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In Worship of Trees

 

Written and Compiled by George Knowles

Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow /  Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  Elder

The Vine Tree 

 

Written and Compiled by George Knowles 

The Vine tree or Grapevine (Vitis vinifera) is more of a shrub-plant than a tree, but never the less as one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world.  The Vine is sacred to Wicca and Witchcraft, and of old was revered by our ancestors.  According to the Celtic Tree calendar the Vine represents the tenth month of the year (2nd Sept – 29th Sept), which includes the celebration of “Mabon” - the Autumn Equinox on the 22nd Sept. 

Vines are a long living plants, which have been used by man since civilization began; likewise wines produced from its grapes has long been a universal drink.  Fossilized leaves, seeds and stems of the grapevine, some of them thought to be 40 million years old, have been found in ancient sites throughout the Northern Hemisphere, and in the Burgundy region of France there are still living vines said to be over 400 years old. 

Egyptian hieroglyphics showing details of grape vines and how to making wine have been discovered, some dating from about 2400 BC, while seeds from the grape have been found entombed with Egyptian mummies at least 3,000 years old.  Wine making was also a regular part of ancient Greek life and Pliny the Elder speaks of a vines supposedly 600 years old.  In old Christian scriptures, Noah is said to have planted a vineyard after he survived the great flood. 

The name of the Vine is derived from the Latin word “viere”, meaning to twist, which is descriptive of the growing habits of the plant.  Grape vines are native to northern temperate zones, but are cultivated throughout the world by the winemaking industry.  Today there are some 65 species of Vines producing more than 8,000 varieties of grapes.  France, Spain and Italy cultivate the most acreage of grapes, followed by Turkey and Georgia.  Other major grape-producing countries are:  Algeria, Argentina, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Romania and the United States.  Australia, Bulgaria, Chile, Germany, Syria and South Africa, also produce a large part of the world’s grape market. 

Grapevines will grow in many different kinds of soil, but the soil must have a certain depth and drain well, soil of a volcanic nature produces the finest wines.  A common method of propagation is to plant cuttings taken from mature vines.  Another method is known as layering.  This is done by bending down a branch of a mature vine and forcing it to grow along a shallow trench in the ground.  After shoots start to grow upward from the buds on the branch, the trench is filled with soil.  The shoots then develop roots and by winter the shoots and their roots are ready to be cut from the parent branch.  In the spring they can be planted as new grapevines. 

    

Grapes come in many colours

Left untended vines will grow up to 15 meters high and climb anything that will give them support.  Their leaves are generally large flat and lobed, and depending on species can be deeply indented or have jagged serrated margins.  Their flowers normally appear in May/June, followed by bunches of grapes that ripen in the late summer Aug/Sept.  The grape consists of a watery fleshy pulp containing stones encased in a soft skin.  They can be differentiated by their skin colors, which range from pale green to yellow, to red, to purple or black, while some varieties are even multicolored. 

Practical Uses: 

The vine has little other use then that of winemaking.  Of the 65 species of vines and more than 8,000 varieties of grapes, only one species is used for nearly all the wine made in the world, the (Vitis vinifera) species, often called the “World Grape”.  From this one species as many as 4,000 varieties of grape have been developed, but only about a dozen of these are commonly used for making wine.  Among the chief varieties of those used are:  Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat. 

Wine is made by allowing the grape juice to ferment.  To aid the fermentation process, yeast (usually Saccharomyces) is added to convert the sugars to alcohol.  Fermentation usually takes place in large vats from which the air is excluded to prevent oxidation and to discourage the growth of vinegar-forming bacteria.  Normally fermentation takes from ten to 30 days, during which the temperature is controlled to promote yeast growth and to extract the flavors and colors from the skins.  Artificial heat for this process was not used until the early part of the last century, and the first accounts of vineries enclosed by glass date from the middle of that period. 

After the fermentation process is done, the wine is racked (drawn off) to separate it from the lees (the dregs or sediment).  Some wines deposit their sediment quickly, but other wines remain cloudy for long periods.  The wine then goes through several clarification processes before being stored and aged in wooden containers made of Oak or Redwood.  This aging process allows oxygen to enter and water and alcohol to escape.  During this time the acidity decreases and additional clarification takes place.  The wood from the container also contributes too and enhances the flavor and aroma of the wine.  The wood-aging process may last many months or even several years, all depending on the wine and the quality desired. 

