This was my first sacred plant ritual. I approached a baby pine, sat down, offered water and tobacco, and told the little guy my intentions to get to know him and learn. Sitting down listening: the pine was open to a relationship. Offering more water, I smudged myself and the area, cleared my mind, and shared my pipe with him. This is a record of my conversation with him.How do you stay green in the winter?
My leaves are folded tightly together like a samurai sword. I conserve my energy, using it only when necessary. I do not flaunt my stuff, but humbly grow tall, strong, and live long. Who do I call - who do I invite?
Us. We speak as one, yet we are many. You need to let go this resistance and trust. You take in our essence. You honor us in word and song – we become one – we are friends.
Take us in – absorb us. Open your ears, eyes, nose – all your senses and listen, feel, taste. Smoke and drink us, sleep with us, live with us.
You want to hear our song, you have to let go – you have to listen.
It is hard to begin a relationship when you think you know everything about us. You come filled and so learn nothing. Your way of seeing and understanding. We teach you how to look at the world with new eyes, to see the world with clarity like the tip of our needle – piercing into the world.
If I were to say to you that this meeting and this experience we share is the key to understanding who you are – you would be surprised. Taking the knowledge gained by our meeting, we print it in some book somewhere. We tell others that you are just a person that comes and sits in the forest with his tobacco, sweet grass, herb, and such – that this is what you are and what you are good for. Are you not so much more than that? In the same way, just because others have talked about us and shared the things that they have learned from us does not mean there is nothing else to learn. Reading in some book is different than living it. What others speak is borne afresh within. This is the medicine. It is not something you read but something you become.
We will teach you how to let go of the mind and thoughts so you can just experience what is. To rub our needles on your forehead and your forehead on our needles. To let go of the whys, and the whats, and what fors and for whoms – we teach you to experience. Just feel without defining, looking for reasons, wondering what others will think – just experience the sensations as they are. Let the mind go, let the thoughts go, let the world go and just be.
Don't be scared. Nature is. Spiders will crawl on you, ants will nibble, you will get dirty, you will get scratched. The more balanced you are, the less these things will affect you. It will still happen – and that is okay. Where does sickness come from?
Being unbalanced. You have heard the story of the Cherokee. You have heard the words but you have not listened. You need to listen. When humans started to make their way into the world they took from the world with no regard, they walked heavy footed, ripped, stole, and caused great suffering. They broke the balance. The animals cursed them. Human's poison reached into the waters, the forests, the deserts, the mountains – the sickness spread. Even the plants fought back. You have heard the plants felt sorry for humans and so sought to help them. This was not so in the beginning. We poisoned the humans. Caused rashes, sickness, dis-ease. We drove humans crazy. Things got bad – sickness spread like an unrestrained fire. The Mother saw her children crying. The plants, animals, humans, rocks – her children were crying. The Mother cried and her tears fell upon the earth soothing her children's pain, healing them, and bringing them together to drink. It was water that brought us together. Offering water we drank. We promised then that those who live simply, who hear and see us, who are meek and walk softly – to them we will help – for they are the ones that inherit the earth.
You look with two eyes and see a divided world. This way creates sickness. The world becomes hurtful, scary, and antagonistic. No one likes pain.
The world opens to those who see – those who look – those who are willing to listen.
Even in death there is life. Our green needles help you remember this in winter. We let you know the wheel turns.
The wheel has no edges – it is a unity. No matter where we are at on the wheel we are one.
You live in another person's mind – why have a mind of your own? Repeat other people's words – live vicariously through them – this is no life. You come to learn, listen, and live. First come and listen. Then learn from others. Then hear what they say. Because you listened first, you will know truth.
Put us in your water – we give you life and energy. Sleep with us – we protect you. Breathe us in – we become one.
You are the medicine. It is what you live not what you can remember.
Bare feet – giving heat to mother – she likes that. She likes to feel her children.
Scared – yes. We see your fear. Trust. You say God grows Lilies of the Field, gives feather to bird, thick skin to whale. You create imbalance – you have no reason to trust. World is chaos. Order is thin like reflection on water – only seems real when you run with it. You let be. Come out. The Mother loves you. Simple ways. You have little – you happy – you see. Don't worry. We are here for you. The way is made true for you. Listen. You listen. Deep down inside you yearn. It comes. Life fulfills – filling you up. Trust. Listen.
I am Soft Feather
Thank you Soft Feather for tickling me. Thank you for showing me how to be. Thank you for letting me see the way life can be. Thank you… RelationsJoints Soak
~ Bark of Eastern White Pine (Soft Feather)Incense
~ Flowers from Arnica
~ Leaves from Mint
~ Root from Ginger
~ Fruit of Cherry
~ Sap on hot coalsDrinkSkin Oil
~ To make raw resin more like amber you have to heat it till the pure resin rises. The best way I have found to do this is to get a thin piece of metal and create an indention where the raw resin is placed. Then set it up so that you can have a candle burning under it. As it heats up the resin will start to melt, separating from the bark and other stuff. Decant melted resin on a plate or something else you do not mind being made sticky. Put plate in freezer for a few moments and then chip resin off the plate into some receptacle.
