Friday, March 20, 2015

Trees and History by Ginger Simpson

Cherry Tree
Now days most of us are only interested in trees if they fit into the scheme of  landscaping.  Some people don't like deciduous tree, others don't like pine needles, some branches don't bear wind well, others are too slow growing. Some want to grow their own fruit, while others want to grow wood to burn in their fireplaces in the wintertime. The list goes on and on when we consider planting.

I discovered more than I ever knew while researching my latest WIP, Yellow Moon, and thought it would make for an interesting blog.

The Cottonwood was the sacred tree used by the Lakota for their Sun Dance because of several reasons.  Known to withstand lightening and be strong, the tree has the same conical leaves after which tepees are shaped, and if you cut a larger limb crosswise, inside you'll find a perfect five-pointed star which represents the Great Spirit  Bet you didn't know that, did you?

Trees didn't only have a spiritual meaning for the Northern American tribes, most had a healing property of some sort.  Indians of the past didn't have doctors to run to, they counted on medicine women or men to gather healing herbs, berries and barks to ease various maladies. Here are a few I've read about.

Ash trees symbolize peace of mind and sacrifice.  Digestive system ailments are aided by the bark.

Aspen trees symbolize clarity of purpose, determining and aid in overcoming fears and doubts.  Those suffering from stress, allergies, eczema and neuralgia benefit from this tree.

Beech trees symbolize tolerance, past knowledge and softening criticism.  Here again is another tree that aids with the digestive system, and helps wounds, ulcers and sores to heal.

The Cedar symbolizes cleansing protection, prosperity and healing.  Those with respiratory problems find relief from the Cedar.

The Cherry tree symbolizes strong expression, rebirth, new awakenings and compassion.  Remedies made from the Cherry aids those who suffer from colds, flu, coughs, fever, headaches and indigestion.

The Elm is a symbol of wisdom, strength of will and intuition.  It provides healing salves for wounds.

The Oak symbolizes strength of character and courage, and helps blood problems, improves circulation and reduces fevers.

The Sycamore symbolizes ambition and acts as an astringent.

The Walnut tree symbolizes clarity and focus, the gathering of energy for starting new projects.  Skin problems, colds and flu are treated with medicines garnered from this tree.

This is but a few of the many named, and aside from the symbolization and healing properties, many trees were chosen to provide the wood for prayer sticks, talking sticks, and other items used in ritualistic practices.  Each creation was prepared with respect after asking permission from the tree spirit.  The Lakota, as well as other tribes, had a rich and abiding respect for all things earthly.  Until I started writing historical westerns, I never appreciated how easy I have it, nor did I realize how thankless I've been for all the riches the "Great Spirit" provides for us.

 I hope you've found this as interesting as I did.

Ginger Simpson's latest Native American historical, Yellow Moon is now available.  Click the cover to purchase from Amazon. Only $2.99, a terrific read for a very small price.  (Books We Love Ltd., Publisher)

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