Once, on a dark summer’s night when the sun had finally settled down to rest after a long, long, day the cuckoo, who had come to live in the so-called Shady Wood for the summer, was sitting in a tree contemplating his lot, life and many other things. “Woe is me” he ruminated “Woe is me. Such is my lot! To be born into a family who does not recognise me for my mother’s sins,to grow up to kill my brothers and sisters, to become evil and eat, eat, eat. What a bad guy I am. How cruel! How mean! How lazy! My mother – what a mother! What a father! What a bad lot – my folk, myself. I am doomed! I am doomed! Woe is me!” His moaning started from the beginning again.
If you want to really get the picture you can read the above paragraph again and to really, really get it read it for three days and nights non-stop. Utter the word “cuckoo” a few times during this time and drink and eat a bit but always return to the paragraph and repeat it. After three days and nights you should find yourself believing you are cuckoo with a capital C and with a lowercase one.
Once you have got my point we can carry on with the story.
The cuckoo was in a bit of a rut as you’ve guessed (I hope). The fact that lots of people rejoice at his cuckooing as he heralds that summer is really here hadn’t got to him. The fact that this was the nature of things also didn’t sink in, “Woe is me!” he claimed and actually he was starting to get on his own nerves.
He started plucking at his feathers and pulling them out saying, “I love me, I love me not, I love me, I love me not.” He repeated the new mantra to break the monotony of the unrepeatable paragraph.
“I want to change” he muttered plucking as he did so “I love me, I love me not… I love me!!!!” He got to the final feather and sat there on a branch looking as ugly as could be: stark naked, featherless and bleeding a bit. “I love me!” he smiled and hopped about. He tried to flap his wings in joy but featherless as they were there wasn’t much to flap and the love he had felt dwindled rapidly.
A crow came flying by and when he saw the cuckoo he laughed a raucous crow-like cackle. “Look at this! Look at this!” it called and the crows from far and wide came by and made one hell of a racket laughing at the bald cuckoo.
“Why on earth did you do that?!” one crow then asked.
“I was sad and angry at myself and wanted to change. I wanted to find out if I loved myself so I plucked my feathers out, like asking a daisy.”
“And?” the crow asked “what was the verdict?”
“I love myself,” the cuckoo said in a very small voice.
“Oh yeah?” drawled another crow “Pull the other one it’s got bells on it. I’ll eat my hat if that’s true. Say it again!”
“I love myself,” the cuckoo said in a whisper. “Oh dear,” he reflected,“ Not only did I murder and lie, I have now destroyed myself. What an idiot I am. What destruction! What a fool! What a fool! I should die. Yes, that would best. I am not good for this world”.
“Flumadiddle!” said a friendly pigeon who had come to see what all the noise was about. “Flumadiddle, cods’ whallop and rubbish. You reacted in a way that has been infused into you – given to you in your egg. Programming. We’ll reprogram you, start you up anew and bingo! Before long things will look quite different!”
“But how? But how?” the cuckoo was despairing. He was cold and shivering without his feathers. His self esteem was so low it was way off the bottom of the scale.
“If I tell you to pull yourself together that won’t help,” the pigeon said. “The beliefs in your head are stuck in a groove that is no longer groovy. You need help from outside your own system. Tell you what, start with the tree you are sitting on.” The cuckoo hadn’t even noticed what sort of tree it was. He studied it carefully. It had leaves that went out from side to side of a central stalk opposite to one another and the branches and twigs were all aligned in a similar fashion too. “An ash,” the pigeon said. “Say hello”.
“Say hello?!” the cuckoo asked incredulously. “Are you nuts?”
“No, you are. You’ve totally lost connection. Go on. You’ve nothing to lose, except your life. Give it another chance.”
“You make it sound as though it’s not worth living” the cuckoo grumbled.
“Says you, hears you” the pigeon chirped merrily. “Go on, say hello”.
The cuckoo felt a right twit but said “hello” in a rather begrudging voice.
“Well you’re a bundle of fun” someone said.
“Who was that?” the cuckoo was startled. It wasn’t the pigeon: it hadn’t opened its beak.
”Well who do you think it was? Silly” the tree seemed to say. “You’re a right one,” it added.
“That’s not very kind,” the cuckoo bemoaned. “I didn’t know you could speak. You should be more friendly.”
“You have been sitting on me for three days and nights bemoaning your lot and contaminating my aura without so much as a look in my direction. I have been trying to help you and I have EVERY RIGHT to be less than polite you scummy, bald cuckoo!” The ash was cross.
“Ash, that’s not like you” Pigeon said.
“I know”. Ash hung its branches. “Amazing what effect one silly cuckoo can have on one. Sorry cuckoo, but you pissed me off.”