~ Olive OilDeodorant
~ Inner Bark
~ Comfrey Root
~ Put refined resin into a double boiler; add oil, preferably oil that does not have a strong smell itself. Melt resin into oil. Take little bit of mix on knife or spoon, place in freezer for a few moments to get the consistency you desire. You want it somewhere around the thickness of molasses.Crafts
~Taking Pine cones, smearing peanut butter over them, rolling them in bird seeds and hang them outside for birds and squirrels to eat from. A Few Experiences
~ Dip cones in melted wax – great fire starter.
~ Purifying the House: This is true. Pine really does a wonder when it comes to cleansing sickness and other sickly type energies. It does this by bringing it up and out. If you want to get rid of negative energies without dealing with it, then Pine is not necessarily the right plant to use. While Pine is calming and very peaceful – just take a walk in a Pine forest to experience this, it comes with a price. Pine has a way of dominating the environment. Like Eucalyptus, not many things can grow much less thrive in a Pine forest. In the same way, Pine has a way of dominating the environment by bringing out its Mars energy. Rather than chase away negative energies like Sulfur and Wormwood or purifying like Cedar and Sage, Pine brings out the issues, the sickness, the problems, and then invites us to consciously deal with them. If you are tired, this can actually cause more trouble than you want. Having an infuser with some oil slowly filling the air is good to keep away negative energies, but if you have the energy laying dormant or sticking to the walls, burning some resin on coals will really pull that crap out, and in doing so, cause some tension before getting rid of it.
~ Be cautious with Pine. Too much will really make you sick. The smoke from a camp fire put me in the hospital for three days with a crazy 105+ fever and blood pouring out my nose for hours. Smoke from coals can also cause headaches, nausea, and other lovely experiences.
~ While experimenting with making refined resin I tried to melt it in the oven on a pan in the hopes of quickening the process. Minutes later I was running out of my house with a pan on fire – take your time and do it right.
~ For those that have not worked with resin before – beware – it gets on everything. Make sure to use those things you do not mind having resin residue on forever. I actually have a few tools I use just for resin.
~ I love the Path. I love how life just seems to fall into place once we start living it. Originally I intended to work with each plant relative for a week, knowing of course that I will continue to build on that relationship for the rest of my life. Two weeks in and I am still surprised, overwhelmed, and humbled by Soft Feather. I desire to move on but I know that there is still much I have to learn, work on, and become before I can shift my attention to my next intended relation with the Wild Cherry. Listening is one of the great lessons I have been learning from Soft Feather. Listening not only with my ears but with my mind, my eyes, and my heart. Guilt has been culminating in my life lately because of a choice I had to make between one bad decision and an even worse one. I had to cut my relationship with one of my children for a while because the relationship I have with his mother is so poisonous that it has harmed my other children and my loving wife. I am the most fucked up father in the world. I am doing the very thing that was done to me – but I have to. I have tried over and over to make things work and it has only gotten worse over the years. So I did the unthinkable – I left my boy. I haven't the money or means to fight with her. So I left him knowing that one day I will be able to heal this wound that I have created by my choice. And so the guilt, the guilt eats at me – at the core of who I am. I cry. I rip at my hair. I pound my chest. I hate myself. Sipping on Pine needle tea, burning the resin in my house, making resin deodorant to put on my body, sleeping with the needles, brushing the house with Pine boughs – the guilt becomes overwhelming. Hours spent wracking my brain and tearing at my heart I find myself reading Mechthild Scheffer's, The Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy, and I find that the Pine teaches and helps us let go of guilt. Why? Meditating, rubbing the needles on my head, holding Soft Feather in my heart and mind I listen. To find peace, to awaken to the freshness of the Pine, to clear away the clutter, to walk free – this is one of the lessons I am learning from Soft Feather. And so here I am two weeks later still sitting with the Pine knowing that I have more work to do. It is not easy. Healing is not easy. Sickness is not the symptoms. The symptoms, like a sign, let us know we have gone the wrong way. Sickness is the imbalance that gives rise to the symptoms. When we are unbalanced, shit happens. How do we become unbalanced? There are more ways than could ever put down on paper. The current way I am unbalancing myself is letting guilt eat at me. I had to choose between two horrible options: let go of my son to get rid of his mother or continue to allow her to ruin my relationship with my wife and destroy my four other children's happiness and peace. I tried all the different options and none worked – so I had to choose. The only problem was, I could not choose. I was unable to do it on my own so I left it up to the spirit. I sat in my circle one night, took some shrums, and I prayed to the Great Spirit for guidance. I wanted to know what was the healthiest, most balanced action I could take that would invite the spirit more into my life. I got my answer. I listened. And yet, I feel the weight of guilt bearing down on me. No more. To open my heart I have to let go of the guilt. Soft Feather is my teacher, my ally, my guide to finding my way to the heart. It is painful, it is hard, it is hurtful. Compassion, love, peace – these are the tools I am using. That, and a lot of crying. Thanks Soft Feather for your friendship. Thank you…