International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally
International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch Europe Globally

SACRED TREES

>  ELDERLY COUPLE BY THE MARRIAGE TREE I
N THE FORBIDDEN CITY IN BEIJING   
(China 2007)

The 'Marriage Tree' in the Forbidden City consists of two separate trees that became entwined and grew together into one tree over the years. It is THE place for married couples to go and have their photograph taken.

There was quite a queue the day were there (in November 2007). This was the oldest couple that posed by the tree and they touched the hearts of everyone who was there that day!

'The imagination is a tree. It has the integrative virtues of a tree. It is root and boughs. It lives between earth and sky. It lives in the earth and in the wind. The imagined tree imperceptibly becomes the cosmological tree, the tree which epitomizes a universe, which makes a universe'.

French Philosopher Gaston Bachelard

And the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote:

Oh, I who long to grow// I look outside myself, and the tree//inside me grows

 

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 
 THE TREE OF LIFE   Not For Sale
 THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE (of good and evil) 80 x 100 cm   £450
 EITZ CHAIM  80 x 100 cm  £495  KABBALAH
 

 THE TREE OF LIFE AND THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE

In the year 2000 I painted The Tree of Life. This was a common theme in the Medieval paintings I had been reading about and I had little idea that eventually this concept would lead to a whole series of paintings. By 2005 I had done a lot more reading about Medieval Art and manuscripts. I decided to give The Tree of Life a companion painting: The Tree of Knowledge (of Good and Evil).

Adam and Eve started off living in paradise: The Garden of Eden. They could eat freely from all trees, except two planted right in the middle of Eden. Those were the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It seems that God wished to test the human race. The Serpent  tempted Eve who tempted Adam in turn. They ate of the forbidden fruit and were cast out of paradise. The Tree of life was essentially a sacrament. Eating from that tree would have given Adam and Eve the gift of everlasting life. If they would have managed not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, their reward would have been to eat from the Tree of Life.

In the fall of 2010 The 'Tree Of Life' painting from the Sacred Trees Series appeared on the cover of a book titled Garden of Beasts! It is a book by Anita Sullivan, a poet based in Eugene, Oregon. This is her first full-length book of poems. The publisher is Airlie Press, www.airliepress.org , They publish books written by poets from the Willamette Valley region of the Pacific Northwest.

 > Pictures of the cover Anita Sullivan's  book and her late husband Edwin M. Good's bookL Genesis 1 - 11, Tales of the Earliest World, published by the Stanford University Press

Edwin M Good was  a literary scholar of the Hebrew Bible, he taught at Stanford for 35 years. The book is a translation of the text from Hebrew and a discussion of the “tales” in terms of how they work as stories. 

 I was delighted to provide the cover paintings for both books!

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 

 EITZ CHAIM

The word 'Kabbalah' is derived from a Hebraic root word that means 'to receive', 'to accept' and by common usage: tradition. It is a large body of teachings about the nature of God, the birth of the soul, the process of Creation, the purpose of life on earth. Many different groups have adopted and worked with the Kabbalah over the centuries.

The doctrine of the 'Sundering' expresses all of reality as an aspect of God's divided self, seeking reunification with divinity, connecting to itself at all levels. This theory shows remarkably similarity to recent theories about nquantum physics, where every subatomic particle is connected to every other one. Each part contains the whole, the so called 'Holographic Universe'.

'As above, so below': Fractal Mathematics shows us that the shape of a leaf's pores echoes the shape of the leaf. The infrastructure of a leaf resembles the branches ad shape of the tree. Now this is a Tree of Life concept to be explored further in future paintings! (See also the MATHEMATICS PAGE  on this website to read more about Fractals, quantum physics and other concepts from modern science).

 The easiest way to understand the Otz Chiim is to think of it as a map: it describes the route that the divine energy of God's sundered self uses to find expression in the physical world.  The Tree of Life consists of 10 Sephiroth (or spheres of influence), linked by 22 paths or Nativoth. The Sephiroth and Nativoth together are the '32 wondrous paths of wisdom'.

There isn't the space on this webpage to discuss all sephiroth and nativoth seperately. For more information see the bibliography at the bottom of this page. The names of the Sephiroth are: Kether (The Crown), Chokmah (Wisdom), Binah (Understanding, the womb of God), Chesed (Mercy) , Geburah (Severity), Tiphareth (Beauty), Netzach (Victory), Hod (Glory), Yesod (Foundation), Malkuth (the Kingdom).

Personally I felt moved reading about Binah: the womb of God, the dark place where things come into being and gestate. In centuries of thinking of God quite literally as a man, we lost touch with the concept 'God's womb'. I felt it deserved a mention here, even if further discussion falls outside the scope of this particular webpage.

