Monkey Puzzle

Monkey Puzzle – Adventure – Messenger of Evergreens (Page of Wands)

Genus: Araucaria – Family: Araucariaceae

Endangered

The appearance of monkey puzzle signals a time of increased creative energy, discovery and new adventures.

The monkey puzzle, Araucaria araucana, also known as Chilean pine, is considered a living fossil native to the Andean mountains of Chile and Argentina. Over 200 million years ago it lived on the supercontinent Gondwana, when Australia, Antarctica, Africa and South America were one large land mass. Araucaria araucana is sacred to the Araucanian cultures for whom it is named. The indigenous Mapuche people harvested the large nuts (seeds) as a sacred source of food. They called it pehuen, the Mapuche refer to themselves as Pehuenches, “people of the pehuen.”

In 1795, an English plant collector was served pehuen seeds as a dessert in Chile. He hid some seeds in his pocket to plant on board.

These five araucaria plants were taken on a grand adventure from Chile to England via the HMS Discovery. This was the same ship of Captain James Cook. After its arrival, the araucaria grew in popularity. During the Victorian era a British gentleman commented, “it would puzzle a monkey to climb that,” giving this ancient tree the name “monkey puzzle.”

Monkey puzzle trees can live to be 2000 years old and grow to 130 feet. They are extremely hardy and can even withstand the intense heat of lava flows and forest fires, but they were not immune to the axes and saws of humans. The monkey puzzle was heavily logged for over a century because of its fine knot-free wood. In 1976, these trees were declared “natural monuments.” It is forbidden to cut one down. They are considered endangered in their native habitat.

Monkey puzzles are planted as ornamental trees for its unusual “reptilian” branches that forms a distinctive umbrella shape. The thick, triangular and scaly leaves are visual reminders that it once lived in the land of dinosaurs.

Message: When working with the spirit of monkey puzzle we are reminded of the wisdom we gain from new adventures and how these adventures inspire us to adapt and transform in ways we may not have thought possible. Being adventurous or taking risks is an important aspect of beginning over again and having a fresh start. We are also reminded to take precautions and be aware of our surroundings during this time. By increasing our awareness, we gain more confidence in our ability to handle any situation or opportunity that arises as we venture out to explore and discover our world.

Challenge: Feeling stuck and not wanting to discover or venture out of our comfort zone. Lacking focus or confidence to move forward.