Cypress is the common name for the trees and shrubs in the Cupressaceae family of conifers. Cypress have needle-like leaves when they are young, and scale like leaves when they are older. They produce tight, roundish cones. Many of these cones hold tight to their seeds until they are exposed to fire. Cypress trees can be found in Central America, the Western United States, Northwest Africa, Southern China and other parts of Asia, the Mediterranean regions of Europe and the Middle East.
Cypress in History and Folklore
Cyparissus was a youth who had a tame deer that he loved greatly. One day, he was out hunting and he killed a deer with his javelin only to discover that he had killed his own beloved pet. His grief was so great that the Gods (specifically Apollo or perhaps Silvanus or Zephyrus) took pity on him and transformed him into a tree, the Cypress1)See Cyparissus at Theoi.com.
According to Virgil’s Georgics, the Roman God, Silvanus is carries an uprooted cypress sapling.
The cypress is sacred to both Apollo and Artemis, as they were born among the cypress trees in Ortygia2)Theoi.com Artemis Estate & Attributes.
Asclepius’s staff is made of cypress and his sanctuary at Titanes was planted with cypress trees3)Theoi.com Asclepius Cult.
Kyparissiai, Lady of the Cypress, is an epithet of Athene.
The Symbolism of the Cypress
The cypress has been associated with mourning and the underworld since that ancient Greeks, especially throughout the Mediterranean region. Garlands of cypress were placed about homes to indicate that those within were in mourning and it was one of many woods traditionally used for funeral pyres. The Romans kept cypress in the home as long as the body was there and carried it in the funeral procession5)Funeral Customs by Bertram S Puckle Chapter IX. Later, coffins were made of cypress wood. A white cypress tree grows by a spring in Hades’ realm6)Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers, by Kathleen Freeman, , 1. Orpheus.
Cypress is often used as a literary device to indicate mourning and loss7)See Folk-Lore of Shakespear by T.F. Thistleton Dyer Chapter VIII Plants.. (See Sappho’s Conjecture’s, On the Banks of the Ho, Protests of a Widow Against Being Urged to Marry Again.) It is also used in literature to describe someone with a beautiful and graceful figure and a regal bearing. (See Hymn to a Night God,
Cypress in Aromatherapy
Cypress essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves and cones of the cypress tree. The woodsy scent is said to be grounding and to help with concentration and focus and to help gather scattered thoughts. It helps us cope with change and brings about a sense of stability even in the face of change. It soothes the nervous system during times of stress and helps strengthen the psyche. It is particularly comforting for those mourning the death of a loved one. For this purpose, it can be dabbed on the body, added to massage oil, or placed in an oil burner.
Cypress for Healing
The scent of cypress may also be inhaled to treat nasal congestion or the oil may be added to a chest rub or massage oil for the purpose.
Cypress in Ritual and Magick
Cypress resin incense or needles may be burned to purify ritual space.
The fragrance of cypress is especially suited to funerary rites and other rites honoring the beloved dead, such as Samhain festivals.
More Information Online
Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||See Cyparissus at Theoi.com|
|2.||↑||Theoi.com Artemis Estate & Attributes|
|3.||↑||Theoi.com Asclepius Cult|
|4.||↑||Theoi.com Hades Estate and Retinue and Persephone Goddess|
|5.||↑||Funeral Customs by Bertram S Puckle Chapter IX|
|6.||↑||Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers, by Kathleen Freeman, , 1. Orpheus|
|7.||↑||See Folk-Lore of Shakespear by T.F. Thistleton Dyer Chapter VIII Plants.|