One of my New Year’s intentions is to celebrate each of the full moons of 2018 with a wildcrafted tea ritual. Aligning my spiritual life with moon cycles reminds me of the cyclic, rhythmic nature of life. Wildcrafting gets me outside and compels me to consider my relationship with green bloods and the rest of the world around me. Making myself tea is a simple, deeply nourishing act involving all five of the symbolic elements of life: the earth of the herb, the aroma carried on air, and the fire to heat the water. When I drink tea made in cooperation with the living land, I become the living land itself. Therein lies Spirit: embodied, interconnected, and immanent.
Pine needle tea was a natural choice with which to begin my year of full moon tea practice. I grew up in the Piney Woods of East Texas. Many days of my childhood were spent digging, exploring, and playing underneath Loblolly pines; I count them among my ancestors. Common in red clay soils across the southeastern U.S., East Texas is the westernmost edge of Loblolly pine range. They can reach heights of more than 100 feet.
Last week I drove from Austin to East Texas to visit family of origin. I was lucky enough to find a freshly fallen branch from the towering tree above during a walk along the Neches River near Chandler, Texas.
Loblolly pine needles grow in groups of three. To make my Cold Moon pine needle tea, I trimmed off papery sheaths and dry tips and chopped the needles into 1/2″ pieces. I steeped about a tablespoon of the chopped needles in *just boiling* water for 10-15 minutes, covered, until most of the needles sank to the bottom of the mug.
Once the tea was ready, I washed my hands and sat at my meditation altar in a comfortable position. I lit a candle, then grounded and centered. Next I took three deep, relaxing breaths and visualized infusing the tea with intention before drinking. The mild tea tasted clean, green, and lightly sweet, much like the pine trees smell. When finished with the ritual, I added the needles at the bottom of the mug to the compost pile.
Pine needle tea is high in vitamin C, and it’s often touted as a cold, flu, or scurvy remedy. Enjoy the tea, but you’ll still need to eat, sleep, exercise, and wash your hands well and keep your stress at a manageable level, if you want to stay healthy during cold and flu season.
IMPORTANT: Pregnant women should not drink pine needle tea, because the needles contain phytoestrogens, which may cause miscarriage.
I aspire to appreciate nature, to cultivate presence and gratitude, and to turn quick keys to Spirit, such as greeting the Earth or walking outside with my dog, every day. There’s nothing like these daily practices to keep me connected with myself and the rest of the living, breathing world. But longer, more focused rituals at seasonal transitions nourish and transform me, too, and I’m already looking forward to the next full moon tea.