Pine Cone Unmasked: Observatory Readers Unravel the Mystery of the Giant Pine Cone


Fair Use Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Pine cones have symbolized fertility, rejuvenation, and rebirth in ancient civilizations.

Some time ago someone left a giant pine cone in my suggestion box. I had no idea what this mysterious object meant so I appealed to the greatest intelligence I know: the community of SPA. This hive-mind had some wonderful ideas about what this future tree meant. Gemma Yoo suggested that someone was PINE-ing for me, this is supported by the suggestion I got around the same time “xoxo -Your Admirer Shhh… 😉 ❤️‍” All I have to say about this apparent romantic campaign waged through the box is, it’s working.

The prize, however, goes to Phoebe Pannier, who wrote me an amazing and inspiring letter.

Dear Riley,

You have no reason to fear the pine cone.

Throughout history and across continents, pine cones have held tremendous significance in various cultures and societies. For the most part, these treasured cones have held importance pertaining to religions and to spiritual growth. It can be no coincidence that Romans [sic] who worshiped Dionysus [sic] saw the pine cone as a symbol of fertility, while the Mayans saw them as a sign of rebirth, and the Assyrians used them to represent rejuvenation. In some esoteric traditions, the pine cone is also a symbol of prophecy and divination.

Someone gave you this pinecone in order to send a message: you are deserving of newness and the ability to see clearly.

— Junior Phoebe Pannier

It cannot be denied that the pine cone must have some sort of symbolism for the person who offered it to you in the form of the suggestion box. Most of the aforementioned meanings regarding pine cones have something to do with birth and youthfulness, which would lead someone like me (an amateur psychologist with a Ph.D. in Pine Cone Studies and a penchant for solving puzzles) to believe that the offering was meant to show you, Riley Wheaton, that new life and new experiences are being given to you. You must accept these gifts for what they are at face value (a pine cone) but simultaneously recognize their potential (rebirth). Someone gave you this pine cone in order to send a message: you are deserving of newness and the ability to see clearly.

The only remaining question is this: who was it that put the pine cone in the suggestion box? A well-meaning acquaintance? A close friend? Even the world’s leading scientific minds will never know. Maybe it was a miracle, an act of the Universe, that the pine cone set itself in the box for you to find. Maybe it was some prankster who didn’t realize their impact in helping you become a more enlightened being. Whoever the culprit may be, the pine cone believes in you. Don’t let it down.

Don’t let it down.

Yours most respectfully,

Phoebe Pannier

Pine Cone Expert, Ph.D.

Thank you, Phoebe! I will do my humble best not to let it down.

I promised that I’d give the pine cone in question to the person who gave me the most amazing explanation but we hit a snag. Someone put up a sign that said “do not move this pine cone” and I learned a lesson about people that day because the attraction of prohibition was so strong that it vanished almost immediately. I choose to believe that the pine cone was taken back into pine cone heaven. It only graced our world briefly and has returned to whatever mystical otherworld it hails from. However, I don’t believe it’s gone forever. I believe that in our time of greatest trial the pine cone will return to inspire wisdom and vision when we need it most dearly. Until that day I will commune with the spiritual remnants the pine cone has left on this plane of existence.

Nevertheless, I promised a giant pine cone and chocolate so I fully intend to find A giant pine cone even if it’s not THE giant pine cone for Phoebe and a little chocolate for Gemma as a thank you for her punderful contribution.

PS: My editor had this to say after reading this installment: “I opine this is a fun column.” Thank you, Diane.