“I’m sorry” the cuckoo said “I hadn’t realised, it must have been ghastly. The ash nodded its branches and the cuckoo had to hold on tight so as not to fall off.
“You’re cold” the ash said. “You need feathers”. The cuckoo looked to the ground below him where some of his plucked feathers lay – but most of them had gone with the wind. “I know” he said sadly. “It will take an age before I can grow new ones. I will probably die of cold and hunger before they do” he added mournfully.
“Rubbish,” Ash said “Stop the mopey-me mode now! We need a solution!” And the ash called out the last four words to the trees, beasts and plants of the forest. “Are you willing to change cuckoo?” Ash asked.
“Oh gosh yes!” Cuckoo said.
“Then ask for help,” Ash replied.
“But who would help me after all I’ve done?”
“Oh, you’d be surprised. There are plenty of loving beasts around here.”
“I can’t see them.”
“Cos you were never trained to do so. Actually your step-parents loved you – unconditionally.” The cuckoo hung his head in shame. “No time for that!” Ash said briskly. “NO time for that! Come on! Ask for help!”
Cuckoo didn’t really know how but he called out, cold and shivery and hungry and oh, so lonely as he was “Please! Can somebody help me?” Nothing seemed to happen and he was about to say “See! No one is there,” but then he felt a sticky feeling. A nearby fir tree was dripping resin on him. The cuckoo was about to get cross but then he realised it smelt rather nice and he breathed in deeply and began to relax for the first time in ages, if ever.
A warm wind came by “Anything I can do?” It asked.
“You already are” the cuckoo said gratefully “You are warming me.”
“My pleasure” said the warm wind and blew a bit more.
A bluebird came up “Hi there!” it said chattily “I hear you want help. Can I lend a feather?”
“Oh gosh yes! That’d be great!” The cuckoo said and the bluebird plucked one lovely blue feather, stuck it on the cuckoo and as he was covered in resin the feather stuck.
No sooner had he done this a robin landed somewhat abruptly on the branch next to them. “Someone need a helping feather?” he asked cheerily “Oh! You do – operatively speaking!” he said to the cuckoo. “Red or brown?”
“Oh! Red please!” the cuckoo said and the robin took one of his feathers from his breast and stuck it on the cuckoo. “What have I done to deserve this?” He asked quietly.
“Came into life” the robin said pragmatically. “Which automatically makes you one of us. I like helping” he added “its fun. But don’t moan too much – that bugs others. Own up to needing help though. That’s one BIG sign of courage and maturity” and another bird landed “See! There you are” the robin chirped and bounced off.
The next bird was a rather scraggy looking magpie who looked as if he’d been in a fight. “You look as though you’ve been in the wars,” the cuckoo said.
“I have, I have,” the magpie said sadly. “I stole a ring from the kind lady’s window sill and she was furious and sent her cat after me.”
“Why kind lady?” inquired the cuckoo.
“Because she puts food out for us” the magpie said lamely. “I don’t know why I stole it but it was so shiny and pretty. I do that sort of thing you know” it said sadly.
“Oh never mind. The behaviour came with you in your egg” the cuckoo explained glad to be of help “But you can change if you want. Ash here is helping me.”
“You look a bit odd” said the magpie taking the cuckoo in for the first time. “What sort of animal are you?”
“I’m a cuckoo,” the cuckoo said slightly affronted. The magpie hid its beak behind his wing to hide its laugh. “So laugh at me!” The cuckoo said cheerfully. “I must look pretty odd!” and the magpie laughed cheerily.
“The red and blue feathers are cool,” he said, “have one of mine,” and he pulled out an especially long, black and white tail feather and stuck it on the cuckoo. He stepped back to view the bird and promptly fell off the branch, flapped his wings and landed again. “May I help more?” he asked “that was fun. It gave me a warm feeling in my tum. I like helping.”
“Sure,” the cuckoo said gratefully, “but I don’t know how.”
“I do,” said the magpie, “You’re gonna look mighty odd if you take a feather from every bird that comes by, and I’m not sure of the aerodynamics of it all either. You need some decent feathers” and off he flew.
The cuckoo felt quite sad at the empty branch next to him. “Never mind” the ash said “’He’ll be back and in the mean time you have me.”
“Oh gosh! I’d forgotten about you,” the cuckoo said.
“Yeah, that’s natural. Beings tend to forget that the whole of nature is sentient. Birds of a feather and all that. Shame really, but there you go. Sometimes loneliness has to hit in really hard for you to be so desperate that you can open up to hearing it. Shame really, but that’s now it goes. It’d be better if beings realised it before the dark night of the soul sets in but that is precisely what some of them need.”
“Dark night of the soul?” the cuckoo inquired.
