At the back of the entrance pavilion to Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine, just before entering the Seiganto-ji Buddhist Shrine, this gigantic 850-year-old camphor tree, Cinnamomum camphora, is called a Goshinboku, sacred tree. Revered for its longevity, it is said to have been planted by Taira-no-Shigemori 平重盛 (1138-1179). The straw rope shimenawa and paper flags indicate that this tree has been sanctified as a kami and enshrines the deity within.
her great boughs as arms
Mother Nature welcomes me home —
Pilgrims write their wish and intention down on a prayer stick, then walk through a natural hollow in the tree. I meditated on the thin, wooden stick bearing my prayer as I held it in my hand and mindfully made my journey through this powerful tree whose energy is undeniable. Passing through the tree’s body and encountering its enclosed darkness and moist, woody scent, I felt as if time had stopped, that I had entered the body of Mother Nature herself and returned to the womb.
the tree whispers its secrets —
there is no separation
Upon my exit emerging from the tree, it revealed the energy of initiation and rebirth. The ritual action performed in the material world generating purification, psychological transformation and to guarantee with conviction the granting of my wish. Thus is the power of ritual and communicating with nature and the cosmos.