White Pine – Peacekeeper
Genus: Pinus – Family: Pinaceae
The spirit of white pine teaches us to be peacekeepers by putting aside our differences and creating a safe place where balance and clear-headed decisions can be made.
Eastern white pine, pinus strobus, is a large pine tree with long soft needles native to eastern North America and Canada. It is known as the “Tree of Peace” to the Iroquois or Haudenosaunee Nation. The Iroquois Confederacy is a group of “first nations” who lived in present-day New York and Pennsylvania, including the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora people. These tribes were often at odds with each other, which led to conflict.
During the 1400s the Great Peacemaker Dekanawidah, whose name meant “Two River Currents Flowing Together”, brought the tribes together to form a political and cultural union.
As a symbol of peace, they planted a white pine to proclaim the Great Binding Law of the Iroquois Confederacy and buried their arrows in the roots of the tree, pointing them in the four directions.
When the American colonies were first becoming established tall white pine trees, called “mast pines,” were used for square-rigger ships. They were marked by the British Crown and reserved for the British Royal Navy. This outraged the colonists who instigated the Pine Tree Riot of 1772, which ultimately led to the American Revolution. The Iroquois Confederacy, inspired by the white pine of peace and diplomacy, aided in the creation of the United States Constitution and the ideology of democracy.
White pines covered much of eastern North America; only 1 percent of these old-growth forests remain today. Extensive logging from the 18th– 20thcenturies decimated its population. The remaining virgin stands are now protected in areas such as Great Smoky Mountain National Park and state parks from Wisconsin to the Carolina’s. White pines can live to be 500 years old. They are also among the tallest trees in the eastern United States reaching heights up to 207 feet.
White pine needles are a good source of Vitamin C, especially when brewed as a tea. Pine resin, which is high in antimicrobials, can be used to treat wounds and infection.
The spirit of a white pine inspires us to look for peaceful solutions during hard times so we can achieve our goals.
Message: Make peace with yourself and release old grudges that do not serve you or the greater good. When the spirit of white pine appears, we are being asked to take stock of our life and decide what we need to nurture and what we need to release. Pine encourages us to ground ourselves as we plan for the long term.
Challenge: Holding onto old grudges or unwilling to listen to another perspective.
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