The Standing People (trees) each have different qualities associated with their species. Here are some of the meanings associated with trees.
White Pine is the Peace Tree.
The Tree of Peace, which was a white pine tree, is a native American symbol of powerful and timely ideas about human relations and social order, about the alignment of human law with spiritual law and natural law. The Iroquois have a legend called The Legend of the Peacemaker which tells about this role played by this tree in bringing about world peace.
The pine spirit is kind and sensitive and loves contact with humans. Pine trees are very personable and very communicative. You must be careful what you say around a pine tree or you will hear it softly whisper it to other trees. Try it yourself the next time you are in the woods. Whisper a secret to your companion, then sit quietly and wait a couple minutes. Almost always, within a minute or two, a breeze will come through and the pines will rustle and whisper in response.
Pine trees soothe emotions and remind us that we should always make decisions from as clear a perspective as possible. The pine heightens our psychic sensitivity, while balancing our emotions. It reminds us to express our creative energies without feelings of guilt and without allowing others to overly influence or manipulate.
The resin of Pine may be gathered, dried, and used as an incense. It has the quality of cleansing a space of negative energy. Pine is also very effective at repelling evil energy and returning it to its source. Pine incense was often used in sick rooms for this reason.
Boats patched with pine pitch were said to have special protection on the waters. Pine trees can predict the weather. Their pinecones will remain open when the weather is fine, but close when rain is on the way.
Pine comes from a word that translates as “pain,” and its essence helps alleviate pain within on many levels.
Birch symbolizes truth and love, new beginnings and cleansing of the past.
The birch tree was one of the first trees to return after the ice age, and is also one of the first trees to leaf out in spring, so it is associated with birth and new beginnings..
The uses of birch are many and varied. The wood is tough, heavy and straight grained, making it suitable for handles and toys, canoes, and good for turning. Traditionally, babies’ cradles were made of birch wood, drawing on the earlier symbolism of new beginnings.
The bark contains a substance called tannin, which is a natural preservative. This is why birch bark was used to make baskets for food storage. Tannin is an ingredient still used today in the commercial tanning of leather. And of course, the bark is famous for its use as one of the earliest forms of paper for writing.
Folklore and herbalism credit different parts of the birch with a variety of medicinal properties. The leaves are diuretic and antiseptic, and an effective remedy for cystitis and other urinary tract infections. They were also used to dissolve kidney stones and relieve rheumatism and gout. The sap (as wine or cordial) similarly prevents kidney and bladder stones, treats rheumatism, and can be used to treat skin complaints such as eczema.
Birch bark can be a very strong agent for generalized love spells. If strips of birch bark are gathered beneath the new moon, one can write a short spell requesting true love before burning it with specific love related incense or by casting it into a stream or other body of flowing water. Since the birch is for new beginnings though, the spell must not be said with a particular person in mind or it might corrupt or even turn the spell into a curse. Birch bark is also said to ease muscle pain if applied externally.
The birch also has strong fertility connections. According to Scottish Highland folklore, a barren cow herded with a birch stick will become fertile. Birch broom are said to be the wood used to make a proper witch’s broom. Birch shavings make good kindling, because they will burn even when wet.
The word birch is thought to have derived from the Sanskrit word bhurga meaning a ‘tree whose bark is used to write upon.’ Another source contributed it to an old Germanic root word meaning “white, bright or to shine.”
There is an Ojibwe legend about Winabojo and the Birch Tree.
Cedar symbolizes cleansing, connection with Mother Earth.
Cedar trees have been know to live 1,500 years. Their wood cells contain high concentrations of tannins, aromatic oils and resins that inhibit the growth of wood-decomposing fungi and bacteria. This high rot-resistance along with this trees straight grain, light weight and thin fibrous bark have made the cedar a very useful tree to many.
The cedar tree is said to represent the essense of Mother Earth. To draw on the Earth energy of these trees, a person simply has to place the palms of his or her hands against the ends of the cedar’s leaves while still attached to the living tree.
The Celts of continental Europe used oil from the cedar tree to preserve enemy heads that were taken during battle.
The name cedar is derived from modern Indian language derivatives of the Sanskrit name ‘devdar’, meaning “timber of the gods”.
Aspen tree symbolism includes determination and overcoming fears and doubts. Aspen is the symbol for seeing clearly, since there are many eye shapes on the truth.
Individual aspen trees live only 100 years. However, aspen trees reproduce by sprouting shoots from their roots. This allows them to grow in a cohesive grove. Thus, a grove is actually a single living organism which can reach several thousand years in age. Even fire damage will not kill a grove of aspen trees if the roots remain alive.
