Soils are an integral part of Fundamento and the many Bilongos of the Munanso. Soils are utilized also within ceremony, and also to prepare Batons and other Spiritual Things! Soil is the breakdown of rock and organic matter (trees, leaves, plants, bodies of animals and insects). Soil also contains living entities, soil bacteria, fungi and small animals such as worms, centipedes, bugs of all kinds, spiders, ants and organisms that are so minute they are invisible to the naked eye. The soil is a world within a world which is essential within the processes of decay and life! At any given time both decay and growth is occurring in the soil. Soil also embodies the energy of what is around it. So sometimes we go out seeking specific soils, for example soil from the railroad tracks, soil from the river, soil from the monte, soil from a specific tree, soil from a cave, soil from a busy corner and also soil from Nfindantoto and many others. Soil is also a PRECIOUS RESOURCE upon the EARTH, especially at this time where top soil (soil that supports life) is disappearing through poor agriculture practices and erosion.
On this day we went out to the River and the hills next to the River, seeking soils from trees and from the River herself. We went walking looking for trees with strong "Spirit", trees that "spoke" to us in one way or another. We gathered soils, making sure to respect the Spirit by leaving an offering at each location. The tree above and below, which is also shown in the following 3 photos as well, has abundant spirit. It is a fairly large tree as you can see in the final photo of this sequence, and has multiple faces at various different points on its trunk.
This tree below (3 photos) is a Palo Muerto, a dead tree which is still standing. We gather pieces from its decaying trunk. It has already begun the process of returning to soil and eventually it will fall and finish its process of decay directly upon the Earth. It is a pine tree.
Here we have two trees (Dos Caminos), one younger growing in an embrace with the older tree. Its roots cling both to the soil and to the other tree. The soil from this tree can be used for situations that reflect this phenomenon. We pay attention to what is speaking to us, because the Spirit will speak in multiple ways and in multiple symbols. You can see in the second photo that the younger tree's roots are actually in a process of being buried within the bark of the older tree. This would be a tree to document over a long period of time if possible to see how this phenomenon changes over time as life and death are an ever changing phenomenon! We may anticipate or predict that the younger tree may eventually thrive within the decayed body of the older tree which will most likely return to the Earth before the younger tree. In the third photo is a stone that Anani found which she insisted on leaving with the tree. She nestled it between the two trees. In the fourth photo you can see a different side of the tree which has a hole with decayed tree as well as chopped up nuts from a squirrel or chipmunk who must live up the hole. This is some of the soil that we gathered.
As we were walking through the forest as we approached the first tree described in this article we heard the hawk call out. At that time we did not see him, however he continued to periodically call out. Eventually we saw him fly over us along the River and he landed on the Palo Muerto shown below, bringing our attention to this tree, and showing us that he was the Sea Hawk, which is unusual, we generally see the sparrow hawk, the falcons and of course the Red Tail Hawk! The sea hawk has very distinct colors. He then flew around us showing off it seemed and most of the time we were too absorbed in his flight and what he was conveying to us to think of taking photos!
This tree is right by the edge of the River and it leans out over the River seeking the light and responding to the erosion of the soil that is constantly going on at the base of its trunk. Multiple holes and entries are on this tree and soil can be gathered from any of them. The soil by the river has a greater clay content which derives from the decay of rocks!
It is also of significance to consider what state the River is in at the time one is looking for soils. On this day the River had been in a state of flooding the day before but had relatively quickly cleared and receded. The water was almost clear and the bottom was visible, however the water was more turbulent than it would have been during a period of no rain. The current was rapid but not raging. In particular circumstances one may need to gather soil from the River Bed itself.
This is a Palo Muerto which has already reached the point where it is almost completely returned to the soil. If you are able to recognize what tree it is through the little bit of bark left on it, you will know what character and medicinal and healing qualities this tree has and you will have consciousness of what you are picking up when collecting its bark or the humus rich soil it is "creating".
This is a tree with a trunk that divides into three. Soil can be collected from its roots and base of trunk, and soil can also be gathered in the pocket created by the tree trunks. Occasionally we find a tree with four trunks.
Here the River has eroded the shore and created a small cave in the manigua, it is almost like a little hut on the shore. Medicine could be place in here although you would need to be aware of rain or the river rising because it could easily be flooded and lost. This is also a great source of soil.
Here we see a tree trunk in the water. It is actually where the trunk meets the roots, and some plants are even taking the opportunity to grow on it while it slowly decays in the River. The River strips the bark from the tree very quickly and makes the Palito smooth. This particular tree called out to us clearly.
Another triple trunk tree. This tree is very big, covered with moss and lichen. The second photo is a more distant view of the same tree.
This is a tree that can be utilized to overcome difficult (knotted or entangled) situations since this tree handles all the vines that are entangling it. It could also be used for the opposite effect. In the second photo you can see on the smaller tree that the vine is making the impression of a snake or helix going up the tree. Some of these vines are poison ivy which must be handled with caution or not at all, especially if you are allergic to it.
Again a tree with vines. This tree has vines climbing all the way up the tree. The vines are a lighter color than the tree bark and create an amazing picture. Vines like these have the ability to climb very high in the tree, they are very strong, some can support the weight of a person and they are very durable. These are all qualities that can be harnessed through harvesting the vine. The tree itself was in a awkward place and the last photo in the series shows the strength of its roots. At this point in our walk we were far off the "beaten trail" and we were taken into the deep woods.
Below is a large tree rooting strongly into the hill. Close to this tree we found a very old horse shoe. It must date back to when this area was used for farming as it was an old fashioned type horse shoe, most likely thrown off a work horse. For us this was a special gift. This tree shows a phenomenon that can be found in many trees in the forest where there is decay occurring at the same time the tree is thriving. The decay eventually creates habitat for small animals and birds. Eventually the decay will kill the tree but this can take years and years. There are all kinds of beautiful Misterios that have formed in this tree!
The last photo is tree we saw when we were leaving, we show it to show the Misterio which has taken form on its trunk. Trees are endlessly interesting both for their medicinal and healing properties in general and for their individual expressions. No two trees are the same even if they are the same species. As Paleros we are always learning from the trees!!!!