The Crestone Eagle • April, 2021

Remembering  the Roots: Spring winds & downed branches

by Jessica Forman

As the winds pick up and snow gives way to the return of the thunders, I thought I’d share with you a practice I have found both much joy and much abundance in. That is the collecting of downed branches; in the woods, in your backyard or on the trails. While they are sure to decompose and feed the earth again, they can also feed your well being with all the medicinals you can make with them.

First and foremost, It is wise to effort to be in constant reciprocity with the lands we inhabit. It deepens the threads of connectivity between us and the Great Beings that surround, support and provide us with healing in many forms.

With that said, what could you possibly do with a tree branch you find on the forest floor?

Piñon needles make a lovely, warming tea.

Make tea from the needles. All the conifers in our region are non-toxic and can be enjoyed as a delicious hot beverage. While piñons are known to be high in vitamin C, I find them, as well as firs, Douglas firs and spruce, to be energetically uplifting, energizing and nourishing. Those with kidney sensitivities will want to be cautious as they are high in essential oils and can be irritating as they excrete through these eliminatory organs.

Make a steam. In this dry terrain, breathing in steam through the lungs is ultra hydrating and healing, especially when you add plant matter. As mentioned, the above trees are high in volatile oils and can bring an extra decongestive quality to the lung tissue when employed as a steam.

Infuse in an oil. Take your fresh tree material and place them in your choice of oil. Leave in a sunny window for a month or longer, strain and viola, you have a forest-infused body oil to enjoy. The conifer-infused oils also help with congested chests and make a delicious massage oil. Juniper-infused oil would have anti-fungal qualities. If and when you happen upon a downed cottonwood in winter or early spring that is laden with buds, you have been gifted a goldmine of medicine. The infused oil is a world-class topical analgesic (pain reliever) and is wonderful for dried out, cracked skin. It is the Balm of Gilead, an ancient medicinal known for the above mentioned, as well as for bites, stings, cuts, scrapes and I’m sure much, much more. 

Take a bath. Make a strong tea in a big pot and add it to your tub. Herbal baths are greatly underrated. Medicine with water is among the oldest healing ways we have. This is my go-to for energy-clearing and restoration. 

Simmer on your stovetop. Spruce up your home with the aromatics of the medicinals you find. 

Enjoy getting out there and benefiting from the fallen gifts of our Tree Elders.