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    Trees with Love in Their Souls

    “Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.”  Albert Einstein

     

    But trees may be. Trees contribute to finding, protecting and long relationships. They love, love creating a connection to the seen and unseen world – pushing us beyond comfort levels and opening us up.   The below list is a sampling of trees that want to help in the area of love and romance.

     

     

    Almond (Prunus dulcis)

    An elegant and romantic tree.  The Moorish King al-Mu’tamid planted almond trees for his beloved wife.  She missed snow and the blossoms gave her joy every winter at the Court of Cordoba, Spain.  Pink almonds are planted near St. Valentine’s grave in the Church of Praxedes in Rome.

    Phyllis and Demophon of Greek myth are a story of love taking a few turns.  There are many stories of who did whom wrong.  Demophon had to leave on their wedding day due to war, father dying or other reasons and promised to return.  He did not arrive back home at the appointed time.  Phyllis got depressed and died. The gods took pity and turn her into an almond tree.  Demophon did returned and overcome with guilt or grief, hugged the tree in which its bare branches blossomed creating the first almond tree.  This myth gave almonds the emblem of true love inextinguishable by death and hope.

    Almonds come in two groups; sweet almonds that are edible, roasted, or pressed for the oil. And bitter almonds (P. dulcis variety amara) used for food flavorings or in oils. Bitter almonds contain traces of prussic or hydrocyanic acid which can be lethal to animals and humans.  Through developed processes the toxic is removed for safe use.

     

    Apples (Malus)

    Apple blossoms and trees stand for love.  It is always in love – wanting to be loved and providing love. A tree with lots of personality, charm, and the energy of perpetual youth. It is called the Tree of Love or The tree of Avalon.  A name that conjures up romance for this feminine sign ruled by the planet Venus.

    Venus and Aphrodite, the Roman and Greek Goddesses of Love rule apples and uses them as their symbol. Olwen, the Celtic Goddess of Love walks by apples to set them blooming.

    One of the most famous battles of all times was for love, the Greek’s Trojan Wars.  Aphrodite suggested a competition between Hera (Goddess of Marriage and Queen of Olympus), Athena (Goddess of War and Wisdom) and herself.  Aphrodite gave Paris (the hero) three golden apples to pick the most beautiful woman on earth.  Paris went with Helen of Troy instead of the goddesses. Hera and Athena decided a little war was appropriate payback.  The innocence apple became known as the Apple of Choice and Beauty and in another vein, the Apple of Discord.

    The Feast of St. Thomas in Austria is celebrated on December 21st.  This is the night that a maiden cut open an apple and counts the number of seeds.  An even number indicated she would marry soon. Cutting one of the seeds meant, she would have a difficult life and end up a widow.  When there were several suitors, the seeds were removed and thrown into the fire, reciting the name of each suitor. The seed that popped was the one to marry.

    Place dry apple peels in sachets to attract love. Looking for love? Twist the stem of an apple while calling out the letters of the alphabet, the stem will break on the first letter of the name of your future lover.  Or peel an apple in one long strip and tossed backwards over the left shoulder. The shape made by the peel shows the initial of the future spouse.

     

    Alder (Alnus)

    In the name of love Alder offers protection.  In Irish legend, Deirdre of the Sorrows fled Ireland to Scotland to escape the marriage with King Conchobar of Ulster.  Hiding with her lover Naoise, they found shelter in the alders at Glen Etive.

    Alders have three planetary rulers and exhibits masculine and feminine energies.  Venus, the goddess, watches over lovers and outlaws who take refuge in the spring groves and need protection. Mars, Roman God of War; helps these two to move rapidly and with the speed of experience warriors. Neptune, Roman God of the Sea,   exhibits feminine energy with his ability to balance the compassionate nature of filtering the truth at a slower rate. Physically the alder’s catkins show this balance with male and female growing on the same branch blending strengths to move forward in one’s life. You can see the past, present and future on an alder branch: last year’s empty cones, this year’s cones, and next year’s catkins.

    Mystical creatures frolic among alders. The water spirits, white fairy horse and unicorns love this tree.

    Alders are unique in that all the elements along with a fifth – charcoal are present.  They are integrated through the Goddesses of Spinning.  Ask the Goddess Venus to assist in creating the dye and weaving magic into the fabric.

     

     Ash (Fraxinus)

    Cupid, the God of Desire, Attraction and Affection.  He is Roman.  His counterparts in Greek are Eros and in Latin Amor. The first arrows of love were from the wood of ash trees.

