Dogwood – Stealth – Seven of Dogwoods (Swords)
Genus: Cornus – Family: Cornaceae
Dogwood signals a time of quiet change and stealth-like action. Now is not a time to let everyone know of our plans, as we become more aware of the changes happening around us.
There is a Cherokee legend of the “Dogwood People” who were tiny little people similar to the European concept of fairies and brownies. The stealthy dogwood people lived in the forests where they helped to teach people how to live in harmony with the woods. They were very protective, especially of babies, the elderly and the infirmed. They performed random acts of kindness without recognition, which speaks to the quite beauty of the dogwood spirit.
Dogwood trees feature distinctive four-petaled blossoms, symbolic of the four directions of our inner and outer compass. The blossoms appearance in spring became symbolic of rebirth and resurrection within Christianity during the Victorian era. Some even attributed the dogwood as the tree Jesus was crucified on.
The dogwood tree is also associated with Hecate, the ancient Greek goddess of protection and hidden knowledge. In Athenian homes, she brought prosperity and daily blessings to families. She was as a major goddess who ruled over the earth, sea and sky. She was a lover of solitude who chose not to be the center of attention. Dogs, torches and the new moon were her sacred symbols. Her name Hecate translates to, “the distant one.”
In 1594 William Shakespeare mentioned Hecate in connection with “dagger,” a principal character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth. During that period “daggers” were often made from the hardwood of the “dagwood tree.” By 1614, the name dagwood tree was officially changed to dogwood.
This association of dogs, daggers and the dogwood tree with the goddess Hecate influenced her mythology as she was soon perceived to be the goddess of witchcraft who held a dagger made of dogwood. Her name even became the root for the words “hex” and “hag” meaning “witch.” This lesson of the dogwood reminds us of how easily our character can be destroyed through deception and misperception. It is for this reason that we must remain vigilant even if we choose to be unseen.
The genus name for dogwood is Cornus, a French and Latin word for “horn.” The Cornus genus includes 30-60 hardwood trees and shrubs including deciduous and evergreen varieties. Dogwoods are native throughout the world in temperate and boreal regions.
Message: Dogwood reminds us to be alert so we are not taken advantage of by those who wish to deceive or betray us. At the same time dogwood invites us to sit back experience our surroundings and our life from a place of quiet observation. We can learn a great deal about ourselves and others by watching and listening.
Challenge: Being overly pragmatic and pessimistic regarding any sense of wonder or magic. Disconnected from the world of nature and the inspiration it provides.