Toynbee Sun Fern
Toynbee Sun Fern
From Fulford Ganges Road turn onto Cranberry Road and follow it as it winds its way to a T-intersection, to the left is Mt Maxwell Road and to the right Toynee Road. Turn right and follow Toynbee keeping an eye out for the yellow trail marker sign on your right. If you reach Salt Spring Seeds you’ve gone a bit too far and will have to turn back to find the trail which will lead you up into the forest from the road. The Toynbee trail leads to Mount Erskine, which you can also reach from Trustees Trail on Juniper Place.
Catching glimpses of pastoral views across Cranberry Flats I wound my way along Toynbee in search of the trail marker. As I got out of my car I was struck by the stillness and the different energy in this part of the island. Not long after I started up the trail I began to notice small Cedar branches lying on the ground. They must have been there a long time to be completely barkless and a pale off-white colour.
Cedar trees are sacred world-wide. To the Druids they were associated with the Tree of Life, while the Norse peoples called the Tree of Life, Grandmother Cedar. The Cedar is mentioned more times than any other tree in the Torah. Cedar wood is used to create wands, charms and talismans and is often used to summon helpful spirits. Cedar is burned to ward off negative spirits and to purify and create sacred space.
The forest was shadowed and the lightly coloured Cedar branches on the ground stood out in sharp contrast to their surroundings. I began collecting them, not certain what I would do with them. I had an armful of branches when the sun suddenly shone through the canopy of trees lighting a small clearing to my left, spot lighting a small Fern…turning it into a Sun Fern. I wanted to honour this small Fern, and the moment the sun had transformed it, bringing it out of the shadows of the forest floor. I started to arrange the Cedar boughs I’d collected into a sun radiating outwards from the center of the Fern.
Ferns are an ancient plant and early fossils are 100 million years older than dinosaurs! They are found in many myths and folklore. In the Baltic regions Ferns are associated with midsummer and are said to only bloom on the summer solstice and the finder of a Fern flower will have good fortune. Ferns are also used in remedies to heal toothaches, rheumatism and nightmares.
The Sun is an ancient symbol found in all cultures and throughout history. The earliest depictions are found in cave paintings tens of thousands of years old. The Sun has been worshipped and been a central symbol to most major spiritual systems through history. There are many solar deities associated with the Sun including, the Egyptian God Horus, Archangel Michael, Apollo the Greek god of light and the sun and Surya the Hindu god of the sun. In alchemy the sun is sol and symbolizes the mind and intellect. Our lives as we know it are completely dependent upon the Sun.
This ephemeral work will vanish and become integrated back into the site, speaking of our own ephemeral passage through this world, witnessed and supported by the natural world we are so deeply interconnected with.
I invite you to become part of this story and add your own photographs of your journey to the Toynbee Sun Fern on Instagram #ssiwayfindingproject