    Ash’s seeds are used in love divination. If the seeds do not appear the owner is unlucky in love.  Venus of the Woods is the name given to the spring-time blooms of ash. The Goddess Venus lends her name to this activity.  She oversees many hopes of lovers. In this English verse, the inquirer would soon have the identity of their intended revealed,

    Even-ash, even-ash, I pluck thee,
    This night my own true love to see,
    Neither in his bed nor in the bare,
    But in the clothes he does every day wear.”

    Placing ash leaves under a maiden’s pillow encouraged dreams of her future lover. An ash leaf placed in a shoe of a maiden and then recites the following rhyme, will  tell her the name of her future husband.

    “Even, even, ash
    I pluck thee off the tree.
    The first young man that I do meet,
    My lover he shall be.”

    The Greek story of Philemon and Baucis appear again in Norwegian myths of Axel Thordsen and Fair Valdborg.  When dying they were buried close to each other with ashes on either side. The trees grew and formed one.

     

    Birch (Betula)

    Birches shine bright in the winter sky with the light of the stars and the moon.  Lammas, the Celtic festival of harvest catches the sun in the sky.  All three; the sun, stars and moon symbolize that summer will always return.  Romantic thoughts for sure.

    Maypoles were used for this festival. In parts of Germany, young men placed decorated birch trees in front of the home of their love interests on the night of May 1st . Wreaths were given as gifts by lovers. In Wales, men and women would exchange birch garlands to show their interest in each other.

    Chestnut (Castanea)

    Chestnuts are about honesty, love, and a symbol of longevity. A tree of beauty with its glorious floral display and in the Language of Flowers means grandeur.  The wood brings success and love.  Zeus had many flings and used his sacred wood to move around. Druids made staffs of chestnuts to draw longevity and gain energy from the earth. Place a piece of  wood or carving under a distressed couple’s bed to ease disputes and relationship problems.

    Sweet chestnuts are edible and can be confused with the horse chestnut, not edible. The planet Jupiter rules this expansive and large tree.

     

    Hazelnut (Corylus)

    Hazelnuts are extraordinary charming and very understanding.   Full of inspiration, pen your poem under a hazelnut or surround yourself with its branches.  Known for wisdom, this tree with help you with understanding, making impressions and dealing with a capricious lover. Hazelnuts bring change and the talent to expression yourself in love.

    The fruit of hazelnuts are the power source of this tree providing important nourishment. It is tree with an auspicious sign that love and new projects will have the magical ingredients for success.

    September 14th is Nutting Day in the British Isles.  Held until WWI, it was a day that the nuts were considered perfect for foraging by children.  Out-a-nutting, was a chance to be alone in the woods with a lover.

    Spiritually linked to the heart chakra, several goddesses are intertwined with the hazelnut.  In Roman and Greek myth,  Venus and Aphrodite, Goddesses of Love. For the Elves, the Goddess of the Enchanting Power of Beauty.  The Celtic Goddess Arianrhod, (Ardiana by the Elves) works through the hazelnut as The Tree of Wishes.

    The flowers tend be male and female on a single tree as its energy.  If for some reason the flowers are borne on separate trees, they forecast a lover’s meeting.  In the language of flowers, hazelnuts are about reconciliation.

     

    Hawthorn (Crataegus)

    An early bloomer that cleanse the heart of negativity, stimulates love, and forgiveness.  Hawthorns helps to heal broken hearts and provide hope once again.

    Blodeuwedd, Welsh Goddess of Spring.  She protects women who are forced to marry, aiding them to choose their own love.  Hawthorn’s flowers mean temporary beauty.  Their fleeting presence reminds us of the autumn.

    Plant hawthorn at crossroads. Humans, earth spirits, fairies will meet under hawthorns.  Travelers and lovers hang bits of clothing as a prayer flag or to make wishes in health, luck, love, and success.

     

    Lilac (Syringa)

    Synonymous with the capital R for Romance and classic charm. Sultan Ahmed III pursued an uncommon passion for flowers.  One being lilacs.  He is credited with gifting the fragrant lilac to the Europeans.

    Syringa was a beautiful wood nymph in Greek mythology. The God Pan spied her one day, lusted for her and took chase. Depending on the version of the story, to get away from him, she either transformed herself into a reed or a lilac bush, both of which make great flutes. Ultimately, Pan won because he made a flute from her disguise and it never left his side from then on.

