Day 9

 An interesting day. As I feared, I awoke this morning as stiff as one of the planks on the wall of my cottage. Thinking it might help to move about, I set off for a stroll around the village, but by the time I reached the Meeting House, my neck and shoulders ached unbearably and I had to sit. I never dreamed that I was so unfit. Muscles hurt that I didn’t even know I had.

Kattan came along while I was sitting and asked if I was unwell. Maybe it was the way I was sitting, maybe I looked pale, I don’t know. I’ve noticed his keen perception on a number of occasions. It was more than a little embarrassing to tell him my trouble, but he showed only concern and immediately sent a young boy off to fetch the Treespeaker.

I had heard tales of the healing skills of the Arrakeshi Treespeakers, but now I have experienced them first hand. Jakan simply placed a hand on my shoulder and it was as if he had given me a deep pain-killing draught. I could feel the stiffness ebbing and within a minute my muscles returned to their normal laxness. He did not massage or manipulate my shoulder in any way. It was a simple, gentle touch. At the same time, Jakan seemed to stiffen as if taking my pain into himself. Yet when he’d finished, he looked as relaxed as before. Had I simply observed this procedure, I would probably have concluded that the cure was of a psychological nature - the patient's belief in the Treespeaker's power allowing his muscles to relax. But having experienced it myself, I can only say that there was definitely a force outside myself bringing about relief.

I tried to thank him, but he shook his head and advised me with a smile to admit to my limitations next time I was invited to help. As with Kattan, there was no judgement in his words, only kindness.

Later in the day, Jakan came to check on me, to ensure that the pains had not returned. I was busy at the time, writing notes on some fungi I had found on a tree trunk just outside the village. He seemed fascinated by the drawings and writing alike, never having seen anything like them in his life before.

For the rest of the afternoon, we talked – of the uses of fungi amongst the Arrakeshi, but also of more personal matters. After much encouragement from me, he tried to explain how his healing powers work, but as it is an intuitive thing for him, he had difficulty in putting it into words. The healing, he says, comes from his close connection to Arrakesh, the spirit of the forest (I find this interchangeable use of the name for the physical forest and the spirit very interesting). It is Arrakesh, he says, who gives him the power to heal. He has had the ‘gift’, as he called it, since he was 16 years old and took over after the death of his father, also a Treespeaker, when he was 17.

He is still hesitant to tell me much about the role of Treespeaker, but I sense a relaxing of his initial distrust. Maybe during his healing, he was able to sense my good intentions? Whatever the case, I did feel that we will be able to converse more deeply in future. I hope so.

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