How to read a tree

Do you see ursa major in the tree?

My alien overlords have asked me to pass along the directions on how to read trees.  I thought it would be fun to introduce you to the practice of tree reading.  Lest you think me nuts, it’s a little skill I created for the characters in my upcoming book, appropriately called Tree Readers, where certain earthlings are able to receive messages in the trees from a superior alien race.  Here’s how Earl explains tree reading to his son Key.

Tree reading was the most difficult concept to understand for Key, but according to his father it was the most important part of their mission.  It was the line of communications.  Soldiers were nothing without orders and the orders came through the trees.

“You mean the trees talk?” Key once asked his father.

His old man grunted.  “Of course not.  Not the way you think any way.”

“I don’t understand.”

“The shading, the light, the shape of the leaves and branches, they all form messages…”


“Letters and numbers that form words and instructions.”

“Letters?  Like A-B-C-D…”

Key’s father rolled his eyes.  “It’s more complicated than that.  You don’t look for letters of the alphabet.  You look for shapes.”

“Shapes?  What shapes?”

“The constellations.  Remember, we talked about those.  They’re patterns in the stars that people used to use to navigate.”

“I remember.”

“Right, so there are 88 recognized constellations.  For us, 26 of the constellations are associated with a letter in the English language.  For instance: the constellation Norma is the letter ‘L.’ Got it?”

Key nodded as if this made sense.  “What about the other 62 constellations”

“Numbers, compass directions, symbols: anything having to do with coordinates and secret instructions.”

“Oh,” Key replied, hoping that they could stop talking about the trees and their constellations and coordinates and symbols, but his father always talked about it.   He drilled the code into Key’s brain, and tested him endlessly.  He was instructed to never speak about the tree reading with anyone, and he never thought it was odd because it had always been a part of his life.  He never even thought to ask how the messages got there or who was sending them.

Simple, right?  Anyone with the key code and a camera can do it.  In case you want to see if the messages are really there, I’m passing along part of the code below. The name of the constellation is coupled with the letter, number, or word that it is associated with.  In addition, here is a link to a hyperlinked list of the constellations.  Click on the constellation and it will show the pattern for that constellation.

Good luck and happy tree reading.  BTW – If you get a message, send it to me and head for the freakin’ hills because I just made all this crap up!   Well, at least that’s what the trees told me.

Tree Reader Code


  • Phoenix -A
  •  Virgo – B
  • Hydra – C
  • Apus –D
  • Delphinus – E
  • Reticulum – F
  • Tucana – G
  • Lepus – H
  • Sagitta – I
  • Vulpecula – J
  • Fornax – K
  • Norma – L
  • Triangulum – M
  • Pyxis – N
  • Ursa Minor – O
  • Crater – P
  • Equuleus – Q
  • Grus – R
  • Andromeda – S
  • Columba –T
  • Boötes – U
  • Octans – V
  • Aquila – W
  • Cassiopeia – X
  • Microscopium – Y
  • Dorado – Z


  • Ara – 0
  • Sagittarius – 1
  • Lynx – 2
  • Cetus – 3
  • Telescopium – 4
  • Indus – 5
  • Pictor – 6
  • Crux – 7
  • Perseus – 8
  • Carina – 9


  • Antila – West
  • Hercules – East
  • Scorpius – North
  • Cepheus – South
  • Aquarius – Longitude
  • Pavo – Latitude
  • Cancer – Altitude

5 thoughts on “How to read a tree

  1. Sounds awesome. Very neat premise. I will definitely be in line for the book when you get it all in production. If I start seeing messages in trees though, I think my family might lock me up.

  2. Agreed with J. Wilson – very interesting concept indeed. I’m looking forward to learning why and how Tree Reading became a necessary tool for survival / communication.

  3. I LOVE this idea!! I have eighteen trees in my yard, and once or twice a year I make a circuit and hug each one of them. I have a hammock under a locust, a maple and a Bradford Pear. I spend hours swinging and looking up at my trees.

    Can’t wait to read the story. What a great idea.

  4. Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s