Notes to Poem: Four Wands Blown by the Wind

Peter Y. Chou,

Preface: A friend from Las Vegas visited for our annual Christmas hike in the Bay Area. However it was raining, so we just had conversation at a mutual friend's condo cabana before she returned to Las Vegas. When the rain stopped, my friend and I went to Rengstroff Park for a 90-minutes walk. Half of the sky were filled with black clouds the other half with white puffy clouds— contrast of yin & yang. The sun came out intermittently but the wind was voracious. Lots of crows flew around and one house had two dozen crows on its roof and the birch tree at the front door. It resembled a scene from Hitchcock's The Birds. The next day, Friday, December 26, I went to Stanford Green Library. The Stanford Shuttle Buses were not running during the Christmas holidays, so after getting off Bus #22 at El Camino Real and Galvez Street, I walked opposite Stanford Stadium by the Eucalyptus Grove. The sidewalks were filled with eucalyptus branches, leaves, and seed pod nuts. It resembled a carnage scene of dead soldiers in battle. Some of the seed pod nuts were still on branches and twigs that resembled magic wands. I gathered four of them showing 3, 4, 5, and 6 valved capsules. This poem captures that experience walking up Galvez Street by the Eucalyptus Grove after the windy storm on Christmas Day 2008. Mom passed on Christmas Day 2005, three years ago. I realize that she has been the greatest gift to Dad and to her children. Her picture is nearby at the computer desk where I work on this web site in the Stanford Library and by my bedside at home. This poem that floated by magic after Christmas Day is dedicated in her memory.

Commentary on poem "Four Wands Blown by the Wind"

Eucalyptus Grove on my way to Stanford
Stanford's Eucalyptus Grove is located at Galvez Street & Arboretum Road in Palo Alto. Stanford Stadium is across the street from the Grove. In Trees of Stanford and Environs (2005), Ronald N. Bracewell writes about Eucalyptus globulus (pp. 118-122): "Blue Gum Eucalyptus was introduced to San Francisco in 1853 from Australia because of its rapid growth... The closely packed grove across from the football stadium, planted by the Stanford Trustees in 1916 as an investment for fuel [never harvested]... Many well-spaced specimens dating from the planting of the arboretum stand in the wedge north of Campus Drive East and Galvez Street, and on to El Camino Real. Trees with heights of 110 feet and girths of well over 20 feet can be seen..." In Trees of North America (1980), Thomas S. Elias writes (p. 683): "Blue Gum is the most common of all the Eucalyptus species introduced from Australia... Blue Gum is a large tree that grows to 80 m (263 ft), with a narrow rounded crown, and bark which shreds in long thin strips to expose the tan and green trunk. The alternate, evergreen, hanging leaves are sickle-shaped, 12-18 cm (4.7-7.1 inches) long, gradually tapering to a long point, dark green, and smooth. Flowers are produced singly in the junction of the upper leaves. Fruits are woody capsules, 4-parted, opening along 4 valves to release the black seeds." Photo (above) shows eucalyptus bark blown off by the wind. (See Eucalyptus: Star & Crescent and Eucalyptus Angel)

sidewalk is full of branches, leaves, and seed pod nuts
After the Christmas Day rain and wind storm, the debris of eucalyptus branches, leaves, and gum-nuts were scattered all over the sidewalk on Galvez Street by Stanford's Eucalyptus Grove opposite Stanford Stadium. I've arranged the twigs with 3, 4, 5, and 6 valved capsules that resembled magic wands in this photo amidst the fallen debris The scene appeared like a carnage of dead soldiers in battle. Like Pierre's reverie in Tolstoy's War and Peace, I had an epiphany upon finding these eucalyptus magic wands at my feet and felt a sense of universal harmony.