Some wines are aged in bottles before being sold.  Red wines in particular may profit from two to twenty years of bottle aging.  Wine quality and diversity comes not just from the variety of grape, but also from the quality of the soil it is grown in, as well as climatic conditions.  Changes in weather patterns from one year to the next can have a tremendous influence on the quality of its vintage.  In addition each wine grower or vintager may have different techniques and methods of producing wine, which they keep secret so that no one else can copy and use it. 

Mythology and Folklore: 

In Greek mythology Dionysus is the God of Nature, and the God of Wine and Inspiration (and later personified by the Roman god Bacchus).  As Dionysus, he was also the God of Ecstasy and his cult was one of the mystery religions.  He produced the first wine from the vine, and spread the art of tending grapes, but he also had a dual side to his nature, on the one hand he could bring about joy and divine ecstasy and on the other hand brutal unthinking rage, both reflecting the nature of wine. 

            

Zeus and Semele  -  Dionysus  -  Hera 

Dionysus is the son of Zeus and Semele (a mortal women), the only god to have a mortal parent.  In legend, Zeus came to Semele in the night invisible, and she knew him only as a divine presence.  Semele was pleased to be a lover of a god even though she did not know which god he was.  However word of his infidelity soon spread and his wife Hera quickly learned who she was.  Hera confronted Semele in disguise, and convinced her to see who her lover really was.  When Zeus next went to visit her, she made him promise and swear on the River Styx that he would reveal himself.  

She being a mortal Zeus knew what would happen, but he was madly in love with her and couldn’t refuse.  When he did reveal his true form, Semele was instantly struck dead by the sight of all his glory.  Zeus then took their unborn child Dionysus from her womb and sewed him into his thigh till he was ready to be born.  After due time Dionysus emerged from his thigh perfectly formed and became known as “the twice-born god” associated with death and rebirth. 

Dionysus was one of the few gods able to appease Hades and bring a dead person back from the underworld.  Even though he had never known his mother Semele, after her death he descended into the underworld in an effort to bring her back.  Hades normally reluctant to release the dead, would only agreed to allow Semele back if Dionysus could exchange something important to life.  So Dionysus gave him the myrtle plant.  (The Myrtle plant was associated Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and the guardian of birth and rebirth, and is the symbol of new beginnings and new life). 

      

Aphrodite  -  Myrtle 

Dionysus wandered the world accompanied by Maenads, actively encouraging his cult and his worship.  The Maenads were wild women often flush with wine, their shoulders draped with fawn skins and carrying hazel wands tipped with pinecones.  While other gods erected temples for their worship, the followers of Dionysus worshipped in the woods.  There they worked themselves up into states of frenzied ecstasy, and any animals they happened upon would be rip apart in sacrifice, their flesh eaten raw.  As Bacchus he was accompanied Bacchantes, a similar band of female worshippers who also roamed the forests dressed in animal skins. 

Dionysus became one of the most important gods in everyday Greek life, and was associated with several key concepts.  His association with death and rebirth can be seen symbolically in tending vines.  Each year the vines are pruned back sharply and left to become dormant through the winter, ready to bear fruit in the following spring.  Another concept is that under the influence of wine we can connect with nature.  In the mystery traditions intoxication comes not from the plant but from the spirit of the plant, the divine essence, under which we become free and liberated from constraints placed upon us by formal society.  At these times a man might become greater then himself and do works he otherwise would not. 

In ancient times the festival of Dionysia was held in the spring when the leaves begin to reappear on the vine.  Because he was the god of wine, his festivals were lively affairs that offered the chance to put aside the daily routines of life and get caught up in wild celebrations.  Though in many cases only those who had been initiated into the cult could participate in the festivities.  Over time it became one of the most important events of the year, and its focus became the theater for drama.  Many of the greatest Greek tragidramas of the times were specially written and performed there. All those who took part, the writers, actors and spectators were regarded as worshippers and servants of Dionysus during the festival. 

As Bacchus they celebrated the Bacchanalia, or festival of Bacchus every third year, but the attics of the worshippers became so immoral that in 186 BC the Roman Senate suppressed it and all the bacchanal sanctuaries were destroyed.  The religion however continued and was popular in the first century, by the second century a group of about 500 bacchanals are known to have worshiped at Frascati in Italy, and presumably other such groups also existed. 

 

Bacchus

Dionysus is often seen depicted holding a chalice and a wand called a “thyrsus”.  In Wicca/Witchcraft a wand or thyrsus is representative of the phallus of the god, and the chalice as the womb of the goddess.  Therefore the thyrsus is the stalk and the seed, representing the shaft of the phallus and the semen issuing forth.  The chalice is the opening to the womb and the lining of the uterus.  As Dionysus holds them both, he is symbolically displaying the male and female polarities that when united will bring forth a Child of Promise. 

