Komorebi and Psithurism

My mind was opened today by the eloquent writings of Adam Winson.

I was out walking today for the first time in a long time (sprained ankle, long story); spring is here, announcing itself everywhere in new growth. Somehow in my quest to research further a new remedy I am making for the release of pain I stumbled upon these lovely blogs.

Boil the kettle, make a coffee and infuse your heart with these wonderful words describing two moments in nature that we are very familiar with. The following are excerpts from Adam’s writing; please click the links to read more:


There is a Japanese term “Komorebi”, for which no simple English translation exists. Yet it is a distinct phenomenon, that anyone who spends time among trees will have enjoyed. Komorebi roughly translates as “the scattered light that filters through when sunlight shines through trees”. It is made up of three “Kanji” or Chinese characters: “tree” or “trees”, “leaking-through” or “escape”, and “light” or “sun”.

Komorebi is especially noticeable when the sun is low, and mist or smoke can add to the effect. The impact of Komorebi to the observer can range from creating a pleasant ambiance for a walk through the woods, to generating feelings of awe – which in the right place at the right time – verges on the transcendental. Read more:

“Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are patches of Godlight in the woods of our experience.” C.S. Lewis
Doonane Woods, Newport, Tipperary

And so to


Psithurism: the sound of the wind whispering through the trees.

We can’t see wind, only the things it moves. Likewise, we can’t hear wind unless it’s flowing past something that makes it vibrate; this causes it to adopt various sonic guises depending on what it interacts with. Trees provide some of the most common and admired ways for wind to make itself heard. This sound has been termed psithurism (sith-err-iz-um).

The naturalist author and founding member of the RSPB, W.H. Hudson, suggests in Birds and Man (1901), that psithurism is salubrious. He describes the sound of wind in the trees as “very restorative” – a mysterious voice which the forest speaks to us,and that to lie or sit thus for an hour at a time listening to the wind is an experience worth going far to seek.

The sonic qualities of psithurism seem to smudge the border between music and noise.

“I hear the wind among the trees
Playing celestial symphonies;

I see the branches downward bent,

Like keys of some great instrument”. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

“The white pines in the horizon, either single trees or whole wood, are particularly interesting. The wind is making passes over them, magnetizing and electrifying them…This is the brightening and awakening of the pines…As if in this wind-storm of March a certain electricity was passing from heaven to earth through the pines and calling them to life”. (Journal of Henry David Thoreau 1855-1861).


“When we hear the sound of the pine trees on a windy day, perhaps the wind is just blowing, and the pine tree is just standing in the wind. That is all that they are doing. But the people who listen to the wind in the tree will write a poem, or will feel something unusual. That is, I think, the way everything is.” Shunryu Suzuki (1904-1971)

Click to read more:

Andrea and Scots Pine, Clare Glens, Newport, Co. Tipperary


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