The China Berry Trees Spoke to Me

Making China berry seed beads has been a tradition in my family for many years. I have two necklaces that my aunt Ida made over 20 years ago. They are still just as lovely as the day she made them, and I still get compliments when I wear them. When I learned that China berry seeds beads were traditionally used for making malas, I called Mom and ask her for the recipe. Meditation is my passion and making malas sounded like fun to me.

Making China Berry Seed Beads is not easy. First you must harvest the China Berries. Then you must boil them and extract the stones. Then you must punch holes in them, dye them, dry them, and (finally) you have beads that you can string and make malas.
It takes several hours just to make the beads.

As I was harvesting China berries the trees began speaking to me. They thanked me for making beads out of their seeds, and reminded me that the earth is our mother. The oceans, rivers and lakes are her bodily fluids. The minerals are her teeth and bones. The China berry trees have been wondering why human beings would prefer to chip the teeth and bones out of our Lady Gaia to make beads, when they are offering billions of seeds freely every year that can be made into beautiful beads without mining mother earth.

The China berry trees told me they are a precious untapped natural resource with many gifts to offer, not just seeds. China berries have medicinal qualities that could be used to treat cancer. The leaves are a natural insecticide with anti-fungal qualities. The wood is a beautiful color ranging from light brown to red. It is strong and sturdy, like mahogony. The flowers are beautiful and they have a lovely fragrance every spring. The tree is known as the umbrella tree in Texas because it provides so much wonderful shade. The trees grow strong and tall. The sticks and stems left over after I clean berries and extract the seeds make magnificent kindling.

China berries contain a stone that holds five seeds. The stones have a natural hole in them, which can be used to make beads. China berry stones can be recognized by a lovely five-pointed star-shaped pattern at one end, which looks very much like the pattern on a sand dollar. The same configuration can be seen in all of nature. This natural pattern is created by a sequence of mathematical numbers called the Fibonacci numbers. The first two Fibonacci numbers are 0 and 1. Each number in the sequence thereafter is the sum of the previous two numbers. Therefore the Fibonacci numbers are 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144,etc. These numbers can be found in the branches of trees, the leaves on a stem, the surface a pineapple, the flowering of an artichoke, and the spikes of a pine cone. The spiraling pattern that is displayed whenever these numbers are present is called the Golden Ratio.

The China berry trees are sad because people hate them and call them "trash trees" for dropping so many berries every year. China berry trees are offering precious gifts to the world. They need to be appreciated for the contribution they have to make. But people are chopping down China berry trees and burning them. They want get rid of China berry trees, instead of viewing them as a precious natural resource. China berry trees are seeking recognition because they have so much to offer humanity and they contribute freely. Before China berry trees are appreciated, people must be able to see their value.

While the China berry trees were telling me of their need for appreciation, something occurred to me. I recently learned there is no shelter for single homeless childless women in Austin, Texas. This troubles me. Shelter is available for single homeless men. And there are shelters for homeless women who have children. But single homeless women without any children must sleep on the streets in Austin. They have no refuge. Homeless women and China berry trees have something in common. They both have precious gifts to offer that hardly anyone recognizes, appreciates and respects. Perhaps China berry trees and homeless women can help each other. As I was contemplating all of this, I had a vision of the China Berry Trees offering their stones to homeless women. I saw homeless women thanking the trees, making beads and selling them to earn money and shelter for themselves.

Beading has traditionally been considered a woman's work. The China berry trees offer enough stones to provide work for many women. Someone has volunteered to do the architecture plans for a shelter. Another person is promoting China berry seed bead malas. Before I can begin teaching homeless women to make China berry beads, they need shelter and a place where they can work. Is there anyone who can help them? If so, please call 512-426-1634 to let me know what you would like to offer. Donations of any kind will be gratefully accepted.