It was a sunny afternoon, in the fall of 1961, when I first met the “tree spirit” in Holzhausen Park, Frankfurt. I was just about to turn seven years old in another month.
Holzhausen (wooden house) was originally the grand country estate of the Holzhausen family who built it in the 1400s. This wasn’t a manicured park in the classical sense; it was more like a forest garden filled with old oaks, ash, beech and chestnut trees.
On that day, I was walking among the trees with my younger brother when I sensed someone watching me. I looked to my left and saw a woman standing within the trunk of an old tree. In the days and weeks ahead, the tree spirit appeared to me several more times – – each time was different as I sensed her silently speaking to my soul. During one of these encounters she revealed my life purpose, “to help people understand each other better.”
Soon after this revelation my father told us we were moving to the United States. Immediately after we settled into our new Midwest home I began searching for my tree spirit, hoping she had followed me across the ocean. I stood before every old tree and opened my heart, praying for her to reveal herself, but she didn’t. Eventually these trees became my first American friends. The arborvitaes were sweet and playful; the willows were mothering, while the oaks, elms and ash felt like grandparents who encouraged me to crawl up and into their branches.
My parents, who adopted me as an infant, passed away early in my adult life. This opened the door for me to reunite with my birth mother Karin. From her, I learned the story of my life and how she named me Carmen Sylvia, meaning “guardian tree.”
The morning after 9/11/2001, the tree spirit of my childhood appeared to me once again. I now sensed she wanted me to work with her as the Tree of Life. I was electrified as I imagined untangling the shared roots of world belief to heal the fear and separation that was tearing our world apart.
I began researching the origins of belief and world religion from 40,000 BCE to present day within each continent.
It was fascinating to learn that all beliefs were originally inspired by nature, the four directions and the sound of wind in the trees. I saw how the mythical story of the Garden of Eden and the conflict between the Tree of Knowledge versus the Tree of Life symbolized our disconnection from nature and knowing ourselves as “god”.
This led me into the teachings of the Kabbalah and the work of Carl Jung. The Kabbalah is referred to as the Tree of Life whereas Jung saw trees as the archetype of the psyche. Both reflect the journey of the spirit/soul as it transforms into a soul/psyche. In the soul’s quest to become fully human it creates the illusion of separation between the soul (psyche) and the psyche (mind/body). Eventually the psyche longs to know its soul’s spirit and begins the journey of awakening. This is seen as a return to becoming whole or “holy”.
In 2007, I traveled back to Holzhausen Park, hoping to thank the tree and its spirit that inspired me, only to learn that it had been struck by lightning the year before. It was then when I understood that I had been called to also study shamanic energy medicine along with the healing art of the mandala. I realized how they were interconnected with the tarot as a spiritual path of connection.
During my journey of awakening I came to understand that the tree spirit and I were each a reflection of the other.
I wrote my autobiography: The Guardian Tree – The true story of Carmen Sylvia. It is divided into 22 chapters based on the 22 aspects of the Tarot’s major arcana that reflect my journey.
Mandala Chakra – Awaken the One Within, was inspired by the seven chakras and how we hold mythic maps within us that guide us on our journey of awakening.
Tree Spirit Tarot – Return to the Garden of our Soul, tells the stories that we share with trees in search of our collective soul.
The tree spirit within me honors the tree spirit in you as we walk this journey of awakening and returning together in love.
Namaste (respect) and Munay (love) to all.