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Nature Connections: Needle Ice

Have you ever seen icicles growing from the ground? 

Needle ice rises from the ground framed by leaves
Needle ice (Kammeis) in the Schwarzwald. Needle ice are free-standing, self-supporting and absolutely beautiful.

No this is not some science-fiction alien story, elven land or Superman’s chamber of solace, but instead a unique physical phenomenon known as needle ice or Kammeis (German). 

Needle Ice (Kammeis)

Needle ice is a natural phenomenon where needle-shaped columns of ice form on the ground under specific conditions.

Needle ice is known for a process called capillary action in which moisture is pulled upward through narrow channels & tubes of porous soil to the surface where it freezes. As more moisture follows from below, it also freezes and forces these tiny tubes of ice upward, overcoming gravity in the process. The result looks much like icy straws, tubes or cylinders. 

Needle ice are free-standing, self-supporting and absolutely beautiful. 

A delicate balance of temperature, water, and soil type is needed for needle ice to develop. Needle ice requires porous soil with a high moisture content, unfrozen ground and sub-freezing air temperatures.

All about Needle Ice

Needle ice, or Kammeis in German, requires unvegetated, loose, fine-grained soil and fine water-bearing pores in the subsoil as the ingredients for its creation. The air temperature should be well below 0°C, but the ground should not yet be frozen. 

The first frosty nights after warmer rainy periods are ideal to look for this unique ice. Then the water freezes first just below the top layer of soil. As ice expands, it bulges upwards by a few millimeters. This creates a slight negative pressure under these tiny ice grains, which sucks more water out of the fine pores in the ground and thus ensures replenishment.  Once exposed to the frosty air, the comb ice grows quite quickly and the characteristic needles appear. 

A hand holds a small chunk of needle ice in a frosty bright forest.
Needle ice (Kammeis) in the Schwarzwald. Needle ice are free-standing, self-supporting and absolutely beautiful.

Needle Ice: Connecting with Nature

On your next cold weather walk, to connect with nature take note of when you hear your footsteps begin to crunch. Use this auditory note to also attune to what you see, keeping a mindful eye out for the crystalized needle ice. 

Connecting with nature offers a wide range of benefits for mental, physical, and spiritual health making it a valuable aspect of overall well-being.

Scientific benefits of nature connection: 

And more! 


On your next cold weather walk, keep an eye out for needle ice in areas where bare soil crunches under your boots.

Needle ice shines in its' cystallized form.
Needle ice (Kammeis) in the Schwarzwald. Needle ice are free-standing, self-supporting and absolutely beautiful.

Connecting with nature: Ice and Spirituality 

The connection between spirituality and nature can be found in various aspects of the natural world, including ice.

In, “the Spiritual history of ice” Wilson (2003) examines ice through the lens of literature and science to offer a spiritual history of Western representations of frozen shapes from ancient times to the early nineteenth century. In outlining the anatomy of ice he identifies two main ways ice is portrayed: exoteric and esoteric. 

“The exoteric way of seeing is interested in external surfaces, understandable visibilities, and social orders. This mode of cognition—shared by orthodox forms of Christianity, political systems, and conventional sciences—often views ice as a deathly coldness to be transcended, raw material to be converted into commodity, or static matter to be reduced to law. The esoteric perspective considers internal depths, invisible mysteries, and individual experiences. This mode of vision—instanced by hermetic dreamers, alchemical adepts, and Romantic visionaries— frequently sees icescapes as revelations of an abysmal origin, marriages of opposites, mergings of microcosm and macrocosm. Hence, while exoteric institutions tend to interpret ice from negative or neutral points of view, esoteric visionaries are disposed to read ice in positive lights.” 

Connecting with nature: Schelling, Crystallization & Ice 

German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling places special emphasis on crystallization in nature. In “On the World Soul” (1798), he maintains that all nature is a vast crystal. Rock or ice crystals are primitive organizations of life that will one day evolve into more conscious geometries—plants, animals, and humans. Crystallization is a primary phenomenon. It is the archetypal organization of the absolute. Crystals are early humans. Humans are advanced crystals.

Needle ice provides us a unique opportunity to connect with this natural phenomena of crystallization and consider its various spiritual means. 

Spiritual Meaning of Needle Ice 

While ice and ice-related phenomena can hold symbolic or ritualistic significance in certain spiritual practices, there are no widely known cultural or religious beliefs specifically linked to needle ice. 

Connecting with Nature: SEELEDU Ice Needle Meditation

Even nature needs the right conditions to create magic…

Do you know needle ice? 

Needle ice requires a delicate balance of temperature, water, and soil type to develop. 

Needle ice requires porous soil with a high moisture content, unfrozen ground and sub-freezing air temperatures.

You won’t see needle ice if the ground is completely frozen, if there is not enough water in the soil to supply the growing ice needles, or if the soil pore size isn’t just right. The soil grains need to be porous enough to allow water to move up through them, but tightly packed enough to retain water. 

They need a perfect goldilocks of circumstances. 

Just as Needle ice needs the right conditions, it’s ok for you to need the right conditions to shine and make your magic. 

Like nature, you too need to find your combination of Goldilocks circumstances to thrive.

Observing the needle ice, reflect on the circumstances and conditions you are needing at this time. 


Use the following guided meditation to aid this exploration: 

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and take a few moments to adjust to the awareness of your breath. Is it shallow and rigid? Or deep and rich? Do you experience any tightness throughout your rib cage? Breath in the awareness to your breath attuning to your deep inner experience. 

 Invite relaxation into deeper breaths and depths of your body and mind. Begin slowly lengthening the duration of your exhalation by a a beat or two. If this is comfortable and you are not fighting against yourself, continue this lengthened exhale for 5 breaths or longer if you want to explore. When ready return to your comfortable rhythm. Take note of how you feel. Can you surrender deeper into your current form? 

Visualize yourself in a serene natural setting, surrounded by the quiet beauty of winter. Envision the stillness of the landscape and imagine the crisp air on the skin of your checks and swirl through the depths of your nose.  Can you feel the gentle low sunlight of winter shining in your stillness? Can you hear the crunch of ground underneath your feet? 

Now, bring your awareness to the concept of needle ice. Imagine the intricate formation of delicate ice crystals, each one unique and beautiful in its own way.

As you focus on needle ice, reflect on the idea of transformation. Consider the perfect conditions required for the creation of needle ice, such as the precise temperature and moisture levels.

Think about how this process of transformation is a reminder of the subtle yet powerful forces of nature. 

Contemplate the beauty of impermanence and the intricate patterns of change.

Take a moment to appreciate the fragility and resilience of needle ice, and how it embodies the harmonious balance of nature.

As you conclude the meditation, carry with you the sense of awe and reverence for the natural world and the profound wisdom it holds.

When you feel ready, gently open your eyes and return to the present moment.

You can use this script as a starting point and customize it further to suit your preferences. If you have specific elements you'd like to include, feel free to incorporate them into the meditation.

What is SEELEDU and what can SEELEDU do for you?

SEELEDU explores the journey of being human and nurtures nature connections for health and well-being. SEELEDU is based in science and grounded in nature. Practicing in ecopsychology combining traditional healing, ancient wisdom and recognizing the mutual compassion and nurturing ability between nature and humans, SEELEDU offers live and online programming, development and learning for holistic, whole-body well-being.

SEELEDU Logo in green


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