Last October, after three days of travel with all our earthly belongings in tow, my partner, cat, and I arrived at a new rural residence. We beheld the most beautiful sight in our front yard: a lofty sugar maple with the brightest red leaves elegantly dancing in the sunset. Truly, is there a sight sweeter or more glorious than a maple tree (Acer) in all her fall glory? If so, it might just be too much to take.
Appreciation of Beauty
In a very real sense, our capacity to appreciate the beauty within every moment and every thing is directly correlated with our capacity to enjoy life. In Japan, there’s a custom called momijigari, which entails seeking out and viewing the reddened maple leaves in fall. Similarly, visiting a maple tree at anytime of year, and tuning in to her vast consciousness and graceful presence, can bring with it the great blessing of aligning you with the beauty within you, around you, and in all things.
If you’d like a magic wand that is flexible, strong, and powerfully resonant, and that will color your magic with harmony, sweetness, beauty, and positivity, maple wood would be an excellent material to choose.
What would life be without play? Playing reduces stress, builds social relationships, and activates joy. And many of the games we play rely on maple wood: this munificent tree lends her wood to pool cues, bowling pins, baseball bats, basketball courts, and archery bows. As for people who prefer to play with musical instruments, she generously provides for those too. And you know what else is fun? Tennessee whisky (which is filtered through maple charcoal). Also, delicious breakfasts topped with…you guessed it! Maple syrup. Speaking of which…
BREAKFAST RITUAL TO ACTIVATE FUN
To magically increase the fun quotient in your life (and perhaps that of your partner or household) or to kick the day off with an extra helping of fun, whip up some pancakes. Say a quick blessing over pure and organic maple syrup, such as:
Fun is magic and magic is sweet
We’re feeling playful from our head to our feet.
Put on some silly or joyful music and eat. Be sure to encourage at least a drop or two of syrup for everyone. (Alternate ideas: For nonbreakfast eaters, perhaps put a bit in your coffee or tea. For extra spontaneity, make pancakes for dinner instead of breakfast.)
In The Botany of Desire Michael Pollan describes the historical definition of the word sweet as transcending taste and having been “a metaphor for a certain kind of perfection.” He goes on to say that “the best land was said to be sweet; so were the most pleasing sounds, the most persuasive talk, the loveliest views, the most refined people, and the choicest part of any whole…” This is the kind of sweetness magically embodied by the maple.
Of course, sugar and black maples are employed to make that sweetest of sweet confections we pour over our pancakes and waffles and use to sweeten our hot beverages and baked goods: maple syrup. Another archetypal sweetness symbol, the honeybee, often relies on maples for pollen and nectar. Additionally, maple wood is the most popular material with which to make many different types of sweet-sounding musical instruments, including violas, violins, guitars, and cellos.
All of that aside, maple emanates a tangible spiritual sweetness. No matter what time of year, her graceful otherworldliness, like a mellifluous symphony, soothes the soul, lifts the spirits, and reminds you of the sweetness of life and the perfect interconnection of all. (In fact, I was particularly struck by this last week when the spring breeze caught the maple tree in our front yard, sending her spiraling, winged seeds continually through the air. For some time I honestly thought they were a giant swarm of tiny butterflies.)
A beautiful Salteaux Indian story tells of a grove of bright red and orange maple trees rescuing the grandmother of the creator god. When evil spirits that wished her harm saw the fiery maple grove in which she stood, they believed it to be literally ablaze, and thus felt it unsafe to pass through and left her unharmed. Certainly, consciously appreciating a bright red maple in fall can dissolve negativity, banish negative energy attachments, and remind you of all the most positive and beautiful things life has to offer.