Music: "Hark, hark, hark!
how the woods do ring,"
by Matthew White (early 17th century),
used courtesy of the Internet Renaissance Band
Note: Also see under SHAMANISM
and FOOD AND DRINK: Sacrality & Lore
THE GREEN WORLD:
EUROPEAN & CROSS-CULTURAL LORE
Detail from illumination for the astrological sign of Libra
[Courtesy of Netserf]
[Added 10 January 2000]: One of the most famous Green World sites in European lore is the forest where Merlin lies enchanted by Vivian, where the Lady of the Lake rears, arms and trains Lancelot, and where Morgaine roams. From Touchstone, an e-zine created by the English-based Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids (OBOD), comes a lovely essay by Michael Williams on this mythic realm, the "Forest of Broceliande." It opens:http://druidry.org/obod/text/lewes/touchstone/ludschurch.htmlBroceliande. Forest of legends, and of dreams. it is where Merlin the Enchanter lies trapped by his love for the fair Vivian. It is the haunt of Morgaine, luring all unfaithful men to eternal entrapment. It is where, if you tread quietly, the myths rise around you and, even now, you may never return....
[Added 10 January 2000]: Again from OBOD's Touchstone comes another atmospheric essay on yet another famous forest in European lore -- the one belonging to the Green Knight. The essay by Jane Brookes is "Lud's Church," named for a site that still exists. As she describes it:http://www.godecookery.com/mythical/mythical.htm [Link updated 1/2/2000]...Lud's Church is a place which is supremely of earth and water. The stillness here is almost overpowering in its depth. Every shade of green is represented. The atmosphere is bursting with an imminence. There is a sense that this place would have been the last hide-out of some ancient energy or creature of the Land - a
place of final refuge to be coiled into. A cloak of trepidation is impossible to shrug off, winding down into the narrow, twisting gorge....It is the Green Chapel of the tale of Gawain and the Green Knight....
This is James L. Matterer's "Mythical Plants of the Middle Ages," a very handsome, tranquil site that looks at mythic trees (of Life, Knowledge, poison, amber), and other bizarre plants from medieval mythology. It's illustrated with wonderful old woodcuts. At the end are links to more of Matterer's often droll, always elegantly designed and illustrated pages (including several tempting ones on medieval cooking).http://www.mystical-www.co.uk/treemyth.htm
[Added 10 January 2000]: This page from England's Mystical Worldwide Web looks at tree mythology from A to Z. There are many gaps (they're soliciting more entries from readers) but what I saw I liked. Unfortunately, I could find no sources or references for the data.http://www.mystical-www.co.uk/trees.htm
[Added 10 January 2000]: These are "Mystical Trees," again from the Mystical Worldwide Web -- there's a good selection, interesting data but, again, no sources are given. (Note: there is a great deal of space between entries so keep scrolling downwards.)http://www.herbanspice.com/silversage/index.html
[Added 10 January 2000]: This is from "Silver Sage: The Outrageous Herb Lady." She calls her site "Everything you ever wanted to know about HERBS...but were afraid to ASK." Lore is fairly minimal but other sections provide useful information and I like her common sense approach to health.http://www.herblore.com: [Link broken & redirected to Geocites 10/13/00]
This intriguing site, Hena's Herb Garden, looks at the botany, lore, and medicinal/magical uses of more than a dozen herbs. Hena also includes good information on definitions, the preparation of herbs, an ailment directory, and excellent references and links.http://www.open-sesame.com/fplants.html
[Added 5 January 2000]: From Eileen Holland comes this lovely website called "Plant Lore." Information on her alphabetized plants is generally minimal but a handful of trees and plants are given separate links to their own pages -- on these pages, the text is exceptionally rich (see below for direct links to her pages on the Oak and Fungi).http://www.treelore.com/
This is Treelore, an attractive work-in-progress that shows much promise. There are three major categories: Tree Lore & List; Folklore (alphabetized -- and this category includes the trees from the first category); and a growing bibliography. The Tree Lore & List section currently looks at eight trees and plants: alder, ash, birch, "karma-tree," mistletoe, oak, rowan, and willow. The list's creator, Tom Baurley, is completing a Masters degree in anthropology and Folk Studies; when studies permit, he posts new updates --- he also seeks other tree & lore lovers who might wish to contribute to this fine page. [Review updated 2 January 2000]http://www.geocities.com/%7Ebabech/home.htm
[Added 10 January 2000]: This is "Herbs and Alchemy" -- a handsome, music-enhanced (be patient while it loads) page of links compiled by Barbara Harrison Beegle. She currently only has a dozen links in her section on Herbs, but they're exceptionally well chosen (e.g., a link to Beduin shamanic plants like the acacia). For those interested in alchemy, her links there are equally fine and include actual alchemical texts. (Note: although this is a Geocities site, miraculously there are no annoying pop-up ads.)http://paganism.com/ag/articles/goose.html
