For some time, I have been drawn to the cypress tree.
My grandfather painted the cypress trees that line the northern California coastline. I have also heard that they can grow to at least twice their size under ground, with an expansive root system. This gives them the ability to endure arid and precarious conditions, as well as the intense winds associated with the sea.
As I am in search for a new tree, a new association set apart from the Arrow Poison Tree, a picture came to mind amidst a deeply stirring conversation last night with a dear friend, and saintly guru. It was of a tree rooted at the edge of a cliff alone and along a sea shore. It did not occur to me that this could be a cypress tree, until I came across this picture.
So, I'm in pursuit of more information, both mystical and physical, regarding the cypress tree, in hopes of some new imagery for my life. Here's what I've learned thus far:
* In Greek Mythology the cypress is associated with the god of the underworld, Hades.
* The cypress is an evergreen, cone-bearing tree whose branches are often meant to represent grief or mourning.
* The wood of the Cypress is hard, remarkably fine and close in grain, very durable, of a beautiful reddish-brown color, and resinously fragrant.
* There can be little doubt that the Cypress was originally a native of Asia Minor, and probably also of the island of Cyprus, from which it almost certainly derives its name.
* The tree at Soma: Perhaps the oldest living tree of any kind, is the historical and gigantic tree at Soma, in Lombardy. It is popularly supposed to have been planted in the year of the birth of Christ, and is looked upon with great reverence in consequence. It is more than 120 feet in height, and its stem is twenty-three feet round. In addition to the interest arising from this great age and size, the tree has the distinction of having been wounded by Francis I., who is said to have struck his sword into it in despair after his defeat at Pavia; and of having been so respected by Napoleon that in planning his road over the Simplon he deflected it from the straight line to avoid injuring the tree.
* The legend of the origin of cypress from Metamorphosis, by Ovid:
"Praying in expiation of his crime
Thenceforth to mourn to all succeeding time.
And now, of blood exhausted, he appears
Drain'd by a torrent of continual tears.
The fleshy colour in his body fades,
A greenish tincture all his limbs invades.
From his fair head, where curling ringlets hung,
A tapering bush, with spiry branches, sprung,
Which, stiffening by degrees, its stem extends,
Till to the starry skies the spire ascends.
Apollo saw, and sadly sighing, cried,
'Be, then, for ever what thy prayer implied:
Bemoan'd by me, in others grief excite,
And still preside at every funeral rite.'"
If you are able to find any more information about the cypress that might offer insight, please do so. Or, if you see any meaningful connections between myself and this mysteriously old tree, please do not hesitate to speak.