The humble pinecone has always been a powerful symbol of regeneration and enlightenment.
The pinecone has a long symbolic history. Some of the earliest records are from Ancient Sumerian palace carvings that date back to 713-716 BC which depict winged gods holding pinecones and using them to pollinate the tree of life.
Sumerian god Marduk/ Dionysus
The pinecone is also found on the Egyptian staff of Osiris, which depicts two intertwining serpents, like the caduceus symbol of medicine in the West, that rise to meet a pinecone on the head of the staff.
- Egyptian Staff-of-Osiris Egyptian museum Turin Italy 1224 BC
In India in Hindu tradition Kundalini energy is depicted as two spiralling snakes wrapping around the seven chakras rising up along the spine into wings, which represents the path to enlightenment. Chakras are an energy system, and the snakes that encase the chakras represent another energy system, better known as the infinity symbol. The infinity symbol is the prototype for DNA and means infinite life. In Celtic tradition it is represented in the ancient weave carvings of the infinity symbol, or is the serpent eating its tail.
A statue of the Mexican god ‘Chicomecoatl’ which means seven snakes, has a pinecone in one hand and an evergreen tree in the other.
There is also a pinecone on the Pope’s staff, and the largest pinecone in the world is a bronze sculpture that is located in Vatican Square in the Courtyard of the Pinecone. Legend has it that Romans built an enormous bronze pinecone they called ‘Pigna’ which stood on top of the Pantheon and acted as a lid for the round opening in the centre of the buildings vault. It is confirmed the pinecone was part of an overflowing fountain next to the temple of Isis. Pinecone symbols adorn candle holders and lamps in the Church as a symbol for the source of illumination.
Pigna in Pinecone Courtyard, Vatican
Dionysus, the Greek god of winemaking and ecstasy, later known as ‘Bacchus’ to the Romans was known to carry a staff topped with a pinecone called a ‘Thyrsus.’
Pinecones are found in Freemason art and sculptures. Pinecones appear on the ceilings of Masonic temples and lodges, and in architecture like the one on display in the Financial District in New York on the side of the Whitehall building, which depicts two spiralling serpents rising to meet a pinecone overlooking Battery Place.
Masonic sculpture Caduceus with pinecone, Whitehall NY
Pinecones resemble the structure of the pineal gland aka epithalamus, which is located in the centre of our brain and is the only unpaired structure in the brain. It is isolated from the blood brain barrier while it receives a large percentage of blood flow. The pineal gland which is pronounced (‘pine’ eel) has been referred to as the seat of the soul and the ‘third eye.’ The pineal gland has rods and cones just like our seeing eyes do which could be the reason it is called the ‘third eye.’ It is responsible for melatonin production and governs our circadian rhythms, which regulates light perception to regulate our light awake and dark sleep periods. The pineal gland has always been a mystery and little has been said about it in anatomy physiology books until recently. The tree of life could represent the ‘arbor vitae’ which literally translates as the tree of life, in the cerebellum. It consists of bands of white matter that forms a tree like appearance when it is cut in section. The cerebellum is responsible for muscle activity in response from higher centers.
Pinecones spiral to the Fibonacci sequence in both directions and contain an edible pine nut.
This time of the year I honour this amazing symbol of regeneration and enlightenment by making pinecone wreaths and ornaments.
You can collect your own or buy them. If you collect your own when you wash them if you soak them they will close up, and when they are dry they will open.
You can use wire forms you make yourself or buy preformed. I used foam circles I recycled from spice rack packaging.
Foam recycled circles
I wouldn’t buy foam forms but recycling them works. I prefer working with natural straw and grapevines wreaths. You can make a centrepiece or a wall hanging wreath. Each wreath took me about an hour to make.
I wrapped the foam with green craft ribbon. To hang it I used a white ribbon and tied it around the form before I added anything and made the bow later. I added silver jingle bells with floral pins after I put all the cones on. I added essential oils of cinnamon and clove to make an aromatherapy wreath and freshen the air. Add essential oils when the wreath is finished so it doesn’t rub off on your hands.
I love cinnamon cones!!!!
Pinecone wreath with silver bells
One form had holes in it, so I strung mini multi-coloured LED lights through it and then wrapped some ribbon around it to hold the lights on. I glued pinecones of all sizes and shapes. I used large and small spruce cones which are more cylindrical than the more rounder pinecones from the pine trees. I used 5 different types of cones. I wrapped a white ribbon around the side with a double bow in order to hide the cord and placed it on my side table. I added a white beaded wire that I had lying around. I can put a thin white candle in the centre in a glass small candle holder. If I put the candle in I don’t add essential oils. Due to the risk of fire it is best not to use candles with essential oils because essential oils are combustible, and dry pinecones with added accelerants are used as a fire starter.
Lighted Pinecone Wreath
For another wreath I wrapped the outside with green craft ribbon. I glued on some boxwood around the outside and then put floral pins in to keep it in place. I decorated it with Thai red chili peppers I grew and dried myself this year. I finished it with a simple red ribbon. I added some essential oil of balsam fir to add that wonderful evergreen tree smell.
This wreath is going to hang over my eating area.
Thai red chili pinecone wreath
I have some leftover pinecones that I am going to make some ornaments out of for the tree. My mother asked me to make her something new out of pinecones because she loves the pinecone tree that I made her when I was a kid, it lights up and she still gets it out every year.
Thanks mom for fuelling my creativity (and this blog).
I hope you enjoy making pinecone art as much as I do.
Happy Holiday Crafting!