Qualities of Pine
Ailm, a Fir tree, a Pine tree.
Loudest of groanings that is wondering, Ailm or ah is what a man says while groaning in dis-ease or wonder.
A, beginning of the weaver’s beam, ahh.
Beginning of answers.
Book of Ballymote 1391
Pinus sylvestris ( Latin) Ailm ( Ogham/Gaelic name)
Pine woodlands often form what is known as high forest where trees are allowed to grow unhindered by the practices of coppicing and pollarding. Pine is associated with the moors and open areas of Britain as well as colder climates and free draining mineral soil (peat).
The Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) is a native to all of the British Isles but the true native probably now only grows in Scotland in places such as Loch Rannoch which is still home to the rare wild cat and at one time home to wolves up until at least the 1700s. Today pine woods such as these are still home to a number of specialist species such as the red squirrel- our only native European species, and birds such as the crossbill and goldcrest.
Pine is associated with the Winter Solstice or the period of time known as Christmas. In Europe great fires were lit of pine to welcome back the light and they may well have been decorated with shiny objects to also attract and encourage the light to return. This festival simply marks the longest day ( 21st December) and therefore from then on the light is returning. The rising sun is often depicted as the birth of a solar deity such as the Mabon, Oak king or Jesus. This is probably why the Pine is associated with rebirth and the image of a crane nesting in its boughs is indicative of new life.
Pine trees will grow up to a 100ft with long tap roots that will enable the tree to cope with strong winds.
The wood is yellowish and fairly soft and has been imported into Britain including Scotland since early times. The main historical use of its timber was as scaffold poles to build structures such as churches for instance.
Pine timbers can be found in Ely cathedral which probably started out as scaffold poles before being integrated into the structure. The timber was also used in its own right in the form of tongue-and-groove boards rather like Baltic oak to help build the doors of York Minister and Lakenheath church in Suffolk.
In the 1500s an extra storey was built of pine on an otherwise oak property. It has also been used to make chests and strong boxes, pit props, railway sleepers, telegraph poles, furniture and ship masts. Pine resin has many uses including sealing wax for violin bows, to coat the insides of beer casks, a glue, and as sealant for boats known as ‘brewers pitch’.
Pine when used as medicine is a powerful bronchial disinfectant, antiseptic and expectorant. It is an effective stimulant and a treatment for bladder and kidney problems, gout and skin diseases.
Its needles and buds can be taken as an infusion (cup of tea) for bronchial infections, cystitis and rheumatic ailments. The same infusion could be massaged into aching joints. An alternative to tea is to make a syrup which can be used as a bronchial tonic. Finally the same ingredients could simply be inhaled as a steam bath to help clear your sinuses.
Ailm is the old name for Pine and the root meaning of this word can be interpreted as ‘that which goes forward’ and ‘will or desire’.
The tall pine on the summit of the hill with its fresh-heady scent and tall gracious form can be seen as a symbol of elevation and positivity. It calls us to use our will as a positive force and to know things from our own innate wisdom that has accumulated through life’s experiences. It is the wisdom accumulated through years of experience and represents high states of elevation.
Breathe fresh positive life into all situations with Ailm, the Pine tree.
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Bright Blessings, Jonathon
Poetry of flowers
Join me to explore the flora of the British Isles on this blog. My intention is to attempt to capture the unique quality and beauty of each species of flower, tree or shrub. For every species featured I will be growing many more wildflowers to celebrate the joy of their existence, their intrinsic conservation value and bewildering array of uses. For nearly 30 years I have noted, studied and explored wildflowers in the field much to the patience of the walker beside me. To share this passion is a heartfelt plea to respect, preserve and care for all British Wildflowers no matter how common they seem.