Tree of Peace—Spirit of Peace, Democracy and Justice
Onondaga Lake Park, Syracuse NY

One of the many places of Prayer in Upstate NY.

The Tree of Peace in the Willow Bay Section of Onondaga Lake Park in Syracuse, NY provides the pilgrim with an opportunity to connect with this symbol of peace and all the good it has brought. The Tree of Peace, a white pine tree, has become a community gathering place, a place for ceremony and a place for prayer and soul searching. We ask anyone coming to pray at Mother Earth’s soul to consider stopping by the tree. Onondaga Lake, the country and the world need your love.

Please note that the Tree of Peace succumbed to an aphid investation. There is a circle of stones marking where it once was.

The Peacemaker and the Tree of Peace

Long ago the area of upstate New York was in violence and chaos. God sent a prophet, called the Peacemaker, to bring peace. He was able to bring healing between people, reconcile differences and bring peace to what seemed like an impossible situation. He was able to get people to accept peace one person at a time.

The final person he had to transform was an evil sorcerer, the Tadadho, that lived on the shores of Onondaga Lake. This leader inflicted much pain and violence on the people. It took some effort, some lives were lost, but the Peacemaker was eventually able to heal the Tadadho by song. He then exorcised the evil from the Tadadho and combed the snakes from his hair. He then made the Tadadho the spiritual leader of the Haudenosaunee and his successors are still today.

To seal the peace the Peacemaker uprooted a white pine tree on the shore of Onondaga Lake. Below it appeared a cavernous river into which the Peacemaker told everyone to throw in their weapons. This is where the phrase of reconciliation and peacemaking, “To bury the hatchet” comes from. He replanted the white pine tree and placed an eagle on top of it to warn the Haudenosaunee of any threats to their peace and helps connect with the creator.

The Peacemaker then gave the people the Great Law of Peace. In it you will find many concepts and phrases we hold dear today such as, “we the people,” “chiefs are to be the servant of the people.” To learn more about the influence of the Great Law of Peace on our country, go to: Great Law’s Influence. The Great Law would also influence many others as women’s historian Sally Roesch Wagner notes in The Untold Story of the Iroquois Influence on Early Feminists

Caution, Onondaga Lake is Contaminated

Unfortunately Onondaga Lake is one of the most polluted lakes in the world. On the physical level, the Onondaga Lake area is contaminated with toxic chemicals. On the spiritual level parts of it are covered with strongly negative Geographic Samskaras, scars that remain as a testament to the previous violence and pillaging of the land. In writing my Places of Prayer I avoid writing up any place that had negative samskaras or industrial containments close by. Onondaga Lake is the exception.

History shows that what has transpired at Onondaga Lake and its environs, has affected America and the rest of world. I believe that is true, since Gaia’s soul resides in the greater Upstate NY area and because of that, the consciousness, or what goes on in the area, resonates around America and the world. I believe that since Onondaga Lake is the most polluted lake in the world, that consciousness is contributing to make pollution and global warming the biggest threats to our world; Just like all the positive initiatives such as democracy that were planted there took seed around the world, so does negative contagions such as pollution.

While the lake is polluted and much of the area is covered with negative samskaras, it still holds much promise. The fact that parts of the lake such as the Tree of Peace area in Onondaga Lake Park still pulsate with God’s love. This is a testament to the lake’s strength and the spirit of those that came before. The samskaras have been unable to totally blanket the lake with negativity. We need to thank the Haudenosaunee and all those that came before for their good thoughts, prayers and ceremony that helped preserve the lake.

Tree Planting

The elements and pollution have taken a toll on the Tree of Peace. Chief Jake Swamp of the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk nation and founder of the Tree of Peace Society led us in planting the first white pine tree on June 1, 2003. It was a very moving ceremony that many people attended. Individuals placed old items that they either cherished or wanted to purge themselves of. Jake talked of healing and the power of the tree. He told us that should we ever get very depressed, lonely or have lost all hope, that we should go to white pine tree and gentling clasp one its boughs and ask for Creator’s help.

