"Sandra [Ingerman] shares about prayer tree ceremonies, which are close to my heart. I have facilitated such rituals in the United States for many years since first performing them with shamans on the Asian steppe.
"Some shamans' trees in Mongolia and Siberia are so covered by prayer ties, called chalimars, that you cannot see the trees underneath the ties. Prayers that are infused into the recycled strips of cloth are energized by the tree, rain, sun, and the spirits of the land. Like Tibetan prayer flags, the prayers and wishes in chalimars are flung far and wide by the winds.
"Picture in your mind's eye a Eurasian Juniper prayer tree adorned with multicolored ribbons.
"Now conjure the sharp, fresh smell of Juniper berries and needles.
"Imagining these trees reminds us of winter solstice or Christmas. As a child I loved having a tree in the house for the winter holidays. I used to lie close to the lighted tree in the evenings, gazing up at it and taking in its fragrance. These days, as special as it is to have a tree in the house, I can't bear to cut one down to enjoy it for a couple of weeks. Instead I find some fallen boughs or ask the evergreens in the forests where I live if I can cut a few branches to grace my cabin with tree energy.
"Bringing trees and greens inside in the 'dead' of winter during the darkest times, the shortest days of the year, is an ancient custom that cleanses the space and reminds us that life and light will return.
"My Ukranian friend, Ludmila, has told me that in the Ukraine fresh greenery is brought inside again in the spring. When light and growth return outside, fresh grasses and branches with new growth are strewn onto the floors inside the home. As people go about their daily activities in their homes, they walk barefoot on the tender greens.
"Take a moment to really envision this, as it is such a lovely custom. You may be inspired to ask the nature beings surrounding your home to donate a little greenery next spring so that you can walk barefoot on it, as people have done for centuries in the Ukraine.
"Walking barefoot on nature's new growth and inhaling its fragrance is invigorating and healing. Just think of how you feel when you walk with bare feet on the earth, smell a freshly cut lawn, or sniff a wild rose. Perhaps you were lucky enough to get nose-level to the earth as a child, and do now as an adult, and know her sweet scent of renewal.
"It's not surprising that so many cultures equate trees with purification, as trees continuously bathe all life on our planet with life-giving oxygen and cleansing waters.
"Enriched water travels up a tree's roots and trunk to its branches and leaves. Much of the water releases from the tree, up to hundreds of gallons a day. Tree condensation and shade cool the planet and invite rain to the land; trees make clouds."