Ginkgo – Contemplation – Wisdomkeeper of Fruit Trees – King of Cups

Genus: Ginkgo – Family: Ginkgoaceae


Ginkgo signals a period of control and balance as we contemplate the nature of our duality and unity through the lens of compassion.

The word ginkgo, comes from the Chinese word yinxing, meaning “silver apricot.” Biloba refers to the “bi-lobed” shape of its leaves. Ginkgo biloba reminds us of our luminous nature as we make peace with the known and unknown aspects of life and death. In stillness, we are encouraged to sense the beauty of our inner and outer self.

Ginkgo, inspired botanist/philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) to write: “This leaf from a tree in the east, has been given to my garden. It reveals a certain secret, which pleases me and thoughtful people. Does it represent one living creature, which has divided itself? Or are these two, which have decided that they should be as one? To reply to such a question, I found the right answer: Do you notice in my songs and verses that I am one and two?”

Ginkgoes are “living fossils” that thrived 270 million years ago, before the age of dinosaurs. They found a safe haven in Eastern Asia, where they were cultivated as sacred trees of eternal life. Ginkgoes live to be 1000-2500 years old and grow 160ft tall. In fall, ginkgo’s green leaves transition to saffron yellow, often releasing in sequence and creating a mystical golden-rain effect.

Maidenhair Tree

Because of their ethereal yet grounded nature, ginkgoes were planted near Taoist and Buddhist temples as symbols of yin-yang. Yin is the lack of sunlight (night/dark) while yang is seen as sunlight (day/light.) Yin-yang are harmonic and opposing forces that balance life and death. Yin is seen as the feminine essence of earth and yang as the masculine essence of sun. Ginkgo trees are also sexed as male or female. Males produce pollen, females produce ginkgo fruit/nuts. Ginkgo nuts are celebrated in Chinese and Japanese cultures for hope and longevity. Ginkgo’s were brought to the New World in 1784 and renamed maidenhair, because ginkgo leaves resembled the maidenhair fern, native to America. Maidenhair fern capillus-veneris, “hair of Venus,” creates an association between ginkgo and Venus, the goddess of love, beauty, fertility and victory.

Six ginkgo biloba trees planted in the 1850’s near a Japanese monastery in Hiroshima survived the atomic bomb.  Today, they are living trees that remind us to find peace in the face of adversity and destruction.

Message: Ginkgo brings a time of stillness and spiritual initiation or enlightenment into our life. This is a powerful and positive time to increase our awareness of life by honoring our dreams and intuitive powers. Meditate on where there is imbalance and seek insight from signs and symbols that naturally present themselves. What may have been unknown or mysterious to us is now becoming known as nature reveals its once hidden truths for us to see.

Challenge: Feeling depleted, ungrounded and disconnected. Trying to flee from reality by creating indecision and the illusion that there are limited choices.