Caroline Myss wrote a beautiful book titled: Understanding the Chakras - Anatomy of the Spirit where she perceives this system as a map of the chakras.

 Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 

^  THE TREES OF THE SUN AND MOON   (80 x 100 cm)   £550

Alexander the Great lived in the fourth century before Christ. He became a legendary figure already in his lifetime. Over the centuries he has been credited with many curious adventures and far ranging conquests.

Alexander's last victory in battle was followed by a period of wandering through unknown lands. In India he met Brahmans, naked philosophers who shared his thirst for wisdom. He then visited the fabled Sanctuary of the Sun and Moon. Here he consulted an oracle in the form of two talking trees. They predicted that his death was imminent and this came to pass.

 THE FAMILY TREE   (80 x 100 cm)   £485  ^

This painting is about the fact that all human beings are part of one large Family Tree Of Humanity

 My (then) nine year old son Quinn said (on 10th February 2009): 'You know Adam and Eve Mum? They had all these children who spread out all over the world. And even today all these people are like Other Selves... They are so much like us that they are part of us, we are all one family... but modern people are so busy, we forget that sometimes'. 

Wise words, we need to listen very carefully to our children!!

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 

 

^  THE TREE OF JESSE   (80 x 100 cm)  £595

The Tree of Jesse appears in the Bible (Isaiah 11) : 1 - 3 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of Wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.//  6 - 9 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

 

 ^  CROWS' SABBATH   (80 x 100 cm)   £425

This painting was inspired by a dream where I shape-shifted into a crow to attend a Sabbath of Crows. This was really a Witches' Sabbath where all witches attended in the shape of crows!

The drum that I use in all my classes and sessions with clients has crows painted on it!

And growing from the antlers of a reindeer I saw an  ancestral tree.

This is the ancestral tree of all witches - even those who didn't make it through the Inquisition and Witch Trials. Outside time they still attend the Witches' Sabbaths.

Article about the role children played in the witch trials in Sweden in the 18th century:

CHILDREN & WITCH TRIALS IN SWEDEN

 STORYTELLER'S TREE     SOLD

Long before writing was invented, creation stories as well as other myths and legends were transmitted orally from generation to generation.

Personally speaking I love stories, especially ancient stories and the healing stories we use in shamanic work (such as soul retrieval work).

My love for stories gave me the the vision of a 'Storyteller's Tree': a tree that shows how stories grow, develop and give birth to new stories as generations of storytellers breathe life into the oral heritage of the Ancient Ones, the Ancestors.

This tree can also be thought of as The Family Tree Of Storytellers,, keeping these traditions and the stories alive, all over the world. 

 

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 

^  INANNA'S  BOAT OF HEAVEN   (80 x 100 cm)  £545

Painting inspired by a translation of inscriptions of the Inanna myth found on ancient Sumerian stone tablets 

 

‘My vulva, the horn,

The Boat of Heaven,

Is full of eagerness like the young moon.

My untilled land lies fallow//

As for me, Inanna,

Who will plow my vulva?

Who will plow my high field?

Who will plow my wet ground?’

 ^  ISHTAR SUCKLING TWINS   (80 x 100cm)   £545

 The Akkadian goddess Ishtar (also known as Astarte or as Inanna to the ancient Sumerians) is shown here suckling twins. 

This painting was inspired by a bronze portal from the San Zeno Cathedral in Verona, showing both Ishtar and the Greek Gaia (Earth Goddess) nursing their children.

In Hebrew Ishtar or Astarte's name translates as 'grove' and she is often shown as the Tree of Life.

Ishtar's lover was the shepherd Dumuzi (please see the painting on the left <)

Inanna was the Queen of Heaven and Earth. She was also the Goddess of both War and Love (> please see the painting on the right and article below)

SHAMHAT AND THE SHAMAN

 ^  INANNA'S UHULLU TREE    SOLD

 In early Sumerian mythology there were the twin gods Utu (god of The Sun and Justice) and Inanna (Goddess of Love and War).

A woman planted a Uhullu (or sometimes called Huluppu) tree in Inanna's garden.

A bird called Imdagud built a nest in its branches. The goddess Lilith made a house in its trunk. A serpent made a home in its roots.

These unwelcome guests - and the fact that they would not leave - drove Inanna to despair. In the end she asks her brother Gilgamesh for help.

Gilgamesh cuts down the tree and makes the wood into a throne and bed for Inanna

 

Almost universally trees were believed to be the dwelling of tree spirits (Dryads). These were sweet benign, nurturing spirits. Their cousins were the Naiads or water nymphs, Nereids and Oceanids (or nymphs of the ocean) and the Oreads of the hills.

