Hemlock

Hemlock – Grace – Three of Evergreens (Wands)

Genus: Tsuga – Family: Pinaceae

Hemlock trees, by their very nature, are mature, graceful beings. Their drooping boughs and fine, soft needles define them as elegant, wise elders that teach us to embrace change gracefully.

The hemlock received its name because the smell of its crushed foliage was similar to the unrelated and poisonous hemlock plant in the carrot family. There are eight to ten species of hemlock Tsuga, native to North America and eastern Asia. All of them are completely non-toxic to humans and animals.

This confusion originated after Socrates, a Greek philosopher, died from ingesting a tea made from the poisonous hemlock plant in 399 BCE. Over 2400 years have passed since Socrates’ death, yet the graceful hemlock tree is still questioned. When the spirit of the hemlock tree appears in our life we are being asked to gracefully allow negativity to flow like water off our back.

The genus name Tsuga, is the Japanese word for hemlock, inspired by Southern Japanese hemlock, Tsuga sieboldii.

Hemlock trees are considered a climax species because their offspring can grow in the shade of the parent tree. If left undisturbed they can dominate an area of land indefinitely. Climax species are typically found in old growth forests and are the opposite of pioneer species that will take over after catastrophic events such as fire or logging. Hemlocks reminds us to embrace our life experiences.

Western hemlock, Tsuga heterophylla, the largest hemlock species, can grow to be 270 feet tall in the rained-soaked forests of Oregon, Washington and southwestern Canada.

All hemlock trees are adapted to living in cool temperate climates where heavy snowfalls and ice storms often break the branches of other trees. Hemlocks, on the other hand, allow the snow and ice to flow off like water with little to no damage. This may signal a time of allowing sensitive or difficult situations to follow their natural course versus intervening or trying to control the outcome.

Tsuga essential oil is made from the needles and twigs of the hemlock tree. Its woody and earthy aroma is both uplifting and grounding, which is useful for maintaining balance during times of change and disruption.

Message: This is a time of change and movement. By approaching change with grace, we allow life to unfold before us without fear or anxiety. This may indicate that moving or travel is necessary to help gain a new perspective on a current situation. This is also a time to focus on long-term planning and visioning as you go with the flow in the present.

Challenge: Rigidity and inability to relax. Trying to control what is happening now and feeling ineffectual. Work with hemlock to loosen up and flow with more grace and ease.