by Tanis Helliwell
A few months ago I was in Humboldt State Park, which is home to a very old Redwood forest. The trees in this forest asked me to speak with the tree that they call both ‘grandfather’ and ‘the speaker for the trees.’ He is believed to be the largest and oldest Redwood tree, not only in this forest but anywhere on Earth. These trees live between 500 and 1200 years on the average, although some are known to live as long as 2200 years.
Redwoods have been on Earth from the age of the dinosaurs and so have much to teach us.
They grow to 350 feet tall, which also makes them the tallest trees on Earth. In addition, the biomass of the living and decaying trees is at least twice that of rainforests so these great Redwoods gives the Earth more oxygen than any other living forest.
This is the message that the speaker for the trees wanted me to convey to you.
One of the many things the speaker of the trees would have us learn, if we wish to be long-lived, is to be thick-skinned. The bark of a mature Redwood is one-foot thick, which allows them to survive adverse exterior environmental conditions. These trees are able to resist fire and many of them have survived several forest fires and are still alive and healthy, the fire having burnt off the undergrowth and fertilized the tree. In addition, they live in an area that receives a great deal of rainfall and even floods, and these Redwoods have survived this and benefited as floods bring more nutrients. The lichen that grows on their bark because of this water does not harm them as the bark contains a chemical that is toxic to insects so that insects do not attack the tree. We humans, like the Redwoods, also need to learn to stay healthy and grow even when the external physical environment is not supportive.
Procreate in Various Ways
Redwoods have many systems for procreation. Surprisingly, they have the smallest cones of any coniferous tree, showing us—in case we need to be reminded of this lesson—that great things often come in small packages. A second way they procreate is through multiple burls near the base of their trunks. These burls sprout new trees that grow from the living tree. A third form of procreation is through small moles that live under the roots of the trees creating beneficial fungus, including truffles, that keep the tree healthy. These moles, as well as other animals such as birds and squirrels, spread the seeds throughout the forest. From these strategies, we humans can learn not to put all our eggs in one basket and to continually employ many strategies to fulfil our purpose in the world.
Ground Yourself in Good Soil on a Stable Plain
These Redwoods grow in the ancient valleys where rivers used to run. When the course of the rivers altered they left behind fertile flat terraces so that the trees grow very straight and do not need to cling precariously to sloped banks. The speaker of the trees said this is an important point for each of us humans to learn. We must anchor our roots, not only in fertile soil, but also on a stable surface that will allow us to grow straight and tall. Too often we humans flip from one spiritual teacher or teaching to another and do not root ourselves in fertile and stable soil that will sustain us over our entire life. The speaker for the trees cautions against this.
Shed what no longer serves
The canopy in these ancient forests is thick and the trees have learned to shed their lower branches that are no use to them, as these branches no longer receive the light necessary for photosynthesis to occur. Only the upper branches can reach the light in such an old forest. Humans also need to shed what no longer serves and what no longer nourishes, if we are to grow strong and healthy and therefore long-lived both physically and spiritually.
Interdependence gives us Strength
These giant Redwoods have shallow roots, and you might think they would blow over easily; however, they don’t because they spread their roots horizontally to link with the roots of nearby trees. Each tree both supports and is supported by its neighbours in this interdependent system. This lesson is essential for humans to learn as well and this is lesson of the Aquarian Age in which we will be for the next 2000 years. Let’s join with other like-minded people to co-create a long-term sustainable world for ourselves, others and the world.