Saturday, February 14, 2015

Emerald Heart of Winter

“I herald
the returning of
Light and Life 
upon seasons' wheel. 
Peace-bearer, Warmth-bringer; 
secrets of purification,
and prosperity
I reveal

Banishing guilt, 
releasing your Shadow 
and healing grief 
are lessons I stitch
with my acerate leaf.

In celebration of the Redeemer
aglow with twinkling lights
by stars or angels crowned,
I will teach you how to keep
within you a place ever green
all year round."

For those new to the game, each poem is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; a star, stone, animal, plant, etc that holds lessons of Wisdom for us. Can you guess who is singing today? Congrats to Ruth Cox for naming this Teacher! 

“If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick shadow. Such a man has saddled himself with new problems and conflicts. He has become a serious problem to himself, as he is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against. He lives in the “House of the Gathering.” Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world. He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved social problems of our day." Jung (1938). Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.140

"We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace." ~William Ewart Gladstone

"Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life." ~John Muir 

Evergreen conifers found within the Family Pinaceae are cedar, hemlock, fir, spruce, pine and larch. These evergreens are often the first trees that children in the U.S. learn to identify as separate from other kinds of trees. Although they might typically all be referred to as Pine, each carries their own unique message as well as the lessons inherint to the Family. Most of us are never taught the subtle differences that distinguish one species of Pinaceae from another, nor is the study of trees a popular or glamorous area of academia for adults.

Aside from being uniquely green when all other trees shed their leaves, evergreens are typically brought into homes every Christmas season, even by people who aren’t Christians! Every child loves celebrating Christmas, and the evergreen’s unique form is one of the first trees that they draw. Yet how do we know the Pine from other evergreens?

There are about 115 species of pine around the world. Pines are distinguished from all other trees by having pairs of uncovered seeds on their female cones, and needle-like slender leaves arranged in bundles of 2-5 with a permanent or deciduous sheath at their bases. Pines have adapted themselves to grow in challenging areas. Dry, sandy, or poor soils, bogs, extremes of cold and altitude do not deter the Pine! Considered a “pioneer”, this tree can begin the reclamation project the Plant Nation is always in the process of around the world in barren landscapes.

These Diplomats can teach us how to go into difficult situations and negotiate with all the principals to achieve a more beneficial situations for everyone. Pines, especially White Pines (the focus here), are associated with peace, but these Teachers also have connections to the following concepts: prosperity, healing after surgery, renewal of energy, courage, hex-breaking, strength, purification and cleansing (especially guilt), fertility, and leadership.

"I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines." ~Henry David Thoreau

"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."  ~Kahlil Gibran

"Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people." ~ Ted Perry, screen writer for Home (1972 film about ecology)

Tall trees, they often indicate an ability to “see ahead” or over long distances. Known as Ailm in Ogham, Pine is the “sweetest of woods”. Pine cones can be used to gauge weather as they open or close with changes in humidity. Several varieties of pine nuts are a potential food source and pine needles are an excellent source of vitamin C when steeped in hot water. Pine was an early wood for the making of boats, and favored as the ridge pole of dwellings from a variety of cultures. It has been an emblem of fidelity and wedding torches were made of pine according to Virgil. Pine was also a favorite for coffins for many years. In Russia, the coffin was often draped with pine or fir boughs as it was being carried to the cemetery. 

There is a curious mix of Life and Death in the symbology of the Pine which, like other evergreens, has often symbolize the perpetuity of Life. For all it’s lessons on peace, temperate leadership and diplomacy, the Pine has a strong connection to the deities Pan and Bacchus, both known more for their abandoned revelries. At first glance, such dichotomy might make the Pine seem unbalanced. Running to extremes and especially suppressing or denying one’s Shadow Self are potential signs of unbalanced Pine energy.

When we realize that Pine is an enduring symbol of natural magic and the cycle of immortality (Life Death and Rebirth), we see this Teacher with new wisdom and begin to discover the Harmony inherent in all Pine lessons. Pine is a Wounded Healer amongst the Tree Teachers, and some exploration of the highs and lows of this archetype should be undertaken by any who feel called by this Teacher. A Bristlecone Pine known as Methusalah is believed to be over 4,000 years old, and the Teachers found in Family Pinaceae carry many ancient secrets and wisdoms.

Pine trees are excellent companions if you are looking to release stress, guilt, or negativity, if you are seeking peace and clarity through an extreme or difficult situation, those seeking healing, or those who would like to develop their leadership abilities. Simply sitting beneath the branches of a willing pine tree will help wash away these life pollutants. I had a great Pine tree friend that I spent many hours sitting with, and he was always willing to help wash away the negative build up of my life. Without the peaceful clarity he helped me to achieve, I do not believe that I would have made as many good choices in the extremely difficult situation I was dealing with at the time. Years later, and I find myself living amidst a council of Pine and Hemlock; a whole new array of friendly faces that are quickly becoming familiar and beloved Teachers!

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” Greek Proverb

"We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace." ~William Ewart Gladstone

"Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."  ~Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne

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