pain in plants that are already dead
Cleve Backster claimed that plants have feelings after conducting polygraph tests (1968) and found that plants react to thoughts and threats. Franci Prowse supports Backster's claims while The Skeptic's Dictionary cites scientific evidence against the "Backster effect" of plant perception. Once while having dinner with Paul Brunton in his home at Montreux, Switzerland (August 31, 1972), he told me to make the salad. I tore the lettuce leaves gently in a colander, and PB said "Ouch!" I said the lettuce is already dead. PB told me "How would you like if someone twisted off your arm. Use a knife, it will hurt less." It has been said that a sage is an eyeball, for he is sensitive to the sufferings of all sentient beings. I don't know whether PB was feeling the pain of that lettuce, or he was teaching me a lesson on sensitivity to all things. Backster's polygraph research showing plant reaction at imaged intent to burn leaf has been cited in David Wilcock's article "Groundbreaking Russian DNA Discoveries" (10-17-2007).

nut with the shape of a cross
This eucalyptus seed pod "gumnut" has 4 valved capsules in the shape of a cross. Since Jesus was crucified on the cross, the crucifix is a symbol of Christianity. The cross also represents space as in the four cardinal points— north, south, east, west, as well as time in the four seasons— spring, summer, autumn, winter. While the arms of Christ is along the horizontal axis (flow of time), his head and heart is along the vertical axis (eternity outside of time). That's the esoteric and metaphysical meaning of the cross, reminding us of ascension and transcendence.

twig like a magic wand
The first Major Arcana card of Tarot decks is The Magician. The Waite Tarot (1910) shows the Magician with a wand uplifted in his right hand. During my meeting with Paul Brunton in Switzerland (September 2, 1979), he told me about his first spiritual mentor Allan Bennett (aka Ananda Metteya) who invented a rod that's magical and so powerful it could destroy the world. When I was skeptical, PB said "the mystery of the rod is lost in antiquity. You'll find hints of it in fairy tales and myth." Below are some references on magic wand and rods from books on symbolism in my personal library.
Magic Wand: Alongside the 'technical' symbolism implied by its material or its color, its significance derives from the concept of every stick or wand as a straight line, embodying implications of direction and intensity. Derived, or related, forms are the royal sceptre, the marshal's baton, the battle-club, the mayor's staff, and the conductor's baton. (J.E. Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols, 1962, p. 344)
Rod symbolizes power; authority; dignity; an axis mundi; shares the symbolism of the staff. the rod is an attribute of Aaron and all magicians; it has magic power and is able to resolve disputes; it is also carried by all divine messengers, such as Hermes/Mercury, and by the psychopomp conducting souls to the next world and to judgment. The blossoming, or sprouting, rod is the Cosmic Tree as the world axis. A rod emitting rays is an emblem of gods of thunder and lightning. The measuring rod is an attribute of Nemesis as retribution and a symbol of Time. The rod-and-line is associated with the solar Shamash and Marduk and sometimes with Ea as the architect of the universe. The rod of Moses, turned into a serpent and back again, parallels the alchemical solve et coagula. It appears in Islamic symbolism as the unregenerate soul turned into spiritual power. Wand symbolizes power; conductor of supernatural force; an attribute of all magicians, shamans, and medicine men. It is associated symbolically with the mace, sceptre, trident, and crozier. The wand of Hypnos had the power of giving sleep and forgetfulness. The Gaelic 'white wand' of magic power was of yew; the Celtic magic wand was hazel. (J.C. Cooper, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols, 1978, pp. 140, 187).

nut with the shape of a star
The five-pointed star depicts integral individulity and represents spiritual aspiration. According to Buddhist, the heart has four directions which, with its center, make five and represent universality; this is also symbolized by the Sacred Mountain surrounded by four islands. There are five Dhyani Buddhas: Vairocan, the Brilliant, whose attributes are the wheel, the center and whiteness; Akshobhya, the Imperturbable, with the vajra, the East and blue; Ratnasambhava, the Jewel-born, jewel, South, yellow; Amitabha, Boundless Light, the lotus, West, red; Amoghasiddhi, Infallible Success, sword, North, green. (J.C. Cooper, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols, 1978, p. 116)

