Sunday, December 06, 2009

Flower Essences of the Christmas Season - Pine

I've written extensively about the pine tree in a book called The Solstice Evergreen: The History, Origin and Folklore of the Christmas Tree. The pine tree was of great spiritual significance to pagan societies around the world as a symbol of life and fertility even in the depths of winter. In the harshest of climates, in the darkest time of the year, the pine trees provided shelter while pointing to the heavens, assuring one and all that the life force that permeated the known universe was strong, benevolent and yet highly spiritual in origin. Many other vestiges of paganism disappeared with the advent of the one God religions of Judaism and Christianity but celebrations surrounding the Winter Solstice and the evergreen tree persisted and were finally deemed so important that they were deliberately incorporated into the celebration of Christmas.

Why? Perhaps it was because a more loving, supportive and forgiving interpretation of God, as promoted by Jesus, was the perfect antidote needed to the harsh authoritarian view of God promoted by Judaism and the early Church. The pine tree, already seen as a tree of everlasting life, offered solace in the harshest time of year, and the Church intended to establish itself as the source of solace during an unusually harsh time in human development, the Dark and Middle Ages. Forgiveness for one’s sins through Jesus became the central theme of  Christianity, and the pine tree was recast as the wood used for the cross, the "Tree of Life" Jesus died on to save the souls of the truly faithful. There are church paintings that show him crucified in the boughs of an evergreen tree and, as time went on, that deliberate melding of the old religion with the new became an integral part of the celebration of Christmas as we know it today.

Eternal life truly is the phrase most associated with the pine tree. Besides being an evergreen, it is also a long-lived species and it is long-lived in evolutionary terms. The pine tree is a member of the Gymnosperm family that predates all other flowering plants on the planet. This deep connection to a past that persists in the present must be considered as a significant part of the tree’s signature. It is also a tree that is decidedly formidable in appearance. Its lofty appearance, sharp needles and rough bark do not give the impression of a plant that is benevolent and forgiving. Yet it is its ability to stay intact and green and, therefore, provide loving protection and shelter all year, that most people associate with its nature. Eternal life, loving protection and shelter -- in other words, salvation -- is what this tree is all about.

In Flower Essence Therapy homeopathic infusions of flowers are used for emotional healing. The Pine's flowers are red and yellow which might suggest that this essence works with issues of the 1st and 3rd chakras: survival in one’s family unit and self-esteem. It is primarily for people who are wracked with undue guilt, self-blame or extreme perfectionism and self-criticism. “I am bad, bad, bad and I don’t deserve to have a good life” is the message these people are constantly telling themselves. This highly damaged sense of self always stems from early childhood experiences, perhaps a harsh unforgiving family environment, a belief established early on that one was unwanted or a feeling that one’s presence was a burden in some way. A child who was castigated for even tiny infractions is a good example. Such a young one often feels forsaken, cut off from their family’s love and left out in the cold. To protect himself from further abuse the child might learn to forsake himself. The harsh family legacy of excessive discipline is internalized as harsh self-discipline. After all, children who punish themselves appear much less deserving of abuse than one who appears to “need” correction (at least in the eyes of this family dynamic). On the other hand, a child born into poverty or born to a mother whose health suffered while the child was in the womb might grow up believing that their very existence threatened the health of those they loved and depended upon. That child might try to relieve their parents’ burden by being super-good or by apologizing for their behavior even when there was nothing of great significance to apologize for. Pine Flower Essence helps people who are stuck in these patterns to learn self-acceptance and forgiveness. They learn to release the past along with inappropriate guilt and self-blame.

I use Pine in my Peace and Goodwill flower essence aromatherapy spray, a very special formula especially for the Christmas season but appropriate to use any time of year.

2 comments: said...

What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing!

Athena's Armoury said...

Wow. Amazing and informative post!