Blessing on the new year!
Every year when I stand on the porch at the site of the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference I am met by the sweet smell of the cottonwood tree that towers over the entrance to the dining hall. This majestic tree is one that I often find by using my senses. Whether it is the smell on the wind or the unique trembling sound that the leaves make when they flap against each other. If I am near a cottonwood tree I am alerted to its presence as my senses intersect with it's outward expression.
In addition to these outward signals, cottonwood trees also contain hidden treasures. One of those is in the branches where there is a magic star. To find the star, the branches are cut at the knuckles. Using very sharp clippers or a knife, create a clean cut and you will find the pith is star shaped. This occurs in several tree species but is most revered in the cottonwood.
According to a Lakota story the stars were not always in the sky. They originated in the earth, seeking roots from which they could be born. The sound of water drew them to the cottonwood roots (since this tree often thrives near water). They traveled upward into the trees, waiting for wind to snap the branches, releasing the stars into the sky.
As the branches often break during the winter months, it is an easy time to look for the stars. Finding them, and releasing them into the sky, as you send your wishes and intentions for the upcoming year, is a magical ritual. Placing the cut branch pieces on an alter serves to remind you to reach for the stars throughout the year!
Happiest of New Year to each of you!
To learn more about cottonwood: harvesting and medicine making with cottonwood enjoy our video on this topic: https://youtu.be/Hw6oYQ9KwnE?si=k7MM5Mc8YJhV0Crc