I have passed countless hours in the company of pine trees in the mountains, breathing in their delightful scent and soaking up their wisdom of enduring tranquillity. An unquestionable synonym of invigoration and convenience, the very word pine summons a feeling that all is well with the world.
Pine tree symbolism is abundant and has a lot of different meanings like protection, vitality, longevity, purification, fertility, continuity, healing, and money. People carry pinecones to increase longevity and fertility and they also place a pine branch over or near the bed to ward off sickness and bad dreams. The essence of pine is relaxing; it will ease stress and tension while promoting insightfulness, intuition and self-confidence making the pine an all-purpose magickal tree that can be utilized in numerous ways.
There are many types of pines, and they come from the pine family (genus Pinus). They grow in different climates, so if you want to study the special energetic properties each pine species has, you’ll need to do some fieldwork.
Protection, vitality, longevity, purification, fertility, continuity, healing, and money
Pan (Greek), Attis (Phrygian) and Merlin (Celtic)
The Romans commonly used local Jerusalem pine (P. halepensis) during their occupation of Israel, and it is likely the wood they used to make crucifixes – including Jesus Christ’s cross.
About Pine Trees
There are over 90 species of evergreen trees that belong to the genus Pinus.
These trees tend to be tall and coniferous, and they can be found in various temperate areas across the northern hemisphere. Young trees belonging to this genus often have a cone-like shape, but their growth pattern changes as they age, they may become bushy or flat-topped, for example.
The leaves of these trees resemble needles, and they grow in bundles. Male and female cones appear on the same tree; male cones are clustered together and look like catkins while female cones are cylindrical or nearly globose in shape (with two seeds per scale).
Most species of pine release their seeds when they ripen, but a few hold onto their cones until they fall. The Monterey pine (P. radiata) often keeps its 6in (15cm) long cones intact on the tree for many years, sometimes indefinitely, until a forest fire forces them to open.
Pines need plenty of light to thrive and only a few species can tolerate smoke-polluted air.
Pines have been among the most significant timber trees for centuries. The Greeks often used coastal pines, such as the Aleppo pine and cluster pine, but they preferred taller, stronger mountain trees (peuce) for constructing houses and boats.
For example, the umbrella pine (P. pinea) produces edible seeds that are nutritious and can be eaten raw or roasted. The nuts or pinyons can be used in cakes, bread or eaten on their own.
The lodgepole pine (P. contorta) got its name from the various Native American tribes who used its wood to build their tipis. If fir or spruce trees weren’t readily available, pine was always a solid backup option.
Pine nuts are good for you in more ways than one. Not only are they a source of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin E, but they’re also rich in carotenes. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, pine nuts are considered to be warm and sweet, perfect for tonifying yin and boosting circulation.
Disinfecting the body, urinating and relaxing muscles are only some of the many benefits of shoot or needle preparations. These include ointments, teas, baths and inhalations. They can also help clear coughs, stimulate lungs and improve circulation.
The bach flower remedy made from Scots pine helps with self-acceptance and strengthens one’s resolve. This tree essence therapy develops profound understanding in a well-balanced manner.
Folklore, Myth and Symbol of the Pine Trees
Around the world, the symbol and use of pine trees have been revered for centuries and have been used in many religious and spiritual practices.
Native American Culture
The Blackfoot tribe carve “story sticks” from lodgepole pine for children who do chores. These sticks have a certain number of notches to indicate how many stories the child has earned.
Meanwhile, the Hopi use two-needle pinyon sap as a form of protection against sorcery.
The Navajo utilize needles from this tree in War Dances as ceremonial medicine and dip them in pitch for body paint.
In addition, the Kawaiisu hang baby boys’ outgrown cradles in Ponderosa pine trees so they will grow up strong like the tree.
In China, Taoist hermits and monks who live in high altitudes on sacred mountains hold pine tree nuts in high esteem.
These are one of the few things that the holy men eat because they believe that these can provide them with eternal life, as per Taoist tradition.
Pine Tree Wood Significance
Pine was the main type of wood used for wall panels in the royal burial chamber of the Midas Mound complex at Gordium, Phrygia (modern western Turkey).
Pine nuts (probably from Lebanon, as pines don’t grow in Egypt), have been found inside Egyptian coffins.
In Scandinavia, Viking leaders of the past were buried (on land) in their dragon ships made out of pine and in Scotland, clan chiefs and warriors often preferred to be buried under this tree. The pine is also the most common tree featured on Scottish clan badges.
Europe Culture and Myths
In addition, the ancients also considered pine trees to be symbols of life force and vitality. In Greek culture, Pan was seen as the personification of nature’s forces, and old pine trees were often dedicated to him. These groves would usually have a shrine or altar next to them with a small fire burning in them. This was done to honor Attis- Phrygia’s god of vegetation.
In ancient Phrygian mythology, the mother goddess Cybele transformed her son Attis into a pine tree at his death. Each year, during Attis’ spring festival, a decorated pine was carried into the village as part of an ancient fertility cult. As part of this ritual, the high priest of Attis would cut his arm and offer his blood to the god. Other men would follow his example, accompanied by the music of cymbals, tambourines, flutes and horns. This was just one of many ways in which humans worldwide expressed their gratitude for life.
As the story goes, Merlin had a life-changing epiphany while climbing the Pine of Barenton before leaving and never coming back to the mortal world. In later versions of Breton’s legend, however, it was said that he mistranslated his glas tann as a “glasshouse”. What he climbed was a living tree (glas meaning evergreen and tann signifying “sacred tree”) which then served as inspiration for the name Glastonbury in Somerset England. Furthermore, this sacred tree is where Merlin’s soul supposedly resides until his return.
The next time you’re feeling a little low or in need of some extra protection, take a look at your Christmas tree.
If it’s a pine, you just might be tapping into the power of an age-old symbol with deep roots in magic and meaning.