I stumble out of bed, unzip the a pre-portioned packet of brekkie into her tin bowl and then one into Maya's. I should get up but the rumpled, warm duvet upon my bed beckons me back and into its fold I willingly fall. I don't want to fall back to sleep though. With no dream remembered from last night and still barely awake this is an opportune time to drift into the hypnogogic state.
A west coast village is nestled in a densely forested area. The random patter of droplets is just one reminder of the recent rainfall. The lush shades of green on the leaves of deciduous and coniferous trees and the low lying growth of the forest floor appear as splashes of luminous colour against the background of darkly glistening black-brown of the trunks, branches and loamy soil of the surrounding forest creating a visual feast.
The air, freshly transfused with life by ocean breezes and earthy forest scents energize me. I breathe full and deep as I walk towards the plank house in the distance where new construction is taking place. A powerful middle-aged native man has drawn excess boughs of cedar and pine from the roof line. He walks towards me cradling them in his arms. No words are exchanged as we meet. He holds the boughs out to me as gift offering which I accept without question.
My alarm goes off. Though it seems like hours, a mere 15 minutes have passed.
I have been given a gift of cedar and pine in the dreamspace. I know that these substances will provide me with healing and wisdom if I honour them in waking life. But what does this mean and how am I to use these gifts?
I decide to go for a walk to help me ponder these questions. As I step foot out the door a light, misty rain, not unlike that in my dream, has begun to fall. And I walk...
It is not the boughs that are important. It is the cedar and the pine leaves that hold the power. It isn't about size or bulk but about scent.
How is it that I never saw before the varieties of cedar and pines that exist just outside my door? I pluck only those samples that are given up willingly by the trees. Gently I crush their leaves and needles in my hand. To my delight and surprise each variety yields a distinctly different aroma. Who knew? I expected a generic scent - pine to smell like "pine"; cedar like "cedar". How did I not notice this before? Periodically as I walk I sniff the little bouquet I have gathered. My chest feels light, my sinuses clear and my breathing is free and easy; a big contrast to the inter-scapular tension and sinus congestion that has been plaguing me these past few days.
Is that it, I wonder?
Take them home. Have a warm shower (no problem as I'm getting wet AND cold) and place them on the floor of the shower as you do so.
I willingly comply. The scent of pine and cedar is heightened by the warmth and the steam of the shower. It's invigorating and uplifting.
Gather them up, run the fresh water through them and shake it off all over your skin.
I recognize this as a form of smudging used as an alternative to smoke. I sprinkle myself from head to toe.
What am I to do with the leaves once the shower is over?
When you are finished mix the batch with some tobacco, scatter it under the cedars outside your front door and give thanks for this day.
I do so gratefully.
What does this all mean? I haul out my reference books on aromatherapy and these properties/messages seem particularly relevant:
CEDARWOOD - Soothing and uplifting, good for nervous tension, appropriate if you have problems with self-identity, encourages interrelation with other people. *
Strength Endurance Centainty
Fortifies and strengthens, tonifies: the body's Qi energy, Kidneys, Spleen/Pancreas, Steadies the conscious mind and fortifies the action of the will to hold firm even against persistent external forces, bolsters the transforming power of will helping us to transform an emotionally charged negative situation into one from which we can derive strength and wisdom. **
Pine helps the adult, once rebellious spirited child with non-conformist attitudes, break through to reclaim sensitivity, enjoyment and happiness in life.*
It is psychologically fortifying, instills positivity, restores self-confidence and counteracts pessimism. Helps to restore balance where there is a weakness of "boundary" ("where one can't distinguish others' responsibilities from one's own") and self-identity replacing undue guilt with forgiveness, self-acceptance and self-worth. **
* * *
NOTE: a few days have passed since I had this experience and began writing this post. I'm glad to report that the mucus membranes in my sinuses, for the first time in months, are no longer bothering me. The day before the experience I'd done a kundalini practice a little too vigorously leaving my hips feeling achy; this too has subsided.
It is possible that these scents were given to me to further actions that I've been consciously working towards in my waking life since returning from Hawaii namely letting go of old emotional patterns that have plagued me all my life and left me feeling unworthy, negative and pessimistic. The result has been almost radical self-acceptance with a huge dose of Ho'ponopono (forgiveness towards others and myself for any misunderstandings that have caused pain) resulting in a renewed sense of purpose, self-worth, gratitude and HAPPINESS.
My journey these last few months has been to allow myself to find out what it is to really enjoy my life.
* source - NEAL'S YARD REMEDIES ESSENTIAL OILS - Susan Curtis, 1996 Aurum Press Ltd.
** source - AROMATHERAPY For Healing the Spirit - Gabriel Mojay, 1996, Gaia Books Ltd.