    In the Victorian Language of Flowers, lilacs are a symbol of first love. So many colors, so many meanings.  In the theme of love and romance, the lighter shade of purple is associated with one’s first love or the first time one feels love for someone.  Pink is associated with love and strong friendship and white symbolized innocence.

    The Serbian King, Uroš I Nemanjić, welcome his future queen, Helen of Anjou with lilacs planted along the Ibar River to remind her of Provence.  Now called the Valley of Lilacs it still enchants and delights visitors.

    Lilacs are long-lived and even in death provide romance. Burning the wood fills the air with its fragrance.

     

    Magnolia ( family Magnoliaceae)

    The flowers of magnolias represent a love of nature. One of the first plants to reproduce using flowers pollinated by insects. They are a classic beauty.

    Napoleon’s first love Josephine over saw the breeding of the pink Magnolia X soulangiana. Soulangiana was the founder of the National Historical Society in France.

     

    Myrtle (Myrtus) (family Myrtaceae)

    Myrtles are evergreen, fragrant, with white, star-shaped flowers. A symbol of love and marriage.  Sacred to Hathor, the Egyptian Goddess of Love, Joy, Childbirth, Heaven, Music, and Women.  Then to Greek Goddess Aphrodite. Venus wears a crown of myrtle leaves. Myrtle blossoms and leaves were used to create wreaths for Roman brides to wear.  Queen Victoria started the tradition of using myrtle flowers in royal family bouquets. Named the Osborne Myrtle, every royal bride has a piece of myrtle since then.

     

    Maples (Acer spp.)

    Trees of diversity with their barks, leaf-color, and winter structure. They represent love, longevity, and prosperity to the home and your sacred space. Ruled by Jupiter they bring expansive and happy energy to situations.

    Maples are a tree of divination and awakening intuition. Its energy balances the male and female in one’s relationship.  Balance that makes the relationship grow stronger and an over-all healthier.

    Seeing the seen and unseen world, maple spirits ground individuals psychically and spiritually. The help to find practical ways to form expression. They activate the chakras in the arches of the feet, keeping individuals grounded.  A much need ability in matters of love.

    Myths tell us that Sugar Maple’s (Acer saccharum ) leaves will bring love and prosperity in spells or create financial abundance.  The Gypsies repeat this theme of bringing gold. Eating the seeds draws love.

     

    Oak (Querus spp)

    Drop your acorns in the water to see how the relationship will progress.  If they float together, the couple will marry.  If they drift apart, so will the relationship.

     

    Pine (Pinus)

    Cybele the Greek Goddess of Love change her unfaithful lover Attis to a pine. Her son, Zeus, saw her sadness and made the pine green throughout the year as a consolation.  When the wind blows through the pines, it is speaking of a new future.  Roman mythology associated pine cones with Venus, Goddess of Love and Fertility.

     

    Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)

    Love runs the gamut of emotions and the willows relay this.  In the western world, they are considered unlucky. A traditional folk song from the southern Appalachian Mountains explains:

    “Bury me beneath the willow,

    ‘neath the weepin willow tree,

    for when she hears that I am sleepin’

    maybe then she’ll think of me.”

     

    Willows the genus of plants (Salix) are indicators of spring and nature’s starting its annual life cycle. In Asia, eternal friendship, patience, perseverance are symbols.

    They help us to  encourages the expression of deep emotions, including grief and sadness through tears.  Willows teach the value and consequences of love and loss.  It symbolically tells us that even through great loss; there is the ability to grow.  There is the potential for something new.

    The colors of willow display great symbolism. Brown symbolizes stability, structure, and support. Green leaves growth, fertility, and life. As a tree it is about balance, learning, and harmony.

     

    Please Plant Responsibility.

     

    References

    *I use many references in my work.  This section is only an indication of where I found unique information.

    Indigenous Trees – Ash

    100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names, Diana Wells, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1997

     

     

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    Trees of Winter Celebrations

     “With the ebb, With the flow”  by Camina Gadelica

    “As it was,

    As it is,

    As it shall be

    Evermore…

    With the ebb,

     Walk the flow.”

     

     

    The study of trees for Yuletide and Christmas are remarkable.  Modern day Christmas has evolved from many festivities and celebrations.  Solstice celebrations represent death, birth, and new beginnings.  The original festivals celebrated the natural environment and how the light change.  Winter Solstice is the time when The Light begins its return in the northern hemisphere.  The sun as a great wheel of fire rolls away from the earth creating darkness.  At the solstice it rolls back toward the earth creating more light on its annual journey.

