Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tree Lore

Buddha beneath the Bodhi Tree
" Tis wise to listen to the voices of trees, for they tell  us much that we might otherwise forget.", wrote the second century philosopher Tacitus. The ever expanding rings of trees tick off the years, decades, generations, centuries. They have long bee viewed as the keepers of memories and the gateways to the Otherworld in folklore. The Saxon word for tree-treow- means truth or trust. The tree, the oldest of living things in many cultures, held the ancient wisdom and knowledge. The Oak in particular, is a tree of mystery and magick,sacred to the mighty Greek god Zeus and the Nordic god Thor.The Oak and it's evergreen parasite, mistletoe, are both revered for their magickal properties by the Druids.

Trees play a part in many diverse religious traditions. Those in the Buddhist heaven known as Khunlun eat fruit from a divine peach tree, as do souls in the Empire of Jade in the Taoist faith. It is said  the fruit allows those who partake of it's sweetness to remain vibrant and young in order to enjoy the splendor of the afterlife. In the Islamic legend of the El-Mounteha, a magickal tree grows in the garden of Djanna which has branches of gold and emeralds, each leaf bearing the name of a living person. During the month of Ramadan the leaves with the names of those who will die during the year fall to the ground at this time. As this happens, new leaves with the names of those who are to be born emerge during the year. A similar tale exists in Africa.

The Norse god Odin hung on Yggdrasil, the "World Tree" for nine long days as an act of sacrifice, and while doing so took up the Runes. The Norns (whose Greek counterparts are the Fates) watered the Yggdrasil with water from a scared well  and coated it with clay so it's branches would not rot, ensuring the immortality of the tree. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Judeo-Christian myth of Adam and Eve is well known.

Tree worship cuts across cultures throughout the world, as evidenced in the custom of suspending or tying items such as ribbons, strings or strips of torn cloth to enlist the favor of local deities. A notable example is the Irish "clootie tree", usually found in close proximity to a sacred well. The items are affixed to the branches of the tree as a tangible reminder of a prayer to the god/ess of the area for a special favor, such as a healing or for a good harvest. The Glastonbury Thorn, a small Hawthorn, is said to have sprouted from he staff of Joseph of Arimathea. The Buddha is said to have gained his enlightenment while lying beneath a Bodhi Tree (believed to be a fig tree).

There is a surreal connection between humans and trees;  try meditating under the vast canopy of a tree, with your back against the trunk sometime. The result is a melding oneness as you seem to be absorbed into the heartwood. This is a particularly good opportunity to try a pathworking or trance journey if you have never experience this before. Simply ask for the tree's help in taking you deep into the place of Indwelling. You will never feel more grounded, more rooted to earth than when sitting beneath a tree.

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