Hickory – Holding – Four of Nuts (Pentacles)
Genus: Carya – Family: Juglandaceae
Hickory indicates that we may be holding onto aspects of our life that need to be released or shared. Holding can often prevent us from enjoying all that life provides us.
Hickory is a nut-bearing tree in the Carya genus. Carya is the Ancient Greek word for “nut” based on the mythological story of Carya, daughter of a Laconian King. Carya was caught in a moral dilemma between; Apollo (god of truth & prophecy) and Dionysus (god of wine & ecstasy.) In a lustful rage, Dionysus transformed Carya into a nut tree to protect her from his desires. Artemis (goddess of the hunt, twin to Apollo) claimed Carya’s strength as her own. As “Lady of the Nut Tree” Artemis had a temple surrounded by Caryatides dedicated to her. Caryatides are female-sculpted columns of Carya holding a basket of nuts on her head. The story of Carya is of a strong woman who holds the weight of the world, yet is not able to enjoy the very gifts she is carrying.
Hickory trees are often confused with pecan trees. The primary difference between them is that hickory trees are self-pollinating versus pecan trees, which need a male and female tree to produce nuts. This difference supports the story of Carya as a hickory tree, who stands alone holding the sole responsibility for reproduction.
All hickory trees are deciduous. Deciduous means “falling off at maturity.” In fall, hickory trees shed their nuts and leaves to conserve energy. During winter, they draw upon their inner resources for regeneration. In spring, they birth new buds and blossoms. By summer the hickory nuts grow and ripen as they prepare to be shed again in fall. This cycle of releasing and growing is ongoing, which for hickory can continue for 350 years. By observing the rhythms of nature, we can better understand how letting go allows us to grow.
The Carya genus includes 17-19 species native to North America, Mexico, China and India. Shagbark hickory, Carya ovata, is a unique hickory tree that sheds its bark on a regular basis. Shagbark hickory is a common hickory native to the eastern part of the United States and southeast Canada. It can grow to be over 100 feet tall. The nuts of Carya ovata are considered to be the best in terms of taste and texture.
Message: Hickory is asking us to release something we have been holding onto that now holds us. This is a time of finding the right balance between having fun and having a safety net. If we feel like we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders now is the time to unburden ourselves so we can become rejuvenated. We must honor the wisdom of releasing and see this as a new beginning. Be gentle with yourself and others during these times of shedding.
Challenge: Feelings of scarcity that holds us in a place of fear. Overcoming the ego’s desire for control can bring profound transformation, peace and regeneration.
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