I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine, fir, cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail. I am happy. Hamlin Garland, 1899.
Fir Tree Appreciation Day is June 18th. How did this come about? I’ve collected some thoughts on that.
Firs are part of the part of the Genus Abies (A-bees) and the Family Pinaceae (py-NAY-see-ay). They are fast growing. The number of whorls present determine their age. New ones emerge every year. Cones sit on top of the stems opening to the sun and closing when it rains. Maturing in one season the wind will disperse them in the fall.
Fir Appreciation Day is from an older age and time when nature was part of everyday rituals. When firs grew extensively on this planet, they spoke, cheered, and cried with human and other wildlife populations. A northern forest of firs saw many changes; wars, careless clearcutting, or ignorance of their gifts they provide in sustaining life. Firs were used in every season; lighting spring fires, providing shade for summer where the softest needles made nap taking a must, wood for fall carvings, and leaves, twigs and branches for winter celebrations.
An energetic tree, seek them out when needing a burst of energy. While evergreen all year and celebrated in the 20th and 21st centuries at Christmas, it really is a late spring tree. Symbolic of regeneration and its planetary ruler Pluto. During this time, it grows fast collecting information and messages from other trees. They pass these everyday messages on quickly versus their cousins the sequoias who collect and pass the bigger system messages.
In Siberia, firs are known as The Tree of Woman. Slavic folklore believed these trees to represent the eternity of life and connecting the living and the dead. They offer healing and the ability to protect the household.
Because of their great height firs encourage us, humans to take a long view of ourselves or our questions. Sitting against a fir tree you can feel it dancing. They will heal you sending messages of strength and wisdom. Their triangular shape represents the trinity of the goddess, symbology found in many cultures.
Firs have a long association with Gods and Goddesses. The Greek God Pan was once in love with a nymph called Pity. The North Wind was upset when Pity chose Pan over him. As a result, he killed her. When the north wind blows you can hear her cries. The pitch from the Greek Fir (Abies cephalonica ) are her tears. The Greek Fir became known as Pitys.
From Scandinavian, the Genii of the Forest holds an uprooted Fir. Where firs stand, they create a strong connection with the owner of the land. When struck by lightning and if the fir begins to wither then death is present. The owner will fall and die. When cut down without permission, bad luck will follow.
They will tell you how long you will live. The Silver Fir, Abies alba, is the Birth Tree. Burning the needles at childbirth blesses and protect the mother and baby. One of the gifts of fir trees are to bring knowledge of the present and past lives into daily living. Silver threads help each of us on our spiritual journey and gifts of insight.
Firs are one of the Nine Sacred Woods of the Celts as quoted here Fir does mark the evergreen To represent immortality seen. Tall and slender it represents honesty, truth, and straightforwardness. When found in a group they are a symbol of friendship depicted with through their coloring and lifelong connections to each other.
Grand Firs’ needles are the darkest and shiniest. Abies grandis is well known to the Northwest Native Americans who used its foliage and branches. Branches were used in headdresses and costumes by the Kwakwaka’wakw. Individuals would scrub themselves with branches for purification rites. The Hesquiat (HESS-kwee-at) used branches as incense and decorative clothing for the wolf dancers.
These are some thoughts that might help to understand why Fir Appreciation Day is June 18th. Go visit your local fir tree and introduce yourself. See how it is doing. Ask if you can be of assistance. It may take a couple of visits for it to start sharing. They are a bit shy. Leave an offering if you can or just say thank you for it being present in your life.
A note of clarification and digression the Douglas Fir is not a member of the Genus Abies, while residing in the same Family Pinacea. It a Tree of Strength and carries the symbology of the past and future. This the favorite tree of David Douglas. Botanically called Pseudotsuga menziesii, a member of the Genus Pseudotsuga meaning false hemlock.
Part of this blog comes from the experience of a good friend Flora. Many thanks to her and her knowledge.
David Douglas was a Scottish botanist best known for his exploration of the PNW especially Oregon. He is responsible for the botanical names of many of the native plants found in the PNW.
Whorls occur once a year in the spring resulting in new growth at the tip of the branch. For pruning purposes, cut back to where there is green growth or the last whorl. Firs will not produce latent or dormant buds in the older wood. For more assistant on pruning firs see Plant Amnesty or the University of Idaho Extension Bulletin.