In our part of the world, trees that are supposed to be sacred are Oak, Elder, Rowan, Ash and Hawthorn.

The Roman writer Pliny said that the shadow cast by an ash was avoided by snakes and therefore provided shelter, a safe space. Yggdrasil, the World Tree in Norse mythology, was an ash.

 YGGDRASIL IN NORSE MYTHOLOGY

I remember the giants born at the dawn of time// And those who first gave birth to me// I know of nine worlds, nine spheres covered by the tree of the world// That tree set up in wisdom which grows down to the bosom of the earth.

An Ash I know, Yggdrasil its name// With water white is the great tree wet// Thence come its dews that fall in the dales// Green by Urd's well does it ever grow.

 In a dark foreboding Norse Edda poem, the Voluspa, a prophetess or seeress tells of the fate of the Gods and of the end of the world: the Ragnarok

 

The Cosmic Tree was thought of as the backbone of the universe, the structural support of the nine worlds.

In Ireland however, the sacred tree acquired another role. Although always associated with otherworld splendour, its magic branches acted as cures for sickness and despair.

In a number of tales these magic branches of silver or gold were brought by messengers of Otherworld lands.

Thus the fabulous voyage of Bran began with the sound of music that caused him to fall asleep. It came from a silver branch with white blossoms, which a beautiful lady took away after telling of the delights of her world beyond the sea, The Kingdom of Manannan.  

INSERT LINK TO CELTIC SERIES LATER

 ^ Yggdrasil was described as the largest and most stately tree to ever have grown. Its branches overhung the nine worlds and spread out above the heavens. It was supported by three great roots: one descended to Jotunheim, the land of the giants, where Mimir's Well stood, the second ended in foggy Niflheim, close to the spring of Hvergelmir, where the dragon Nighogggnawed the root from below, when it tired of chewing corpses. The last root was embedded near Asgard, the stronghold of the gods, beneath Urd's Well, where the gods held their daily assembly. Water was taken from the well each day by the Norns: the three Fates Urd, Skuld and Verdandi. It was mixed with earth as a means of preventing Yggdrasil's bark from rotting. And eagle perched on the very top of the cosmic tree and was harassed on a daily basis by a squirrel named Ratatoskr.  Another bird in its branches was a cock, sometimes referred to as 'Vidofnir The Tree Snake'.

 The Norse God Odin is said to have hanged himself on Yggdrasil and suffered for nine days and nights as described in the Eddic poem known as the Havamal (i.e. The Utterance of the High One). His sacrifice gained him the knowledge of the runes

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 

 

 

Hints of tree magic are also present in Germanic mythology. An obvious example are the apples belonging to the goddess Idun. Eating this magic fruit every day prevents the gods from growing old.  (They were stolen once and the gods began to be plagued by the aches and ills of aging until the apples were safely retrieved!) 

 

In Baltic mythology there existed a triad of gods (Patollo, Perkuno and Potrimpo). All were associated with the sacred oak tree. Patollo is an old man with a green beard. He is the God of the Dead (in Christian times he became the Devil). Perkuno has black beard and eyes of fire. His name means thunder. He was the God of Rain and Fertility and also the God of Justice and Moral Order. Potrimpo is a young and happy God, a Peter Pan figure (or Balder figure in terms of Norse mythology).

In ancient Crete there was a pantheon that consisted of a Snake Goddess, a Sea Goddess, a Mountain Goddess, a Hunting Goddess and a Tree Goddess.

 There is an ancient Egyptian symbol called the Djed Pillar, which is associated with the immortal Osiris. The Djed Pillar became the hieroglyph for 'duration and stability'. Originally it derived from the image of a tree with lopped-off branches. What is especially interesting is that this original tree image was fused with an image of Osiris's sacrum: the lowest joint of the backbone. This part of the dismembered Osiris was believed to be the immortal seat of the god's virility. It is interesting to note that its position at the root of the spine corresponds with the so called 'root chakra' of an Indian form of yoga called Kundalini yoga.

 HERRERO CREATION MYTH  SOLD

In West Africa there exists a tree that tribes-men call a 'ju-ju' or Spirit Tree, to which they ascribe magical powers. 

 

<   The Herero people of southwest Africa say that the first people climbed up from a 'Tree of Life' in the underworld

 (At Carredor Gallery in Monaco)

 

In China people would build an earth-altar under a tree. This was a crude stone upon which people made sacrifices to the local god who 'owned' a particular piece of land.

