edition of 33
24 ” h x 17″ w
majestic oak, clone of Life
holds certain to her deep ancient roots
as she grows in the timeless
soil of Wisdom
she is born to stand vulnerable
to the jolting strikes of lightning
slicing through time and space
illuminating the fire of heaven
as she sprinkles the earth
of acorns – her buds
of endless possibilities
once a year she may
dress up and show off
in her palette of Radiance
then she slumbers down
into a quiet, naked winter
wrapped in nothing
her broad branches lend hospitality to
her friends, including the Great Horned Owl
who utterly calls through the dark night
with the beckoning voice of Athena
together they sing
their timeless melody we can recall
if we sit……still…..and listen
to their wise, primal roots echo our own
listen to the quiet voice calling you
the quiet voice calling me
calling us to be found
as we are called together
to intertwine our branches – our arms
season upon season, trusting the darkness
as it reveals the Great Light – our Timeless Melody
Inspiration: The majestic oak family and the Great-horned Owl
When I initially decided to create a vessel featuring the oak tree I spent countless hours reading about the habits of the various species, only to be left unable to choose any single species and deciding to create the vessel representative of the entire and vast oak family. Loved by nearly all the world, and known to nearly all the world, the oaks are one of the most prominent trees in the world. In 2004, Congress voted for the oak to become the National Tree of the United States of America. Sequoias, dogwood, and maple were runners-up; yet oak became the official national tree.
Oaks hold many beautiful qualities and few are unable to name at least a few of these. For me, the most beautiful attribute of the oak lies in its ancient quality of timelessness and universality coupled with its highly symbolic fruiting of the acorn. Its roots are deep and vast – its branches (arms) held wide and notably horizontal. While sculpting I asked myself if my arms are truly open wide (twisted from time to time or not), like the grand oak, and without prejudice? And, what fruits (gifts and possibilities) do I offer our world?
The oak is noted to be particularly vulnerable to lightning which I find fascinating. The potent elements of wind and lightning are highly symbolic to me of that higher Power indeed in absolute control beyond our tender attempts and illusions that we alone control our lives. There is some energy much greater and vaster than our imaginations might allow, and the oak represents this bold quality of strength and surrender at once. Lightning is symbolic of fire from heaven, spiritual illumination and enlightenment according to Jean Chevalier, Alain Gheerbrant and J.C. Cooper. I pondered if I am open to the jolting sparks that enter my life, accepting them as heavenly interventions, and trusting my inherent vulnerability to be “okay”….to perhaps even allow me to experience something radically important/helpful I may otherwise miss?
Another wonderful quality of the oak is its highly symbolic fruiting of the acorn. The acorn echoes the oaks (and our own) timeless quality potent with possibility. It is noted that only about one in every 10,000 acorns will grow into an oak tree. I wondered, as I sculpted if we tend to only regard the acorn that does grow into the oak tree as vibrant and essential? Statistics might suggest something different – it may suggest that the feeding and nourishing of other realms may be as or perhaps even more important. When we account for the vast wildlife and insect realm fed by the oaks, it is indeed remarkable. This led me into contemplating how I might better appreciate the smaller, seemingly lesser events and people in my life – and their invisible power and contribution.
With its hospitable characteristic, oaks have become a favorite home for the very common Great-Horned Owl. Though few actually see this massive and beautiful creature of the wind, the night and the sky, nearly everyone holds them with warm regard. I have been a long-time deep admirer of the owl family, and the Great-Horned is among the most common geographically. The owl is rich and diverse, reminding us of our ability to both see and hear in the dark. To the ancient Greeks, owl was associated with the goddess Athena, a symbol of higher Wisdom. She is a guide through darkness into deeper Wisdom. The circular, disc-like shape of the owl’s face acts as a keen receptor of sound to her asymmetrical ears located on the sides of her head. The “tufts” on the top of the head of many owls are simply mood indicators, though often mistaken as ears. The owl hears a sound in one ear then moves its head in various directions until the sound is perfectly clear in both ears simultaneously. In this way, it pinpoints the exaction location of its prey. In the secular world of often chaotic and seductive noise, it is difficult to recognize which noises we need to respond to. Owls gently remind us that we can see in the dark – discern what we hear – and then react only when we clearly know what we are hearing is indeed in harmony with That which will truly feed and nourish us all.
The owl qualities coupled with the majestic, timeless oak presents a powerful visual imagery of strength and wisdom within vulnerability – and in utter trust of our most ancient roots. By roots, I refer to that essence that defies words – the Spirit that is indeed timeless and quiet while richly potent and alive. If we sit very quietly, we are indeed able to hear and feel – recall – these energies of nature and the Spirit world – the voice of the oak, the wise and discerning energies of the owl. Together they sing a timeless melody of Love. David R. Wagoner in his magnificent poem, Lost describes this experience beautifully. Nature always points the way – always gives voice to the larger realm of Mystery – if we can allow ourselves to be found by it.
Timeless Melody is offered in an edition size of 33 – 3 ancient oak trees + 3 (quietly hidden) Great-Horned Owls. Three plus three equals six – the number of absolute harmony. It is hoped that Timeless Melody might inspire an invitation for you to pause in the presence of any oak and any tree…..feel its essence….and warmly appreciate its voice of divine and timeless wisdom for us. May each of us passionately “be found” in this Timeless Melody.
Oak Tree Facts
- Oak trees start producing acorns when they are twenty years old but sometimes not until they are fifty years old, producing them during autumn. The acorn production will increase year after year while affected by climatic and pest factors
- Average life of the oak is 200-400 years
- Divided into two basic categories: white and red
- The tannin in oak bark is used for leather preparation
- One live oak tree called the Wesley Oak is named after the founder of the United Methodist Church
- There are over 600 varieties of oaks, some as small as shrubs
- The oak tree is the National tree of the United States of America
- Oaks are particularly vulnerable to lightning
- Of the genus Quercus of the family Fagaceae (beech family)
- Oak is the wood for lumber: Oaks are cultivated for ornament and are prized as the major source of hardwood lumber
Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine: Oak
Oaks of North America, Miller and Lamb
Oaks of California, Pavlik, Muick, Johnson and Popper
Trees, Tony Rodd and Jennifer Stackhouse
The Life of An Oak, Glenn Keator
Great Horned Owl Facts
- A large 18-25” owl with large yellow eyes which do not move in their sockets
- Ear tufts (which act as mood indicators) appear as dark horns – ears are actually lower on the head. They are able to hear even the smallest sound at up to 900 feet away.
- They can hear as well as or perhaps even better than they can see especially in low light
- It’s voice is a series of hoots – hoo, hoo-hoo-hoo, hoooo, hoooo beginning at dusk
- While quite similar in color, females can be up to about 25% larger than males
- Nocturnal and efficient predators with a very wide range of acceptable prey with its favorite being skunk
- Symbolic of the feminine, the moon and the night
- To ancient Greeks, associated with the Goddess Athena (a symbol of Wisdom)
- Typically do not create their own nests using nests of others or forks within trees
- Habitat range extends from northern Alaska and central Canada across all of North and Central America, to northern South America and central and eastern parts of South America
- Also known as the cat owl
- Both parents, life-long mates, feed and tend the young for several months. About 50% of the young that leave the nest die within their first year from starvation, vehicle collisions, and various other causes.
Owls, by Floyd Scholz 2001
Field Guide to Owls of California and the West, Hans Peeters, 2007
Animal –Speak, Ted Andrews, 1999