     Ra, the Sun God of Egypt recovers from his seasonal illness.  His power passes through the blazing disk in his crown.  Rushes from the palm (an evergreen tree) filled homes symbolizing the triumph of life over death.   Romans marked the solstice by honoring Saturn, the God of Agriculture.  The early festival of Saturnalia used evergreens branches of firs, holm oaks, or hollies  brought inside to mimic nature. They wore garlands of greens in the streets passing on wishes of prosperity and good will.

    The season of Yule started with the Germanic tribes who celebrated over a  two-month period.  Christianity in its process of conversion,control and calendars brought  Christmas,Twelfth Night, New Year’s, and Winter Solstice together.  For example, January 6th was the original Christmas Day in England.  A celebration that started on December 24th and ended on the Twelfth night, January 5th.  The Julian Calendar (35 BC) transition to the Gregorian Calendar (1582) creating changes to the celebration dates.  The Julian Calendar runs 13 days behind the Gregorian Calendar and is still in used for winter holiday festivities.  

    Evergreen trees are those that keep their leaves year-round and flourish during the Winter and Christmas festivities.  The varieties are many.  In the northern hemisphere, evergreen trees stand  for life, rebirth, and stamina.  The branches of the Yew, Taxus, when brought inside to represent fertility and immortally.  Balder, the Viking Sun God enjoyed the company of evergreens. They offer protection in winter against the coldest day.  Some cultures believe evil spirits are at their strongest during this time. 

     Pines(Pinus) are one of the favorites trees for winter celebrations.  Brought inside in Chinese and Western homes, their representation of long-life and prosperity make them cherished additions to the season.  The Druids in Scotland used the Scots Pine, Pinus sylvestris, to celebrate the winter solstice.  Celts expressed what they wished for in the coming year.  Fruits for a successful harvest, love charms for happiness, nuts for fertility, and coins for wealth adorn the trees.

    Christianity has a special tie to pines. Jesus and his family were fleeing to Egypt.  Many plants offer to hide them.  Just as Herod’s soldiers passed by an old pine (Pinus pinea, Umbrella Pine ) gave them shelter in its inner trunk and folded its branches around them.  Jesus blessed the pine leaving an imprint of his hand within the pine cones.  Cut the cone lengthwise to see his print. 

     Firs (Abies) are a symbol of springtime and immortality.  They are the first Christmas trees dating back  to 1500 years ago in northern Europe and the first to be displayed inside homes. Their cones grow upright reflecting candle light.  Fir branches intertwine make great wreaths or mantle decorations.   They are the first trees found hanging upside down from ceilings or chandeliers. Crushing the  firs’ leaves gives us that wonderful fragrance associated with the winter season.  All parts of fir trees are helpful to humans.  The oil creates an antiseptic that kills airborne germs and bacteria and supports respiratory health.  The wood is excellent firewood.  They reach for the sky while growing.  The species used during the winter celebrations are Balsam Fir, Abies balsamea, Fraser Fir, Abies fraseri,Grand Fir, Abies grandis, Noble Fir,Abies procera, and Silver Fir, Abies spp

     

    Apple trees, in modern day, play an unknown and huge role in yuletide and winter solstice festivals.  The round shape of apples represents a turning wheel.  The wheel in turn represents earth.  At the winter solstice the wheel turns toward the sun.  If shining through the branches on December 25th there would be a healthy crop the following summer.

     Deciduous trees, those that lose their leaves.  The hawthorn tree at Glastonbury Tor in England is famous as a Christmas tree because of Joseph of Arimathea.  He arrived at Worral Hill in 597 A.D. carrying two sacred vessels said to contain the blood and sweat of Jesus.  Thrusting his staff into the ground, it sprouted and grew into a thorn tree.  The Glastonbury Thorn (Crataegus monogyna ‘Biflora’)flowers twice a year in winter and spring, just around Christmas and Easter.

     Blooming about the same time and a cousin of the hawthorn is the Blackthorn tree, Prunus spinosa.  Folklore tells us this tree will bloom when cold is coming. Blackthorn symbolizes the body and spirit and how death follows rebirth.  One of the guardians of winter in the druid practices.  Villagers burned crowns woven with mistletoe in the New Year’s fire.  The ashes bring luck in the coming year and providing nutrients for next year’s crop. Sloe berries of the blackthorn are the main ingredient in the Sloe Gin drink.

