Novena for Fallen Trees

Dec 28th, 2017 | By | Category: Articles

By Imelda Almqvist

Our house in Sweden is situated in the Forest (yes, deliberately spelled with a capital letter F!) I am not talking about a piece of woodland here, I am talking about an ancient enchanted type of Forest, stretching for miles and teeming with trolls and gnomes! Here humans can easily get very lost indeed because there are no paths and the forest is dark and dense (even impenetrable in places).

My youngest son and I love going to forest treks and explorations. Just before Christmas we discovered a place in the forest where a veritable massacre of trees has occurred.  They are all fir trees or, as my son prefers to call them, Christmas trees.

A family friend owns forest land and he has given me tutorials on the importance of “thinning”, meaning that some trees are cut down allowing other trees and vegetation to thrive. In return I have given him tutorials on the importance of giving trees advance warning that they are going to be cut down, as well as an explanation for the decision. That allows them to draw down their sap, withdraw their spirit and prepare for the event. To his credit he has sometimes sent me into his forest to act as the Tree Communicator. Not all people owning forest land are open to tree communication services (even when offered free of charge)!

As a “tree hugger type” I DO accept that thinning needs to be done but my own thinking runs as follows: in the run-up to Christmas many local families are going to be looking for a Christmas tree. Not everyone has the privilege of living in the forest and selecting a tree (ceremonially, with offerings and prayers) from their own land – as our family did . So… if you are going to cut down dozens of trees, why not make them available to local families (post an invitation in the village shop for them to come and take one home) so those trees have a period of glory and celebration before they are cast out?!!

Yesterday I was in the Forest again and discovered that even more trees had been felled. I heard a whisper from spirit: keep a candle vigil and say a Novena for Fallen Trees! A friend of mine, who is a Hedge Priestess committed to sacred activism,  is doing wonderful work on this front. Here is the link for her blog:


Here is a small extract from her opening blog in this series. It also explains what a novena is!

‘I refuse to engage prayer as a weapon
I wish it to be like a river
between two shores
for I seek neither punishment nor grace
but rather new skin
that can bear this world.’
(‘99 Psalms’ by SAID)

“A novena is an ancient rhythm of prayer repeated over nine hours or nine days consecutively. It is believed that the first novenas, which means ‘nine’ in Latin, trace their origins to pre-Christian Greek and Roman customs performed by families mourning the death of a loved one, followed by a feast ~ because death must always be woven back into life. Since then they have become more general prayers and devotions to the Divine, often dedicated to a particular saint or to the Virgin Mary.

This is an invitation to join, each full moon, in nine days of simple any-faith prayer in solidarity with those who have ‘fallen through’ and who cry out for justice. In this way we will seek to weave an act of sacred activism, holding all who are in pain, who may feel lost and ignored, and those who are working for truth and liberty, in threads of wild prayer, fierce hope, and deep community.”

Thinking of her beautiful work I waited until it was completely dark. Then I embarked on my own pilgrimage: I lit a candle and carried it out to the forest. (Fortunately there was no wind at the time). For every step I took I spoke prayers for The Fallen: fallen soldiers, animal species on the brink of extinction, children dying in war zones, the people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire in London – and so forth. I had to walk very slowly to avoid skidding and tripping on ice – but that made it even more of a sacred act, I had to be extremely mindful!

Once I arrived at the deep heart of the Forest I stood up, like a Forest Priestess, and spoke a prayer for all those trees. This was followed by more prayers for others who fell, all over the world. In that moment, with a foggy waxing moon sailing over the tree tops and over my own head, I felt very physically what I have always known on a mystical level: all is one – what happens to even one child, one tree or one animal, happens to all of us, affects all of us. This awareness is life-changing – it could change our world overnight if everyone felt this.

Next I used my imagination to organise a party: all the fallen trees were dancing in the enchanted forest in a parallel realm. They all had the Waxing Moon sitting on their tops (the way our Christmas trees have an angel or star). A wonderful time was had by all (including me)!!

Then I promised to return for eight more days (a novena consisting of nine prayers) and took my candle. I reversed my steps on both forest floor and ice. I got home with the candle still burning. It is the same candle I keep on my Forest Altar (where I keep prayer requests for people). I felt that after the pilgrimage this candle had become so sacred that I needed to “sleep with it” (obviously observing the usual health and safety measures!!) So I put it on the window sill of my bedroom as I slept alone in this house in the Forest. (Husband and kids are down south visiting Farmor – Grandma for a few days).

The Party of the Fallen Dreams continued in my dreams….

Imelda Almqvist


Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit  2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. She is currently working on her second book Sacred Art: A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where Art Meets Shamanism)  (website)  (blog)  (Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)  (Year of Ceremony)

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2 Comments to “Novena for Fallen Trees”

  1. Judi says:

    Thank you for this exquisite writing. How beautifully expressed! I could feel the depth of your connection with every tree, child, animal, living thing as your prayers were accepted and transferrred from tree top to roots around the globe.
    As my roots go deep into Mother Earth I too connect with you in sacred ceremony.
    Many blessings and hugs for your service to our home.❤️❤️❤️❤️🎄🌵especially while fires burn in California and mud slides and floods wash away trees in the Philippines. Your prayers are heard and felt.

    • Imelda Almqvist says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words Judi – and thank you for adding your own prayers for the forest fires in California and mud slides in the Philipines to the Novena. I will add those as my Novena work for Fallen Trees continues and unfolds. Blessings!! Imelda

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