Friday, September 23, 2011
the weeping willow, woman warrior
My mother and I have been checking out the garden oasis of the Los Angeleno desert. Yesterday, we took ourselves to the Japanese Garden in Van Nuys, a project of the local water reclamation plant. There, we walked around, sat and meditated, and took photos. The 6 acres were filled with little gems: rock gardens, lotus ponds, shrubbery wonderland. But of all the trees, the weeping willows really caught my attention. In the brochure guide, it said that the tree was a symbol of the feminine: kind, understanding, flexible to change. Being very zen of course, the manicured pines that dotted the garden symbolized the masculine, strong (and in my opinion, stumpy in comparison to the elegant willow).
I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be a woman. The roles we take up, some of it cultural, others seemingly built into our genetic code. And the willow really resonates with me. Its inherent softness. In terms of foliage, its a bountiful tree, one you can really take up shade under. Its graceful as wind sweeps its leafy tendrils hither and thither. In the Celtic tradition, it is associated with the moon, water and the goddess, with dreaming and intuition. In other cultures it symbolizes death, mourning and deep reflection.
If I were a tree right now, I would be a weeping willow. I feel so much of its strength, so much of its magic, and so much of its sadness.
I feel like I have to qualify the sadness--though I am, if I'm really honest, filled with a subtle sorrow--as one that sees the difficulties of the world, that observes it, feels the sting of it without being victimized by it because willows are strong too. Though their curtain of leaves bend to the wind, its center is steady, its roots are strong. Her branches are merely dancing.