Spell bound by a shamanic tree planting ceremony (with video)
Within 5 weeks from our arrival, we plant hundreds of native trees together with a bunch of jovial festivalers from Envision to reforest part of a former ranch on the South Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
“The organisers of this reforestation project have developed a special method”, explains one of the mothers from our school. She too joins the tree planting ceremony today with her 2 sons and her husband.
“The method is to plant certain types of trees next to each other, that perpetuate each other’s growth”, the Tica organiser of the weekly organic fruit and vegetable market of the nearby surfer town Dominical explains knowingly.
“Can I plant my tree now?”, my younger daughter is getting impatient, after having carried the 50cm tall seedling through the afternoon heat and humidity. We have walked through some previously reforested parts that are still regrowing, hence they provide only partially the needed shade.
“Wait, they are starting the ceremony now.”
She sighs first, but when she notices what is happening, she sneaks more closely. Around 100 tree planters from Envision, the famous annual music, yoga and alternative lifestyle festival have gathered in a huge circle around a group of 5 invited indigenous people from Mexico. Three men in long black or red capes over their bare chests start drumming, humming, then chanting gratitude messages to pachamama (mother earth), the trees, the animals, nature in general.
“Look, the two women in white and black and the fire. I want that too”, my daughter whispers mesmerised by the spiritual vibes.
“What do you mean? Ah, yes they are purifying the shamans with this little fire bowl. Yes we can ask them after the ceremony”, I whisper back.
One friendly looking shaman with deep wrinkles, black facial hair and an impressive lizard tattoo on the tummy exclaims loudly: “We are asking mother earth to pardon our ancestors to have wrecked hammock to wildlife and nature. Today, we are trying to heal a little bit of this damage by planting new trees.” He raises up from his knees after having bowed to mother earth into each geographic direction. In one movement the big circle of tree planters is raising up with him.
” I herewith open the tree planting. You can start digging now!”
As a family we plant 4 trees, right next to our friend’s trees.
“Here, listen, my blessing”, Amaya reads aloud. “Gratitude to my little tree”.
She has written it on a piece of paper provided by the organisers and places it with a grave look next to the light-green stem of the freshly planted seedling. The young leaves are slowly swaying in a whiff of a short breeze.
Then Tayanika pulls my hand and directs me to the young lady with the slim face and big black eyebrows, dressed in long white-black cloth and a fiery red headband. When the shaman kneels in front of my daughter, she starts blowing until the incense smoke wraps all around my child’s small figure. Tayanika only closes her eyes for a second, before she opens them again to take in everything of this precious tree and fire experience. The woman smiles at her. Behind them the drumming and chanting has started again, while many more seedlings are given back to Mother Earth.