by Isabel del Rio
Our gardens are full of marvelous trees which have been venerated during centuries.
Yesterday, in Yareah magazine, we started to know and to see their poetic secrets by analyzing Robert Graves’ famous essay “The White Goddess – a Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth” and what he calls “The alphabet of trees” in Celtic Druidic culture (letters were known by the name of a tree which started with its same initial. For example, “duir” -our oak- was also the letter “D” and “saille” –our willow- was the letter “S”). We explained that this alphabet had five vowels and thirteen consonants and the reasons why these last ones formed a magic seasonal calendar based on trees and “Mother Nature” which was secretly used by Druids for centuries, even after Christian irruption… they had to hide their magic words and spells of their enemies to prevent their possible attacks, a belief shared by old Greek and Roman religions.
The meaning of the five first consonants was explained yesterday http://yareah.com/?p=2431. Today, we are going to continue:
Sixth letter and tree: hawthorn
The sixth tree is the hawthorn or “May tree” as it takes its name from this month. It is an unlucky tree. In old Irish legends, it is called sceith (it means damage) and in Britain and Greece, people wore old clothes and did not make sex until the 15th of June when the bad days had finished (similar costumes happened in Spain and other Mediterranean countries).
In Rome, temples and images were cleaning during this month: they were preparing the great celebrations of Summer and people avoided to marry in May since Cardea (another name for Mother Nature or White Goddess) did not like marriages: she liked free women as her… as Her in the previous times to masculine Gods (as Zeus) began to dominate the Heavens.
Plutarch told us how some puppets called argeioi (white men) where threw into the river to make the Goddess happy and Ovid affirmed, once again, that the hawthorn is the tree of the forced chastity.
This sixth holly tree dominated from the 13th of May to the 9th of June and as Vaughan Cornish wrote on his book “Historic Thorn Trees in the British Isles”, it was a sad month until the 2nd century, when Romans consecrated it to Flora forgetting the old witch Cardea who made terrible curses with the branches of the hawthorn.
Seventh letter and tree: oak
The seventh tree is the oak, the tree of Zeus, Jupiter, Hercules, Dagda (he was the supreme god in the ancient Ireland), Thor and all of the other gods in relationship with the Thunder.
It is the tree of the victory and protection. Originally, doors were made of oak since it is the most resistant wood and “duir” means “door” in very many European languages: “foris” (Latin), “thura” (Greek) and “Dorus” (German) come from “Dwr” (Sanskrit).
Virgilio said that its roots go from the sky to the deepest earth. Therefore, the Oak rules in the Heaven and in the Hell.
Both brothers, Poseidon and Zeus, were armed with rays but when Aqueous defeated Aeolians, Poseidon left his ray and took a trident.
This seventh holly tree dominated from the 10th of June to the 7th of July. In the middle, we still celebrate Saint Joan Day and at night, people joint around fires. Of course, in old times, these fires were made with branches of oak and according with “The Golden Branch” by Sir James Frazer, old kings died at these stakes to honor the new ones, these ones who had chosen the true queen, the White Goddess, of those matrilineal Neolithic times.
Eighth letter and tree: Holly Tree
“Tinne”, letter “T” is our “Holly tree”.
In old Irish tradition, we find the poem of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”. The Green Knight was an immortal giant who had a spike made of holly tree” and, therefore, he is also called the Holly Knight. He and Sir Gawain (who is sometimes called the Oak Knight) firmed a pact to cut their heads in alternative years.
Some centuries later, we find the “Christmas song of the Holly Tree” and we see that Jesus has been identified with the Holly Tree and Saint Jean Baptist (we do not have to forget that Herod cut his head) with the Oak Tree. From then on and in spite that Robert Graves thought that this is a mistake and in fact, Jesus was the Oak Tree, the holly is the tree of the peace.
This eighth tree dominated from the 8th of July to the 4th of August. During theses days, farmers reap and in the cabbala, eight is a good number to growing up cereals.
Summarizing the previous information:
1.- “Beth”, letter “B”, is our “birch”.
2.- “Luis”, letter “L”, is our “wild ash tree”.
3.- “Nion”, letter “N”, is our “ash tree”.
4.- “Fearn”, letter “F” is our “alder”.
5.- “Saille”, letter “S” is our “willow”.
6.- “Utath”, letter “H” is our “hawthorn”.
7.- “Duir”, letter “D” is our “oak”.
8.- “Tinne”, letter “T”, is our “Holly Tree”.