[Added 10 January 2000]: This lively little site by Ashlynn Ward looks at "Mother Goose." All three of her sections, Omens/Charms, Rituals, and Wood Lore, offer rhymes on trees and plants. (Note: Ward also has an intriguing essay on the historical identity of Mother Goose.)http://www.gardendigest.com/index.htm
[Added 2 January 2000]: This is the "Spirit of Gardening" website from Michael P. Garofalo, a retired library administrator for the County of Los Angeles Public Library. His home page will take you to a wonderful "timeline" of gardening history from ancient Egypt and earlier all the way up to the present time; he also has essays, links, and an amazing and wise collection of poetry and quotes on gardens, gardening, and nature (these are organized into very specific categories so it's easy to find what you want on any topic).http://merlin.net.au/~arachne/resource.html
[Added 5 January 2000]: From Margaret RainbowWeb in Australia comes a superb, deliciously annotated bibliography on trees, ecology, and earth. (Note: if you click on her 'Welcome' page's link at the bottom of her page, you'll go to her excellent "Re-Earthing the Cities" site -- be prepared to spend quality time browsing here.)http://www.nyu.edu/projects/julian/toc.html
[Added 10 January 2000]: This is "A World Community of Old Trees: An Eco-Art Project in Progress," the research portion of June Julian's 1997 doctoral dissertation at New York University. She has gathered tree art, lore, and history from adults and schoolchildren all over the world. This is another good site for browsing.
Temple built around a sacred Pipal (Bodhi) Tree
(Used with the artist's permission)
[Added 4 January 2000]: From "Pitara" in India comes a page on The World of Trees by well-known children's author, Ruskin Bond. The focus is on trees in Southeast Asia; three illustrated excerpts are included on linked pages. The text is insightful and beautifully written -- for example, here's a passage on the peepal (or pipal) tree:http://druidry.org/obod/text/lewes/druid-path/druidtreeloreogham.htmlIn some ways peepal trees are great show-offs. Even when there is no breeze, their beautiful leaves spin like tops, determined to attract you attention and invite you into their shade. And not only do they send down currents of cool air, but their long slender tips are also constantly striking together to make a sound like the pattering of raindrops.The book is for children but it's so well researched and written that it's also a real "find" for adults. (Note: as of 4 January 2000, the website is in the process of establishing an online ordering service so that the book may be ordered directly from India. Meanwhile, I tried to find it on amazon.com without success, although many of Bond's other books are listed there and they too look excellent.)
No wonder the rishis of old chose to sit and meditate under these trees. And it was beneath a peepal that Gautama Buddha gained enlightenment. This tree came to be called the Bodhi, the ‘tree of wisdom’.
To the Hindus, the peepal is especially sacred. Its roots, it is believed, represent Brahma, its bark Vishnu, its branches Shiv Mahadeva. "As the wide-spreading peepal tree is contained in a small seed," says the Vishnu Purana, "so is the whole universe contained in Brahma.....
(Permission pending from British artist, William Worthington)
[Added 9 January 2000]: From OBOD, the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids, comes this intelligent introduction to "Druid Tree Lore and the Ogham [akin to Nordic runes]." It opens in the following way:http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/9344/index.html
Approaching a tree we approach a sacred being who can
teach us about love and about endless giving.
S/he is one of millions of beings who provide our air,
our homes, our fuel, our books. Working with
the spirit of the tree can bring us renewed energy,
powerful inspiration, deep communion....
(Note: If the page should be down, a duplicate is on a Druid site in San Diego, California at: http://www.hvhm.com/obod/druidtreeloreogham.html)
[Added 9 January 2000]: This is the "Spiral Grove," a work-in-progress on the Celtic Ogham. It has several pages on Celtic trees and their lore -- more are to come in the future. The site has a very personal style, shows promise, and deserves a look.http://druidry.org/obod/text/trees/trees.html
[Added 9 January 2000]: Again from the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids [OBOD] comes an index of Celtic trees and shrubs connected with the Ogham. I checked one at random, the Rowan, and found it very well done -- excellent lore as well as nice color photos of tree, blossoms, and berries.http://www.sacredspiral.com/Database/trees/1tree.html [Link updated 10 March 2000]
[Added 4 January 2000]: The oak was sacred to the Celts but also to many other peoples. This plain looking page is a collection of e-mailed quotes on oak trees and acorns -- there's great lore here, also magic, history, ethnobotany, and even recipes for acorn coffee and acorn meal. (Note: the quoted passages lack full publishing data but offer hot links to Amazon.com in case you wish to order the fine books.)http://www.open-sesame.com/oak.html
[Added 5 January 2000]: This is another long, wonderful page of lore on the oak tree from Eileen Holland's "Plant Lore" site (see above). There is a great deal of cross-cultural data -- unfortunately, with the exception of a passage from Robert Graves, no sources or references are given.
