The Energy of Dogwood: The Tree of Life, Christ and Hermetic Consciousness

Posted by Candice Covington on


  • Symbolism: Magician, Herm (rules the boundaries between one state of consciousness and another), Empathy, Kindness.
  • Divine Associations: Tree of Life, Christ Consciousness, Hermetic Consciousness
  • Astrological Association: Mercury

"At the time of the Crucifixion the dogwood had been the size of the oak and other forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber for the cross. To be used thus for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus, nailed upon it, sensed this, and, in His gentle pity for all sorrow and suffering, said to it: “Because of your regret and pity for my suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross—two long and two short petals. And in the center of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see it will remember." i

Dogwood flower essence  

The dogwood tree speaks of sacrifice of self for an ideal larger than self, and communication to other realms within and without. This can be looked at through the archetypal energies of many Gods or individuals who have hung themselves on the Tree of Life to experience a form change. Mystics of Jesus' time believed that Christ was a way to describe union with God, or consciousness, within the man Jesus. Many Christian theologians have spoken of Christ Consciousness as the awareness of true essence. Christ also hung on a metaphorical tree of life, the cross, descended into the land of the dead to return to the land of the living and then to move beyond our reality, into the realm of God.

The Sun Dance is a ceremony practiced by a number of Native American tribes. This ceremony was one of the most important rituals practiced by the North American Plains Indians. Each tribe has its own distinct rituals and methods of performing the dance, but many of the ceremonies have features in common, including dancing, singing, praying, drumming, the experience of visions, piercing of the chest or back then tethered to pole (trunk of a cottonwood tree) . Frederick Schwatka  wrote about a Sioux Sun Dance he witnessed in the late 1800s:

"Each one of the young men presented himself to a medicine-man, who took between his thumb and forefinger a fold of the loose skin of the breast—and then ran a very narrow-bladed or sharp knife through the skin—a stronger skewer of bone, about the size of a carpenter's pencil was inserted. This was tied to a long skin rope fastened, at its other extremity, to the top of the sun-pole (cotton wood tree) in the center of the arena. The whole object of the devotee is to break loose from these fetters. To liberate himself he must tear the skewers through the skin, a horrible task that even with the most resolute may require many hours of torture.

In fact, the object of being pierced is to sacrifice one's self to the Great Spirit, and to pray while connected to the Tree of Life, a direct connection to the Great Spirit. Breaking from the piercing is done in one moment, as the man runs backwards from the tree at a time specified by the leader of the dance."  

Odin, who played a hermetic role in Pagan worship, used the Tree of Life to travel between realms and received his wisdom from Yggdrasil (a giant ash tree), where he hung upside-down for nine nights in order to obtain the magical Rune Alphabet. Johnson speaks to the mercurial energy of Odin when he says:

[W]hen considering Odin’s travels, it is that he can travel up and down the great tree at the center of the world, the axis of the world. Traveling up the tree leads him to the land of the gods; traveling down the tree leads him to the land of the dead. Like Greek Hermes, he mediates between the worlds. He is the energy that travels between realities, and he is the borderless reality in between. Mercury is what some cultures might refer to as a shape-shifter, one who has access to all worlds simultaneously just as he belongs to none. James Hillman writes: For Hermetic consciousness, there is no upperworld versus underworld problem. Hermes inhabits the borderlines; his herms are erected there, and makes possible an easy commerce between the familiar and the alien. iii

This flower essence addresses beauty and grace in physical movement, and the Mercurial energy of quicksilver. Quicksilver offers fluidity of movement, in all aspects of being. Also joyous, childlike behavior. Mercury is well known for being the most youthful/childlike Olympian God, to the point of being a trickster. This flower also addresses the split of one realm from the other; appreciation of beauty within and without; patterns of imbalance concerning physical and etheric harmony; and more.

Dogwood also eases the difficulty and fear around sacrificing one’s present state of being, which will eventually lead to a greater gain. It aids in bringing dream information from the subconscious to the conscious for examination and understanding; sunflower, being associated with Apollo and consciousness, blended with dogwood, which is ruled by Mercurial energies, loosening the membrane of planes, makes a beautiful bridge to have all aspects of self work together. 


i “Legend of the Dogwood”

iii Guttman, Johnson, p. 108

Legend of the Dogwood.” Great Books Online. 18 Aug 2008. <>.

Guttman, Ariel & Johnson, Kenneth. Mythic Astrology Applied: Personal Healing Through the Planets. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2004





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