By Margaret Magnus
On December 4, 2017, the Thomas Fire – the largest wildfire in California’s history – burned Baba’s Tree leaving large deposits of ash from the tree.
Ten days later, Cassandra Bramucci emailed, “I'm feeling a sense of urgency to preserve the ashes from the tree as soon as possible - I sense rain will be coming soon.”
COLLECTING THE ASHES FROM BABA'S TREE
She gathered the equipment: 12 mason jars; a clean, unused trowel; a clean, unused pair of garden gloves; and a N-92 mask, as the air was still filled with smoke.
On December 16, 2017, Cassandra was at Meher Mount collecting the ash and storing it in the new, clean canning jars. She was careful to not include any dirt that was mixed with ash, focusing on gathering ash directly from the heart of Baba's Tree - the trunk.
Cassandra collected 12 quarts of ash, and there was still yet more ash. Less than week later on December 21, 2017, Margaret Magnus took 24 empty, new and clean quart-canning jars to Meher Mount to gather the remaining ash. She, too, used new gloves and the same ash-collecting trowel.
Margaret labeled the jars identifying the contents, date collected, and name of collector.
Cassandra’s sense of urgency was correct, within a week or so, it rained and washed away all remnants of the ashes from Baba’s Tree.
LONG-TERM PRESERVATION OF THE ASHES
For tips on long-term storage and preservation of the ash, Margaret contacted the Avatar Meher Baba Trust Archives in Meherabad, India. Jessica Mednick responded with the following:
“A sealed jar is a good way to keep ash. I would make sure the jar and lid are glass or ceramic. The lid could also be stainless or good quality plastic as long it has a tight seal. There is danger of the ash eroding metal over time.
You don't necessarily have to worry about sunlight, the ash is not going to fade or be affected by further chemical reactions or pests but keeping it in the dark won’t hurt.”
BABA'S TREE A TOUCHSTONE FOR MANY VISITORS
Baba's Tree is a touch point for many visitors to Meher Mount and the symbol of Avatar Meher Baba's visit to Meher Mount in 1956.
During His visit, Meher Baba went into the tent of leafy branches and sat down on a bed of dry leaves. He signaled that no one else should sit down. His eyes shone in the half-light, and He made a sign that He was very happy.