Detail of "Doors of Perception 4"
(Used with the artist's permission)
This webpage is one of the projects of the Council on Spiritual Practices. It looks specifically at entheogens, which are:http://www.csp.org/chrestomathy/[lit. generate god or spirit within] psychoactive sacrament; a plant or chemical substance taken to occasion spiritual or mystical experience.It offers a wide range of links exploring the field.
This is a direct link from the above's Council on Spiritual Practices to a page called "Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments" by Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D. Of special interest are two sections: "Title Index" and "Author Index" -- these two alphabetized lists of authors and titles will give you access to excerpts from over 350 books dealing with the role of ethnobotany and psychoactive sacraments (psychedelics, peyote, alcohol, marijuana, etc) in religion, mysticism, and spiritual practice (as opposed to recreational use). There is, for example, an excerpt on Polynesian ethnobotany; there is Barbara G. Myerhoff on the Huichol; there is Mircea Eliade writing negatively on hemp and mushrooms; and there is Sri Aurobindo writing, with eloquence and common sense, on soma, the divine force in plants. The book's two compilers/editors have done an impressive piece of work in giving readers a taste of the overall field and in guiding them to authors who might whet their appetite for deeper study. (For a direct link to one of the many excerpts, see below...)http://www.csp.org/chrestomathy/persephones_quest.html
This is one of the hundreds of excerpts I found at the above site. Intrigued by the title, Persephone's Quest: Entheogens and the Origins of Religion (Kramrisch, Stella; Ott, Jonathan; Wasson, R. Gordon. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1986), I clicked on this one and was fascinated by the following comment on fungi and wine from Kramrisch's text:http://www.resonateview.org/places/writings/larissa/myth.htm [Link updated 10/13/00]The Greeks realized that fermentation was a fungal process. The making of wine involved procedures and symbolism that suggested the tending of the dead and the hope for resurrection, for the blood of the harvested grape was entrusted, like any corpse, to subterranean, tomb-like containers, where the surrounding earth maintained the proper temperature for fermentation; when the process was completed, the containers were opened to release the new god, who returned together with the other spirits from the grave to celebrate a drunken revel on his birthday....
Mushroom Picking in September in Russia
[Courtesy of Russian Sunbirds]
[Added 4 January 2000]: This is part III of a series by Larissa Vilenskaya on Slavic mysteries and contemporary PSI research (for another review of this site as well as her other two essays in this series, check my Pan Slavic page). This essay is "Initiation Rituals in the Slavic Tradition: Traces in Mythology." It begins with a look at Baba Yaga, the famous crone of Slavic mythology, and then it continues with Baba Yaga's possible role in initiation ceremonies involving mushrooms:http://www.open-sesame.com/fungi.html...In virtually all Baba-Yaga legends, she offers the hero something to eat and/or to drink. While treating a guest to food is certainly a part of the Russian custom of hospitality, more often than not Baba-Yaga's visitors are treated to special, magical foods and/or drinks intended for the dead and not for the living (Propp, 1986:66-67). Of these magical foods, mushrooms seem to be most common....This essay is a fascinating piece of work although if your browser, like mine, displays it in such a way that constant sideways-scrolling is necessary in order to read it, you might find it simpler to cut and paste it into another file where you can better control the length of the text's lines.
...When Marija Gimbutas (1995), Lithuanian-born archeologist who conducted extensive studies of ancient cultures in Old Europe, was asked whether she thought that the Goddess-oriented cultures in Europe incorporated the use of mushrooms or some
kind of psycho-active plants into their rituals, her response was positive:"I'm sure they had it. The knowledge still exists in rituals like Eleusis in Greece, where now it's clear that psychedelics were used. From the depiction of mushrooms you can judge that this was sacred...."
[Added 5 January 2000]: From Eileen Holland's "Plant Lore" site (see above) comes this page on mushrooms and toadstools. I like her common sense approach. Without romanticizing these "fairy circles," she provides solid science as well as rich lore -- and frequent warnings (differently colored and in a larger font) to alert readers to the genuine dangers associated with many of these fungi. Her position is made clear from the start:http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/lsd/dying.htmI definitely do not recommend fooling around with hallucinogenic fungi. There are far less dangerous ways to shapeshift, open your third eye, or do astral projection....
[Added 10 January 2000]: This is a first rate except, chapter 2, "The History of Psychedelic Therapy with the Dying" by Stanislav Grof & Joan Halifax, from their book, The Human Encounter with Death (New York: E.P. Dutton 1977).
They look at the work and experiences of Valentina Pavlovna Wasson and her husband Gordon, Aldous Huxley, Eric Kast, and others in the field.
ETHNOBOTANY & FOLK MEDICINE
Medieval Botanical, Meteorological, Visionary Phenomena
[Courtesy of Netserf]
[Added 7 January 2000]: This is "Medicines that Changed the World" by Steven R. King, Ph.D. of Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The focus is on plant medicines from Central and South America. King's essay is engrossing and well illustrated.http://www.cam.org/~jennyb/gypsy.html
[Added 9 January 2000]: This is "Gypsy Folk Medicine," an intriguing site with quite a few recipes for various ailments. The unnamed author also provides a brief but heartfelt introduction to Gypsies:http://www.montana.com/manu/Gypsies are an amazing people - the only group of people living in every corner of the earth without the benefits of power, money, armies, or ever fighting a war. Wherever you travel - to the plains of Hungary, the steppes of Siberia, the gates of Marakesh, the
highlands of Guatemala, or the frozen tundra of Alaska - everywhere you'll find Gypsies....
[Added 4 January 2000]: This website offers an ethnobotanical study of eastern Peru:http://www.anbg.gov.au/anbg/aboriginal-trail.htmlIn November, 1995, Dr. Ethan Russo, a neurologist, spent two months in Eastern Peru's rainforest looking for plants to treat headaches. You'll find photos of the plants he gathered here, along with botanical and medicinal information about them. You'll also find photos of birds, people and the rich forests of Peru....Depending upon your interests, you'll find some sections quite specialized, others more visual and accessible; all of them are intriguing. What I especially enjoyed were glimpses into how the indigenous peoples of the region viewed illness, curative plants, and shamanism.
[Added 5 January 2000]: This page from the Australian National Botanic Gardens looks at ethonobotany among the Aboriginal peoples of Australia. After a fine introduction by Beth Gott, there is a long section on native plants, most of which are illustrated with black and white sketches.
ENDANGERED TREES, FORESTS,
PLANTS, & CROPS:
Facts, Action, & Rituals of Healing
[Detail from medieval illumination for the astrological sign of Aquarius:
courtesy of Netserf]
[Added 8 January 2000]: This site looks at the bristlecone pine, widely used in dating ancient sites. Although there's no lore here, the site gives excellent data on how and why the tree's rings are used in dating. The reason I'm including the website in this "Endangered Trees..." section will be clear if you click on the "Martyred One" page --- the attitude shown by the graduate student who in 1964 thoughtlessly killed what is believed to have been the oldest living thing on earth is unfortunately an attitude still very much alive today.http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/speeches/agriculture_08061998.html
[Added 8 January 2000]: This is "Seeds of Disaster," a carefully reasoned paper against genetic engineering by England's Prince Charles; it first appeared in the Daily Telegraph, June 8, 1998.http://environment.miningco.com/culture/environment/library/weekly/aa032899.htm
[Added 7 January 2000]: From Patricia Michaels at about.com (a.k.a. Mining Co.) comes this page, "Free Speech vs Tree Speech," on environmentalists in Oregon and the rest of the Pacific Northwest. There are links to all sides of the on-going tragedy of "timber wars." [10/13/00: lately about.com has begun an annoying habit of redirecting links for no reason -- thus, what used to work perfectly, now goes to a general page with no link to "Free Speech vs Tree Speech." I'm tired of complaining to them & asking for updates. Perhaps if enough of you are interested enough to notify them, they'll weary of this idiocy.]http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/science/DailyNews/rainforest991209.html
[Added 5 January 2000]: This 9 December 1999 page from the Science division at ABC News is called "Seeds of Woe for Rain Forests," a sobering look at the endangered web of life in Borneo's rain forests. (Note: some news pages expire after a few weeks. I've e-mailed ABC News to ask what their policy is but have not yet had an answer.)http://www.savetheelms.mb.ca/resources.html
[Added 7 January 2000]: From Canada comes "Elm Tree Lore," an eloquent, illustrated essay on the history and lore of elms -- and their struggle to withstand Dutch Elm Disease (D.E.D.):http://www.totap.org.uk/tree.html
...Why do we fight to save the elm tree? There are many amongst us
who believe that we should not - that D.E.D. will kill them all
anyhow. It is just a matter of time. Or is it?
Can a tree disappear that has been around since the Miocene period,
40 million years ago? Incredibly, elm trees have flourished in the
northern temperate areas of the world since that time. And in
England, individual English elms have reached the age of 500
The page includes links to further information as well as to groups trying to find ways to save these endangered trees.
[Added 9 January 2000]: From England's "Trees of Time & Place" comes this site about planting whatever tree lies closest to your heart, thereby helping to reforest earth. (This page opens with the cleverest, funniest animated growing-a-tree [oak] graphic I've ever seen -- I tried putting it on this page but it needs a light background to really work well -- don't miss it!) The serious part of the page tells you in clear, illustrated steps how to grow "your" tree -- 9 are listed but you can e-mail them for advice on others. Here are the 9: ash, beech, birch, cherry, crabapple, hazel, horse chestnut, oak, and rowan. This tree-planting project is endorsed by a Who's Who of British environmental organizations. (Note: among other pages, the site has a lore section but it's trapped in tiny frames & I found it too simplistic to include here. You might enjoy browsing some of these pages, however.)http://druidry.org/obod/text/lewes/druid-path/sacredgroveprogramme.html
[Added 9 January 2000]: From OBOD, the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids, comes the "Sacred Tree and Grove Planting Programme." Perfectly complementing "Trees of Time & Place" (see directly above), this site also offers practical advice but includes Druidic rituals for planting either a single tree or a whole grove. There's also well-written lore and history here, especially on the "magical" hawthorn and birch trees. (If you follow other links -- e.g., to the journal, Touchstone, and elsewhere -- be warned that hours might fly by before you get off this site!)http://druidry.org/obod/text/lewes/touchstone/treesforlife.html
[Added 9 January 2000]: Again from OBOD, this time from their journal, Touchstone, comes a brief but nice essay by Nick Allison, "Trees for Life," about getting involved in environmental issues:http://www.nas.com/jpcolbertart/seasons/tbshvat.html...While dreamers dream of paradise, the men and women of action dig, poison and pollute their way to a fat pay cheque and an undertain future....
[Added 17 January 2000]: There is a powerful Jewish seder for the "Birthday of the Trees," Tu B'Shvat. This essay by Waverly Fitzgerald gives the background, history, as well as her own experiences with this beautiful ritual. This year the feast falls on 22 January 2000 (her page still has a date from an earlier year but her calendar gives the correct one.) Here's an excerpt:...In the sixteenth century, the mystics of Safed associated the tree of the fruit-year with the S'phirot of the Kabalistic Tree of Life. Thus, Tu B'Shvat is the day the Tree of Life renewed the flow of life to the universe. We can help this process, they said, by eating fruit in a holy way.
Waskow describes two slightly different versions of the Tu B'Shvat seder developed by the Kabbalists of Safed. Both are meals of three or four courses, primarily of different types of fruit, chosen to represent the aspects of the process of creation and accompanied by four glasses of wine, mixed in different proportions, representing the seasons.
In modern Jewish practice, the Year of the Tree has been taken even more literally and many communities plant trees on this day in their own communities plant trees on this day in their neighborhoods as well as sending money to support the planting of trees in Palestine. At the same time, it has taken on a new symbolic significance as "a day of celebration and reaffirmation of the necessity of protecting God's world." A number of new Hagaddot have developed which focus on healing the wounded earth....
Waverly provides full details for holding this ritual meal in your own home.
Crones & Sages
Dragons & Serpents
Earth Goddesses & Gods
Floods, Storms, Rainbows, & Other Weather Wonders
Food: Sacrality & Lore
Landscape: Sacrality & Lore (Mountains, Wells, Springs, Pools, Lakes, Caves, Labyrinths, Spiral Mounds, Crop Circles, Stone Circles, Feng Shui)
Nature Spirits of the World
Rituals of Puberty
Sacred Theatre, Dance & Ritual
Sky Goddesses & Gods
Star Lore & Astrology
Symbols, Signs, & Runes
Time (Calendars, Clocks, Natural Temporal Cycles, Attitudes toward Time, & Millennium Issues)
Trees & Plant Lore
Tricksters, Clowns, Magicians, Jesters & Fools
Weather-Working: An experimental ritual in cyberspace
Weaving Arts & Lore (Cosmic Webs, Spinning, Spindles, Clothing)
Down to Geographical Regions: Africa
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