 In the Middle Ages a tree was seen as a symbol for God the Father and the shadow of the tree as his son. The tree's heavenly fruit was interpreted as the wisdom of the Holy Ghost that man has received in sacraments. This way of looking at the world was typical of the Medieval period: everything has it allocated place in the Divine Plan. (To read in more detail about this, please click on Medieval Series). I.e. the lesson to be learnt here is: never remove yourself from the safety of the Tree of Life! (Though that is exactly what Adam and Eve did...)

 TOPIARY IN THAILAND

box tree trimmed into the shape of The Monkey God (at The Grand Palace in Bangkok)


 

 SHRINE TO THE SEA SERPENTGODDESS

under a tree by the sea in the Ko Phi Phi Islands in Thailand

 Buddhist legend tells how the Buddha, having finally arrived at at thorough understanding of finite limitations and conditions of existence, resolved to transcend them through renunciation. He resolved that, though his bones would waste away and his blood dry up, he would not leave his seat beneath the sacred banyan tree until he had successfully transcended the conditions of existence and broken through to an immediate realization of the Ultimate and Unconditioned Truth (Bodhi). The Buddha's struggle for Enlightenment is said to have taken 49 days. The tree is often referred to as the Boddhi Tree.

The ancient Babylonians had two trees: the Tree of Truth and the Tree of Life, at the Eastern entry to Heaven.

In the Hawaiian Islands two trees: the Tree of Eternal Life and the Tree which brings Knowledge of Death are pictured as one. For the natives of these islands, the entrances to the Land of the Dead were clefts in the earth. These were called 'casting off places'. In one of their myths the soul arriving at such a place finds a tree with a group of little children gathered around it. One side of this tree is life and green, the other side is dead, dry and brittle.

The children surrounding the Hawaiian tree are the souls of the unborn. When Eve tempts Adam to eat an apple from the Tree of Knowledge, she is responsible for his 'second birth', into the world as we know it today.

 Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 <   THE EMBRACE   (61 X 76 cm)   £395

 

From the tangle of the two

an exchange surprises

 the bear and the deer

become a tree

We might see

 whole jungles// emerge

from an embrace

 

Poem by Elizabeth Carothers Herron www.elizabethherron.net

 

  In shamanic rituals all over the world we see a transformation from the tree into a pillar or pole and that transformation brings with it a shift in symbolic meaning.

The foliage is the part of the tree that undergoes change, responds to the seasons.

A tree stripped of foliage reveals its changeless centre: the vertical axis.

The Cosmic Tree does not only reflect the endless regeneration of the cosmos, but also it's undying unchanging centre  (see photograph just below)

 The modern theologian Paul Tillich has pointed out that man 'stands between two anxieties, as it were, the anxiety of losing himself by not actualizing himself... and the anxiety of losing himself by actualizing himself and his potentialities'. (Because these will take him further away from his divine origins. There is a loss of innocense in acquiring knowledge, power - and guilt).

>  Graffiti spotted on the pavement by the Art House in Lewisham, London, 2010

Shamanic teacher, painter and author in the UK and the world

 

 V   ON MIDSUMMER EVE PEOPLE IN SWEDEN DANCE AROUND A MAYPOLE TO CELEBRATE THE SUMMER SOLSTICE

The maypole is the cosmic pole, the Axis Mundi, which centers on the pole star (or Polaris) on which the heavens revolve. From here it drop down and becomes the axis of our world or "world axis".

<  CLARA LUCES  (80 x 100 cm)   £595

I worked on this painting while listening to litte known Christmas Carols of Latin American Baroque origin. This image was inspired by 'The Tree of the Soul', a diagram created by William Law, an 18th century English mystic.

'A beam of light from the world of consciousness pierces the "dark world" of the unconscious in which the tree of man's spiritual and psychological development is rooted. Passing through the firre world of suffering and experience it opens out in the light of greater consciousness towards the light of God'

This is the process Carl Gustav Jung refers to as Individuation.

 

Native American people of North America performed a Sun Dance around a sacred tree reduced to a pole or world axis (axis mundi).

As we have seen, trees have been invested with special meaning by cultures from all over the world.  Last but not least there is of course the Christmas Tree! We decorate a tree (in the past we would have used real burning candles as a symbol of the light returning) to celebrate the birth of Christ.

How much trees were once revered can be seen from the reactions of early missionaries like St Boniface. In the eighth century he cut down sacrificial trees - to the horror of the Frisians (in what is now northern Holland). He himself was felled in Dockum by an outraged pagan!

> My friend Simon Cook carved me this amazing Spirit Pole in 2011 and here I am drumming and dancing around it! The children in my Time Travelers Group like dancing around it as well! He has a Facebook page titled Pegasus and Crow

 

  The paintings of this series were featured in the TREE OF LIFE exhibition at the Carre D'Or Gallery in Monaco in 2009.  www.carredor-monaco.com