When we found this tree we named it "Palo Rompe Monte", "the tree that breaks the mountain" due to the fact that it is growing right out of the rock, and in the process of its slow growth broke the rock in two. When we go to the rocky hillside it is important to understand how some of the formations that we see were created how they continue to change over time. In this instance the Palo is stronger than the stone through its endurance and tenacity and extremely efficient use of resources. This is a tree that ADAPTED to its conditions. We can use soil from this tree, bark from this tree, or Palos from this Tree, when we are looking for these qualities of endurance, tenacity and adaptability to challenging conditions. We can also use soil from this tree in situations where something seemingly less strong (Palo) is facing something seemingly more strong (rock).
This tree has overcome adversity or challenge and adapted and even flourished in a seemingly impossible situation. Its journey is a powerful teaching story from its humble seed falling on a crevice of the rock and taking root in the little patch of soil created by leaves falling on the rock, to its breaking of the rock over time.
From a different angle we see the same tree with its multiple holes due to the wood pecker drilling for insects. This tree at the time we found it was a half-alive tree, with parts that are dead, and parts that are alive. It feeds life with both parts (dead and alive) giving habitat and food to insects, birds and animals, and every year building the soil with its falling leaves. In turn it gives us magical ingredients to work with!
The same tree looking up shows it as having a foot in each world (death and life) and being a powerful contributor to both. Western thinking has a tendency to "separate" life and death, whereas Traditionally we understand their interrelationship. Both processes are always occurring simultaneously; this tree is a beautiful representation of this truth. It also shows life (the tree) relating to death (mineral/ stone) because the fact is that the trees pull nutrients (minerals) from the soil which in great part is made up of pulverized stone. Life requires Death.
Below we look at a second tree. This tree again grows around stones, quartz in this case. The tree had the quartz underneath as if protecting a treasure. Only by walking around the tree did this become visible. It is also important to note that all trees described here were not on a 'trail', they were off the path and we found them when we were walking down the hillside towards the river, so we could use the river to guide us back to where we had started out from. Some of the most powerful places are "off the beaten path", by not venturing off the beaten path we miss out on Misterios that may be calling us. We do not want our "Camino" to be governed by what is typical or conventional or easy.
The tree is actually growing around the quartz and appears almost like an amoeba eating it prey. We do not know if years from now the quartz will even be visible and we do not know how much quartz the tree is "hiding" or "consuming". We do know that this is not a usual sight and that we would have difficulty ever finding it again because it is not on a marked trail. This is one of those moments to treasure. Our daughter was especially thrilled by the tree hiding its treasure, an image that came alive for her.
Children have an openness to Spirit that too often gets calcified in adults. Through seeing the children in this way, we begin to understand through the depths of its root what is meant by the phrase "Trato son trato"! By walking these Caminos with our daughter, we are constantly getting new perspectives on the Misterios, and she is always using unexpected terms and expressions to describe the Spirits, using words in ways we would never think to. Since we are not going on these Caminos for any negative purposes, it is a excellent place for the growth and education of our daughter and the continuation of Tradition. By excluding the children, we only harm the tradition, and then are surprised when our children turn their backs on tradition. And when the children turn their backs, is when the tradition harms us. We also know that the Misterios of the forest, river, monte, are seeing our daughter and are receiving offerings embodying love and reconciliation from her hands. Not only is it important that we recognize the Misterio, it is important that they recognize us. In the photo below you can see a Misterio looking right at our daughter as she interrelates to the Spirit of the Tree.
Finally a third tree is home to many insects and animals, and has this little cavity within it that is filled with tree dust (which we did collect). It was also filled with moths who were hiding from the daylight waiting for night to come so they could go about their "business".
If you go into a Botanica (and we have nothing against Botanicas and the essential services they provide) and purchase a Palo, a soil, or a water, one consideration we must make is that we do not know the story or the hand that collected that Palo, Soil or Water. In some cases it was collected from the local park (sad but true), in other cases it is a legitimate item in that it is what it is said to be. The fact is sometimes we have a need and the only way we can address it is through the Botanica. However when we have the opportunity to collect Palos, Soils, Waters and Stones for ourselves, we can have a much more profound and empowering understanding of what it is we have in our hands and what we are putting in our "Medicines". We also have the opportunity to appreciate the various insects, bugs, bones and feathers that may also be in those soils, or collect them separately for our spiritual purposes. We definitely appreciate the access we have to these wonderful Caminos, both right here on the Land that we caretake herself, as well as accessible through relatively short travel.