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Autumn Leaves and Sacred Trees
Dear Reader, happy fall equinox! I always appreciate this season, as the pace begins to slow, and we move from being more active to slowing down a bit. Fall can be a great time for contemplation, review, and introspection. Did you know that deciduous trees drop their leaves in order to survive? Shedding leaves is a tree's way of shutting down the food production cycle as they head into winter.
Are you aware that certain plants and trees (especially fruit trees) actually need pruning for survival? It's a great metaphor, isn't it? What might we release, and what might we prune, in order to ensure our own vitality and wholeness? Maybe it's time to get rid of no longer used material possessions. Maybe it's time to cut back (prune) on stretching yourself thin by saying yes to everything and everyone. Could it be time to reign in your social network?
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Whatever the case may be, it is always good to take seasonal stock of one's life to see what is working and what is not. Our comfort zone can weigh us down with people, things, and ways of being or doing things that no longer serve the current season of our life. We may have all sorts of reservations about not wanting to let go of certain habits, relationships, or material possessions. In such cases, it is best to ask how the object of contemplation adds or subtracts from your life within your current context.
The flip side of holding on to what no longer serves is to get rid of something useful before it's time. In her article on why not to rake leaves in the autumn, Kylie Fuller writes, "Experts say not raking your leaves is good for your yard and the planet. But how? It turns out that leaving them alone can fertilize your yard, provide shelter for critters, and even reduce local emissions. According to David Mizejewski, a naturalist at the National Wildlife Federation, falling leaves fertilize your yard as they decompose into nutrients. "They slowly break down and compost right there at the base of the tree of the shrub, right above its root zone, where they return nutrients that the plant can then recycle and reuse next spring," he told USA Today.
Leaves also provide a home to critters, from earthworms and little pillbugs to salamanders and chipmunks. There's an entire ecosystem living in there! The bugs living in these leaves are also a vital food source for birds.
But what about climate change? A lot of the time, people bag up their leaves and toss them out. While that might seem harmless, they wind up releasing methane—a greenhouse gas—into the atmosphere.
"At this time of year, a huge volume of leaves go sit in landfills and produce all of this terrible greenhouse gas," Mizejewski says. "The more we can keep that organic material out of the landfill, the better."
Composting Life Experience
I recently spoke with a friend who is learning to befriend and explore her rage. Maya Luna (author, poet, speaker, teacher, and creator of deepfemininemysteryschool.com) calls it sacred rage. I highly recommend checking out her work, poetry, and website. She has a YouTube channel, a Facebook page, and a Spotify account for anyone interested. Here is a great interview in which Maya Luna talks about sacred rage. It is a beautiful conversation, and I highly recommend saving this link for further exploration whenever time permits.
How did we go from leaves to sacred rage? We have many unexplored emotions tied to many events in our lives that remain without closure. Trauma and memories are still charged and alive in our bodies until we face the shadow of an experience. However, we can neutralize the charge through healing, transmutation, or integration. Some people are so utterly possessed by their trauma that rather than experience the changing of seasons in their transpersonal life, they live in eternal winter. Yet, in facing our shadow, there is a way to get back in sync with the natural cycles of our life without being frozen in time. A teacher named Harley Swiftdeer has a term called “erasing personal history”. Here you can learn more about Swiftdeer's teachings.
Though we can never undo what we have experienced, we can transform the damage and spin our suffering into wisdom. When the wisdom is wrought, and the charge is removed, we have erased personal history. A person who wishes to rake the leaves and dispose of them so their yard can look pretty is similar to a person who too quickly dismisses the riches of having lost their leaves or branches in a strong gust of wind.
If we can see the wind-strewn leaves and the fallen branches as compost that will turn into nutrients and feed us, we have done ourselves a great service. Leaves and branches do not decompose overnight nor always in one season. Nature and life are sometimes messy, yet everything serves a purpose. It is helpful to remember that nature never hurries, yet all is accomplished.
When you throw your leaves away, you miss out on the nutrients that would have been provided for you had you allowed time for integration ( composting ). Now you added to the metaphorical landfill and contributed to the greenhouse gas of the collective. This is the metaphor for all the ways that other people suffer from the effects of people who did not allow the organic cycle of composting their trauma, pain, wounds, and difficult experiences.
Who is affected when you don't make peace with your fallen leaves and branches? It is your parent who you unnecessarily lash out at, your partner who you resent, or your child who frustrates you because he reminds you so much of your father. It is the same romantic partner with different names but the same traits that you keep choosing over and over, with whom it never works out.
Everyone and Everything Has a Story
Much like the rings of a tree trunk (that hold the tree's story), your body contains the story of your life. Your DNA has not only your story but the stories of your ancestors. Though it may be a lot for your logical mind to fathom, your DNA contains the stories of your past lives as well. The more you access your body's innate intelligence and inherent technology, the more access you have to the stories of your lineage as well as your past life history. Speaking of DNA, we share fifty percent of our DNA with trees. Like us - trees have a story to tell.
