V. Redwood – Teachers – Council
Genus: Sequoia – Family: Cupressaceae
Redwoods encourage us to work together in community for the greater good. As a council of wise elders, these gentle giants also hold space for us as we create connections in search of our personal and collective roots.
When entering a redwood forest their presence is immediately calming, grounding and up lifting. Their graceful and extraordinary presence creates a natural cathedral or sacred space for quiet contemplation that speaks to our soul.
Over 100 million years ago vast redwood forests thrived throughout the world, today only three genus of the Sequoioideae family survive; Coastal redwood – Sequoia sempervirens, Giant Sequoia – Sequoiadendron giganteum and Dawn Redwood – Metasequoia.
California redwoods Sequoia sempervirens can grow to be 1200 to 2200 years old and reach heights of 400-425ft, they are among the oldest and tallest living beings on Earth.
The Yurok tribe of Northern California lived among the coastal redwoods for thousands of years. They learned that the outer bark of these giant trees protected the redwoods from fire. The Yurok people used the power of fire to gently clear the forest floor, thus encouraging useful plants species to grow in harmony with the redwoods.
As European settlers moved into the redwood forests they displaced the Yurok people and lost the wisdom teachings of balanced fires. Extensive logging and clear-cutting in the 1800s left the forests susceptible to extremely hot and devastating fires that burned through the redwood’s bark into the heartwood, which killed the trees. Today only 4% of the original 2-million-acre redwood forest remains. As the “lungs” of the Pacific Northwest the redwood forests provided precious oxygen and moisture that created community for a wide variety of species, including humans to thrive. As old-growth communities disappeared, the west coast became more vulnerable to increasingly dangerous and longer fire seasons, preventing new-growth redwoods from growing.
In 1847, Austrian botanist Stephan Endlicher named the redwood genus Sequoia. Inspired by Sequoyah, the inventor of the first Cherokee writing system, Endlicher sensed how the communal teachings of the redwoods mirrored the creation of a written language. Writing allows us to pass on the lessons of our elders for future generations.
Message: The redwood spirit signals a time of creating community. This may be a time of reconnecting with family and friends for support. A wise elder may be entering our life to provide a path for reconnecting with our ancestral or spiritual roots. Now is a time to honor the wisdom of the past to prevent making the same mistakes again. Remain open to learning the teachings that may once have been hidden from you.
Challenge: Feeling unheard by others, using sarcasm or a condescending tone when in the presence of those we could learn from. We may be blinding our self from finding our way or we may be giving our power to someone else.