In art he is depicted wearing a crown of ivy, and covered in vine leaves and grapes, a typical image of the Green Man.  As Bacchus he is bearded, more rustic in appearance and sporting horns, a typical image of the Horned God.  So here we have in this one god, all the aspects of a traditional Wiccan God:  he is a God of Nature and Lord of the Harvest, a God of the Underworld, a Son/Lover of the Goddess, a Child of Promise, the Green Man and the Horned God, all combined into one. 

Magical Uses: 

In ancient Rome pictures of grapes were drawn or painted onto garden walls as a symbol to ensure fertility in the garden.  Eating grapes or raisins increases fertility, as well as strengthening mental powers.  Placing grapes on the altar when conducting money spells will help and aid in money matters.  During ritual wine is contained in the chalice and placed on the altar where it is used for many purposes.  It can be used to symbolize the blood of the Goddess as a life giving essence, or to symbolize the blood of the sacrificed God after his death and during his resurrection. 

“Music is the wine which inspires one to new generative processes, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind and makes them spiritually drunken”  ~  Ludwig van Beethoven. 

Intoxication though wine was thought to be the possession of the self by the spirit of the vine, so to drink the wine during ritual was to merge oneself with the spirit of the vine and thus with nature.  The wine is also used for toasting the deities in welcome and offerings of libations.  It is a common practice in modern Wicca/Witchcraft to celebrate the conclusion of a full moon or sabbat meeting with a meal of cakes and wine. 

Medicinal Uses: 

The restorative and regenerative powers of the grape was known, used and revered by the ancients of old.  The warming and fattening properties of grape sugar acts rapidly to increase strength and repair waste in fevers, it is however unsuitable for gouty or inflammatory conditions.  The seeds and leaves of the grapevine are astringent, and were used to stop hemorrhages and bleeding, when boiled with Barley-meal and made into a poultice, it was also used to cool the inflammation of wounds.  Dried and powdered leaves were used as a cure for dysentery in cattle. 

The sap of the vine taken from a cutting allowed to bleed, is often called a “tear” or “lachrymal”, and makes an excellent lotion for weak eyes and specks on the cornea.  Ripe grapes eaten in quantity can influence the kidneys to produce a free flow of urine, but care should be taken when feeding excitable and full-blooded people, for too much could cause palpitations.  Dyspeptic subjects should avoid eating them. 

In cases of anemia and in states of exhaustion, the restorative powers of the grape is in a class of its own, especially when taken in conjunction with a light and nourishing diet.  In cases of smallpox, grapes have proved useful owing to their bi-tartrate of potash content, they are also said to benefit neuralgia and sleeplessness.  The cuttings of the vine in spring can be boiled with sugar into a syrup, taken inwardly this is an excellent stay for women’s longings when pregnant. 

People that suffer from torpid liver and sluggish biliary functions should eat grapes that are not quite fully ripe, whilst those with wasted tissue problems, should eat fully ripe and sweet grapes.  Dried grapes or raisins are largely used in the manufacture of galenical medicines, the seeds being separated and rejected as they give a very bitter taste.  Raisins are demulcent, nutritive and slightly laxative.  The ash of burnt vines was used as toothpaste to make discolored teeth white again. 

          

There are various varities of grapes differentiated by their skin colors

In modern days the juice of the grape is rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly iron.  It provides a source of instant energy and is ideal for convalescents.  The grape is laxative and diuretic and despite its sugar content, is not fattening.  Fasting using grape-juice and grapes has been recommended by naturopaths to clear many chronic diseases.  Grapes are also used in the treatment of poor blood circulation, low blood pressure, anaemia, liver congestion and skin blemishes. 

Through its associations with nature, the underworld and reincarnation, the deities associated with vines are numerous, and include:  Dionysus, Bacchus, Hathor, Venus, Branwen, Aphrodite, Apollo and Osiris.  Its gender is feminine.  Its planet ruler is the Moon with strong associations to the Sun.  Its element is with Water, and its magickal associations promote:  Fertility, Death and Rebirth, Garden Magick, Money, Mental powers and Freedom of Spirit. 

Astrologically vine people (i.e. those born in the month of August) love tradition and are happiest returning to places where they have had good times in the past. They are sensual in nature but will defend their ideas and ideals passionately.  They care about nature and the preservation of the natural world, and will risk life and limb in its defense. 

