~ John Muir ~
There are over 1100 Acacia species worldwide. The Acacia Seyal found in the Arabian deserts is said to be the ~Shittah tree~ of the scriptures. According to legend, Set killed Osiris and put his body in a coffer and set it afloat on the Nile. The coffer landed in Byblos and an acacia tree grew around it. Since the tree had a wonderful scent, it was used to make a pillar for the king's palace. Isis found the pillar and broke it to release Osiris. Egyptians made coffins, from the wood.
According to Tyrol belief, the Alder tree was used by sorcerers. One legend tells of a small boy who climbed a large tree, and saw a number of sorcerers at the foot of the tree. They cut a dead woman's body and threw the pieces high into the air, so high that the boy caught one of the pieces. When the pieces fell down, one piece was missing so the sorcerers replaced the missing piece with wood from the Alder tree, and the woman came back to life. Since then tree has been associated with death and resurrection. It has oracular powers. When feeling threatened, the Celts would invoke the spirit of Alder. Alder sybolisms are conquering of adversaries and finding strength from within.
The almond tree is a native of Asia and North Africa. The origin is traced to Phyllis, a beautiful Thrcian queen. She married Demophoon, the son of Theseus and Phadra. Demophoon was called to Athens when his father died. He did not return to Phyllis, within a month, as promised and Phyllis died of a broken heart. In death she was transformed into an almond tree. When Demophoon returned he was overwhelmed with guilt and grief and went to the tree which had formerly been his wife. She loved him even in death and in response to his grief the almond tree immediately put forth pink blossoms thereby proving that her affections had not changed.
A pink-blossomed almond tree is planted near St.Valentine's grave in the Church of Praxedes in Rome. Today, the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship.
The Apple is the earliest cultivated tree, with a fine-grained wood. Known as the ~Fruit of the Gods~ it is the symbol of immortality and sexuality, associated with the planet Venus. Apples and cider have aphrodisiac qualities. Apples were used in magic rituals of love in Europe during the Middle Ages. It is said that if a woman wanted a man to response to her loving she had to sleep with an apple under her arm and persuade the man to eat it the following day. He would then have eyes for her only.
According to legend, if the sun could be seen shining through the branches of an Apple tree on December 25, Christmas Day, then the owner, would have a healthy crop. To ensure this, he had to put a piece of toast in the fork of the the largest Apple tree in the orchard. It was said that if a ~Crab Apple~ tree grew near a well, whilst blossoming out of season, there would be more births and marriages than deaths in a community.
~Wassail Parties~ were held by men, where cider was made (Somerset, England). They gave thanks to the wood spirits that safeguarded the crop, in songs and verses while throwing cider on the trees.
In Norse myth, Idunna was the keeper of the ~apples of immortality~ which kept the Gods young. Hera received golden apples when she married Zeus, which she placed under the guard of the dragon Aldon in the garden of Hesperides. Eris (the goddess of discord), threw an apple into the assembly of gods, which Paris presented to Aphrodite, causing the ruin of Troy and suffering to the Greeks.
It was known as the ~shelter of lunatics~ because of its otherworldly spirit. Celtic Shamans, who traveled the Otherworld, were considered to be mad in a divine sense.
In Roman times, apples were used as laxatives. Apples reduce blood cholesterol levels. The blossoms are added to love sachets, brews and incenses.
Apple blossoms are the state flowers of Michigan and Arkansas
New York, West Virginia, Washington and Rhode Island have adopted the apple as their official state fruit. In the language of flowers the Apple tree stands for Temptation
Ash is a large deciduous tree. It can reach a height of 45m and live for over 200 years. Ash is the Scandinavian tree of universal magic. It was referred to in the Eddas as the species of Yggdrasil - the ~World Tree.~ It is said that the first man, named Ask, was created from the branches and flesh of the Ash tree. According to the scared book of the north men, Edda, the great ash tree, under whose shade the gods held their court, represented the universe. The Ancient Greeks thought that at the beginning of time cloud-ash produced spawning small melia which came together and resulted in man being created.
Ash is used in spells. Celts used Ash for making spears which had greater magical powers, than the Wand. It was a symbol of the Shamans willpower.
In North America, strips of black ash were split to make splints for baskets and hoops. It was used in weaver's beams and women would weave cloth.
