Dogwood – Stealth
Genus: Cornus – Family: Cornaceae
Dogwood encourages us to combine stealth and magical thinking while doing random acts of kindness. This is time to keep our plans to ourself especially as it pertains to helping others to shift their lives.
There is a Cherokee legend of the Dogwood People who were tiny little beings similar to the European concept of fairies and brownies. These stealthy beings lived in the forest where they quietly helped humans learn to live in harmony with the trees. They were very protective of especially of babies, the elderly and the sick. They secretly performed random acts of kindness without recognition.
The distinctive four-petal blossoms of a dogwood tree, became symbolic of the four directions. During the Victorian era springs of dogwood blossoms were quietly given to unmarried women by potential suitors. If the woman returned the flowers it was a sign she wasn’t interested, if she kep them it meant there was mutual interest.
During this same era, dogwood blossoms were seen as symbols of Jesus’s crucifixion. According to legend, dogwood trees once grew as large as oaks in Israel, so it was used to build Jesus’s cross. After Jesus’s resurrection he saw how sad the dogwood was so he turned it into a small twisted tree that could never be used as a cross again.
The dogwood tree is also associated with Hecate, an ancient Greek goddess of protection, magic and hidden wisdom. The name Hecate translates to “the distant one.” In Athenian homes, she brought prosperity and blessings to families as a 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 were one of her sacred symbols. In 1594 William Shakespeare mentioned Hecate in connection with “dagger” a character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth. Since wooden daggers were often made from “dagwood” trees, this association with the goddess Hecate and dogs influenced both her mythology and the tree itself. By 1614, the dagwood tree was renamed dogwood. Hecate’s legacy shifted from being a goddess of magic to one of witchcraft who holds a dagger or dogwood torch. Her name has been related to the words hex and hag. The dogwood spirit shows us how easily perceptions can change through words or misunderstandings, even when our intentions are good.
Cornus, the genus name for dogwood is a French and Latin word for “horn” because of its hard wood. There are 30-60 Cornus trees and shrubs including deciduous and evergreen species. Dogwoods are native throughout the world in temperate and boreal regions.
Message: Dogwood reminds us to be cautious during this time of change and transition. It encourages us to continue caring and protecting others as we quietly offer random acts kindness. This is an excellent time to be in nature and reflect on the magical aspects of our life and how we can quietly bring them out to the world.
Challenge: Being overly pragmatic and pessimistic regarding any sense of wonder or magic. Disconnected from the world of nature and the inspiration it provides.
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