Most of us understand, or come to understand, that without trees, our ability to breathe would be critically impaired. Our relationship with trees is interdependent – they thrive off of the carbon dioxide we exhale; we survive off of the oxygen they release.
There are an estimated 60,000 – 100,000 species of trees around the world and approximately 5000 types of wood that humans use to produce something. Managed and responsible reforestation practices are followed in many places around the globe to ensure a continuation of the life-giving resources offered by these beautiful beings. In Canada, less than 1% of our managed forestlands are harvested annually.
Another effective way to ensure the longevity of our sacred forests is through the use of reclaimed wood. When you use reclaimed wood, you give old wood new life – and help to preserve young forests by using older wood that comes with a story. Most reclaimed lumber in the Western world comes from floor boards and rafter timbers rescued from old barns, factories, and warehouses; decking, old boxcars, coal mines, shipping/crating materials, old gym bleachers, bridges, old orchards and wine barrels. In other areas of the world, reclaimed wood is sometimes sourced from old boats, oxcarts and even sawdust!
Candy and Les, owners of Tribal Mountain Trade, have spent the last 35+ years finding unique décor and gift items hand-crafted by artisans in Indonesia. These artisans use wood native to their regions and, in some cases, use reclaimed ‘boat wood’ and sawdust to create their showcase pieces. The wood used depends on the item being carved. For example, wood used for furniture needs to be strong. Wood such as teak, reclaimed boat wood, frangipangi and coffee wood are hardy woods that can offer stability and support.
Yet another type of wood found in Indonesia that is used for carving is Parasite Wood. Parasite wood is actually a parasitic, mushroom-like growth that embeds itself into the bark of a Chinaberry tree and gets its nourishment from the tree’s sap. Once the tree dies, it leaves the dense parasite growths behind – it is from this growth that many crafts are carved.
A variety of wood species such as Sono, Sabo and Coconut are also used to carve earrings and plugs because these types of wood are adequately porous and so they allow piercings to breathe, preventing infection. These types of ‘organic’ material are also a great alternative for people who are sensitive to metals.
For the more spiritually inclined, mala necklaces and bracelets are often created from wood beads. Rosewood is a popular source for malas, used for its healing properties. The scent released from the wood, especially over time and when it comes in contact with the natural oils of our skin, is said to calm the nervous system, provide headache relief and boost the immune system. Spiritually, rosewood is associated with the Heart Chakra where it can help us to develop compassion and love.
Sandalwood is another wood used for malas. The warm, soothing scent of sandalwood helps to calm the mind, opens the heart to love, and stimulates the Root Chakra making it an effective grounding and meditation tool. Sandalwood retains its fragrance for decades which is why so many people prefer it for malas.
Perhaps the ultimate no-waste use of wood is the use of sawdust to create unique items. At Tribal Mountain, you’ll find incredible dragon creations of various sizes made from sawdust pressed with resin into a mold. The finished products are light as air but can look impressively massive.
In the practice of Feng Shui, the element of Wood stimulates the energies of growth, expansion and vitality. If you are challenged with an issue that you need more clarity to resolve, if your energy is low or you feel confused, introducing wood into your personal space can help to strengthen your physical, emotional and mental well-being.
In the giving and nourishing spirit of Wood, be prosperous and well!