Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.”

From The Holly and the Ivy , a song by Andrew Peterson

If conifers represent the peace and beauty of the winter season, then holly heralds as the protector.  It is the sanctioned species of plant in the time of lessening light. Holly’s glossy, green leaves and brilliant, red berries brighten the barren, winter landscape.  Often used in decorative, front door wreaths, holly gleefully greets guests with the classic colors of season. With sharp, serrated leaves, she entangles evil spirits before they can enter. Holly is the guardian of the nature spirits and fairies. If you have ever found yourself encircled by a bent, bowed, bulwark of holly tree branches, you have felt her placid, protective presence.

Holly’s protection is amiable, not armored. Her lancinating leaves let in birds and other wildlife, providing protection, food, and a place to rest. Like the pointed apex of the holly leaf, we have honed our habits to protect us from physical and emotional damage. In this solstice season of darkness, we contemplate our collection of self-preserving behaviors and safeguards.  Our we securing ourselves from a place of peace?  Rooted in peace, we grow in safety from our grounded center. We remain wholly exposed and engage with others more authentically. We surrender our shield of salient insecurities and smooth our sharp, jagged edges to welcome others in.

Published by Sarah Croscutt

I am the owner and facilitator of From the Outside, LLC, a program that connects people to the natural world, themselves, and each other through plant and nature-based activity, promoting self-awareness, healing, wholeness, and community. In addition, I am an environmental writer with essays included in several anthologies published by Plants and Poetry Journal and Wild Roof Journal (online). I would love to connect here or on Instagram @sarahc_outside.

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