No matter how challenged one may be by the prospect of tree identification, once one is familiar with the pint-sized manzanita (Arctostaphylos), identifying her is never a problem. The first giveaway is her super smooth, vibrant, red wood that wonderfully twists and crinkles, contrasting gorgeously with her silvery green leaves. Indeed, since the moment I was introduced to this unique little firecracker of a tree, she’s felt like a dear and familiar friend.
Her name—as I learned at sixth grade camp—means “little apple,” probably in reference to her berries, but also her littleness. She is a fixture in natural California landscapes, and thrives in the western United States, reaching as far north as British Columbia and as far south as Mexico.
While it’s notable that Native Americans have employed manzanita bark to heal gastrointestinal and genitourinary complaints for centuries, I’m not going to provide a guide to this type of usage here, as I am not an expert and large amounts can be toxic. I will say, however, that magically speaking, manzanita has a vibration that is fiery, vitalizing, and uplifting.
It’s fitting that manzanita is a staple in chaparral landscapes: natural areas that coevolved with fire and literally rely on forest fires to thrive. Additionally, when her bright red wood is dried, it becomes an extremely potent fuel and high-quality firewood. Naturally, if you feel particularly aligned with the fire element in your magic—or if you’d like to improve your alignment with the fire element—spending time with the manzanita will be beneficial.
Finally, manzanita is a magical expert. Visit and spend time in quiet with her if you’d like to quicken your intuition, activate your power, and fuel your magical potency. For example, for this purpose you might try the following:
MANZANITA MOJO RITUAL
Visit a manzanita and spend time in quiet contemplation, silently admiring her magical energy and requesting that she share some of it with you. When it feels right, lovingly collect naturally one or more naturally shed branches or sticks. Take them home and dry them thoroughly in sunlight for a month or more. Build a fire in your fireplace or fire pit. Gaze at the flames and let your mind relax. When you feel centered, place the sticks or branches in the fire. As they burn, feel their magic being released and flying directly into your energy field, augmenting your power and infusing you with great wisdom and magical prowess.