“Yeah. What you were going through when you began to question all the crap you were lead to believe, all your actions, your be-ing. Sometimes it has to get ultra, mega crap for beings to hear the wake up call.”
“How silly,” the cuckoo said, “how sad.”
“Yeah,” the ash agreed, “I’m afraid I can’t do much about it, rooted here as I am to the spot. I can do my bit from here but I don’t have a travelling voice so to speak.”
“But I do!” The cuckoo said excitedly “I do. I can tell people!”
“You already do,” the ash said. “You are a sign that summer has come.”
“You sure are!”
“I hadn’t realised!”
“Well now I’m telling you”
“But I am bald and ugly, no one will listen to me.” The cuckoo hung his head again.
“People rarely see you, they hear you” the ash said “ And besides, look who is here!” and lo and behold the mangy, got-by-a-cat magpie landed on the branch again setting a warm feeling off in the cuckoo’s tummy.
“Look!” the magpie said “A present from the kind lady!” and he presented the cuckoo with a fine, feather headdress from an Apache Indian that the lady had once met.
“Oh wow!” the cuckoo was awed. The eagle’s feathers looked fine indeed. The magpie threw the headdress over the cuckoo and the feathers stuck on him and he looked, apart from his head, like an eagle.
“Oh thank you!” he delighted “How can I ever repay you?”
“Oh. It only cost me a ring” the magpie said.
“You paid the lady for this with her own ring?!” the cuckoo asked appalled.
“Oh, she didn’t mind,” the magpie laughed, “she said she was glad to help and that I appeared to have turned over a new leaf. She got her ring back, helped you and was happy about me. Good deal I’d say!”
“I think that’s a bit corrupt” the cuckoo said primly,
“Oh shut up and take it,” the magpie said.
“I have, and thank you!” the cuckoo replied. “Where does she live? I’d like to thank her.”
“Come, I’ll take you” the magpie answered and the two of them took flight.
The cuckoo was elated. Now this was flying of a different caliber! He soared up and up on the thermals. “Show off!” the magpie called out. He laughed back into the warm wind of the south. “Thank you!” he whispered to her
“No problem, always glad to be of service,” she said “I just did what I do best” and she blew a bit more and helped him climb higher still.
And from high above the earth the cuckoo saw a peaceful, green landscape stretching out below him as far as eye could see. The tree tops melted into one another, deer galloped over a field as if at one with it and the cuckoo seemed to melt in with the scenery. “How peaceful it all is from up here,“ he mused to himself “Why! It all looks as one! “
“It is, it issss” breathed the wind and then the cuckoo dropped down and down and down and landed at the lady’s feet. The magpie was on a fence well out of reach of the cat.
“Why! Who is this?!” the lady exclaimed “A bald eagle with one blue, one red and one black and white feather. What a fine specimen you are!”
“Cuckoo” the cuckoo said and the lady laughed.
“Why! I am glad you are here,” she said “and so glad I could help. You know something? Your feathers come from a very wise bird who was friends with an equally wise native Indian from over the great pond. You will do well with those feathers and I am sure you can connect with their spirits whenever you need.” The cuckoo got the feeling of a man with a peace pipe standing nearby and an eagle close at hand.
“I have work to do” he said proudly “I have work to do! Thank you!” and he spread his wings and with the warm wind of the south he flew off as the only bald headed eagle in the world with one blue, one red and one black and white feather which says ‘cuckoo’. And he told the world that summer is here every time he sang, which was, along with flying, what he loved doing best of all.
Below are a site from the internet on the various plants and birds mentioned. I invite you to look for sites that appeal to you and there is plenty of reading material. I find it so fascinating that I intuitively choose the right things. I could be used to it by now but it fills me with joy, laughter and awe every time I get introduced to them in this way!
Ash Tree (Fraxinus Excelsior)
MESSAGE FROM ASH: To consciously bring change into your life you must embrace more positive thoughts and habits.
IMBALANCE: Impatience, Irritability, overbearing, nervous exhaustion
BALANCE: Patience, Inner strength, Openness www.sunessences.org
Ash encourages considered judgement in times of inner conflict, calms antagonistic thoughts, and also confusion about one’s sense of identity. Brings harmony and greater attunement to the self and nature.
Treat wounds – apply it to cuts like you would super glue. Follow first-aid protocol for cleaning/flushing first. Stop bleeding. Pretty much anything you need to glue or patch in the woods, pine pitch is the product.
Emotional Benefits – As with any “tree oils”, White Fir is a grounding oil. Grounding yet empowering and uplifting. It leaves you feeling emotionally stable and strong enough to weather the storms. http://www.sustainablebabysteps.com
Have a look eg on www.starstuffs.com to see just how fitting these birds are!