    Use these guidelines when harvesting apples.  Leave three apples on each tree for the fairies.  The Hesperides Nymphs in Greek mythology will bless you by managing good pollination for the next year’s crop.  When eating apples stored through the winter always keep enough to make an apple pie for the sheep shearers in May.

    Hanging apples from the orchard transition to an indoor ritual. Local practices hung apples as ornaments on trees.  Christianity used this practice to help convert pagans.  The English started the custom of adding apples and evergreens to the bough along with ribbons,baubles, and mistletoe. The bough is hung under doorways and became the present-day custom of kissing under the mistletoe.    

     Twelfth Night ended with Wassailing, an older festival celebrating apples.  Wassail itself is a hard cider warmed with spices over a small fire. Whole apples would burst and produce a white foam over the liquid.  The celebration started in Wales and then spread throughout Britain and Ireland.  The tree-spirit known as The Apple Tree Man needed to wake from his sleep.  He protected the local people against bad health, misfortune and ensured a good harvest the following year.  Villagers serenaded him with chants, rhymes, or speeches that praised his gifts of the current year and fruitfulness from earlier years.  They struck the trunk and any branches with sticks until the sap flowed, signaling he was awake.  Toasted bread soaked in Wassail were tossed or place in the forks of the branches or hollows of the tree.  This offering frightens away evil spirits lurking in the branches.  Any remaining liquid spread over the roots and trunks to honor its blessings.

    After the Wassailing, villagers returned to their homes to enjoy all things apple.  They layered cakes and baked apples with sugar in a special wassail bowl with twelve handles.  Warm spiced beer covered the mixture.   On New Year’s Day the bowl traveled to neighbors wishing them good health and prosperity for the upcoming year.   Stories,songs, and dances were part of the festivities.

    The history of the Yule log goes back to the Iron Age in Europe.  A tree was picked to stand for the solstice and the end of the winter season.  When lit the yule log cleanses  last year’s energy and ushers in spring.  Folklore tells us that each variety of yule log has its own magic.  Yule logs represent the god and goddess being reunited. The traditional trees, oak (masculine)brought healing, strength and wisdom or the ash (masculine) brought protection,prosperity, and health.  To honor the log, decorations of holly, mistletoe, pine-cones, ivy, and evergreens covered its length.  

    Other trees represented yule logs.  Aspen (masculine) invoked understanding of the grand design of life;  birch (feminine) brings new beginnings; holly(masculine) inspired visions and revealed past lives; pine signified prosperity and growth and the willow (feminine) invoked the Goddess to achieve desires.   Each tree produced a great fire creating ashes that were spread on the soil reinvigorating it for the next year’s growing season.  Spreading them after Christmas Day brought luck your way.  Ashes protected against evil and lighting.  Wearing a touch from the yule log when in a storm.

    Hazelnuts are a favorite food during the holidays.  Found in chocolate and hazelnut butter and a Christmas delicacy made by Ferrero Rocher.  (side note – Palm Oil is used in the making of this holiday chocolate.  The company is engaged in responsible sustainability for its product.   Which makes Palm trees a Winter Holiday Tree.)

     Other practices of the season included carrying hawthorn or cherry branches inside to flower.  Cherries celebrated The Feast of St. Barbara December 4th.  She was the daughter of a wealthy Greek merchant who converted to Christianity against her father’s wishes.

     A long history of use in the winter celebrations, holly branches and Ivy provide the green and red in many homes.  Represented in the well-known song, The Holly & The Ivy.  Holly is masculine and provides protection.  Ivy is feminine and represent fidelity and love.  Together holly and ivy are another representation of the god and goddess uniting during this time of year.

    The first recorded display of a decorated Christmas Tree was in 1510, Riga, Latvia. By the 1700’s, the tradition of celebrating the holidays with a decorated tree spread throughout Europe.   On Greek islands villagers would create wreaths of myrtle, olive, and orange leaves.  Or carry poles of young pears,cheese and candles to households sharing its bounty. 

    Hessian(German) mercenaries brought the tradition to the United States during the Revolutionary War.  In 1804, soldiers stationed at Fort Dearborn, Michigan used evergreen trees in their barracks.  From North Dakota is the story of the cedar tree.  One tree is planted next to the medicine lodge and decorated with moccasins, shawls, or other treasures to celebrate the season.  Members of the tribes would share the during summer to fall.  President Franklin Pierce in 1856 brought the Christmas Tree tradition to the White House.