocal offerings from the forest, shared not only with us and those who visit Platbos in person, but also a growing number of people in far off lands, is the gift of transformation. Through their essences, the trees bring healing on both a personal and planetary level. The trees seem to see into our souls, guiding us to where healing and balance are needed. They open our eyes and hearts to the plight of trees and forests around the world. The trees are deeply and profoundly altruistic with their gifts that they offer us in return for protecting the forest and amplifying its geographic scope of healing. They work miracles for the greater good of all.
Spirit of Japan
In late August 2016, I made the long flight to Japan. In addition to presenting a two day Practitioner’s Training Course in the beautiful Kiyosumi Gardens in Tokyo, I was fortunate to visit a few of the most sacred sites of Japan. With over 100 000 Shinto shrines and Buddhist Temples, and comprising of roughly seventy percent forest, Japan is an amazing blend of spirituality, nature and modernity. How to capture this experience in words? I cannot. I came away with the knowledge that it would take a lifetime at least to gain a passing understanding of the true depths of this country. Yet on a simple, spirit level, I resonated instantly with the culture, the landscape and the people. When I meditated in the Japanese forest, I saw an angelic being, neither male nor female, emanating a beautiful and gentle colour of the palest, shimmering yellow and surrounded by white light. The image was very pure, very refined. And very humbling.
Whilst I did my best to observe and follow the customs of Japanese etiquette, I bumbled about, spilling tea on beautiful tamati mats, forgetting to remove the toilet slippers before exiting the loo, fumbling with chop sticks until I was kindly offered a spoon – rather like Alice in Wonderland when she grows into a giant and is all knees and elbows. My blunders however were met with genuine kindness and tolerance, politeness and respect. I had the expectation that the Japanese culture would be very formal and reserved and yet whilst this is true to some extent, there is also great warmth, openness and humour.
Everyday life in Japan is steeped in mindfulness and respect. Imagine then the refinement of Japanese spirituality. The Jinja Cedar tree and the Tamaki Shrine encapsulate this pure essence.
A few days after my arrival in Osaka, our group of thirteen, led by Kumi, wound our way along the forest pathways of Mount Tamaki in the Nara Prefecture. Beneath chestnuts, wild cherries, cypress, rhododendrons and cedars, we followed in the footsteps of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who have made their way to the innermost sanctuary of the three main shrines of the World Heritage Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage route: the Tamaki Shrine, founded in 37BC, and its ancient cedars who pre-date and watch over it.
Shinto priests, acetic monks and pilgrims have made this journey over thousands of years. Their collective devotion is walked like a songline into the earth, their mantras echoed through time by the ancient trees.
Unlike those who came before us, ours was not an arduous passage. In the past it would have taken more than a month to travel the steep mountainous trails of the 300 kilometre route. About forty years ago a road was built, opening up access for visitors like ourselves. Even so, without public transport, this holy site remains remote for many and those who visit are believed to have been specially called, and very fortunate. Today it looks much the same as it would have at the time the shrine was built. There are no commercial trappings nor crass trinkets. It is the residence of the gods and the nature spirits, a true forest sanctuary. Kobodaishi – a famous monk who introduced Buddhism to Japan in the Nara era – is reported to have declared upon visiting this shrine: ‘This is the centre of ‘Ki’ of the world!’
I knew none of this history at the time of our visit, yet the sacredness and mystery of the Tamaki Shrine filled me, as if by osmosis, the moment I entered the forest. Soft mist descended to weave its quiet way through the trees. The forest floor was lit with delicate flowers and mosses clothed the tree trunks in robes of emerald. I have never encountered a place of equal purity. I saw the Jinja Cedar before I saw the shrine. Like an ancient sage, silent and infinitely patient, the Cedar stood. It was like passing through the veil to another world.
