Naturalist Weaves Wreaths Symbolizing Cycle Of Seasons & Web Of Life

by Pat Tuholske, Naturalist

When I weave a wreath of native Ozark plants, I’m creating a portal into nature.  A circle of life crafted from living elements of the prairie, meadow and forest that is a symbol of the cycle of the seasons and the web of life… a circle that enhances ones connection to Nature.

Wreaths have been used throughout history to bless the home; tend the sick and restore the spirit; invoke powers of protection; praise bards and heroes; sanctify nuptials; honor ancestors and commemorate the dead; and celebrate the turning of the seasons.

The tradition is so ancient it is difficult to trace the actual beginnings of wreathing.  The faded remnants of wreaths dated to 2500 BC have been found in Egyptian Pharaohs burial tombs. The laurel wreath was used to crown victors at the Pythian games dating back to the 6th century BCE and later crowned victors in the first Olympics.   In ancient Rome, wreaths were worn on the head and represented a person’s occupation, rank, achievements and status.  The evergreen wreath had its beginning in northern Europe with the Celtic belief that the spirit of the forest was strongest in the boughs of the evergreen, which has long been a sign of hope during the coldest and grayest days of winter.

Wreaths crafted from wild everlastings grace doors, entranceways, foyers, living rooms, and offices all year long.  Wreaths focusing on the spiritual qualities of plants can be used as an altar centerpiece, dream catcher, and a meditation mandala.

As the first herb craft I learned, I have woven hundreds of wreaths.  I much prefer natural materials – native grasses, wayside weeds, everlasting flowers, tree bark, lichens, seeds, cones and feathers – to lifeless silk fakes or plastic abominations.

Make your own evergreen wreath.  Collect a dozen 24” long tips of evergreen branches. Use cedar, pine, spruce, yew, arborvitae or fir. Take a wire hanger and bend it into a circle.  Cut a two-foot strand of 22 gauge floral wire.  Cut four to six 3”-4” lengths of evergreen.  Bundle them together and wrap the stems with the floral wire.  Lay the bundle on the outside edge of the wire circle and wrap the floral wire around both the circle and the bundle several times.  Make it tight so your bundle doesn’t wobble.  Make another bundle and lay it next to the first bundle but along the inside the wire circle and wrap both with the floral wire.  Be sure it’s snug.  Just continue to alternate bundles around the wire circle until you have woven an evergreen wreath.  Glue in rose hips, spruce cones, acorns or sumac berries for a spot of color.  Hang and enjoy throughout the Yule Season! You are now initiated into the ancient lineage of wreath weavers.

Check out Pat Tuholske’s journal “Nature as Healer” for musings on the Human-Nature relationship.  Go to elementalearthcamp.com. Pat is the guide at Elemental Earthcamp  “off the grid” encampment in the Missouri Ozarks.  See her wild wreaths at WillowRainHerbalGoods.com.

Pat will have her wreaths for sale at a showing at Missouri Botanical Gardens the weekend of December 17-18.