Ceiba – Change
Genus: Ceiba – Family: Malvaceae
The ceiba or kapok tree represents a turning point in the trajectory of our life. We may feel powerless due to circumstances that are beyond our control. Now is the time to reevaluate our life by going inward and controlling how we react in order to move forward.
In pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, Ceiba pendantra is seen as the most sacred tree of the Mayan people. It is known as ya’axche or the “Green Tree”. The ceiba was honored as the “First Tree” and was the home of the gods. Its large buttressed roots reach out in the four directions (east, south, west, north) like a giant wheel, anchoring the tree to the underworld. The elongated, visible trunk stands tall in the middleworld connecting earth to the sky. The branches create an umbrella-like canopy that extends up to the world of the stars. The ceiba tree is seen as the axis mundi or world tree that runs through the center of our earth connecting the south and north pole.
The ceiba tree is thought to stabilize earth within the chaotic and circular energy of the universe.
In Trinidad and Tabago folklore, a large Ceiba tree called “the Castle of the Devil” lives deep in the forest. It is said that a carpenter carved seven rooms into the tree to trick and capture Bazil, the demon of death. Other cultures believe that Ceiba trees contain spirits, this often prevents them from being cut down in fear that the spirits will be released. Pirates buried treasure in the roots of Ceiba and killed a slave to guard the treasure.
The trunk of a young ceiba tree is covered in conical thorns that create a natural defense during the vulnerable stages of a tree’s life, which lasts approximately seven years. Seven is seen as a sacred number in a world of chaos. The Maya reproduced these thorns on cylindrical burial urns to help the soul move from death into rebirth.
The ceiba is a deciduous tree native to tropical and subtropical areas of the Americas and West Africa. Some call it the Silk Cotton tree because its pink and white flowers produce fruit that release silky seeds that float in the air. These silky fibers are used to stuff pillows and life preservers. This aspect of the ceiba speaks to its gentle spirit during times of great change that can impact our very survival.
There are 18 species of ceiba trees. The Kapok, Ceiba pentandra, is the best known and most widely cultivated ceiba. It can grow to 230 feet tall with a straight, almost branchless trunk that culminates with a sprawling canopy and an equally large amount of mythology.
Message: The spirit of ceiba reminds us that nothing is constant but change. Even the best made plans can change due to unforeseen circumstances. This may signal a turning point in our life that causes us to reevaluate our choices or perception. By embracing this time of change, we can learn how to bring out the best within us. This is a chance to turn things around and seek new opportunities.
Challenge: Fatalism, misunderstanding our purpose and or feeling like a victim caught in an endless loop of trauma. Work with ceiba to climb above the stories to see the bigger picture.
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