There is a ridge in the Ruahine mountain range of Aotearoa (New Zealand) which for me is a magical and spiritual place. Up high at around 1300 metres the tawhairauriki (mountain beech) become gnarled and twisted as they fight the elements of the thin mountain soil, the prevailing and often gale force northwest winds, the rain, sleet, and snow as they seem to cling precariously to the mountain.
Especially around sunrise or sunset they take on an ethereal presence. As if they are the maunga tipua, or mountain guardian spirit. The gnarled branches become limbs reaching to the sky both beseeching and defiant. The mosses and lichens clinging to them become like the furs of warriors at momentary rest from an endless battle. And their defiance also speaks to the intrusion of man in such places as if to cry out,"Leave us be. You do not Listen. We accept our lot
as keepers of the tipua, but cannot abide your roads into our souls, the pollution and damming of our pure waters, and the ripping apart of our very bowels as you plunder our essence - we offer you so much with our mere presence and yet you steal what should sustain you the most - WHY!"
This is a place I always walk softly and quietly, and I listen to these voices. The song of the Tawhairauriki.
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