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Title: Trees Myth and Lore
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From: USA
Registered: 11/21/2008

(Date Posted:01/25/2009 00:56 AM)
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Myths and Lore

Since time began the tree has been recognized as a symbol of life and regeneration and to some of sacred knowledge. To primitive man the tree and its by-products were a source used in all aspects of life. It offered Shelter from the elements, Food from its fruit, Heat from a fire, Clothing from its bark and Tools as well as Weapons from its wood. Little wonder then that the tree evolved as one of the earliest symbols of reverence to worship.

Of old the Oak tree was thought to have been the primary symbol of worship and then other trees were given prevalence. Trees in general were believed to have been the God incarnate. Kings, Queens, Emissaries, Priests and Priestesses all carried branches of Oak (or those of the other sacred trees) as symbols of their authority. The Staff (also made from rowan, walnut, birch and beech) became a symbol that the bearer was an emissary of the gods.

Tree symbolism was common throughout continental Europe and the British Isles and appears in the lore and mythology of many cultures. Some believed that giant trees supported the World, others like the Greco-Romans believed that the Gods themselves transformed into trees. The Celts and Teutons believed that the first human beings were descendant from trees.

In many Pagan beliefs the tree was considered magical, it’s roots extended beneath the earth and beneath the earth was a realm of great mystery. This was the Underworld, the predominant place of the God and ancestral spirits. But so did a trees branches bare fruit and reach up into the heavens another realm of great mystery and the predominant place of the Goddess, where the physical manifestations of both the God and Goddess could be seen in the Sun, Moon and Stars. Birds were thought to be the messengers of the gods and they often nest in trees to rear their young, so the trunk of the tree itself became a bridge between the worlds.

The old mystical belief of 'as above, so below' came from trees. The tree has two equal parts, the top that reached into the heavens – 'as above', and a virtually identical part that reached deep down into the earth – 'as below'. This refers to the belief that whatever is in the unseen world is replicated and manifest in the physical world (one of the basic principles behind all magic). As the tree physically unites the heaven with the earth, so the Goddess and God became one.

In folklore many pagan gods sacrificed themselves on trees, an act that reunited them with the 'all that is' and the afterlife of reincarnation. In some traditions it was believed that only women could enter the afterlife (known to some as 'Tir-na-nog', or the 'Land of the Forever Young') and that man must first be reabsorbed into the womb before passing on. The tree with its all-reaching circle of life, death, earth and sky fulfills this symbolism.

Nature spirits and elementals are believed to dwell in trees, normally indisposed to helping humans, they could under certain circumstances be partitioned to aid in magic and to communicate with deities. Tree fairies lived high up in the branches watching out for children and laughing at human folly, while gnomes the earth elementals were said to make their homes in the roots of oak trees. There they could watch out and protect all of earths creatures.

Trees were also used to bind and trap evil spirits. This was normally done through the use of prayers and spells. In folklore trees were often planted over the graves of evil magicians and wicked witches to keep their spirits from returning and harassing the living. It was believed that the trees roots trapped their souls beneath the earth in that realm of great mystery.

While trees had always been considered sacred, much of their associations have been credited to the ancient Druids. It was the druids that developed the practice of tree magick particularly in relation to healing. They devised rituals and methods of divination using trees, and codified the Celtic calendar by allocating a tree to each of the 13 yearly phases of the moon, each tree being sacred to either the Goddess or God.

Starting with Samhain in November the original beginning of the Celtic new year, I list here the 13 trees (actually 12 trees and one plant the 'Ivy') with their noon associations and their general magical properties. Other associations and correspondences can be found under their individual titles:

Birch – November - Samhain - also known as the Moon of Inception and/or Moon of Beginnings. Magical properties – Protection of children and Purification.

Rowan – December - Yule – also known as the Moon of Vision and/or the Astral Travel Moon. Magical properties – Healing and Empowerment.

Ash – January - Ostara – also known as the Moon of Waters. Magical properties – Prosperity, Protection and Healing.

Alder – February - also known as the Moon of Utility, Moon of Efficacy or Moon of Self-Guidance. Magical properties – Completeness and Spirituality.

Willow – March - Imbolc – also known as the Witches Moon and/or Moon of Balance. Magical properties – Love, Healing, Protection and Fertility.

Hawthorn – April - Beltane – also known as the Moon of Restraint and/or Moon of Hindrance. Magical properties – Fertility, Peace and Prosperity.

Oak – May - also known as the Moon of Strength and/or Moon of Security. Magical properties – All positive purposes.

Holly – June - Litha – also known as the Moon of Encirclement and/or Moon of Polarity. Magical properties – Protection, Prophecy and all magick for animals.

Hazel – July - also known as the Moon of the Wise and/or Crone Moon. Magical properties – Manifestation, Protection and Fertility.

Vine – August - Lughnasadh – also known as the Moon of Celebration. Magical properties – Prosperity, Protection, Healing, Inspiration and Spirituality.

Ivy – September - Madon – also known as the Moon of Buoyancy and/or Moon of Resilience. Magical properties – Healing, Protection, Cooperation and Exorcism.

Reed – October - also known as the Moon of the House, Hearth Moon or the Moon of Truth. Magical properties - Fertility, Love and Protection.

Elder - Last two days of October and first day of November - also known as the Moon of Completeness. Magical properties – Prosperity, Healing, Banishing and Exorcism.
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