Buddha was enlightened when he saw the Morning Star
On the full moon of May, with the rising of the morning star (Venus), Siddhartha Gautama (563 BC-483 BC) became the Buddha— the enlightened one while meditating under the Bodhi Tree (pipal tree). Buddha's enlightenment day is celebrated on May 8 as well as on December 8 (Rohatsu).

nut resembling Solomon's Seal
Unlike eucalyptus seed pod gum-nuts with 4 and 5 valved capsules, those with 6-valves are rarely found in the Stanford Eucalyptus Grove. So it was doubly fortunate to find one intact on a branch like a magic wand. The six-pointed star depicts the Creation and is also the Seal of Solomon and the Star of David. It is the combination of the masculine and feminine triangles and of fire and water. It also resembles the six-cornered snowflake and hexagonal honeycombs (See Number 6 in Nature).

God made us in six days for six is a perfect number
God created man in his image on the sixth day as well as all the beasts of the earth. (Genesis I.24-31) "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made." (Genesis II.2). Saint Augustine (354-430) writes in his The City of God, XI.30 "On the Perfection of the Number Six"— "Six is a number perfect in itself, and not because God created all things in six days; rather, the converse is true. God created all things in six days because the number is perfect..." In mathematics, a perfect number is a positive integer which is the sum of its divisors. The first perfect number is 6, because 1, 2, and 3 are its proper positive divisors, and 1 + 2 + 3 = 6.

nut with shape of the letter Y
Most of the eucalyptus nuts at Stanford Eucalyptus Grove have the shape of the cross and the five-pointed star. On rare occasions, I'd find nuts with the shape of the letter Y and the six-pointed star (Star of David or Solomon's Seal). I just learned on the Australian web site Eucalyptus globulus that there are the four varieties of Eucalyptus "gum nuts" showing 3, 4, 5, and 6 valved capsules. The letter Y sounds like "why"— the inquisitive word of scientists who are always probing the mysteries of the universe and how life began on earth. Therefore I dedicate this "Y" eucalyptus nut to my scientist friends.

universe is made of 96% dark energy and dark matter
In physical cosmology, dark energy is a hypothetical exotic form of energy that permeates all of space and tends to increase the rate of expansion of the universe. Dark energy explains recent observations that the universe appears to be expanding at an accelerating rate. In the standard model of cosmology, dark energy currently accounts for 74% of the total mass-energy of the universe. Dark matter does not interact with the electromagnetic force, but whose presence can be inferred from gravitational effects on visible matter. About 22% of our universe is thought to be composed of dark matter. Only about 4% of the total energy density in the universe can be seen directly. (NASA: Dark Energy & Dark Matter; Dark Energy Fills the Cosmos, Science, May 28, 1999)

Did not God say "Let there be light!"
then why are we so much in the dark?

"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." (Genesis I.3)
When I first encountered a diagram of the electromagnetic spectrum in a physics textbook, it dawned upon me that the visible region (400-700 nm) that our human eyes can see is quite narrow. We cannot detect infrared or ultraviolet light unless with instruments. Likewise X-rays, radio waves, gamma and cosmic rays were unknown to people in the 19th century. While science and engineering have expanded our awareness of regions beyond our physical senses, we are still far short of the total picture of reality. Plato says in Book VII of his Republic: “in every man there is an eye of the soul which, when by other pursuits lost and dimmed, is by these purified and re-illumined; and is more precious far than ten thousand bodily eyes, for by it alone is reality beheld.” Buddha likewise says that the Mind is the most perfect instrument for it can explore both the microscopic and the macroscopic worlds. When we invent better scientific instruments to detect regions unknown to us, it will be discovered by our human mind. That is why sages emphasized to their students to delve within themselves if they wish to find the truth.

