Sequoia – Courage
Genus: Sequoiadendron – Family: Cupressaceae
The spirit of this ancient and enormous tree may appear sweet and gentle on the outside but inside they have a courageous and fiery nature. The sequoia is here to help us ignite our creative passion by encouraging us to tap into our inner wisdom and strength.
Sequoiadendron is a genus of evergreens with two species, only one of which still survives, Sequoiadendron giganteum or giant sequoia. Today the giant sequoia grows naturally in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. It was also native to the Caucasus region of Europe and Asia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea until 12,000 years ago. Giant sequoias are the world’s largest living trees and largest living “thing” by volume. They grow to an average height of 164-279 feet and can live to be 3,500 years old. Its second cousin, Jomon Sugi, Cryptomeria japonica is a large Japanese cypress also called Japanese cedar or redwood, which is estimated to be at least 5,000 years old.
The outer bark of a sequoia is thick, soft and fibrous, which provides significant fire protection. Their pinecones are relatively tiny and hard in comparison to the tree. Giant sequoias have co-evolved with forest fires and therefore carry the primal creative force of fire. They literally need fire to survive which is often at odds with surrounding species. Sequoia pinecones need fire to release their seeds and to clear the forest floor from competitive shade loving species. Small-scale prescribed fires create the perfect environment for sequoia seeds to germinate and take root. This dependency on fire is natures way of showing us how courage is needed to bring our life back into balance.
Wood from mature giant sequoias is highly resistant to decay but its fibrous and brittle nature makes it unsuitable as a timber wood. The Hume-Bennett Lumber Company logged these giants via clear-cutting from 1880-1920. Over 50% of the timber of the tree never made it to the mill because it would shatter upon hitting the ground. When pictures were released to the public that these majestic trees were being used to make matchsticks, the public outcry caused most of the remaining groves to be preserved as protected land.
In 1853 a 300ft. sequoia referred to as the “Mammoth Tree” was cut down as a potential tourist attraction. Through courageous and truthful reporting the media educated the nation, which inspired the creation of the first national park.
Message: The sequoia is a powerful and courageous spirit that balances destruction and creation. It asks us to decide if we want to be a destroyer species or a restorer species. This concept of restorer or destroyer can be applied to all aspects of life. The question is; what are we ready to let die in order for something new to live? By seeing that fire can be beautiful, when used properly, we learn how to work with it. This can be applied to life in terms of facing our fears with courage, determination and gentleness.
Challenge: Destructive behavior that is demanding and selfish. Being narrow-minded in our approach toward something new. Also becoming a wallflower that shy’s away when confronted.
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Tree Spirit Tarot – Return to the Garden of our Soul
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