Aspen was also a great source of food, medicine, and wood for Native Americans. Many medicinal uses relied on the presence of salicin and populin, two precursors of aspirin that are present to some degree in all members of the genus Populus. This is why Native American women would drink a tea made from the leaves to ease menstrual cramps. This tea also aided in alleviating diarrhea and urinary disorders. Leaves were also used to treat bee stings. A poultice made from the root was used for cuts and bruises. This tree also works well with snake medicine.
Aspen bark had the most medicinal uses; preparations were used to treat ailments such as stomach pain, colds and coughs, fevers, heart problems, and venereal disease, and to dress wounds, stimulate the appetite, and quiet crying babies.
The inner bark was considered a sweet treat for children, and it could be eaten raw, baked into cakes, or boiled into syrup and used as a spring tonic. An infusion of the roots could be used to prevent premature birth. Even the white powder on the surface of the bark had uses: to treat venereal disease, to stop bleeding, and to apply to the underarms to prevent hair growth or as a deodorant and antiperspirant.
Aspen logs were used to make Sun Dance lodges, dugout canoes, and deadfall traps for bears. Poles provided tepee frames and scrapers for deer hides. Knots could be made into cups, and bark could be made into cording.
The Thompson tribe of British Columbia used a preparation of the bark to rub on the bodies of adolescents for purification. Stems and branches helped with insanity caused by excessive drinking, and made a protective bath against witches.
Anyone observing a liquid taboo in the Blackfoot tribe could suck on aspen bark to quench their thirst. The Blackfoot also made whistles from the bark in the spring when it could be slid from the branches.
The Apache of the American Southwest used the sap to flavor wild strawberries, and the Utes of Colorado and Utah considered it a delicacy.
The Upper Tanana of Alaska mixed the ashes of burnt aspen wood with tobacco and used it as chewing tobacco. The Carrier of British Columbia used rotten aspen wood for diapers and cradle lining.
Aspen stems were used to make a hoop for the Navajo Evilway ceremony.
The Shoshone used aspen for building shelters, as pole scrapers, and as a season marker.
Used in anti-theft spells, the aspen tree was also planted in gardens and fields to protect the property from thieves.
Place an aspen leaf under your tongue if you wish to become eloquent. Burn incense made of Aspen to protect you from unwanted spirits and to help you release old fears as you move forward into the next new year.
All parts of the Douglas-fir have medicinal uses.
The pitch was used for cuts, boils, and other skin problems, coughs and sore throats, and injured or dislocated bones. It could be mixed with oil and taken as an emetic (to promote vomiting) and purgative (a strong laxative) for intestinal pains, diarrhea, and rheumatism, among other ailments. It was also taken as a diuretic for gonorrhea.
The bark had antiseptic properties and was useful for bleeding bowels and stomach problems, excessive menstruation, and allergies caused by touching water hemlock. The needles were used for a good general tonic and a treatment for paralysis. Bud tips were chewed for mouth sores.
A decoction or infusion of young shoots was used for colds, venereal disease, kidney problems, an athlete’s foot preventative, or an emetic for high fevers and anemia.
Douglas-fir didn’t provide quite as much food as some other trees, but the pitch could be chewed like gum or eaten as a sugar-like food. The needles and young shoots could provide a tea, and seeds were used as food, though they weren’t nearly as large and nutritious as the seeds of the pinyon.
Douglas Fir wood found its way into such useful implements as snowshoe frames, bows, spear shafts, tepee poles, and dugout canoes. Boughs made good camping beds and sweathouse floors. Twigs could function as a coarse twine wrap in basket making, and pitch could be used as glue and a patching material for canoes. The rotten wood was used to smoke buckskin, thereby preserving and dying it. Many tribes had various ceremonial uses for parts of the Douglas-fir.
The interior Salish tribes of B.C. ate a white, crystalline sugar that sometimes appeared on the branches during hot weather in early summer.
The coastal Salish steamed tree knots and placed them in kelp stems overnight, then bent them to make fishhooks.
The Okanagan-Colville of British Columbia used the branches as a purification scrub for the bereaved. The Thompson tribe used them in a similar fashion for good luck. They also chewed the peeled plant tops as a mouth freshener, and used the shoots in moccasin tips to help keep their feet from sweating. Hunters made a branch scrub to prevent deer from detecting their scent.
The Karok used soot from the burned pitch to rub into the punctures of girls’ skin tattoos and the wood to make hooks for climbing sugar pine trees.
The Northern Paiute of Oregon used the branches as a flavoring for barbecued bear meat.
The Swinomish of Washington used the boiled bark on fish nets as a light brown dye to help camouflage the nets from fish.
The Chehalis and Cowlitz of Washington used the cones as charms to stop the rain.
The Shoshone used this tree for shelter and its sap for sealing water jugs. The Legend of the Douglas Fir Pinecone explains the shape of this tree’s cone.