The seeds of the Ash have been used in love divination. If the seeds did not appear on a tree the owner was said to have been unlucky in love, or a future venture would not be successful. Finding a leaf by chance, success was doubly assured if the Ash leaf was kept or worn by the person. Fresh ash leaves kept under the pillow stimulated psychic dreams. In the North of England it was said that if a woman placed an Ash leaf in the left shoe, she would meet her future spouse immediately. According to another English belief, if the winged seeds do not appear then a reigning monarch will die.
A Norwegian love story tells of ~Axel Thordsen and Fair Valdborg.~ They were not a couple in life but when they died they were buried next to each other. An Ash tree was planted on each grave. As the trees grew to the same height the branches inclined and became entwined.
According to a Scandinavian legend a giant once instructed a community to place the Ash tree on a church altar. inorder to destroy the church. The people did not follow his instruction, but instead put the Ash tree on top of a grave. It immediately burst into flames.
In the language of flowers the Ash Tree symbolizes Grandeur
This tree was referred to as ~Distinguished man or wood.~ In Old Irish, the word for ~wood~ and the word for ~knowledge~ came from the same root. The leaves of the Aspen tree were believed to tremble, hence it is also known as the ~Shivering Tree.~ The Greek word ~kepkis,~ which means ~shuttle~ was given to this tree because of the movement of the leaves.
It is believed that the cross on which Christ was crucified was made from the wood of the Aspen tree. The tree was filled with grief and remorse at being connected with the Crucifixion. The Aspen was the only tree reputed not to bend but to tremble as a result.
According to a legend from Germany, the Holy Family was walking in a forest and all the trees bowed. The only tree that didn't was the Aspen. Seeing this Christ cursed the tree, and the leaves began to tremble and have continued to do so ever since.
The movement of Aspen leaves have been associated with women's tongues. Aspen is said to cure fevers, as it was believed to have curative powers. The nail clippings of the sick person were placed in a hole cut in the trunk that was covered again to seal the tree. This was effective only if it was carried out at night.
In the language of flowers the Aspen Tree symbolizes Lamentation; Sighing
Beech tablets were used as writing surfaces. Beech and book have the same word origins. Beech is concerned with ancient knowledge as in old objects, places and writings.
It is said that the God and Goddess Apollo and Athena sat in a Beech tree having transformed into vultures and watched the fight between the Trojans and the Greeks.
A temple was erected for Zeus in the sacred grove of trees of ~Dodona,~ in Epirus, Ancient Greece. The Beech tree conveyed messages from Zeus to the worshippers. The presence of Zeus at the temple was thought to be signified by the rustling of the tree. A hill called ~Corne~ near Tusculum also had of a grove of Beech trees which were sacred to the goddess Diana. The orator Crispus was said to have found peace under the Beech trees.
Diviners in search of water hidden underground are known to use forked branches from the Beech tree traditionally called Wishing Rods.
In the language of flowers the Beech tree symbolizes Prosperity; Lovers' tryst
Also known as ~Lady of the Woods,~ ~ Paper Birch~ and ~ White Birch.~ There are 50 species of Birch trees and shrubs. Birch twigs were fixed above a lover's door on May Day in Cheshire, England, and placed in stables and houses to promote fertility. Young men, women and cattle were struck with birch twigs for this same purpose. Strips of the bark are used in love magic. The bark was also used in ancient times for writing.
It is one of the three pillars of Wisdom (Oak, Yew, Birch). The ~Lieschi~ or ~Genii of the Forest~ are said to dwell in their tree tops. These creatures were said to view the world from the top of the trees. Placing Birch branches in a circle with the points towards the centre was said to provide a way of the forest devils appearing.
Russian folk would hang a stem tied with a red ribbon to rid themselves of the evil eye. Another Russian tale believes that the Mother of God sits on top of a Birch tree on the Island of Buian.
Many farmers planted Birch around their houses to protect against lightning. Modern Druids burn it to cleanse and purify themselves during ceremonies. By binding together birch twigs and gently striking possessed people and animals with it, the haunting spirits can be exorcised. In Scandinavia, switches of birch are used on the bodies to stimulate the process of purification in the sauna and in Britain a Birch rod was used to purify criminals of their sins and misdeeds, and to expel evil spirits. It was also used as the schoolmaster's/mistress' rod. Birch represents the first moon of inception and in rituals, of deciding which spiritual seeds one should plant in the year. To communicate with the Goddess, one has to meditate in a Birch grove. It is used to make sets of runes for divination by gathering the wood during the waxing of the moon. Witches made their traditional brooms out of Birch. Cradles and canoes were made from this wood.
