Legends, Stories, Tales, Lore

Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo

August 20, 2004





In Switzerland, there is a long tradition of men becoming trees.  Men in the village
of Le Noirmont dress up as fir trees and run through the village searching for
maidens to "sacrifice."  The chosen one has her face painted with soot, and she
is then dunked in the village fountain.  Then the Treemen transform themselves
back into humans until the next year.
-  Tom Kemmerer






There is no botanical class for the tree of Siberian legend, which sprang up
without branches.  God caused nine limbs to shoot from it, and nine men
were born at its foot: fathers of the nine races.  Five of the branches, that
turned toward the east, furnished fruit for men and beasts, but the fruits
that grew on the four western branches God forbade to men, and he sent
a dog and a snake to guard them.  While the snake slept, Erlik, the tempter,
climbed into the western branches and persuaded Edji, the woman, to eat
the forbidden fruit.  This she shared with her husband, Torongoi, and the
pair, realizing their guilt, covered themselves with skins and hid under the tree.
-   Charles M. Skinner, Myths and Legends of Flowers, Trees, Fruits and Plants, 1911





The decorated Christmas tree can be traced back to the ancient Romans who
during their winter festival decorated trees with small pieces of metal.  An
evergreen, the Paradise tree, was decorated with apples as a symbol of the
feast of Adam and Eve held on December 24th during the middle ages.
Christmas Trees and More, University of Illinois





Christmas Tree History and Legends






Shido Munan Zenji had collected a large sum of gold for the establishment
of a monastery and was returning home on foot with the money.  A bandit,
skilled in detecting travelers carrying valuables, followed him to an inn where
both put up for the night.  When all was quiet, the bandit came to Manan
Zenji's room and slipped open the sliding door.  To his amazement he didn't
find a monk snoozing under his quilts but an enormous oak tree, rooted in
the tatami mat, pushing its branches against the ceiling and walls!  Trembling
a confused, he withdrew to his own room.  The bandit changed his ways
and became a student of Shido Munan Zenji
As told to Robert Aitken by Nakagawa Soen Roshi.
From The Gateless Barrier, 1991, p. 229






At that time there was a man who had only one daughter and she died.   He felt
that he could not live without her and kept telling his friends that he wanted to
go to the spirit land and get his daughter.  He was told that if he could find
Winabojo he would learn the way to the spirit land ....  So he talked it over with
the other [Chippewa] Grand Medicine men, and five of them said they would go
to the spirit land with him ...  They went until they came to this island, far in the
great lake (Lake Superior).  There they found Winabojo.   He was too old to
travel, and on his head was a beautiful cedar tree.  Winabojo wore the cedar
tree as an ornament and its roots were all around him.
This story has many interesting twists and turns as the five men
go on an adventure into the spirit land. 
Told by Frances Densmore, How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine and Crafts., Dover 1974. 






Larger and finer meanings are read into the older legends of the plants, and the
universality of certain myths is expressed in the concurrence of ideas in the
beginnings of the great religions.   One of the first figures in the leading cosmologies
is a tree of life guarded by a serpent.  In the Judaic faith this was the tree in the
garden of Eden; the Scandinavians made it an ash, Ygdrasil;  Christians usually
specify the tree as an apple, Hindus as a soma, Persians as a homa, Cambodians
as a talok; this early treee is the vine of Bacchus, the snake-entwined caduceus of
Mercury, the twining creeper of the Eddas, the bohidruma of Buddha, the fig of
Isaiah, the tree of Aesculapius with the serpent around his trunk. 
-   Charles M. Skinner, Myths and Legends of Flowers, Trees, Fruits and Plants, 1911






The earth gripped both her ankles as she prayed.
Roots forced from beneath her toenails, they burrowed
Among deep stones to the bedrock.  She swayed.

Living statuary on a tree's foundations.
In that moment, her bones became grained wood,
Their marrow pith,

Her blood sap, her arms boughs, her fingers twigs,
Her skin rough bark.  And already
The gnarling crust has coffined her swollen womb.

It swarms over her breasts.  It wraps upwards
Reaching for her eyes as she bows
Eagerly into it, hurrying the burial

Of her face and her hair under thick-webbed bark.
Now all her feeling has gone into wood, wit her
Yet she weeps.

The warm drops ooze from her rind.
These tears are still treasured.
To this day they are know by her name - Myrrh. 

-   Ovid, Metamorphoses: Venus and Adonis, 10 B.C.
Translated by Ted Hughes, Tales from Ovid, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1997





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Links and References




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Trees - Quotes for Gardeners I

Trees - Quotes for Gardeners II    120Kb.  Includes a bibliography and links.  

Trees - Quotes for Gardeners III    46Kb.   

Trees - Quotes for Gardeners IV
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Trees Quotes: Stories, Tales, Legends





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Distributed on the Internet by Michael P. Garofalo

I Welcome Your Comments, Ideas, Contributions, and Suggestions
E-mail Mike Garofalo in Red Bluff, California


Tree Legends, 20 August 2004.




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