Forest Education Initiative (FEI) aims to increase the understanding and
appreciation, particularly among young people, of the environmental ,social and economic potential of trees, woodlands and forests. This year their Scottish Conference was held in Dunkeld ,where 3 workshops on Metasaga were offered to delegates. Following a short introductory powerpoint the participants were asked to meet at the red outside the front door of the Hilton Dunkeld.

They are beautiful in their peace, they are wise in their silence.
They will stand after we are dust. They teach us, and we tend them.
- Galeain ip Altiem MacDunelmor

Perthsire in October/November is spectacular and we intended to make full use of the trees and the river.Perthshire Amber captures Autumn in Perthshire, listen to it as you visit this page.
The first part of the Metasaga was to share the ancient Celtic /Highland custom of placing a red thread in your coat for protection asyou travel. If you want to join us go and find a piece of red thread and keep it with you as you join in this Metasaga.

A hole in the hedge
Avoiding the most obvious path to the river we headed to the other side of the hotel to come face to face with two deer.
Our way to the river was through a large rhododendron bush , the green waxy leaves dripping with rain. The rhododendron was introduced for the beauty of the flowers and now when left invades, chokes and takes over a woodland. Many estates have to wage war on this invader. Yet when you step inside these big bushes you find a bare and hollow centre.
Inside this one we found a yew tree , with a rough bark. This tree despite its longevity is known as the death tree because it is so poisonous. The Yew is found in many kirkyards, here in Dunkeld at the cathedral and the ancient yew at Fortingall. The Yew is the last letter of the Ogham alphabet of the anceint Celts.
A set of steps leads out of the bush and down to the river bank, and the power of the river.

Who is all show in your organisation but has no depth?
What has invaded your organisation?
What is chocking the life out of things?
What is poisoning the system?
What lasts and is always there like the Yew?
What are you trying to get rid of to let new growth emerge?

A woodland chalet

If you had children with you this would be an ideal time to share the Hansel & Gretel story or sing a song. For as we made our wayDSCF0075.JPG towards the river and around the bushes we discovered the fishermens' chalet. Heavy rain made us run for cover under the eaves of this wooden haven. With the rain battering on the roof we talked about special places , safe places , being secure. It also gave us a chance to talk about the Metasaga it self and reflect on the learning taking place. We noticed the top rail of the fence had notches in it. Something was supposed to be there but what? The fishing rods should be but they were missing.

Where is your special place?
Where or how do you feel secure?
What is safe and not safe in your organisation?
What is missing for you?
Do you take time to reflect?

The River

DSCF0074.JPGWe started to make our way along the river bank. The rain had swelled the river and the white marker on the bank was quickly disappearing under the water.

"The drop grows happy by losing itself in the river."
~Mirza Ghalib

The growl and roar of the water warned of the power beside us. The surface determined by what lay below.We gathered sticks and made a First Nation peace bundle, not for the fire but to be sent down the river as a prayer for peace. The trees and the river, nature in all its glory, beauty and power.
Beside the river was a set of steps leading nowhere, disappearing into the dark, dangerous depths of the water.

What do you find dangerous and frightening?
What is the real power flowing through your organisation?
What is going on below the surface with you?
What is going nowhere for you other than down?

Birch Trees

On the river bank young birch trees bowed to the power of the river

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
- Robert Frost,

.When the ice age retreated and the hills were left bare it was the Birch trees that first took root in the land. Norse mythology tells us the Birch is the first tree to come to life after the winter. In Celtic Mythology , the Birch , came to symbolise renewal and purification. "Beithe" , the Celtic Birch is the first Ogham (Celtic tree alphabet).At Whitsuntide Birch branches once decorated churches as a symbol ofbirch.jpeg rebirth.

The Birch is an incredibly useful tree,every part of it has a use. Nearly every part is edible unlike the poisonous yew. The First Nation people of America valued the Birch.It was also seen as protection from evil.

We have all heard of criminals being birched in order to bring about some sort of repentance. The Birch is an ideal metaphor for Metanoia. It symbolises a change of heart. Not just one change of heart or new start but the ability to change and make a new start many times after each winter.

Are you making use of all your strengths?
What is brining new life to your organisation?
How are you changing?

A boat in the forest
Marooned out of place on the forest floor sits a boat , land locked ,land filled. It is a flower bed. Further along the road some topiary and a boat supply some humor and recognition of the salmon fishing which is so important on the Tay.

The salmon features in folklore in Scotland and many other lands as the fish of wisdom and knowledge.

Where do you feel out of place?
Where are you stuck and can't move forward?
Where is your sense of fun?
Is work fun?
Who do you see as being wise in your organisation?

The Oak

The lofty oak from a small acorn grows.
- Lewis Duncombe
There are many Oak trees in Perthshire. Neil Gow's oak near Dunkeld that inspired his fiddle tune or the ancient Birnam Oak. Here before the hotel we found a mighty oak standing tall a cathedral of life against the sky. Yet it had a deep scar on the river side.

I am the acorn's hopefull fallDSCF0096.JPG
I am the Oak's great endurance
I am root and branch,
leaf and sap

Life embracing,
Life releasing,
Life returning.

The Oak provides a home to more species and life than any other British tree. It is a host to many.How do you provide life and shelter for those around you?
The mighty oak an emblem of strength and power. It has long been associated with the Druids but many early saints taught under the shade of the Oak tree. It is the clan badge of the Royal Stewarts . In Genisis the Israelites buried their idols in the roots of the Oaks at Shachem.
What would you bury in the roots of the Oak tree?
What do you want to bury and leave?
Do you have a wound and how did it happen?
Has it healed?
What do you give life to?
What small idea do you have that might grow in to something big?

We returned to the hotel and the warmth of the fire, glad to be out of the rain. I suggested the group return to the trees after dark to see a different view. It is sometimes important in life to go away and then come back afresh to something and it can look totally different
The night
DSCF0078.JPGThe view changed dramatically when the trees were lit at night. It is magical and we see an enchanted forest.

Do you need to look at something differently?
What is magical for you?
How do you shine?DSCF0084.JPG
How do you stand out?

Tree at my window,
window tree,

My sash is lowered when night comes on;

But let there never be curtain drawn

Between you and me. 

- Robert Frost

You cannot visit Perthshire in the Autumn and not be stunned by the beauty of the Autumn colours, as the trees shed their leaves. We capture the child in us by dancing through the leaves. The trees are going to sleep for the winter and will wake to a new world, new life. Look after your trees.

What does he plant who plants a tree?perthshire-trees.jpg
He plants the friend of sun and sky;
He plants the flag of breezes free;

The shaft of beauty, towering high;

He plants a home to heaven anigh

For song and mother-croon of bird

In hushed and happy twilight heard -

The treble of heaven's harmony

These things he plants who plants a tree.
- Henry Cuyler Bunner,

Part of FEI is their Forest Schools programme. A group that contributed to the Metasaga and make a significant contribution to Forest Schools in the north are the foresttrustlogo.gif. Thanks for the lift to the airport folks!