Welcome to Tree Spirit Wisdom.
I invite you to explore the Tree Spirits and their wisdom stories that have shaped our collective memory. By honoring the weaving of our shared story and the many cultures that created them we can heal the separation that exists within ourselves and our world. By understanding the true nature of our shared roots we can rewrite the stories that separated us — into stories that unite us.
We have consciously and subconsciously co-evolved with trees for over a million years. Our first breath is innately interconnected with trees for we breathe in harmony with them.
Trees first appeared on earth over 300 million years ago, before the age of dinosaurs. Trees became the essential providers of nutrients that fostered the evolution of life. The mass extinction of dinosaurs and other species 65 million years ago allowed trees to flourish in greater density and diversity throughout the world.
The vast and varied forests of Africa created the perfect environment for primates to thrive. These ancient trees offered warmth and nourishment to all who lived among them. They provided safety and security for early primates to explore their surroundings as they began to walk upright some 13 to 7 million years ago as Homonini began to venture beyond the branches.
Genetic and fossil records place the earliest Homo (human) in Africa around 3 – 4 million years ago. Trees offered the necessary ingredients such as shelter, food and fire that sparked the human imagination to create tools, clothing and medicine. The sound of wind in their branches inspired the creation of language and music.
Elder trees were seen as sacred wisdom keepers who connected the earth with the sky. Their straight pole-like shape functioned as the original sundials by casting shadows during the day, which inspired humans to track the movements of the sun. At night they anchored the night sky as poles that pointed to a fixed star (pole star), which allowed early astronomers to record the movement of the stars and planets in relationship to the earth and moon.
The word “geometry” comes from the Greek geos (earth) and meton (measure). By measuring the sky from earth our ancient ancestors created maps and astronomical earth works that functioned as calendars. This ushered in the age of agriculture around 12,000 BCE. Trees were now cultivated and domesticated for their food, timber and medicine. As agriculture grew these once nomadic people established communities and towns.
Trees were honored as truth tellers that provided wisdom, prophecy and connection through the sound of the wind blowing through their leaves. This was interpreted as the breath and voice of the “divine”. Every culture created stories based on their geography and the trees that surrounded them. This led to mythical stories of trees as sacred guardians who held the knowledge of life itself.
The ancient Sumerians revered the Cedars of Lebanon as the “home of the gods” ruled by Enlil, the lord of wind who inspired the original Hebrew names of Elohim, El, Elah/Alah, Elon/Alon. All are synonymous with trees such as oak, ash, cedar etc. Asherah, their feminine counterpart, is synonymous with sacred groves.
Trees inspired the construction of stone obelisks and stone circles as the science of mathematics, astronomy and medicine flourished throughout the world around 3500 BCE. For some cultures, this was a golden age of living in harmony with nature. For others, it was a time of immense expansion. But, for some it was seen as man’s triumph over nature. This sense of power over nature planted the seeds of separation as the patriarchal “father sun” soon became the “ruler” over “mother earth.”
The Oaks of Dodona in Greece as well as sacred oaks in Europe were seen as divine oracles that imparted wisdom when the sound of wind blew through their leaves. Larch trees in Siberia acted as guides for shamans to travel through time and space. Sycomore Figs in Egypt were known as “mother trees” who birthed day to night and night to day. Cottonwoods in North America connected mother earth with father sky in Sun Dance ceremonies. Dates trees in the Middle East, Gingko’s in China and Ceiba’s in Meso-America are just a few who were known as Trees of Life.
As monotheism, “belief in one god”, was written into law; trees were demonized as their wisdom stories became hidden. This caused the Western mind to plummet into darkness for over 1300 years.
In the 1500’s European explorers discovered indigenous cultures who weren’t separated from the wisdom of trees. These explorers brought seeds and saplings to Europe where Kings and scholars were intrigued by their miraculous healing properties, naming one “Arborvitae” the “Tree of Life”. This increasing awareness of trees helped usher in the Age of Enlightenment as the science of medicine and botany began to merge with philosophy and art.
During the mid-20th century, Swiss psychoanalyst, Carl Jung (1875-1961) redefined archetypes as “aspects of the human condition”. Jung felt that the human psyche was “by nature religious” and what set humans apart from other species was their continued search for meaning and purpose. He theorized that the psyche/mind individuated or separated itself from its soul in search of its unique purpose in life. During this quest for purpose, the psyche eventually longs to feel whole and seeks to reunite by knowing its soul.
As a result of his work, Jung identified trees as the archetype of the psyche (mind/soul) and mandalas (circle) as the archetype of wholeness. To be whole is to be holy. One of the greatest archetypal stories that trees hold for us is the circle of life.
There are over 10,000 names for “god”…most are interrelated with trees as reflections of ourselves and our search for meaning.
“The Tree of Life lives within each of us, helping us awaken to our true nature. Let us reach out with branches of compassion, connect with each other through our shared roots, and hold space for all to grow and feel loved.” – Laural Virtues Wauters
For more information visit: lauralwauters.com