photo by Ilya Schurov
Safeguarding the Sacred
In 1990, two hundred and seventy scientific leaders from eighty-three nations signed a petition declaring:
“We understand that what is regarded as sacred is more likely to be treated with care and respect. Our planetary home should be so regarded. Efforts to safeguard and cherish the environment need to be infused with a vision of the sacred.”
As the Austrian artist, Hundertwasser, puts it:
“The relationship Tree-Man must become religious. Only when you will love the Tree like yourself, will you survive.”
One of the aims of The Living Tree Educational Foundation is to promote recognition of the sacredness of trees and the establishment of Sacred Groves.
photo by Weir Through a Lens
“Three noble sacred things:
groves or temples,
felid or poets,
— Triads of Ireland
The Tradition of the Sacred Grove
The tradition of the Sacred Grove, founded upon recognition of the sacredness of trees, belonged to most ancient cultures. They served as sanctuaries. Indeed, in some ancient languages, the words for ‘sanctuary’ and ‘grove’ were intimately related. In medieval Irish, the word for Sacred Grove is translated as fid-neimid (or fid-neimith) which, in turn, is derived from an older Celtic word nemetos, meaning simply ‘holy’ or ‘sacred’. Similar to nemetos are the Greek and Latin words nemos and nemus meaning ‘grove’ or ‘woodland glade’.¹
Banyans with prayer flags in Lumbini, Nepal
image by mafate69
The Sacred Grove was also a temple, a place of worship. Or it was the location of one, where Divine Presence was recognized and honoured. For the Akkadians, Canaanites, as well as ancient Hebrews, She, the Divine Presence, was the Asherah, the Great Mother of the Grove. In Judaism, She remains as the Shekinah. In esoteric Christianity, She is personified as Mary, or, as the companion of Jesus, ‘the Magdalene’. For the Celts, Groves were pivotal in their culture, as the Roman historian, Tacitus, informs us in Germania: “The Grove is the centre of their whole religion. It is regarded as the cradle of the race and the dwelling-place of the supreme god to whom all things are subject and obedient.”
See also Trees & Ireland
In far off days, education also took place in Groves. Druidic Colleges were founded in Groves. “In the Sacred Grove, Salome taught the lesson of the day, to Mary the mother of Jesus and Elizabeth the mother of John.” — The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ.
See also An Ideal Educational Environment
Trees and Groves are not only important in themselves but in what they point towards or symbolize. Not only ecologically but culturally and spiritually their destruction is a disaster:
“When we cut down the literal tree, when we cut down the literal Grove, when we cut down the forests which provide most of our oxygen in order to feed cattle for hamburgers, we cut down everything, all of culture and all of Spirit.”
So laments one of many sad souls, poet, healer and storyteller, Deena Metzger, who also reminds us and points a way forward:
“When the Sacred Groves of Demeter were cut down, She cursed us: “The more you eat, the more you will want.” The curse of greed, of consumerism and expansionism! How do we remove it? How do we restore the Groves? How do we extend the Temple once more, extend the sacred to include the outside – that is, Nature? … Here we are at the other end of Genesis beginning to understand that we have to proceed in the other direction, to return to Paradise, to restore the Grove.”
photo by prezz
Restoring the Groves
How do we restore the Groves?
By restoring the Groves! It is that simple! They may serve today as they have always done – as sanctuaries, places of nourishment, healing and inspiration, for teaching, learning, creativity and celebration, as well as play and recreation, for reconnecting us with the multidimensionality of Life, with Spirit, mystery and wonderment, with the Living Presence and Creative Intelligence within all that is.
It is with these ideas in mind that The Living Tree Educational Foundation has begun work on the creation of a Sacred Grove at The Grove of Akademus, on a mountainside near Sneem in the county of Kerry on the south west coast of Ireland – which will serve, amongst other things, as a venue for in-Nature retreats, workshops and courses.
We are open to hearing from anyone who would like to join us as volunteers in this project.
interested? Get Involved
The above extracts are from Gospel of the Living Tree: for Mystics, Lovers, Poets & Warriors by Roderic Knowles, published by (and available online from) Earth Cosmos Press