V. Redwood – Teacher – Council
Genus: Sequoia – Family: Cupressaceae
Redwoods are an old-growth species that have lived in the same coastal range along the Pacific Northwest for some 20 million years. They have provided wisdom and council to all who have lived among them. Sequoia sempervirensare coastal redwoods or California redwoods. Redwoods live to be 1200 to 2200 years old and reach heights of 400-425ft. tall. They are among the oldest and tallest living beings on Earth. Redwoods are gentle giants with quiet personalities. When entering a redwood forest their presence is immediately calming and grounding because they are not troubled by the immediacy and trivialities of the outside world.
The Yurok people lived among the coastal redwoods for thousands of years. They had learned that redwoods were unharmed by fire so they used regular burnings to encourage useful plants species to grow in harmony with the redwoods.
As Europeans moved into the land of the Redwoods they displaced the Yurok people and the lost the lessons of proper land management. Extensive logging began in the 1800s and eventually clear-cutting of old growth forests was underway. Both proved fatal to these gentle giants, which are now on the endangered species list. Faster growing trees and more numerous, hotter forest fires continued to replace the world’s tallest trees.
The Austrian botanist Stephan Endlicher published the genus name Sequoia, in 1847, in honor of Sequoyah, the inventor of the first Cherokee writing system. In 1853, a 300ft. tall giant sequoia Sequoiadendron giganteum, was cut down as a potential tourist attraction. This single act outraged a nation and became a lesson that inspired the creation of the first national park in 1872. This planted the seed for the national park system we have now. In 1966, then-California governor Ronald Reagan said in response to expanding the Redwood National Park, “A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look at?” Again, people stood up to protect what remained. Today only 4% of the redwoods original 2-million-acre range remains. Redwoods teach us to listen to our elders and heed their warnings even if they don’t seem to apply to us now.
Message: The redwood spirit encourages us to slow down and honor life’s lessons. Some lessons are hard and may seem unfair while others are easy and joyful. Both are equally important in maintaining balance and achieving true wisdom. Now is a time to honor the wisdom of the past to not repeat the same mistakes. New teachers may be presenting themselves, now is a good time to seek the council of others. Remain open to learning and understanding the deeper lessons of life.
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.