My sister and I were on a bus yesterday afternoon on our way to the port city of Civitavecchia, where we would board a Mediterranean cruise ship after four days in Rome. As we departed that ancient, historic city, ravenously eating our sack lunches while gazing out the window, a staff member for the cruise line called our attention to a grove of very tall (perhaps 40 to 60 feet high), elegant-looking trees with long, slender trunks and clusters of cotton ball-like green foliage at their crowns, which were clearly visible on the left side of the bus.
During our time in Rome, I had become slightly obsessed with these trees which are ubiquitous throughout the city, finding them inexplicably compelling. In fact, I had probably snapped at least thirty pictures of their graceful silhouettes from various angles as we wandered around seeing the sights, and my sister and I had even rested our weary feet one afternoon in the shade of their umbrella-like canopies in one of Rome’s many city parks.
As the women from the cruise ship continued her narrative about the trees, in a wonderfully thick Italian accent, I was stunned to hear her refer to them as Roman pine trees. “What, did she just say?!!!” I shouted at my sister excitedly, wanting to be sure I had heard her correctly. Suddenly, my recent revelations about the pine cone/pineal gland Tree of Life vortex that is Rome came into sharper focus. I looked up and truly saw the trees for the first time, and what I saw was not a cluster of green cotton balls, or an umbrella, or even a puffy cloud-like formation, at the apex of a long, slender trunk, for that matter. No, what I saw was a human brain perched at the top of a spinal column and brain stem, with countless pineal glands nestled inside of it!
Have you ever had an experience where something is as plain as the nose on your face and you don’t see it until you are ready to see it? When you finally do see it, you sheepishly wonder how you could possibly have missed it before, when it was right there all along? That is what I felt: a little humbled and embarrassed, but mostly amazed and beside myself with wonder. From there, my mind raced off in several directions at once.
I suddenly remembered Carl Calleman’s description of the very polarized and polarizing energy that would necessarily prevail along the vertical axis, or trunk, of the planetary Tree of Life, at 12 degrees longitude, during the past 5,000 years of human evolution, resulting in the people along this very potent lay line feeling compelled to venture out in all directions across Western and Eastern Europe, not to mention the Mediterranean and the Middle East, in waves of conquest and exploration. The Roman Empire during its heyday is a prime example.
After settling into our stateroom and quickly exploring all sixteen stories of the Mediterranean cruise ship yesterday afternoon, I satisfied my Google Search addiction by getting online and finding out as much as I could about the glorious pine trees of Rome. In prehistoric times, according to Wikipedia, they were native exclusively to the region now known as Rome, but for the past 6,000 years have been cultivated extensively throughout the southern Mediterranean region for their edible pine nuts, which are the primary ingredient in the much-loved pesto sauce. This could well explain why I went straight into bliss mode our first night in Rome at the precise moment when the linguine with pesto first entered my mouth and encountered my taste buds!
But, I digress. It seems that during the Italian Renaissance, Roman pine trees became a very popular aesthetic landscape element in gardens throughout Rome. This fact made me wonder if Michelangelo’s brain-shaped backdrop to God’s creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel may have been inspired in part by the site of so many beautiful, brain-shaped pine trees throughout the city. It also helped explain, at least to my mind, how the giant pine cone ended up in the inner courtyard of the Vatican during this same high Renaissance period.
Unable to sleep last night in the wee hours, I sat up and meditated to the sound of waves crashing against the side of the ship 8 stories below. My mind was filled with the image of the stately pine tree so firmly etched there during my time in Rome. I had the strong impression that these pine trees are themselves meditating, as they stand quietly but with great nobility of character, in clusters and sometimes alone, throughout the city. They’re holding a vigil for Unity Consciousness for the human community. They are nature’s contribution to the cause, just as the Pantheon is a man-made contribution of our pagan, and possibly extra-terrestrial, forebears.
Without the unifying and harmonizing influence of this Roman version of the Tree of Life (with its Fibonacci spiraling pine cones of light), who knows where we would be today? Perhaps the entire world would be under the dominion of the Holy Roman Empire?
In gratitude, from somewhere in the Mediterranean…