“Purple haze, all in my brain
Lately things they don’t seem the same
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
Excuse me while I kiss the sky…” – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

When the Jacarandas blossom in Sydney, it means my birthday is around the corner. November 2nd or Dia de los Muertos as its known in Latin America, is not only my birthday but also the day of the dead which honours ancestral spirits to whom we owe our presence today.

For those who have university experience in Australia, the appearance of the Jacarandas’ clusters of purple blossoms means it’s time to buckle down and study for the exams. Lane Cove and Hunters Hill are renowned for bursts of purple across the skies from late October to late November. If like me, your university days are well behind you, there’s nothing to do but enjoy the splendour and take photos.

Though there are many Jacaranda trees around these parts, not many know that these trees are a native of South America, particularly Brazil. The beauty of the Jacaranda tree attracted the attention of Amazonian natives and a legend spread about the spirit of this tree which continues to inspire artists and entrepreneurs from all around the world.

According to the myth, one day a bird of great beauty carrying the priestess of the moon descended upon the Jacaranda tree. The lovely priestess was on a mission to teach the villagers wisdom and ethics to guide them to live in harmony with all of nature. When she’d taught the mortals all she knew, she returned to the tree adorned in Jacaranda blossoms and ascended to the heavens to be with her lover, the son of the sun.

It may be due to this myth that many Australian campuses are adorned with Jacaranda trees. The intention may be that in striving for passing marks on their exams, the students don’t forget about ethics and use what they learned to realise a fairer world for all of nature’s living things. Passing marks in theoretical classes may no longer be what the world requires of us but greater compassion for all living things so we adapt sustainability practices to ensure new generations can enjoy the beauty we see in the world.

This Spring when we see the Jacarandas blossom, maybe we can create some time and space in our lives to sit down under these trees and have a picnic with the people we value, be they our mothers, fathers, grandfathers, children or friends. Instead of shying away from conversation, maybe we can find the courage to talk about the challenges facing us as individuals and as humanity. If we shared our life experiences with compassion, thought and generosity, we can learn from each other and walk away with greater wisdom. When approached with humility, our neighbourhoods are universities.

Over to you…

What do you associate with the appearance of Jacaranda blossoms? What memories do these purple blossoms stir within you?