Trees: The sacred power of trees

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Caroline Allen explores the mythological roots of trees.

Trees are deeply rooted in the world's mythology. Christians, Celts, Buddhists, Pagans - few groups are without forest folklore.

Trees as bringers of wisdom, according to most mythology. There is Eve and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. A famous Bodhi tree exists in India under which Buddha gained enlightenment. Jesus' hung from a cross often called "the tree", and the Scandinavian god Odin also underwent a resurrection by hanging from the Yggdrasil - albeit upside down. For Celts trees were the homes of the gods. The word Druid means "one having knowledge of the Oak tree". And for Pagans nothing is more intelligent than nature itself.

As our forests are destroyed, we accept we are losing nature's biodiversity, but do we know how much wisdom is being lost?

"We have lost with our great god technology an inherited basic wisdom," says Dr. Anne Ross, an expert in Celtic legends who lives near Aberystwyth in Wales. "This widsom is, if we cared for the things of the earth, we would be cared for by them."

Throughout history humans have held important religious gatherings in the presence of sacred trees. In ancient Ireland five such trees were a great assembly point for kings and tribes. Early Christian authorities built their churches on the sites of pagan sacred trees to incorporate the trees' powers.

"As a Celt, I don't find it difficult to tell you: trees have enormous supernatural and psychic powers," says Dr Ross. "At night the trees take on a different quality and the spirits are not always friendly."

As we clear the forests, we also lose the legends. Our folklore of the future may be, like us, completely disconnected from nature. But then, as Dr Ross says, at the rate we're destroying the trees, there may be no future.

"We need to be taking this extremely seriously. It is ecologically devastating and morally dangerous to destroy forests for commercial gain."

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