TREES IN ART AND MYTH
The tree of life, middle panel in the Stoclet Frieze. Gustav Klimt. 1907-09.
According to Judeo-Christian tradition (Genesis 2-3), there were three trees that grew in the Garden of Eden. The first was the Tree of the food that was good to eat. The second was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And the third was the Tree of Immortal Life.
The Scythian diviners take also the leaf of the lime-tree (linden), which, dividing into three parts, they twine round their fingers; they then unbind it and exercise the art to which they pretend. Herodotus
In mythology, the linden tree is a symbol of peace, truth and justice. This connection is from Germanic mythology where the linden tree is associated with Freyja, the motherly goddess of truth and love.
According to German folklore, it was not possible to lie while standing under a linden tree. Consequently, Germans often met under linden trees not only to dance and celebrate, but also to hold their judicial proceedings. Christianity later replaced Freyja with the Madonna and rededicated the trees to Mary, the mother of God.
In the yard there grows a Rowan.
Thou with reverent care should'st tend it.
Holy is the tree there growing.
Holy likewise are it's branches.
On it's boughs the leaves are holy.
And it's berries yet more holy. The Kalevala
The Rowan, variously known as the Whispering Tree, Witch wood, Quickbane, Delight of the Eye, and Rune tree, is a tough, small tree which is able to survive in poor, overworked soil. According to the Finnish creation myth, when the Goddess Rauni descended to earth at the beginning of Time, there were no plants. She assumed the form of a Rowan tree and mated with Ukko, the God of thunder. Their offspring are all the plants of the world. Therefore, in this mythology, all plant life is directly descended from the Rowan tree.
Many cultures throughout the world incorporate this tree into their mythology. For instance, the Celts believed that Rowan wood offered protection from evil spirits. It was common practice to plant a Rowan tree next to a Celtic house to protect the home's occupants.
Aspen groves share one root system, which makes them highly adaptive and regenerating, and also results in each grove exhibiting a collective consciousness. A grove can advance across a landscape toward a more favorable environment, or sucker and completely reforest in less than sixty years. In earlier times, recognizing the unusual sentience of this species, Native American shamans wove aspen leaves into crowns, believing that the leaves possessed the power to transport them back and forth between this world and the other.
The jade palace of Hsi Wang Mu, ruler of the western paradise, is on the peaks of the snowy mountain range of K'un-lun and is the home of the Immortals. Every six thousand years Hsi Wang Mu has a birthday celebration which is called P’an-t’ao Hui, ‘the Feast of Peaches.’ The date for the festival exactly coincides with the ripening of the immortal peaches.
According to Taoist myth, the peach orchards of Hsi Wang Mu leaf out once every three thousand years but it is only after an additional three thousand years that the trees bear a season of fruit. The banquet to celebrate this event takes place on the shores of the Yao Ch’ih (Lake of Gems) and is attended by all of the Immortals. The feast includes such delicacies as dragons' liver and phoenix marrow. However, the highlight of the banquet is the rarest of rare Immortal Peach, which has the magical property of bestowing immortality on all who taste it.