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 hold space as we search for our personal and collective roots. When entering a redwood forest, we immediately feel calmer, grounded and inspired. Their presence creates a natural cathedral or sacred space that speaks to our soul.
Over 100 million years ago vast redwood forests thrived throughout the world. Today only three genera 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 tallest living tree in the world is a redwood named Hyperion. It stands at nearly 380 ft tall, and lives within the Redwood National Park in Northern California. It is estimated to be 700-800 years old. The name Hyperion comes from the Titan God of Light who fathered Helios (Sun), Selene (Moon) and Eos (Dawn). The Titans were the literary product of Greek poet Homer (circa 800 BCE), whose writings have impacted the world for the past 2800 years.
The Yurok tribe of Northern California lived among the coastal redwoods for thousands of years. They learned that the outer bark protected the redwoods from fire. They used the wisdom of fire to clear the forest floor, thus encouraging useful plants species to grow in harmony with the redwoods. As European settlers moved in the Yurok people were displaced and the wisdom teachings of fire was lost. Extensive logging and clear-cutting in the 1800s left the forests susceptible to devastating fires that burned through the redwood’s bark, which killed the trees.
Today only 4% of the original 2-million-acre redwood forest remains. As the “lungs” of the Pacific Northwest these redwood forests provided precious oxygen and moisture. As old-growth communities disappeared, the west coast became more vulnerable to increasingly dangerous and longer fire seasons. In 1847, Austrian botanist Stephan Endlicher named the redwood genus Sequoia. He was inspired by Sequoyah, the inventor of the first Cherokee writing system. 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.