“See, a pine-tree with beautiful branches and thick growth, giving shade and very tall; and its top was among the clouds.” Ezekiel, 31:3
The fires have left their devastation. But among the trees that are most resilient in the landscape are mid-elevation pines. In general they have deep roots, grow quickly, and withstand both weather and time. There is wisdom for us to glean in learning about the properties of resilient trees that manage to withstand fire, like Ponderosa Pine.
The air is still smokey, physically and metaphorically. In these fiery times, I am constantly reminded of the privilege of breathing. An effortless act, that always needs reminding. In fact, sometimes I have to plead with myself to take in a small window of time just to breathe in quiet — not to catch up on calls, or listen to a podcast. The idea of fallowing, without a focus on accomplishing anything more than a few minutes of stillness doesn’t come easily. Yet, in a family that all shares one bathroom during COVID-19, the act of slowing into a rhythmic, even breath helps put out a different kind of fire!
Not far from our homestead, I like to hike. I visit a stand of age-old pines that outline a sliver of river. It invites a deliberate slowing and some kind of awe, every time. I feel the vital circulation of breath between us.
The pine branches and needles replicate the patterning of our lung chambers. The lungs can hold grief and fear, and pine can open the airways and help to clear stuck energy and ground. This medicinal tree is so much more than a nice smell. Research indicates that pine is a powerful lung tonic with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. In fact, ponderosa pine contains up to five times as much vitamin C as a lemon!
To breathe more deeply, improve circulation, and build immunity - why not learn from the resilience of the ponderosa pine — to thicken our skin and deepen our roots? Ethically harvest a handful of the needles, chop finely, boil up, and add to a salt soak.
Or add chopped pine needles to a jar of olive oil for six months to make a deep green, medicinal pine oil to massage your feet.
Or drink a mug of medicinal pine tea and breathe slowly with the trees. I leave the chopped up pine needles in a Crockpot overnight, and add lemon and Menuka honey to sip throughout the next day.
Warm herbal water opens arteries and veins to make room for the blood to circulate with greater ease. As you soak in pine, and sip pine tea, invite your lungs to expand and allow both blood and breath to circulate more freely. While you’re at it, collect a tear droplet of pine resin from the ground by the tree’s roots to burn as a purifying incense. Only harvest from resin droplets that have fallen to the earth, as the tree needs this sacred resin to heal its wounds.
“The Jewish Herbal: Mystical Reflections on Food, Nature and Urban Farming” is a regular column by Devorah Brous charting the ways we can reconnect with ourselves in harmony with nature. Devorah is an urban homesteader, lifecycle ritualist, and green consultant in Los Angeles. Find her online classes at FromSoil2Soul