The legend of the Silk Cotton tree, the “Mother of all Trees”
The Silk Cotton tree also called “Ceiba petandra” can be found in many parts of the forest in the Caribbean. The trees are gigantic and have wide-spreading branches. There is one very famous Silk Cotton tree nestled in an Amerindian village, Santa Mission, situated about 32 km away from Georgetown, as shown in the pictures below.
The Silk Cotton tree has never become commercially important in the Caribbean but the Natives’ attitude toward the tree can be described as one of reverence and fear. In Guyana, this tree is also called “Kamaka”, in an Indigenous language, meaning “Mother of all trees”. The tree has is regarded as having a soul or a resident spirit. But most often, it is considered to be associated with the souls of the dead, living in its roots.
In the village of Santa Mission, it is said that the roots of the silk cotton tree (as in above pictures) ran through the ground into the creek (picture below). Along with the roots there is supposedly a chain of gold that runs under ground into the creek – and leads to a pot of golden treasures hidden underwater in the creek. To this day, no one has ever tried to dig up that so-called pot of golden treasures, fearing they might make the spirits angry, and get punished for disturbing them.
Legend has it that if someone dares to cut down the silk cotton tree they will face the wrath of the spirits that dwell therein. And a life haunted by spirits is the last thing anyone would want…