Dendrochronology is a science that utilizes tree rings to discover the age of a tree and its whole life story. "A tree's rings that appear wider on one side than the other may indicate that something pushed against the tree as it grew. The tree will build ‘reaction wood’ to help support the leaning side. A happy tree, getting lots of sunshine and rain, will show relatively broad and evenly spaced rings. If all else looks good, but the growth appears to have slowed; nonetheless, neighboring trees may be providing too much shade while their crowns and root system take up the lion's share of water and sunshine. Remove the crowding trees, and you'll see wide, evenly spaced rings, indicating that the tree is growing rapidly and straight once more. A fire in the forest can be easily seen by scarring on the tree's bark. Year by year, the tree will create more and more wood to cover the scar, but it's there to see in the tree's history. Narrowed rings that go on for several seasons can indicate a drought. Few things can slow a tree's healthy growth, like lack of water over a long period of time. Narrow rings can depict an insect infestation, too. For example, the sawfly's larva eats the leaves and leaf buds of many kinds of coniferous trees." Source: International Paper
Trees Are Sacred
Indigenous peoples (which is ultimately all of us at some point in time, yet used as a collective agreed-upon reference point here) refer to trees as some of our first ancestors. The symbolism of the tree of life and the tree of knowledge lives in the collective psyche all across the world. We call our ancestral lineage our family tree, and we speak of our genetic inheritance as our roots.
Seasons, lifecycles, and trees are all living metaphors that have been used throughout time in literature, art, music, and poetry to teach us about ourselves. Trees are the beings that bridge heaven and Earth, reaching ever skyward while simultaneously being rooted deep below the ground. Some believe that trees not only record information of the Earthly plane but of the heavens as well. They are like antennae that, for hundreds of years, stand in witness to the movements and cycles of the cosmos.
Trees in Myth and Folklore
"Trees are significant in many of the world's mythologies and religions and have been given deep and sacred meanings throughout the ages. Human beings, observing the growth and death of trees and the annual death and revival of their foliage,   have often seen them as powerful symbols of growth, death, and rebirth. Evergreen trees, which largely stay green throughout these cycles, are sometimes considered symbols of eternal, immortality, or fertility. The image of the Tree of Life or world tree occurs in many mythologies. "
"The world tree, with its branches reaching up into the sky, and roots deep into the Earth, can be seen to dwell in three worlds - a link between heaven, the Earth, and the underworld, uniting above and below. This great tree acts as an Axis Mundi, supporting or holding up the cosmos and providing a link between the heavens, Earth, and the underworld. In European mythology, the best-known example is the tree Yggdrasil from Norse mythology." Source: Everipedia
From The Wizard of Oz to The Avatar, from Star Wars to The Lord of the Rings, the mythopoetic tree plays an important role. Trees are also seen as oracles, including in Arab folklore. It was believed one could sleep by a tree to receive a prescription for their ailment. Indeed trees are as deeply rooted in the collective psyche as they are in the Earth.
Trees in Medicine and Spirituality
If you've seen an oak tree without leaves, you may have noticed that it looks much like pulmonary vasculature. It is not surprising then that the oak tree has been used to treat a variety of vasculature maladies for centuries. If you read further about the role of the oak tree in ceremony, food, and medicine, you are sure to be intrigued. You can do so here.
There are volumes and volumes of information about the medicinal properties of trees - too many to mention here. Along with the introduction of Covid came a sharp rise in the demand for pine needle tea. It was sought after for its: high vitamin c content, ability to strengthen the immune system, and ability to counteract the harmful effects of spike proteins.
For thousands of years, populations all over the world have used frankincense both medicinally and in spiritual and religious circles. Frankincense is a resin made from the sap of the Boswellia Sacra (sacred) tree. These trees grow in Oman, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa, including Somalia and Ethiopia. Frankincense is also known for its ability to treat cancer. It has the ability to distinguish cancer cells from healthy cells, attacking only the former, whereas chemo attacks both. You or a friend may even have some frankincense essential oil in your medicine cabinet. Healthcare practitioners the world over use one form or another of frankincense.
I can not mention frankincense without mentioning Myrrh (also a gum-resin tree sap from the Commiphora myrrha tree). A native to Ethiopia and Somalia, it has been used as long ago as 3000 BCE by the Egyptians in embalming and as an incense burned during cremations and funerals to disguise any foul odors up through the 15th century. Myrrh is said to be one of the key ingredients in the mythical Egyptian perfume Kyphi. It has also been used to anoint kings and scent fabrics for those traveling to holy places. Myrrh has had a great value throughout time; the Romans even valued it as much as gold, using it as security for monetary debts. It is also used by many householders and healthcare practitioners in myriad ways.
Sandalwood is another tree whose intoxicating scent has been sought after for years. One tends to think of India and Southeast Asia as the home of Sandalwood trees. It also grows in Australia, and aboriginal Australians eat the sandalwood tree's seed kernels, nuts, and fruit. Multiple world religions use sandalwood in their rites and rituals, similar to cultures that use frankincense and Myrrh.