According to an Estonian legend, a man sleeping under the birch tree was woken by a peasant to save him from the approaching storm. The man thanked the peasant who told him that, 'When, far from thy country and experiencing homesickness, thou shalt see a crooked Birch, strike it and ask, 'Is the crooked one at home?'. It is said that later, when the man became a soldier in Finland he was homesick. Remembering what the peasant had said, he was surprised by the appearance of a crooked birch. As the soldier was repeating the expression, he was shocked to see the peasant appear. The peasant called upon the spirits that were known to him. He asked the spirits to relieve the man's suffering. Instantly the soldier was transported to his home with a knapsack full of shining silver.
It is associated with the deities - Frigg and Idunna and is the first tree of the Ogham. Birch is considered feminine and is associated with the planet Venus, the element water, the God Thor, and imbued with the powers of protection, exorcism, and purification. It represents new starts and new journeys. The Birch tree symbolizes Gracefulness; Meekness; Self sacrifice; Devotion. Every part of the tree is edible.
Prunus spinosa L
Family : Rosaceae
Blackthorn is a winter tree with deadly thorns. Its thorns are used to pierce waxen images. Blackthorn indicates strong action of fate or outside influences that must be obeyed. Blackthorn symbolizes transition, sudden change, death. In the Celtic legend, ~Pursuit of Diarmaid and Grainne,~ there was a woman, Sadhbh, who after eating the fruit from a blackthorn tree, become pregnant, and gave birth to a son with a winding lump across his head. This lump was a snake, which was killed in compensation for another mans life.
Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar)
Cupressaceae (Cedar family)
This tree was used by Native Americans of the Plains. Cedar twigs were placed on hot stones for purification purposes. The Pawnee burned twigs of the ceder tree to free from nightmares and nervous conditions. In the ancient world, incense made from the Ceder tree was highly valued. The best insense came from Lebanon. In the language of flowers, the Cedar stands for Strength.
According to European folklore, if you repeat this short rhyme when counting the number of Cherry stones you have, you will know if and when you are to marry.
1. This year
2. Next year
The owner of a Cherry tree could be sure of having a rich crop of fruit if the first ripe cherry was eaten by a woman who had just given birth to her first child.
Forest demons were believed to live in Cherry trees according to Danish folklore. In Lithuania the guardian of the Cherry was called ~Kirnis.~
According to Serbian folklore, the Vila are beautiful female creatures similar to Fairies and Elves. They live in the hills and forests, often by Cherry trees and pass their time by singing and dancing. Always dressed in white, with long hair, they break men's hearts as they fly over. When travelling through the forests the Vila make a sound similar to that of the woodpecker, and ride seven year old stags which are bridled with snakes. Folklore has it that should a parent discipline a child and indicate that they have the Devil in them, then the Vila are thought to have a right to take the child to protect it.
Coconut is the national tree of the Maldives. It is one of the most important crop trees of the Tropics. All parts of the coconut tree are used.
Samoans believed that a coconut tree, called the ~Tree of Leosia of the Watcher,~ grew at the entrance to Pulotu, the World of Spirits. According to the Maoris, the coconut sprung from the head of the eel-god Tuna who had been sacrificed to redeem mankind. Unripe nuts represented heaven and the underworld. In the New Hebrides, the Malekula funeral rites include eating coconut so that the mourners can communicate with the dead. Hindus use coconuts as offerings to the gods, on festivals.
Chinese name for the coconut ~Ye-tsu~ or ~YŁe-wang-t'ou,~ means the ~head of the Prince of YŁe.~ According to legend, Prince Lin-yi was fighting with the Prince of Yue. The Prince of YŁe was killed while he was intoxicated. His head was hung on a tree, which changed into a coconut with two eyes in its shell, hence the name. According to the eastern African tribe Wanika cutting down a coconut tree is equivalent to murdering a parent.
Some Sri Lankans say that the coconut tree sprung from the head of where an astrologer was buried. Others say that it originated from where the head of a horrible monster had been buried. The Dyaks of Borneo transfer the souls of their newborns to coconut shells to protect them for the first year of life. Fijians believe that the fate of the child is tied to the coconut tree so they plant a new tree when a baby is born. Coconut shells are used to bury the afterbirth in the Philippines.
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