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December 24, 2015

The Sacred Tree: Ancient and Medieval Manifestations

sacrtree

The fundamental nature of the tree as a symbol for many communities reflects the historical reality that human beings have always interacted with and depended upon trees for their survival. Trees provided one of the earliest forms of shelter, along with caves, and the bounty of trees, nuts, fruits, and berries, gave sustenance to gatherer-hunter populations. This study has concentrated on the tree as sacred and significant for a particular group of societies, living in the ancient and medieval eras in the geographical confines of Europe, and sharing a common Indo-European inheritance, but sacred trees are found throughout the world, in vastly different cultures and historical periods. Sacred trees feature in the religious frameworks of the Ghanaian Akan, Arctic Altaic shamanic communities, and in China and Japan.

The power of the sacred tree as a symbol is derived from the fact that trees function as homologues of both human beings and of the cosmos. This study concentrates the tree as axis mundi (hub or centre of the world) and the tree as imago mundi (picture of the world). The Greeks and Romans in the ancient world, and the Irish, Anglo-Saxons, continental Germans and Scandinavians in the medieval world, all understood the power of the tree, and its derivative the pillar, as markers of the centre. Sacred trees and pillars dotted their landscapes, and the territory around them derived its meaning from their presence.

Author: Carole M. Cusack
Hardcover: 195 pages
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing; First edition (May 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1443828572
ISBN-13: 978-1443828574
PDF 1.70 MB

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