During my walk yesterday I stopped by my pine tree. It is a bit of a sapling along my usual walk path through the majestic oak grove that occupies the south side of Bayou Metairie. At some point in late January, I returned to the tree from which I’d taken a branch and respectfully spoke to the wights, asked forgiveness for taking the branch, and used a stick of Burt’s Bees plain lip balm to dress the wound I had made with my pocket knife a month earlier. Later, I returned and left a bowl of organic heavy cream and honey at the base of the tree, again thanking the wight(s) for the gift of the branch.
As I was walking yesterday, I stopped as I sometimes do to look at the branch I cut. The Burt’s Bees is dried up and still protecting the cut. Spring clover surrounds this tree, and I noticed that in one particular spot, directly beneath the cut I made and only there, the clover had set out its small, purple blooms. I took this as a favorable omen for my relationship with this particular wight. Just before I left, I noticed the perfect pine cone. And by perfect I mean if I were looking for a model for a mold to sell a million of them as Xmas/Yule decorations, this is the pine cone I would want. And there it was, lying just beneath the tree. It was open and so assuming it’s pine nuts dispersed to the ground or the squirrels, I picked it up to place on my altar.
All is well I think in my personal Sacred Grove. The branch I have is still green if a bit dry, and the nascent pine cones have shriveled up. When I need a fresh branch after I offer the one I cut in December on a Light the Beacon’s May Day bonfire, I will return to the same tree and this time start by asking permission and giving thanks for the tree’s offering of a twig for my altar.
You can probably see why my friend in Oakland suggested I investigate Druidism but I am fairly set upon the path of Heathenism, and sacred trees are certainly no stranger to the faith or in particular to my own German ancestors. We are, after all, ash and oak (or at least I like to think oak, as what I have read so far leaves the translation of Embla with a question mark, leaning elm; in my personal cosmology, we are ash and oak. I have stopped thinking of the trees of my grove as brothers and think of them instead as mothers). I always stand ready for correction at this early stage, and if I should think of the wights of my grove as brothers, just let me know.
Until then, the pine come joins the branch on my altar, and I have to decide whether the cone goes on the bonfire as well later this spring. At the moment, I am very attached to it, but perhaps the tree wight meant the gift to be passed on to the high gods, and to give what is precious to one is the best gift regardless of its superficial, external worth.