We are in the season of the summer and have just celebrated the Solstice. I work with Ogham in my spiritual practice because it brings nature into my life so effectively. It helps me listen to the many messages available to me from my kindred in nature. In Celtic tradition, the tree for the Summer Solstice is Heather, something we can all associate with Scotland and Ireland, but the alternate tree for this season is the Linden, actually much more prevalent all over Europe.
Let’s take a look at the linden tree, its botanical profile as well as the messages it shares with us.
Called lime trees in the British Isles, (not closely related to the lime fruit) and linden, lime, or basswood in North America. Lindens are hermaphroditic and have perfect flowers with both male and female parts.
The wood of linden trees is soft and easily worked. Throughout history it has been used for sculpture, model building, shields, altar pieces, marionettes and puppets. Having a fine light grain and being comparatively light in weight it has been used for carving, even though more modern alternatives are available.
Both the European and American Lindens flower in early summer, and the flowers have a wonderful heady sweet scent.
The tea made from the linden flower is pleasing to the taste. The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are used for medicinal purposes as flavonoids, antioxidants, and it has astrigent properties. The flowers are used for colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache, and as a diuretic, antispasmodic and as a sedative. The double-flowered species are used to make perfumes. The leaf buds and young leaves are also edible raw.
Originally, communities not only assembled to celebrate and dance under a linden tree, but they also held their judicial meetings in order to restore justice and peace. It was believed that the Linden tree preserved the truth.
In mythology, the linden tree is a symbol of peace, truth and justice. This connection comes from Germanic mythology and the linden tree’s association with Freyja, the motherly goddess of truth and love.
Freyja is the most important goddess in the Norse pantheon. She and Odinn are the two most loved and respected. She is the daughter of a giantess and was suckled at the breasts of the nine giantesses (primordial mothers). It is thought she was born parthogenically and later fostered to the Vanir. The Giants reflect primordial power within the Norse cosmology. They exist outside of time and prior to all creations. We are told that Freyja is the ancestor of femaleness, known as dsir. That she comes from the primordial and creative power of the giants, tells us that Freyja is, herself, primordial and outside of time. She is the sacred daughter of the “mothers” and is self-resurrecting. Freyja is not only a shapeshifter, but also an immortal figure, someone who not only was alive at the beginning of time, but who will remain alive after the end days and life on earth, as we know it.
Freyja, known as “Ancestor Spirit”, is viewed as the timeless, self-renewing energy in the universe. She witnesses and shapes the direction of creation and undoing. She is not the originating, creating Goddess, but rather a conduit for energy and life. Women who learn seiðr become like her, living conduits.
Freya is famous for her great beauty, and called “The Fair One.” She represents fertility and is known for both lust and love. I see Her sexuality as representing her magical powers of creation. Sexual orgasm is a fundamental, primary and potent force in magic and manifestation.
Summer Solstice is the time when the Goddess sacrifices her consort in orgasmic union. The bees emulate this dance with the drone’s attraction to the Queen, dying a climactic dance of death. According to legend, the Linden tree was considered sacred because the bees desired their taste which resulted in a wonderful honey. It was often called the bee tree.
In German folklore, the linden tree is the “tree of lovers.”
While softly rings
While softly rings
The evening’s cool wind
Above me the holy Tilia
In a Greek myth, the gods turned Baucis and Philemon, a devoted old couple, into an oak and a linden tree when they died. The trees grew close together.
Philemon (linden tree) and Baucis (oak tree) were an elderly couple where they lived who welcomed the disguised gods into their humble dwelling. Because of their hospitality they were saved from the destruction and were led to a mountain. Their home became a temple and they, the caretakers of the temple. They were standing by the temple steps discussing their coming deaths when each saw the other sprouting leaves; one turned to oak (Baucis) and the other to linden (Philemon).
It is believed that the linden tree’s presence protects against ill luck and against the lightning strike. It also repels spirits that bring harm to the home. Interesting because it is honored within the same time period as the oak, the tree that courts the lightning bolt!
This ancient fragrant flowering tree has often been planted along streets leading majestically from one place to another. The flower essence of Linden suggests to us that ushering us through thresholds is a gift of Linden. Linden offers us timeless wisdom about vibrational adaptation. As we continue to adapt to match the rising planetary vibration, Linden can help us to evolve in ways that we can integrate this vibration while also staying grounded. Linden can help us move through this time with greater ease and grace.
The summer Solstice occurs in the month of June which holds the lunar cycle of Oak. It is the seventh moon of the lunar year and therefore a threshold cycle. The word for Oak is Duir, meaning door. Linden flower essence is then, most appropriate as a threshold aid.
The Linden tree tells us much about the season of summer. It is a time to relish the abundance of the Earth’s gifts to us. It is a time for fun and frolic and a time of love making. The Linden tells us to play, to dance, to smell the sweet perfume of life, to make passionate love and to enjoy this season of abundant color! Taste of the sweetness of the linden flower – taste of the honey and know the ecstasy of life!
Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess, and author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Druidism, Celtic Shamanism, Goddess Spirituality and mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.
15 thoughts on “Linden – Taste the Sweetness of Summer by Deanne Quarrie”
There are some Linden trees on my walks that I love: I didn’t know they were hermaphroditic, or anything much about them, so thanks for the info. There are special people whose psyches are both male and female. My father was wonderfully inclusive, and seemed to have had that double sort of personality, maybe too because he was a Gemini. In literature, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot seems to me likewise.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a linden tree, but now I’d like to. Excellent, fact-filled, thought-provoking blog, and lots more interesting (to me, at least) than some of the religio-political discussions we’ve been having lately. Thanks!
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I always drink linden teat this time of year, to get me in the mid-summer mood. This is Oxana, by the way, from Feminism and Religion :-) My Grandmother and Great grandmother actually collected linden flowers in southern Russia where they lived. WHere I grew up in the forest of taiga linden does not grow…
The Linden tree sounds lovely. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. But, I’m going to ask at our local arboretum if they have any. I’m also going to do a Google search for the tea. I agree that sometimes we get a bit caught up in the politics and/of religion. I know that I do. Deanne’s,wonderful blog reminds us to just breathe and enjoy. Where we live in central Ohio this time of year the roadsides are abloom with wild daylilies. They aren’t really lilies at all, but are hemerocallis fulva. Hemero is the Greek word for day. And callis means beautiful cup. Each flower opens and lasts for only one day, thus the name. I must remember that it is important not to miss any of the beauty of nature for summer is so brief.
The thing that I love about this blog is that we do get such variety – so many view points! Most of what I write does relate back to nature and human issues as related to spirituality. I enjoy the many different religions presented here from a woman’s point of view and the feminist politics. This blog gives us the privilege of seeing so many perspectives!
Now I know why Pippi Longstocking’s creator wrote under the name “Astrid Lindgren” (lind = linden in Swedish). Pippi embodies so many summer qualities.
My first exposure to linden trees was in Carpinteria, CA where the main drag is called Linden St. It is lined with linden trees (as well as palm trees). I worked there and would go down Linden St to the beach to have my lunch with the seagulls and one lone crow.
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Beautiful and informative post on one of my favorite trees, Linden trees! Love their Goddess connection. <3
Hi Deanne —
I enjoyed this article in large part because I LOVE linden trees. I learned years ago that they were called basswood in the US, but never changed over to that term, because I think linden is much prettier. And given the linden flower’s pungent fragrance, basswood just wouldn’t do.
I don’t know where you got your information about Freya, but much of it is untrue. As a Ph.D. in German Literature, I had to read one of the Eddas (I forget which one) in Old Norse and, because I’m mostly German, I have been interested in Germanic/Norse gods and goddesses ever since I found feminist spirituality in 1976. You’re right to say that Freya was the most important Norse goddess. But she was not a giantess (Jötunn) but a Vanir goddess until the Vanir/Aesir war, when she was incorporated into the Aesir pantheon. She never was a giant, nor was she suckled by 9 giantesses. She also was not the leader of the Valkyries. This is a linguistic misunderstanding (see http://www.patheos.com/blogs/pantheon/2011/01/wyrd-designs-correcting-common-misperceptions-freyja-the-valkyrie/) coupled with the fact that Freya houses half of those slain in battle in the afterlife. And I’ve never seen her called “Ancestral Spirit” and She never had any children in the eddas, etc.
truly there is much misinformation out there! No Lady Dis? No references connecting her to Disir?
Someone gave me this link – after I wrote what I did https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOn1kffri78
I just came across Maria Kvilhaug (whose video you indicate above) on the internet recently. She seems to be one of the best sources of information on Norse mythology. I loved how in this video whose link you sent (and I just watched), she talks about Freyja in all the Eddas and poems as a specific goddess, and then indicates that as the great shape-shifter, she is, of course, all of the Vanir and Aesir goddesses, the norns, disir, the fylgja, etc., i.e. She’s the Great Goddess. That’s a statement that only someone who has read the Eddas 50 times (and who knows how many times she’s read the other skaldic and heroic poetry) can say with such confidence. I believe her and love how she connects the Norse goddesses to the early Indian goddesses, who had the same function and a similar name.
Disir (the plural of dis) are goddesses who seem to be more related to the Earth and protective functions than some other Norse goddesses. They are associated with birth and death in the skaldic poetry and have a double-sided nature, both benign and negative. They often ride horses, indicating perhaps their mediating function between life and death. They generally appear as a collective of several disir, rather than as individual beings.
Freya is called Vanadis, i.e. dis of the Vanir. But from what I’ve read this compound description of Her may be poetic, tying Her both to the fecundity of the Vanir and the death functions of the disir. And her name Freyja has often been translated as the title “Lady.” It’s related to the present-day German “Frau,” meaning woman or lady.
we definitely differ as to the disir…….