Monkey Puzzle – Adventure
Genus: Araucaria – Family: Araucariaceae
The appearance of monkey puzzle signals a time of increased creative energy, discovery and new adventures.
Monkey-puzzle, Araucaria araucana, (Pehuen or Chilean Pine) is considered a living fossil native to the Andean mountains of Chile and Argentina. Over 200 million years ago this coniferous evergreen tree lived on the supercontinent Gondwana, when Australia, Antarctica, Africa and South America were one land mass.
Araucaria Araucana, is considered a sacred tree in Andean cultures. Araucana is the Spanish name given to a region of Chile where the indigenous Mapuche people lived. After many conflicts between Spanish colonists and indigenous people the Mapuche merged with the Pehuenche people. The Pehuenche or “people of the Pehuen” were hunter-gatherers who based their diet on the edible seeds of the pehuen tree. They saw the pehuen as a sacred tree that provided a stable food source, which they used to make flour and beverages.
In 1795 Archibald Menzies, a Scottish surgeon and botanist, collected some pehuen seeds and planted them on board the HMS Discovery. Six of those seeds sprouted into plants as they ventured from Chile to England for the first time. After arriving in England, they were tenderly placed in a greenhouse to grow. When it became apparent that they could tolerate the British climate the Araucaria’s popularity grew into a curiosity within the plant world. In 1850, Charles Auston commented on a young tree growing in Cornwall “it would puzzle a monkey to climb that”. This is how the ancient and sacred pehuan tree received its popular name “monkey-puzzle”.
Monkey-puzzle trees can live to be 2000 years old and grow to 130 feet tall. They are extremely hardy and can withstand the intense heat of lava flows and forest fires, but they were not immune to the axes and saws of humans. The monkey puzzle was heavily logged for over a century because of its fine knot-free wood. In 1976, these trees were declared “natural monuments”. It is now forbidden to cut one down. They are considered endangered in their native habitat.
Monkey-puzzle trees are planted as ornamental trees for its unusual reptilian branches and distinctive umbrella shape. The thick, triangular and scaly leaves are visual reminders that it once lived in the land of dinosaurs.
Message: When working with the spirit of monkey puzzle we are reminded of the wisdom we gain from new adventures and how these adventures inspire us to adapt and transform in ways we may not have thought possible. Being adventurous or taking risks is an important aspect of starting over again and having a fresh start. We are also reminded to take precautions and be aware of our actions and surroundings during this time. By increasing our awareness, we gain more confidence in our ability to adapt to any situation or opportunity that arises.
Challenge: Feeling stuck and not wanting to discover or venture out of our comfort zone. Lacking focus or confidence to move forward.
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