Copal resin is another sacred resin ( like frankincense and Myrrh) dating back to pre - Columbian times and used in sacred rites and rituals. The Mayans and Aztecs used it as an offering to the Gods. It is still used in Southern Mexico and Central America in a sacred sweat lodge and mushroom ceremonies. Copal is also found in middle western Africa (such as the Congo), Madagascar, and also in Indonesia. It is known for its ability to clear the auric field, especially the crown chakra. It is helpful in fertility and the birthing process. It can assist in creative expression, gaining clarity, and transmuting negative energy of all kinds on all levels.
The Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment while sitting under a tree. Christ was crucified on a cross made of wood. The maypole, the staff, the talking stick, and the walking stick are all made of wood. It seems whether as a tree or as wood, trees play an extremely potent role in our everyday and mythopoetic life.
Be Grateful for Trees!
In many cultures, trees are used to build: totems, masks, longhouses (communal dwellings in North America, Asia, and Europe), canoes, and homes. Without wood, where would the ships be that allowed humanity to explore the world? Trees have been a longstanding source of heat for humans since the stone age. As we have discussed, various parts of trees are used in food, ceremony, and medicine in every culture. If you live in a house, have ever wiped your bum, kept a journal, written a poem, read a book, or enjoyed a campfire, you have a tree to thank.
By now, we have enough evidence to fully grasp how vast and important the role of the tree is in the history and everyday life of humans, from the sacred to the mundane. It goes without saying that without trees, we couldn't breathe. Trees play an intricate and complex role in the larger ecosystem providing food and shelter for each other and the insects, birds, and animals they host. They make their own compost throughout their life, and when they die, their compost feeds many living organisms, including other trees.
As usual, I have bitten off more than I can chew here. It is impossible to say everything that can be said about trees in three thousand words. There is, of course, much that needs to be said about the perilous situation trees are in, in the context of the environmental conundrum of this modern age. In the past 50 years alone, we have lost 20% of the Amazon rainforest, and 80% of that is directly related to cattle grazing. Some environmentalists say that 75% of the remaining Amazon Forest is either sick or in danger.
Globally many trees are lost to fires and drought every year. The reintroduction of hemp and the use of bamboo to replace many of our paper products seems necessary and urgent at this time. What little we have touched on here does not even begin to scratch the surface of the situation's complexity.
My advice and request to anyone reading this are to begin to rework your relationship with anything you consume that comes from trees. Beyond that, up your game, by establishing a deep reverence for trees and for nature in general. Spend as much time as you can in nature. Observe the ecosystems available to you. Sit, observe, listen, interact, and communicate. Become part of an ongoing conversation with the web of life of which you are an integral part.
Every one of us is responsible for stewarding this Earth with as much integrity as we can muster. Can we walk and ride bikes more often? Can we consume less? Can we eat differently? Can we grow our own food? What are you willing to do differently, stop doing, or start doing to contribute to the health of the ecosystem in which you live? Is it possible we take things for granted? Are we entitled? Are we dependent? How are we interdependent? These are some of the most important questions we can be asking right now.
Remembering the Magic (8:13 - The Pine Code)
For years now, I have had a deep interest in, as well as a fascination with, and a deep reverence for sacred geometry. Sacred in this context means timeless, permanent, forever. Sacred geometry is an ongoing expression of numbers and shapes informing everything in our bodies, everything on our planet, and literally everything in the cosmos.
8/13 is a very important number to me because it is the day of my father's transition from his body into the formless realm. Two weeks ago, I wrote about Merlin paying me a visit on 8/13 of this year (just a day before my birthday). Because of that, now the number is even more important. Just the other day, I came across a post on the Jain 108 Facebook page (a page dedicated to sacred geometry). It was entitled "The Pine Code 8:13."
I couldn't believe my eyes! There it was, the acronym of my website, "CONE" (Creators of New Earth), right beside the date of my father's passing. Immediately my curiosity was piqued, and I watched the video. It was explained that if you look at the bottom of a pinecone, you will see 8 clockwise spirals and 13 counterclockwise spirals. Hence the code of a pinecone, or the "pine code," is 8:13.
In the years before my father's passing, we spent a lot of time on the phone. Our favorite topics were anything esoteric or spiritual. My Dad was deeply connected to Christ, but his curiosity was unlimited. In his 77 years, he learned about everything from Qi Gong to Parmahansa Yogananda, essential oils (which he turned me onto), Grandma Aggie, Deepak Chopra, Native American culture, and much more.
Needless to say, my Dad was a pretty cool guy. Not long after his arrival on the other side, he sent me a message, it was one word, and that word was "creativity." This blog is an extension of that creativity. But the fact that the acronym is CONE and the pine code is 8:13 was nothing short of mind-blowing to me. Once you start paying attention to numbers and sacred geometry, you will find the magic of life is everywhere around you all the time.