The Etheric Forest Web
Were it not for Platbos, I would never have met Kumi, nor the Jinja Cedar. Kumi echoed these thoughts in her recent correspondence to me upon my return to the Platbos:
It is very important for our Mother Earth that the Japanese and South African forests are connected. Especially as the areas we visited are important ones in Japan, so I feel we were required to go.
I’m happy to get to know wonderful people and you through Platbos.
I too have met many wonderful people through Kumi and Platbos. At the Yoshino ‘Forest Therapy Road’ – one of the forest sites for therapeutic forest bathing – our group met Mr Nakai Akimoto, the Forest Care Taker, and Mrs Rieko Uchida, an architect, who are working to promote and preserve the market for traditional Japanese industrial arts and material production which are on the verge of decline. The Hinoki Japanese Cypress is used as a central pillar in traditionally built homes and Mrs Uchida oversees the selection process for her clients. Mr Akimoto, as care taker of the forest, ensures that the trees are properly selected and felled with respect. Before any tree is cut down, prayers of thanks and gratitude are offered to the tree.
Beneath the Hinoki cypresses and Japanese cedars, our group of 13 women shared water collected from each of our home areas. I had a small bottle of water from Platbos. Kumi carefully mixed the waters so that we each had a bottle of the collective waters. In this way, we could seed and share these combined energies in our home lands. The process is simple yet powerful.
The late Dr Maseru Emoto’s inspirational work with water shows how water holds information within its matrix. Water carries the messages, or vibratory signature, from wherever it has been – be that dancing through a forest stream or rain water in a city puddle. Water responds to our intentions, thoughts and emotions and through the Law of Resonance, its vibration will naturally adjust itself to the higher vibratory level. We can work with this principle to bring about healing for the planet.
I had the privilege of visiting the Maseru Offices in Tokyo and photographing the beautiful water crystals as they grew. I have long been a fan of Dr Maseru’s work so this was a magical experience for me, as was meeting the people who worked alongside him and who are now continuing with his research.
Sharing the Waters
Shortly after my return to Platbos, a small group of women friends and I held a water ceremony on the Spring Solstice at the Gandmother Milkwood tree. Each brought a bottle of special water along and these we again mixed with the waters that I had brought back with me from our meditation in the Yoshino forest. During our meditation around the milkwood tree, we connected with all the trees and forests of the world, and then focused our attention on the Jinja Cedar at the Tamaki Shrine. At this point, I shared my bottle of water with the milkwood tree. When I sat down to resume my meditation, the energy emanating from the milkwood was profoundly strengthened and magnificently magnified. It was unlike anything I have experienced before. My head was literally pushed back by the force of it. The others felt this same shift too, and the messages we received were amazingly similar. The forests were rejoicing, not only because we had united them in this way, but also because they love and welcome our active, collective contribution, as well as our individual essences.
I believe that trees love us. Some may dismiss this as anthropomorphic nonsense yet for me, they are the embodiment of unconditional love. They are beings of light. Literally. They eat the sun light and share it. So doing, they sustain other life forms, us among them. It is they who make life possible for us. The most holy of humans can practice for many further life times before they are as unconditional in their love and generosity as is a tree.
The Standing Nation: the trees. We are blind to whom they truly are. We gaze to the heavens, imagining that there, far away amongst the stars, resides the Great Spirit. Meanwhile, right beside us, stands the tree. Quiet and patient. Waiting for our eyes to open.
A new journey has begun through this simple act of uniting the northern and southern forests. I no longer worry myself about what the next step is, what it all means, etcetera etcetera. The forests know and all we need do is follow their lead.
If you would like to join in the sharing of the waters of the world with the forests, please write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether you live near an old growth forest or have a special ‘connector’ tree that you resonate with, we would love to connect you in with the forest network.
My appreciation and gratitude to Kumi, Masumi and Yuki, for all their hard work and attention to detail that made this an extra special trip for me and all who participated.
With love and forest greetings,
Below are more images of my amazing trip to the beautiful Japan: