A fond farewell from the owls
When deciding on a theme for the month of December, I thought of the tree;
for the most part December is all about The Tree, and the presents under her!
Forests play a prominent role in many folktales and legends. In these dark, mysterious places, heroes can lose their way, face unexpected challenges, and stumble on hidden secrets. Part of the age-old magic of forests lies in the ideas that people have had about trees. In myths and legends from around the world, trees appear as ladders between worlds, as sources of life and wisdom, and as the physical forms of supernatural beings.
With its roots buried deep in the earth, its trunk above ground, and its branches stretching toward the sky, a tree serves as a symbolic, living link between this world and those of supernatural beings. In many myths, a tree is a vital part of the structure of the universe. Gods and their messengers travel from world to world by climbing up or down the tree. The Norse* believed that a tree runs like an axis, or pole, through this world and the realms above and below it. They called their World Tree Yggdrasil. It was a great ash tree that nourished gods, humans, and animals, connecting all living things and all phases of existence.
Yggdrasil the Sacred Ash the Tree of Life
the Mundane Tree of Norse Mythology
In traditional societies of Latvia, Lithuania, and northern Germany, the world tree was thought to be a distant oak, birch, or apple tree with iron roots, copper branches, and silver leaves. The spirits of the dead lived in this tree. Greek folktales tell of goblins in the underworld who try to cut the roots of the tree that is holding up the earth and the sky. Norse legends contain a similar image with an evil serpent forever gnawing at Yggdrasil's roots.
The mythology of early India, preserved in texts called the Upanishads, includes a cosmic tree called Asvattha. It is the living universe, an aspect of Brahman, the world spirit. This cosmic tree reverses the usual order. Its roots are in the sky, and its branches grow downward to cover the earth.
|Asvattha, The Tree of Life, India|
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