Four magic wands blown by winds at my feet—
The four Eucalyptus twigs with gum-nuts showing 3, 4, 5, and 6 valved capsules were scattered on the sidewalk on Galvez Street. I've arranged them together in the photo at left for they appeared as magic wands resembling the letter Y, Cross, Star, and Solomon's Seal. But twigs even with symbolic nuts on them don't translate into magic power unless they have been blessed in a ceremony by a sage, shaman, priest, or medicine man in a sweat lodge or a ritual. Then I realized that the Eucalyptus Grove on Galvez Street is the site of Stanford's Annual Powwow. This site hosted the 37th Annual Stanford Powwow (May 9-11, 2008). I attended one of these Powwows around 1990 and saw Native American elders perform traditional dances and power drumming to invoke the Great Spirit. Thus over the years, these eucalyptus trees have received the blessings from the Great Spirit, so these wands have magical power in them to make one's dreams come true.

Four of Wands in Tarot Cards
After picking up four eucalyptus wands, I recall that Tarot decks have wands in their minor arcana along with cups, swords, and pentacles. Symbolism on the Four of Wands from Tarot books:
Four of Wands: From the four great staves planted in the foreground there is a great garland suspended; two female figures uplift nosegays; at their side is a bridge over a moat, leading to an old manorial house. Divinatory Meanings: They are for once almost on the surface— country life, haven of refuge, a species of domestic harvest-home, repose, concord, harmony, prosperity, peace, and the perfected work of these. Reversed: The meaning remains unaltered; it is prosperity, increase, felicity, beauty, embellishment. —A.E. Waite, Pictorial Key to the Tarot (1910)
Four of Wands: Symbol of completion. Four of Wands reminds us that before we can energetically move forward in new directions that have heart and meaning, it is important to consummate or complete that which we have set in motion. This symbol also represents the principle of having achieved something, which is also associated with completion... When you pull this card it indicates that in the next four weeks or the next four months would be a good time to move in new directions and simultaneously to complete things. (Angeles Arrien, Tarot Handbook, 1987, p. 179)
Minor Arcana: Wands are associated with the element: fire, humor/temperament: choler/choleric, zodiac signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius. Jungian interpreters also find correspondences with the four personality types defined by Jung: Pentacles/Earth/Sensation, Swords/Air/Thinking, Wands/Fire/Intuition, Cups/Water/Feeling. (Cynthia Giles, The Tarot: History, Mystery and Lore, 1992, pp. xii, 51)
Four of Wands— Completion— Venus in Aries: We see a castle, but after all, "Every man's home is his castle." The family home is decked for a celebration. Garlands have been made. Girls dance, Venus relates to our happiness and joy. Aries represents the fiery drive to "be". Together, Venus in Aries represent a zest for life and a joie de vivre that lets us know it's good to be alive. Divinatory Significance: Success and delight, celebration and satisfaction. There is something to celebrate: perhaps a new house, putting down roots, or an anniversary. Reversed: Nothing can spoil the day. The spirit of celebration is genuine. (Naomi Ozaniec, Illustrated Guide to Tarot, 1999, p. 93)
Four of Wands: Description: A couple dances on a flower decorated stage underneath a canopy held by four crystal tipped wands. In the background is gently rolling hills in front of which are fields covered in piles of wheat. Meanings: Completion. Give thanks for the support, friendship and good things in your life. Enjoy mutual support with another. Feel complete. The Four of Wands also means freedom and feeling of exhilaration. When we break the bonds that bind us, whether physical, mental or emotional, we feel triumphant and able to move on to a new period of growth and happiness. Celebration, ceremony upon completion. Optimism and joy. Relaxation. Good time to move in new directions, something completed, something initiated. Contented home life. Prosperity. Harvest. A successful conclusion. (Biddy Tarot)

if you truly believe, soon you shall see
Belief in the tooth fairy does not make it so. We believed in Santa Claus when young, but outgrew it when older. But there is something about belief that is akin to faith. When we hold on a cherished dream, we can make it happen— for an inner incubation period is essential for wishes to bear fruit. Such is the tenacity of the Wright Brothers' vision of man-made flight that became true at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903. Such is the long preparation and hard work of the U.S. Apollo astronauts that made the first moon landing on July 20, 1969. So if you have a dream, nourish it, cherish it, and it will come true. (See Claude Bristol's The Magic of Believing)

                                                      — Peter Y. Chou
                                                           Stanford, 12-31-2008

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