For centuries the Hemlock tree has been an integral part of the North American Eastern Seaboard. These majestic trees have sheltered an unimaginable number of animals and people with there large branches and dense blankets of needles. Having had such an influence on so much life, it is no wonder that the Hemlock tree is considered magical for those who have had the experience of being embraced by one.
In 1847 poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie and made this mystic reference to the Hemlock tree:
“This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic, stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms. Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean 5 Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.”
Even if you have never seen a Hemlock tree, this description makes you feel like you have. Standing under the branches is like being on a chin behind a dense beard, where the owner has never applied a drop of beard balm. Like untamed beard hairs, the needles of the Hemlock stick out in thousands of directions.
The needles of the Hemlock are scattered through stories handed down by the Native Americans. In each, the needle is used as a magical object to rejoin lost lovers, or to bring people back home. In others they grow magically and offer aid to the heroes and heroines of the fable.
Native Americans along the east coast also used the Hemlock for their religious ceremonies. Makah tribes even used its wood to construct their sweat lodges. This was considered a sacred tree to most of the original inhabitants of the Americas as they saw its ability to house and feed the hundreds of animals in their forests.
It is our job to preserve these legends and the mystique that surrounds the Hemlock forest. Not only are they home to wildlife, they are home to imagination and creativity from hundreds of years ago. By allowing them to perish, we are allowing an important part of history to be wiped out of the North American landscape forever.
Please do what you can to help and stop the spread of the tiny insect killing mighty trees. You can work to raise funds, or even visit a forest yourself and help in administering the necessary treatments to the trees. Once you become enveloped inside of their needles you will immediately understand why they have inspired magical myths and lore.