End. 

Sources: 

Cunningham's Encyclopedia Of Magical Herbs - By Scott Cunningham.

Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft - By Raven Grimassi.

The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft - By Rosemary Ellen Guiley.

Tree Wisdom (The definitive guidebook to the myth, folklore and healing power of Trees) - By Jacqueline Memory Paterson.

AA Book of Britain's Countryside.

The Penguin Hutchinson Reference Library (CD cassette).

Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia (CD cassette). 

Plus many websites to numerous to mention.

 

  Written and compiled on the 24th August 2008  ©  George Knowles

 

Best Wishes and Blessed Be.

 

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Traditional Writings:

 

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Correspondence Tables:

 

IncenseCandlesColoursMagickal DaysStones and GemsElements and Elementals

 

Traditions:

 

Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /

 

Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /

 

Other things of interest:

 

Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology)Esbats & Full MoonsLinks to Personal Friends & ResourcesWicca/Witchcraft ResourcesWhat's a spell?Circle Casting and Sacred Space /  Pentagram - PentacleMarks of a WitchThe Witches PowerThe Witches HatAn esoteric guide to visiting LondonSatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  /  Part 2 Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /  The History of ThanksgivingI have a Dream, the 1963 speach by civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King /  Auras by Graham Furnell - Part 1 and Part 2 /

 

Sabbats and Rituals:

 

Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)

 

Rituals contributed by Crone:  Samhain / YuleImbolcOstara /  BeltaneLithaLammasMabon

 

Tools:

 

Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron MagickMirror Gazing

 

Animals:

 

Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) /  AntelopeBatsCrowFoxFrog and ToadsGoat / HoneybeeKangarooLionOwlPhoenixRabbits and HaresRavenRobin RedbreastSheep SpiderSquirrelSwansWild Boar /  Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat

 

Trees:

 

In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow /  Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  ElderAlso see:  The Willow Tree (Folk Music)

 

Sacred Sites:

 

Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /

 

Rocks and Stones:

 

Stones - History, Myths and Lore

 

 Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:   / Apophyllite  / Amber AmethystAquamarineAragoniteAventurineBlack TourmalineBloodstoneCalciteCarnelianCelestiteCitrineChrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / FluoriteGarnet /  Hematite Herkimer DiamondLabradoriteLapis LazuliMalachiteMoonstoneObsidianOpalPyriteQuartz (Rock Crystal)Rose QuartzRubySeleniteSeraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodaliteSunstoneThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble

 

Wisdom:

 

Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakeningThe Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods

 

Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:

 

Murder by WitchcraftThe Fairy Witch of ClonmelA Battleship, U-boat, and a WitchThe Troll-Tear (A story for Children)Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-LanternThe Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark

 

Old Masters of Academia:

 

Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras

 

Biographies

 

Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)

 

Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)

 

Abramelin the MageAgrippaAidan A. KellyAlbertus Magnus “Albert the Great”Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” Alison HarlowAmber KAnna Franklin /  Anodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey  / Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite Austin Osman SpareBiddy EarlyBridget ClearyCarl Llewellyn WeschckeCecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey LelandCharles Walton /  Christina Oakley Harrington /  Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) /   Dion FortuneDolores Aschroft-NowickiDorothy MorrisonDoreen ValienteEdward FitchEleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” /  Dr. John Dee and Edward KellyDr. Leo Louis Martello /  Eliphas LeviErnest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry /  Fiona Horne /  Friedrich von SpeeFrancis Barrett /  Gerald B. GardnerGavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gwydion PendderwenHans Holzer /  Helen DuncanHerman Slater "Horrible Herman" /  Israel RegardieJames "Cunning" MurrellJanet Farrar & Gavin BoneJessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne John George Hohman /  John GerardJohn Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) /  John Michael Greer /  John ScoreJohannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von EckartshausenLaurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis Spence /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMarie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMatthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General”Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata /  Monique Wilson the “Queen of the WitchesMontague SummersNicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellersMrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-RavenheartOld Dorothy ClutterbuckOld George Pickingill /   Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsusPatricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPhilip Emmons Isaac Bonewits Philip HeseltonRaymond BucklandReginald ScotRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /  Rudolf Steiner /  Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & DruidsSabrina - The Ink WitchScott CunninghamSelena FoxSilver Ravenwolf /  Sir Francis DashwoodSir James George FrazerS.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  StarhawkStewart FarrarSybil LeekTed AndrewsThe Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather /  Thomas AdyVera Chapman /  Victor Henry AndersonVivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest

 

 

Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)

 

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