Mother, Nurture & Wild
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Take a moment for yourself this Imbolc, Mama. Imbolc is a cross-quarter festival, marking the midpoint between the Solstice and the Equinox.  It’s a threshold time.  A time between time.  And in this way Imbolc can remind us...
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This is an article I wrote for the Winter 2020 magazine produced by Robin and Rose as part of their nature subscription box. This thread of inspiration continues to enchant me and I have a lot more I could add to this now so maybe there's a part two in the offing.

When I sit in the woods, dwarfed by towering giants, I’m reminded we have a lot to learn from our tree-friends.  We’ve long known the benefits of a mood-lifting leaf canopy, of arms snaked round a trunk for a restoring tree-hug, but what goes on underground - where the human eye can’t see – is where the real learning for us lies.

When I moved the Mother Wild Retreat from a meadow in Kent, where I used to live, to a beautiful Herefordshire woodland, I knew instinctively there was a lot we could take from our surroundings.  The wood itself has magic in the air, but it was when I was researching that I learned about the magic below ground.

Diving into an earthy rabbit hole of new information, I learned that trees within a woodland are all connected by a thread-like fungus called mycelium.  A mycorrhizal network used to pass nutrients and information between themselves, to nourish and support each other.

Professor Suzanna Simard from the University of British Columbia identified that woodlands have ‘mother trees’.  These larger, older trees – like the elders of the tribe – act as central hubs for these vast mycorrhizal networks.  Trees of all species will be connected to the mother trees and to each other on this way and this network will reach across the entire woodland.  Trees use it to pass water, carbon, nitrogen and other nutrients and minerals to those who need it.  Nourishment on demand.

We know from recent studies that trees actually communicate their needs with each other.  Sending out distress signals through the network and asking for what they need.  The trees around them, along with the larger mother trees who have access to deeper water and greater stores of nutrients, respond; sending over exactly what’s needed.

To a woman who runs retreats for Mothers to come rest their tired bones, re-fill themselves and seek out what they need to feel more whole, this new information about the awesomeness of a community of trees was like poetry.  That we were to gather under the branches of trees who have all of this self-nurture stuff nailed, learning how to tend to and nourish ourselves a little better while underneath our feet this process naturally unfolded – well, suddenly retreating to the woods took on a whole new level of beauty.

We live in a culture where rest and self-nurture are not valued.  Where nourishing our minds, bodies and souls is often labelled indulgent or selfish.  Whether we’re parents or not, we’re often over-stretched, overwhelmed and depleted.  Our bodies and minds send out distress signals that we don’t hear or recognise, above the noise all around us.  We have tons of networks but not one with the express purpose of hearing our needs and fulfilling them before we miss a beat.

When my groups of tired Mums arrive for our weekend retreat, I invite them to live like the trees that surround us for the few days they’re here in the woods.  To imagine their roots could spread deep into the earth and intertwine with the miles and miles of mycorrhizal network beneath us.  What would their body ask for?  Their heart?  If they could plug in and ask for all they needed and have it delivered by the surrounding tribe without hesitance, judgement or it meaning anything, what would they ask for?  What are all the things that would nourish, strengthen and support them right now?

Some of this – rest, sunlight, time, space, quiet, movement, wonder, support, nourishing food – they will find here at the retreat.  In my experience, nobody gets into a hammock underneath the tree canopy and comes out quite the same.  Some of the whispers of the body and heart are taken away as intentions.  Promises to themselves.  To seek what they need, more of the time.  And like the trees, to never question their right to do that.

Lisa Mabberley runs Mother, Nurture & Wild and hosts retreats in the wild, in and around beautiful Herefordshire.  Lisa is coach who works with Mums on themes of self-nurture, carving out space and finding our lost parts - find out more here

Photo credit: Hannah at Pip & Wolf Photography

© 2022 Lisa Mabberley
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