SAGEBRUSH, TIMBERLINE, AND THE QUALITY OF TOUCH

timberline

NOTE: The photographs are not mine.

July 14, 2005: Today was a day of leisure to rest and prepare for my journey onward to Yellowstone. I enjoyed a massage at Grand Targhee Spa in Alta, Wyoming. My massage therapist’s technique and variety of strokes were excellent. However, as I find with so many body-workers, the quality of touch is often lacking. To me, as a trained massage therapist, massage does not just address the physical body; it is critical that the therapist be attuned to the spiritual and emotional aspects connected to the body. A bodyworker must be centered and grounded. It is the rare individual who is able to “touch” the spirit, the soul, and the physical body equally.

During my drives up the mountains and through the Teton Pass, as well as on my trail ride, I became aware of varied types of timberlines. At 10,000 feet, not many plants or trees are able to survive. At the higher altitudes I observed that most trees seemed to be of the evergreen family. When I searched for Indian Paintbrush to pick and dry press, I noticed that it did not seem to be as abundant at the lower altitudes. On our trail ride, there was a defined timberline where the aspens stopped growing. Aspens exist at lower altitudes, as does sagebrush.

aspens

Sagebrush grows abundantly here in the west, on plateaus, in the valleys, and lower altitudes of the mountains and passes. I stopped in the Targhee National Forest on my way to the spa to pick some sagebrush for smudge bundles.

sage smudge bundle

It is popular as a smudge herb. For those of you who may not be familiar with smudge, Native American shamans will light tightly bundled dried herbs and use the ensuing smoke in spiritual ceremonies. It is also used to cleanse negative energy from physical areas like a room as well as from auras. Sage is one of the more commonly used herbs for this purpose.

sagebrush

Do you think, as humans, we have our own timberlines — the timberline being the point in our lives when we cease being puppets manipulated by our warped society and begin to define who and what we are? When we cross that personal timberline, we acquire a sense of wholeness which affects our perceptions of people and situations around us.

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