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  • Writer's pictureSrimati

Christmas Tree Adventure and McBride Springs Blessing: Photo Journey

Shasta-Trinity National Forest Evergreen Trees. November 2022

It is a tradition of mine and my family to place a Christmas tree in our home every Solstice season.

I have wrestled with this over the years, wondering if it is okay to cut trees down in this way. What I can say about this is that we can participate in these sorts of traditions in relation and partnership with the land. It isn’t that the land doesn’t want us to have resources. It is the way we receive and utilize resources that matters. It is important for us to exist in a space of deep honor and reverie, to do so in partnership with the Land, and to ask permission when and where that is needed.

So when we go to get a Christmas tree, I start by first saying a prayer and blessing our journey. During this prayer, I ask for permission. Do we have permission to take a part of a tree? Part of this is about entering communion with the Holy Mother because Winter Solstice is her Holy Day which represents the immaculate birth of the Sun (the Light) at Solstice. She enjoys our family’s participation in this tradition and encourages it; I think because we seek to honor Her through it. Once I get confirmation, we get our tree permit and designated tree map and go on a journey with the land to receive this special resource that enriches this time of the year and season.

Christmas trees play an important role in communities and homes to give life to death. The ever-growing cold and dying season leave nothing green in the landscape but evergreen shrubs, trees, and plants. Bringing a tree into the home, along with boughs of greenery, can give life and hope to people as the long, cold winter begins. This can be especially true for people in cold, northern climates.

This is just a part of what a Christmas tree gives us. A promise of hope and a connection to the natural world. For my own ancestry and bloodline, a Christmas tree has historic roots with Yuletide and the Yule tree, and I adopt some of those practices into my Christmas tree tradition, as my family celebrates the 12 days of Christmas and incorporates astrological observances into the season as it takes approximately 12 days for the sun to go stationary from its Southward journey, turn, and make its track back up toward the North. Once the twelfth day ends, we then chop up the tree into logs and burn its pieces in our wood-burning stove to provide our family with warmth. We will save a piece of the tree, bless it, and place it on our mantel as a talisman of protection for the coming new year.

So our participation in Christmas is not simply secular, nor is it religious. It holds ancestral and Shamanic/alchemic significance for us that is intimately connected to nature, cosmology, and grace. My family understands the deeper mysteries of the rosary and the mythical wisdom of the mythos of the birth of Christ and how the story teaches us about the nature of Creation: of light and dark and the birth of the Universe itself. I am deeply connected to these mysteries and my experience of Christmas is tied in union to the birth of the Universe itself—when vast energy and light were birthed, expanded, and formed the entire creation.

Spiritual Leader and honored Elder of the Pit River Tribe, Willard Rhoades, expressed “When we start listening to the land, to the trees, birds, and animals, to the wind and waters, when we start really listening, we become related to the land.” When we approach myth, tradition, and resources from this spirit, we begin to enter reciprocity and relation to the spaces we inhabit and receive deep wisdom and knowing from all of nature. They understand our need and want to provide for us through the nurturance of tradition, ceremony, story, and holy day observance. Nature reveals Herself to us.

Starting at McBride Springs

McBride Springs Mount Shasta Dry, November 2022
McBride Springs Mount Shasta, November 2022

When Daniel and I got our tree map pointing us to designated tree zones, we decided we would explore McBride Springs area for our tree. As we approached the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, I received a confirmation from the mountain that we WOULD receive a very special tree from Mount Shasta that would restore union to our hearts at the coming Solstice ceremony.

We parked at McBride Springs, which is a campground, and began hiking up into the area to see if we could find a tree. I ran ahead of Daniel to a small grove of trees that looked promising. Although in some places the snow had mostly melted, there were still other areas with an 8-inch snow layer. We tromped through the snow to access the tree grove and realized that these trees were not right for us. So we hiked higher into the campgrounds.

At the top of the grounds, we saw a sign telling us we were near the McBride Springhead. There was a small sign attached to the sign that also told us the Spring head was dry. I felt a pang of sadness because I watched slowly over the years as our Earth warmed and our mountains received fewer and fewer water resources. Our lake Siskiyou is at record lows. This is what has inspired me to go to sacred waterways and perform blessings. Daniel and I hiked up a small trail to the springhead. I told Daniel “Well, I don’t think we are here for a tree, but I do think we are here to bless this spring.”

Daniel and I stood around the waterspout that accesses the spring and held hands. I spoke a prayer into the Earth and spring and blessed it with renewal. Once we were finished, we stayed a moment to be with this space and commune with the land. Then, we headed back down to our car to drive a little further up to another spot.

Twin Peaks Christmas Tree

Canyon in the Mount Shasta Shasta-Trinity National Forest
Canyon in the Mount Shasta Shasta-Trinity National Forest

We decided to pull into an area we had been to before where there is a deep canyon that runs down the hillside toward the Gateway Trail a little lower down the mountainside. We parked, then hiked toward the canyon. Daniel wanted to see if a certain tree he spotted the year before would work, but we felt it wasn’t right.

Canyon in the Mount Shasta Shasta-Trinity National Forest

We turned from the canyon and faced the opposite direction. There I spotted a tree on a hillside and suggested we climb up the snowy trail to see if this tree was the tree that wanted to be in our home.

Hillside of interest: Mount Shasta, Shasta-Trinity National Forest
Hillside of interest: Mount Shasta, Shasta-Trinity National Forest

So we hiked up the hillside. Although the first tree we spotted there was too big, we spotted another tree behind it that was speaking to us.

Twin Top Tree: Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Mount Shasta

This tree was very interesting because it had a split top: it looked like two trees merged into one. It was bushy and wide, just what I was looking for. We conferred for a moment to feel it out; was this the right tree? We decided to hike back further and explore the area a bit more, but we would come back to this tree on the way back and decide for sure.

Giant Rock: Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Mount Shasta

Daniel and I hiked up a bit more to a giant rock and communed with it. We placed our hands on the rock and appreciated its size and beauty. Then, we walked back to the two-headed tree and spoke with it, feeling that this tree was the tree that wanted to come home with us.

Daniel and I thanked the forest, then we held hands and said a prayer. We blessed the Earth and the tree and the roots below the ground. We blessed the tree and its ancestors in all times and all dimensions. We thanked the tree for its sacrifice. Then, Daniel cut the tree at the base. I left an offering beside the tree. Daniel took the tree upon his shoulder and we hiked back to our car to return to our home.

Tree Mount Shasta
Our Chosen Tree: Mount Shasta

Once we got home, we cleaned the tree up and placed it into a tree stand, and then began decorating the tree. I placed lights and special ornaments on the tree. I was especially delighted that the tree had two tops: I placed a special blue star-like ornament on the tallest top and a red star on the shorter top. The blue star reminded me of a peacock feather, which is a symbol of the Divine Masculine. The red star was a symbol of the Divine Feminine. Just like the mountain had promised me, we received a tree that represented Divine Union.