Another month of giving thanks has come upon us and as we venture into the quiet months of the gardens, I am reminded to bring my focus back to the evergreens. This is the time of year when fresh fruits and veggies become less common on the table and we bring out the pots of stew that havesimmered on the back burner for a couple of hours, just waiting for us to get our outside chores done and warm up with a steaming bowl of hot soup, mopped up with a roll or toasted garlic bread.
Didn’t that description just fill the pleasure center of your brain with endorphins? Bringing back memories of another winter when you had that perfect bowl of soup just waiting to warm you up? Those permanent memories that surface at just the right moment to make us feel all warm and fuzzy?
Evergreens are most likely going to play songs of memory going into the next couple of months, either in our homes or decorated in the community. Memory, as we talked about last month, is critical to our bodies’ health. Memory is where we store everything from newspaper articles to holidayswith family, from trauma to joyous moments. Our bodies use those memories to determine how we are going to react to any given moment in the day. Our olfactory system can send scent signals to our fight or flight response system quicker than our brains can register the information. They utilize our memory file system to know whether to relax or act. Walking into a home filled with the scent of evergreen boughs pulls joyful experience from the memory banks and sends us into relaxation mode.
While the deciduous trees have all gone dormant for theyear, the evergreens are still giving us needed nourishment and comfort, from year-round protection from the elements, to that steaming cup of needle tea that sooths the respiratory system during the cold months. Which is why I amgoing spend the rest of this article describing some of them and their benefits and allow your memory to store those benefits and reach for some evergreens this cold season to restore your mental filing system to its preferred operating status.
As always, I am going to start with Frankincense, known as the “King of Oils” with good reason, it is evergreen only in its native environment, but so packed with goodness that the resin from this tree has literally been traded and considered a monetary commodity for thousands of years. The ancients knew from experience what we are just learning from a scientific point of view. The molecular structure of Frankincense is so small that it can both penetrate and pass through individual cells, and cross that elusive blood/brain barrier that keeps so many pathogens from accessing our filingsystem. We have learned that we can use frankincense oil to carry other, larger molecule oils onto those same cells for support. Specific plants each carry different but important chemical constituents that, when fed to our bodies, refill our chemical profile in the cells that have become depleted. Forinstance, Frankincense carries a-pinene, a monoterpene, amongmany others, that is a known neuroprotector. Monoterpenes have strong effects on cell membranes because they are small enough to fit between the fatty molecules that make up the cell membrane. They are also small enough to completely pass through it and affect targets inside the cell.
Black Spruce and Siberian Fir are also monoterpenes with bornyl acetate as one of their main constituents, which soothes tissue and supports healthy cellular function.
Arborvitae (Thuja Plicata) is yet another monoterpene. Its main constituent is Methyl thujate. Arborvitae is historically known as the “Tree of Life” by northern Native Americans. It has been shown in studies to robustly affect various important signaling pathways in human cells.*
Eucalyptus with a with 1,8 cineole base, again, a monoterpene has shown strong support for positive cell integrity. Rosemary, a Mediterranean evergreen shrub, is also high in 1,8 cineole.
When you begin to break down the components of a plant and look at its chemical composition, you also begin to realize that these components are only one part of the plant, and that there are most generally dozens, or even hundreds of compounds that may be aiding the plant in its support for healthy cellular structure. A chemical synthesized from the plant can be patented, but the full chemical compound derived from the plant cannot. This leaves little room for profit on the natural plant itself, so until recently, it was hard to find scientific data on them. Now we are starting to see some very interesting research show up.
One of the set backs is that the compounds work synergistically with each other to create a response in the cell that does not happen when constituents are separated out singly. This allows science to show a result, but does not allow science to show a cause, and science is very much about howsomething works, rather than just the proof that it works.
We utilize astrology the same way. Some of us just want to know the results, while some of us want to understand how the frequencies of the luminaries above line up to trigger emotions and events in the world around us. We want to know how, not just that it does. Plants and the energy that theyproduce are just as intriguing. For the deciduous plants, we want to collect from them when they are just sprouting, or blooming, or even the roots that store their energy. But for the evergreens, we can collect and use them even during the harshest of winters, or even the harshest environments.
Lets go back to Frankincense for a moment. If, at any point you are purchasing Frankincense, please ensure that what you are purchasing is sustainably harvested. Because it is in such high demand, it has lead to unscrupulous harvesting for a quick profit. I have read a story of a Frankincense tree that has been handed down to a family line for over 700 years. They have carefully tended the tree and made sure that it is only harvested after full recovery from the previous one for multiple generations. But they must now maintain a guard around the tree to keep marauders from coming in andattempting a harvest during its recovery years, which could weaken the tree and cause its early death. To understand this, lets talk about how it is harvested. It is carefully wounded to create a flow of resin with which to heal itself. Once dried, that resin is carefully collected from the tree. If wounded tooseverely, those wounds can be fatal to the tree. We humans found out thousands of years ago that the resin was equally beneficial to us, and that we needed to protect these trees.
This reminds me of several stories and myths regarding a “Wounded Healer”. Jesus and Buddha were both described as wounded healers.Chiron, a dwarf planet discovered in 1977 was named for the myth of the wounded Healer. The Nakshatra Shattabishak has been referred to as the wounded healer.
Or how about the saying, “Our wounds are that which heal us”? Referring to working through our wounds to reset our DNA to its original state? Recently I have been studying a subject called Epigenetics and gene activation. It is the study of our DNA and events that can rewrite the coding,and specifically, my interest is in how to reset our genetic coding back to a healthy state.
When you research the trees that sap or resin is harvested from, you begin to understand the correlation between wounds and healing. Wounds can be a way for the body to reset itself. My husband was a competitive weightlifter when he was a bit younger, and one of his favorite sayings was “no pain, no gain”. I listened to one of my favorite mentors call seasonal issues a“software reset” of our DNA recently. Did you know that viruses are not alive? They are trip codes, which trigger reactions in our bodies, but they are particles, not living organisms. Did you know that there can be thousands of viruses in a drop of water? That we could not survive without viruses in ourenvironment? And if they are a software reset, then the plants known to support healthy immune responses to them must surely be considered to have genetic coding too. Did I pique your curiosity? Cause you to rethink a possibility? Or maybe open up a new avenue of thought!
I get so excited about learning something new, and I am so glad you joined me on this journey this month. Go out and let those evergreens warm your thoughts and pull some awesome memories from your file banks, and maybe heal some old wounds while you are at it. May the season bring you peace, good cheer and gratitude! Talk to you next month!