Please meet my friends, holly and pine. Oh, and a lovely Old One, a piece of quartz that asked to come home with me the last time I was on my land.
Holly represents protection, strength, and perseverance, as well as immortality and fertility. It has a strongly masculine energy, even though the berries we most associate with it are female.
Pine represents a feminine, goddess energy. She also stands for immortality and persevering through difficult times, and presents a feminine version of protection, as well as wisdom and patience.
These two plants are two of the most prominent of our plant friends in this part of the world to remain green throughout the winter. As such, they also have wonderful magical properties for aiding in introspection and connecting with deep, ancient earth energies.
In my journeys with plant friends, I have discovered how simple and powerful it can be to create my own "smudge."
Both holly and pine are ideal for this. Holly leaves can simply be collected and left to dry for a few weeks. Once dry, they burn and smoke quite nicely, if briefly.
Pine sticks can be collected from downed branches and twigs, and left to dry for several weeks. I like to use twigs that are about the diameter of a chopstick, or a little skinnier, and break them into easy-to-manage lengths. They dry up nicely, and burn and smoke just as nicely. A good, dry pine stick will smoke for as long as the more traditional smudge plant, the California sage.
Holly smoke has a lovely, light, faintly sweet smell to it. Pine has a rich, deep, forest smell that seems to transport one directly to the center of an evergreen grove.
Together, they smell like winter and celebration and cleansing and home.
That last word just popped out. I don't even know why I said "home" but it feels right.
Quartz, well, I put it in the picture because it seemed to balance it somehow. But quartz is a magnifier of whatever energy is present, so here, it magnifies everything stated above. It's always a good addition to ritual, so long as the energies you're working with are beneficial and wholesome.
I don't know what made me want to write this post. I did ceremony for myself tonight, and I brought these lovely energies into it with a smudge. I love working with materials I've harvested and prepared myself. I love replacing commercially produced products with sustainable, self-harvested materials. I love bringing my land into my home and my ceremonies in this way.
The beauty of pine and holly is that you can readily harvest these materials yourself, no matter where you are in this part of the US, whether town, country, or city. Holly is everywhere and no one ever minds if you take a sprig. Same for pine–you can harvest twigs from branches that drop naturally and are usually lying around on the ground below them. Dry them for a few weeks, and you've got an environmentally friendly, sustainably "produced" smudge you will love to use.
Try it and let me know if you like it.
Fen Druadìn (they/them) is anamchara, storyteller, dragon, student of trees, and a breaker of generational curses.
Fen's mission here is to love and remember themself completely, connect deeply with the world, and help others do the same for themselves.
Fen connects deeply with the universe through their relationship with a sacred land in the Appalachians of North Carolina, and shares messages here and elsewhere. When not in the woods, they can be found on Facebook and Patreon.
If you feel led and are able, you can support Fen's work in any of these ways:
You can also contribute to the work of reconnecting with yourself and the world in any or all of these ways:
Stand in front of a mirror, look in your eyes, and say, "I love you." Repeat daily for as long as it takes
Send your love to the trees and stones and water and Earth
Spend time in quiet meditation with a plant or stone person, and listen for messages
Clean up litter in your neighborhood and/or engage in other acts of environmental restoration
Build a personal relationship with the plants and animals in your area by spending time with them and listening for their messages and responding to their needs
Reconnect with your own strength and power and truth via meditative practice such as yoga, guided meditation, chanting, drumming, dance, or any other tool that feels right and helps you ground and connect
Engage in this community and/or other communities committed to re-establishing our right relationship with ourselves and the earth
Wherever you are, on your journey and in your life, may you be well, may you be at peace, and may you always find the next good step.