Just in time for a rare Halloween/Full Moon combo, I present to you this guide on how to harvest and burn the mighty Pine resin.

I “met” this plant, as they say in the herbalism world, earlier this year, in the spring, under the tutelage of an folk herbalist. I was living in a crappy apartment at the time and was dealing with some limiting beliefs around a lot of things. Every single day, I burned the resin, giving my home and myself a smoke bath, while I held the intention of protection, and clearing what no longer served me. Call it hocus pocus, but having a plant friend to be in a ritual with every day while I held the intention of shifting something inside myself was powerful. Bonus that is is a complete sensory delight. It smells incredible in both it’s raw and burning form. It sounds amazing as it burns and it is widely available for free. What more could you want?!

Pine resin is the protective mechanism of a pine tree. It oozes out when a branch has been broken or cut off. Fresh resin looks like precum, crystal clear and drippy, and older resin looks more crystalized and is more rigid, often with reddish bits inside.

It is easiest to find on pine trees in the city, as they often have branches that are cut off within reach, where the resin will ooze out to protect the wound. Check out the video below to see what it looks like in the urban wild.

 

There are several varieties of pine tree. Do a quick google if you are unsure if you do indeed have a pine tree in front of you.

Because the resin protects the tree from bacteria and infection, be mindful when harvesting to leave a good thick layer for the tree to protect it’s open wound. Some people only harvest resin that drips below the “wound’“ and is therefore in very clear excess. You can harvest that with utmost certainty. It is up to you. It is always a good idea to pause to connect with the tree and ask if it wants to give you some of it’s extra. You will know if it’s a no.

Honor the tree by asking and waiting to hear if there is a “no.” Taking from a living being should be consensual, especially if you will be using what you take in a ritual.

I love getting my fingers in there; I love smelling it; I am utterly obsessed with it. But, if you are still getting to know pine resin, you might be slightly more hesitant. I get it. It is super sticky stuff. If you don’t want to get it on your hands, use an old spoon or a stick. After you have harvested it, you can wrap it in a couple layers of leaves or place it in a container from your recycling.

If you do get your hands sticky, rub dirt on them and rub them together. This will get most of it off, and then when you are back at home, clean your dirty hands with some coconut or olive oil before finishing it off with soap.

I like to break (or stretch, or cut) mine apart. If it is young and super sticky, I wrap quarter-sized chunks in parchment paper and store them in a jar in my freezer.

 

My favorite way to use the resin is to give myself and my house a smoke bath. For this, you will need to buy charcoal pucks. Typically used for shisha or hookah, you can find them at any store that sells those sorts of supplies. You will also need a fireproof dish to place it in.

Light the charcoal puck according to its instructions (wait for the sparks to dance across the whole thing, blow on it a bit to help it along, and wait for it to start glowing in multiple spots).

Place a chunk of resin about the size of a cherry onto the charcoal puck.

Enjoy the sound and the smoke. Think of what you want to clear from your energy, your psyche, your body, your space, and picture the smoke carrying it away.

I have also made a beautiful protective salve, melting it down with olive oil, shea butter and beeswax. If you want to make one yourself, here are some excellent instructions.

If you end up going into the wild and harvesting some, let me know!

I hope you have a beautiful weekend of nature and ritual.

xoxo,

Katrina

p.s. here is another pine tree in the wild: