Her roots reach to the very center of the Earth where they wind around the sacred wells, the deep source of wisdom…
Possessing the potent powers of fertility, growth, resilience and longevity, the tree is widely seen as the progenitor of the world. Family Tree. The Tree of Life. The tree goddess was seen as a sylph, an airy tree spirit who resides among the green leaves, sustaining and nurturing the vegetative forces. She is the symbol of the flow of life, a Mother Goddess who is Herself the Tree of Life.
The Maasai people claim their descent from an original parent tree. For the Slavs, the world tree is the symbol of all relationship, and as such, is held as the central philosophical image in that culture. The Maya of Central America understand themselves to be part of a great celestial ceiba tree. This silk-cotton tree, which stands for all life is the pole at the center of the Earth and serves to hold up the heavens. The Koran refers to the cosmos as a tree.
Yggdrasil, the World Ash, is the tree goddess of the Scandinavian underworld who overreaches the human abode, touching the sky with Her branches. Her roots reach to the very center of the Earth where they wind around the sacred wells, the deep source of wisdom.
The Hebrew goddess, Asherah, was associated with a sacred tree. Asherah means tree in Hebrew and her epithets include “Lady of the Sea,” “Tree of Life,” “She Who Gives Birth” and for the Caananites, “Mother of the Gods.” Through Her association with trees, She was seen as the bringer of fertility, new growth and successful crops. She was the conscientious caretaker nurse of nature. The Canaanite Goddess of Love, Fertility and Childbirth was Malidthu the spirit of the fragrant Myrrh-tree.
The Greek goddess Athena was represented by an eternally flourishing olive tree. Aphrodite was associated with the myrtle tree. Helen, of Troy fame, was worshipped as a tree on the Greek island of Rhodes into the 19th Century AD.
Old European spring festivities were held in honor of the trees and their mistresses, the virgin vegetation goddesses. Mid spring was celebrated as Floralia by the Romans, Walpurgisnacht by the Tuetons, and Beltane by the Celts, ro-antic devotions for Flora, Walpurga and Maia, for whom this month is named.
Maia, whose name means “grandmother, midwife or wise one,” can be connected to Maya, the pre-Vedic mistress of perceptual reality who was the virgin mother of the Buddha. The Greek goddess, Maia was the virgin mother of Hermes. The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ, is the patroness of the month of May, which the early church dedicated to Her.
The redwoods in Oregon and California are the largest living things on Earth. Unimaginably tall and thick, they have been growing for four thousand years, and they are growing still. The secret of their survival? In times of drought they reach out with their root systems to connect with their neighbors, thus allowing them to share whatever water there is. Those majestic, mighty mamas slung with shawls of moss stand stolidly in the heart of the primordial fern forest. As old as Egyptian papyrus, they stand there and bear witness. Standing tall through it all.
The tree supports and centers our relationship with the Earth and reminds us of our own connection to the sacred life source. In the tall and stately tree we can see a projection of our own best selves. We aspire to stand strong like the tree. Proud and erect, our foundation planted firmly in solid rock, we weather the storms that swirl around us. Our stance is solid yet supple. Flexible, our outward, upward reach extends, bends always toward the light.
We, too, manufacture our sustenance from the sun. And so do we, just like the tree, nourish and provide for and shelter and heal those who depend upon us. We share the very breath of life with the tree, an ongoing exchange of air. If the tree sickens and dies, so do we. We are the tree. We are the Family Tree of Humanity. May we grow together to be the Universal Tree of Peace.
Arbol de la esperanza
Tree of hope
– Frida Kahlo
Donna Henes, Urban Shaman, has been a contemporary ceremonialist for 40 years. Mama Donna, as she is affectionately known, is the award-winning author of The Queen of My Self, The Moon Watcher’s Companion, Celestially Auspicious Occasions: Seasons, Cycles, and Celebrations, Dressing Our Wounds In Warm Clothes and Moon Watcher’s Companion, as well as the CD, Reverence To Her: Mythology, the Matriarchy, & Me. She is also a columnist for UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum. In addition to teaching and lecturing worldwide, she maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice and consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, New York, Mama Donna’s Tea Garden And Healing Haven, where she offers intuitive tarot readings and spiritual counseling, and works with individuals and groups to create personally relevant rituals for all of life’s transitions.