Douglas firs were like guardians of the home I left behind, standing at the edges of the property and keeping silent watch. There were three firs, all growing near my bedroom window, that I felt particularly attached to. One I could see from bed, staring at its tall shape whenever I looked up from my journal or my knitting. I often sat beneath its branches and leaned against its rough bark when I was feeling deeply unhappy; I was usually comforted and steadied by contact with it. The other two loomed over the area where I most often did ceremony when I worked outdoors. They were not warm and fuzzy like the first; but I sometimes felt like if I could step between them at just the right moment, under just the right conditions, I might end up goddess knows where. Probably somewhere with giant carnivorous plants.
The trees are some of the things I mourn when I’m missing my former home.
But Douglas Firs thrive in this area, and when I go for walks at work I find their spiky, distinct pine cones on the ground, and look up into constant green and feel comforted again. My experiences with the tree thus far make me think of them as the perfect ally or totem for those who are mourning a deep loss, or who feel trapped in despair. The comfort Doug Fir offers is not the kind that tells you not to cry, it isn’t smile and be happy comfort. It’s deeper and kinder than that: they allow you space for sadness, but they also remind you that life doesn’t end just because you are sad. They are too wise to tell you not to cry, but they are too strong to let you lay down and die. They tell you to keep trying to make it better.
I’ve read that the thick bark of the Douglas Fir enables some trees to survive forest fires, though they are scorched and blackened. They survive devastation, even if they will never be the same again. They remind us we can do this too.
There’s a wonderful post at the Therioshamanism blog about how Douglas Fir helps her with being a transplant: I like what she has to say on the subject and couldn’t say it better, and I suggest you read her take on the tree as totem.
I’d add that I find Douglas Fir to be a powerful ally for the uprooted, those who’ve been jettisoned from home or comfort zone unwillingly–or who, like me, left because it had become unbearable to stay.
Like Apple, Douglas Fir can help us to survive when we are out of our element. But I think of Apple as the companion of the adventurer, who traverses foreign territory and then returns home. Doug Fir, in contrast, is a friend to those who have lost their homes, to the permanently displaced, or to those who for whom home is not the place of safety we would like it to be.
I mentioned in a previous post that I like to infuse the needles in oil. This is my favorite way to work with the tree. You can add the oil to your bath water or make bath salts with it–the best way to take comfort from Douglas Fir, I think. But a sachet of the needles, or keeping the cones on your altar or using them in charms would also be appropriate. And, as usual the simplest way is to hang out with one, and you’ll get fresh air at the same time.