Unfortunately, it was a warm summer and the large tree never thrived. We planted a second tree in September of 2003, which lived three years. Again, it was ravaged by the harsh wind—the tree sits at the northern end of the lake and is totally exposed. We also feel that the dying is symbolic of the challenges and hardship required to bring peace in a world ravaged by violence.

On June 7, 2007 North Roots of the Where People Gather community led us in the planting of the third tree of peace. He spoke about how the second tree had been removed and honored in ceremony and used to fuel a sacred sweat lodge the Where People Gather had. He walked among us like the Peacemaker did and asked us to overcome issues of fear and anger that we carried.

Connecting By Honoring the Tree

Giving Thanks.

To be human is an honor, and we offer thanksgiving for all the gifts of life.

Mother earth, we thank you for giving us everything we need. .

Thanks, deep blue waters around Mother Earth, for you are the force that takes thirst away from all living things. .

We give thanks to green grasses that feel so good against our bare feet, for the cool beauty you bring to Mother Earth’s floor….

We give thanks to you, gentle Four Winds for bringing clean air for us to breathe from the four directions….

And most of all, thank you, Great Spirit, for giving us all these wonderful gifts, so we will be happy and healthy every day of our lives. .

Giving Thanks—A Native American Good Morning Message;: by Chief Jake Swamp, illustrated by Erwin Printup, Jr.; Lee and Low Books.

It is sad that a symbol so important to our country and world is ignored. Come by and add to the consciousness of peace, equality, justice and democracy through ceremony or prayer.

We had many gatherings from prayer vigils to 9-11 memorials by the Tree of Peace. Many people come by and pray there, leave a feather or spread some tobacco. Jeanne DeSocio who helped with the first tree planting, comes by and waters the tree during the summer as I do. A jug is wrapped around the tree. Come by and give it some attention, some love and show you care.

While we may have lost two trees, we have built a very powerful samskara that is growing and enveloping the area. The prayers and events have attracted energy lines that now circle the tree in a positive, clockwise motion where the stones were placed in a circle around the tree. All this is a testament to our efforts.

Just north (about 5 feet) of the tree there is a ceremonial circle that I believe is Haudenosaunee. A series of energy vortices separate the two. Interestingly, one of the vortexes brushes against the energy circling the tree and causes a small section (1-2 feet) to move counter clockwise. There is a Spirit Keepers sacred site (30-40 feet) next to the Seneca River to right if you face the river from the tree where the land dips. We are hoping that the county parks will give us permission to replicate the sites with stones and mulch.

There are several fields of consciousness close to the Tree of Peace. Going towards the city starting about 20 feet away there is a field of healing consciousness. It extends (SE) towards the city and toward (NE) the parking lot. There are benches close by to sit on. There is a stacked (3) field by the Seneca River. Walk straight from the tree towards the river and turn right.

Finding the Tree of Peace

The Tree of Peace is located in the Willow Bay section of Onondaga Lake Park. For directions to Willow Bay go to: Willow Bay directions. The tree is planted near the mouth of the Seneca River and Onondaga Lake. Go to the far right when you enter the parking lot.

There are facilities open there all year round. There are benches, picnic tables and grills located in Willow Bay. Christmas time can be problematic because of the “Lights on the Lake” light show which charges admission—however you will be entering at the exit point and will not be charged.

The views of the lake and the city are magnificent from the Tree of Peace. The spiritual presence is even better—astounding given the environs.

Giving Thanks

One of the best things you can do is to go to Tree and give thanks. In doing so you will honor a Native tradition and adding to the blessings that still permeate the air from long ago.

Thank you God. Thank you for forests, the water and the land. Thank you for friends and family. Thank you for love. Thank you for Onondaga Lake, thank you for democracy and thank you for showing us that peace is possible.

Madis Senner

PS. I have rightly given much caution about praying by the Tree of Peace at Onondaga Lake. Please take the advice and do not let it prevent you from visiting a wonderful place.

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