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.
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
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.
"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."
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."
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
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
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