Updated: Mar 5, 2021
Prayer Pods at the Sacred Tree - by Nancy D'Antonio
The Prayer Pods, created from un-fired clay, arrived just in time for January New Moon Blessings. My husband, daughter and I wrote our prayers for Earth Honoring and Tree Spirits. We put a pinch of tobacco inside each prayer hole and blessed the pods at just about the exact
hour that the New Moon moved into Capricorn.
I feel very strongly that I am being led on a new path as we move into 2018. My “stepping out” began in December when I decided to publically establish one particular tree in the North Woods of Central Park as a Sacred Prayer Tree. I have been doing ceremonies for many years, but never outdoors in a public space like Central Park. This was partly inspired by recent participation in a Lakota Sun Dance ceremony in South Dakota where I survived the four days of fasting and dancing by connecting with the “Tree of Life” in the center of the arbor. I was then again reminded of the importance of trees by my teacher Sandra Ingerman and her work with Sacred Prayer Trees around the world.
My Sacred Prayer Tree in Central Park was initiated on the December New Moon with a ceremony when a friend and I tied colorful prayer flags on the designated tree with the intention of “Honoring the spirit of the ancestors of that land, the creators and visionaries of Central Park who established the North Woods, the spirit of the land itself, the bedrock of Manhattan, and all sentient beings living there with the purpose to reach out to all who pass by, that they may be touched by the healing power of nature, to pause and witness it’s beauty, and to feel compelled to find compassion for humanity and work together for peace and harmony in this mighty city where people from all over the world have come together in search of their dreams.”
When I heard about Damini’s Prayer Pod Project I felt called to invite them to hold space in each of the 4 cardinal directions at the base of my Tree. The day began with a dense atmosphere, misty, damp and snowy. Despite the weather, my daughter and I still wanted to plant the pods. It was a beautiful, saturated and slushy 1.3 mile hike into the North Woods, an area some New Yorker’s refer to as the Adirondacks of Manhattan.
Entering the Park at West 100th street, we walked around The Pool starting at the Bald Cypress Tree that stands tall at the Western-most edge of the water. We followed the footpath along the waters’ edge in order to feel the earth beneath our feet, and tap into the rhythm of Mother Earth. The first cascade helps to wash away the city sounds, and ease the transition into the language of trees, water, rocks and ducks. At the Easternmost shore of The Pool we approached the Glenspan Cascade where the stream flows underneath the Keystone Arch, into The Ravine. Passing through the Arch is yet another transition to a quieter realm. Following the stream, we arrived at the Rustic Bridge that crosses yet another cascade emptying into The Loch. Skirting the Northern edge of The Pool, we followed the path to a stairway just before reaching the final waterfall – The Huddlestone Cascade and Arch. Here there is a steep footpath leading up to The Ridge.
The Sacred Prayer Tree is located atop a large flat rock outcropping that overlooks the Harlem Meer and Lasker Skating Rink. It is one of the highest points in Central Park. Climbing up the slope amidst snow and wet leaves Blue Jays announced our arrival. It was a quiet day in the woods, evidenced by only one set of fresh footprints on the snowy path.
There she was, waiting for us, adorned with her colorful prayer flags, watched over by flitting birds and squirrels. I offered tobacco and walked around the base drumming and waking up the forest. Between the snow and 34 degree weather, there was ample mud at the base of the tree. Using a small shovel, we dug slight indentations in the earth to anchor the pods and tucked them in with mud.
On account of the unusually cold winter and frequent snowfalls, we have been offering cracked corn,
peanuts and wild bird seed to the local inhabitants. Many times the birds are so hungry they’ll hop right down to eat while we sing, even while the smudge shell is burning.