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HE analogy existing between the vegetable

and animal worlds, and the resemblances between human and tree life, have been observed by man from the most remote periods of which we have any records. Primitive man, watching the marvellous changes in trees and plants, which accu

rately marked not only the seasons of the year, but even the periods of time in a day, could not fail to be struck with a feeling of awe at the mysterious invisible power which silently guided such wondrous and incomprehensible operations. Hence it is not astonishing that the early inhabitants of the earth should have invested with supernatural attributes the tree, which in the gloom and chill of Winter stood gaunt, bare, and sterile, but in the early Spring hastened to greet the welcome warmth-giving Sun by investing itself with a brilliant canopy of verdure, and in the scorching heat of Summer afforded a refreshing shade beneath its leafy boughs. So we find these men of old, who had learnt to reverence the mysteries of vegetation, forming conceptions of vast cosmogonic world- or cloud-trees overshadowing the universe; mystically typifying creation and regeneration, and yielding the divine ambrosia or food of immortality, the refreshing and life-inspiring rain, and the mystic fruit which imparted knowledge and wisdom to those who partook of it. So,


again, we find these nebulous overspreading world-trees connected with the mysteries of death, and giving shelter to the souls of the departed in the solemn shade of their dense foliage.

Looking upon vegetation as symbolical of life and generation, man, in course of time, connected the origin of his species with these shadowy cloud-trees, and hence arose the belief that humankind first sprang from Ash and Oak-trees, or derived their being from Holda, the cloud-goddess who combined in her person the form of a lovely woman and the trunk of a mighty tree. In after years trees were almost universally regarded either as sentient beings or as constituting the abiding places of spirits whose existence was bound up in the lives of the trees they inhabited. Hence arose the conceptions of Hamadryads, Dryads, Sylvans, Tree-nymphs, Elves, Fairies, and other beneficent spirits who peopled forests and dwelt in individual trees—not only in the Old World, but in the dense woods of North America, where the Mik-amwes, like Puck, has from time immemorial frolicked by moonlight in the forest openings. Hence, also, sprang up the morbid notion of trees being haunted by demons, mischievous imps, ghosts, nats, and evil spirits, whom it was deemed by the ignorant and superstitious necessary to propitiate by sacrifices, offerings, and mysterious rites and dances. Remnants of this superstitious tree-worship are still extant in some European countries. The Irminsul of the Germans and the Central Oak of the Druids were of the same family as the Asherah of the Semitic nations, In England, this primeval superstition has its descendants in the village maypole bedizened with ribbons and flowers, and the Jack-in-the-Green with its attendant devotees and whirling dancers. The modern Christmas-tree, too, although but slightly known in Germany at the beginning of the present century, is evidently a remnant of the pagan tree-worship; and it is somewhat remarkable that a similar tree is common among the Burmese, who call it the Padaytha-bin. This Turanian Christmas-tree is made by the inhabitants of towns, who deck its Bamboo twigs with all sorts of presents, and pile its roots with blankets, cloth, earthenware, and other useful articles, The wealthier classes contribute sometimes a Ngway Padaytha, or silver Padaytha, the branches of which are hung with rupees and

smaller silver coins wrapped in tinsel or coloured paper. These trees are first carried in procession, and afterwards given to monasteries on the occasion of certain festivals or the funerals of Buddhist monks. They represent the wishing-tree, which, according to Burmese mythology, grows in the Northern Island and heaven of the nats or spirits, where it bears on its fairy branches whatever may be wished for.

The ancient conception of human trees can be traced in the superstitious endeavours of ignorant peasants to get rid of diseases by transferring them to vicarious trees, or rather to the spirits who are supposed to dwell in them; and it is the same idea that impels simple rustics to bury Elder-sticks and Peach-leaves to which they have imparted warts, &c. The recognised analogy between the life of plants and that of man, and the cherished superstition that trees were the homes of living and sentient spirits, undoubtedly influenced the poets of the ancients in forming their conceptions of heroes and heroines metamorphosed into trees and flowers; and traces of the old belief are to be found in the custom of planting a tree on the birth of an infant ; the tree being thought to symbolise human life in its destiny of growth, production of fruit, and multiplication of its species ; and, when fully grown, giving shade, shelter, and protection. This pleasant rite is still extant in our country as well as in Germany, France, Italy, and Russia ; and from it has probably arisen a custom now becoming very general of planting a tree to commemorate any special occasion. Nor is the belief confined to the Old World, for Mr. Leland has quite recently told us that he observed near the tent of a North American Indian two small evergreens, which were most carefully tended. On enquiry he found the reason to be that when a child is born, or is yet young, its parent chooses a shrub, which growing as the child grows, will, during the child's absence, or even in after years, indicate by its appearance whether the human counterpart be ill or well, alive or dead. In one of the Quādi Indian stories it is by means of the sympathetic tree that the hero learns his brother's death.

In the middle ages, the old belief in trees possessing intelligence was utilised by the monks, who have embodied the conception in many mediæval legends, wherein trees are represented as bending their boughs and offering their fruits to the Virgin and her Divine Infant. So, again, during the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt, trees are said to have opened and concealed the fugitives from Herod’s brutal soldiery. Certain trees (notably the Aspen) are reputed to have been accursed and to have shuddered and trembled ever after on account of their connection with the tragedy of Calvary; while others are said to have undergone a similar doom because they were attainted by the suicide of the traitor Judas Iscariot.

Seeing that the reverence and worship paid to trees by the ignorant and superstitious people was an institution impossible to uproot, the early Christian Church sought to turn it to account, and therefore consecrated old and venerated trees, built shrines beneath their shade, or placed on their trunks crucifixes and images of the Blessed Virgin. Legends connecting trees with holy personages, miracles, and sacred subjects were, in after years, freely disseminated; one of the most remarkable being the marvellous history of the Tree of Adam, in which it is sought to connect the Tree of Paradise with the Tree of Calvary. Evelyn summarises this misty tradition in the following sentence :-“ Trees and woods have twice saved the whole world : first, by the Ark, then by the Cross; making full amends for the evil fruit of the tree in Paradise by that which was borne on the tree in Golgotha.” In course of time the flowers and plants which the ancients had dedicated to their pagan deities were transferred by the Christian Church to the shrines of the Virgin and sainted personages; this is especially noticeable in the plants formerly dedicated to Venus and Freyja, which, as being the choicest as well as the most popular, became, in honour of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady's plants. Vast numbers of flowers were in course of time appropriated by the Church, and consecrated to her saints and martyrs—the selection being governed generally by the fact that the flower bloomed on or about the day on which the Church celebrated the saint's feast. These appropriations enabled the Roman Catholics to compile a complete calendar of flowers for every day in the year, in which cach flower is dedicated to a particular saint,

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