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Lughnasadh

Happy Lughnasadh, everybody! Lughnasadh falls c. August 1 in the Northern Hemisphere and c. February 1 in the Southern Hemisphere. It is also known as Lammas.

This is a harvest festival in Gaelic culture. In Irish mythology, this festival is said to have been begun by the god Lugh (who the festival is named after). It begun as a funeral feast and sporting competition in commemoration of his foster mother, Tailtiu. Tailtiu died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture.

As the autumn begins, the Celtic Sun God enters old age, but is not yet dead. He symbolically loses some of his strength as the sun rises farther in the South; each day grows shorter and each night grows longer.

There are some historical customs for this holiday. Celebrations were commonly held on the hilltops. People would also gather bilberries. Since this is sabbat, it was common for there to be bonfires for this holiday. The ashes from the bonfires were used to bless fields, cattle and people. People would also visit holy wells. Visitors to these wells would pray for health while walking clockwise (in the Northern Hemisphere) around the well. They would then leave offerings. Typical offerings included: coins or clooties (a strip or piece of cloth, a rag or item of clothing). In Gaelic Ireland, this was also a favored time for handfastings.

Some people in modern times have come to celebrate this holiday. A common custom is baking loaf of bread for today. Neopaganism has brought this holiday back, but it varies widely in how and when it is celebrated. This is in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year as one of the eight sabbats. It’s the first of three autumn harvest festivals, the other two being Mabon (Autumn Equinox) and Samhain. Celtic Reconstructionism emphasizes historical accuracy in celebrating this holiday.

Enjoy this time. Happy Lughnasadh/Lammas! Blessed be!

Tree of Life

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden . . .

This is an excerpt from the Book of Genesis 2:9 (KJV). This is when God, according to the Bible, was creating the Garden of Eden. One of the many trees he grew was the Tree of Life. In the Bible, God never forbid Adam and Eve from eating the fruit of this tree, before they ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. After they ate from the forbidden tree, Genesis 3:22-23 (KJV) says:

And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

It clearly states that the Tree of Life produced fruit, that when eaten, would make man live forever.

Christianity and Judaism are not the only faiths with the Tree of Life, or something similar. In this, we hope to discover what the Tree of Life is.

Appearance

Tree of Life in 1 Nephi

A depiction of the Tree of Life as according to the description in the Book of Mormon.

As said above, Genesis 2:9 does describe the trees as “. . . pleasant to the sight . . . ,” in the Garden of Eden. The Book of Mormon agrees with this statement. It goes further to describe the fruit, in I Nephi 8:10 (as translated by Joseph Smith), of the Tree of Life as “. . . desirable to make one happy.” The fruit, according to Lehi in I Nephi 8:11, was “. . . white, to exceed all the whiteness I had ever seen.” Later, Nephi (Lehi’s son) sees the tree. I Nephi 11:8 gives this account:

And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me: Look! And I looked and beheld a tree; and it was like unto the tree which my father had seen; and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow.

Now, we know that the Tree of Life and its fruit are white and beautiful. Its beauty makes one happy, as beauty usually does.

In Norse mythology, there is a Tree of Life (sometimes World Tree). It was called Yggdrasil. Yggdrasil had three roots.

  1. “The first root went to Asgard, the home of the gods. By this root was a well named Urd’s Well. This was were the gods held daily assemblies.” (“Yggdrasil – The Tree of Life”).
  2. “The second root went to Jotunheim, land of the giants and trolls. By this root was Mimir’s Well. Mimir was the wisest of all living beings.” (“Yggdrasil – The Tree of Life”).
  3. “The third root went to Niflheim. This was the place where Hel ruled her gruesome Underworld. Hel was the daughter of the despiteful Loki. Anyone who died of old age or disease was sent to Hel. It was a dark and gloomy place. . . . The well by this root was named Hvergelmir.” (“Yggdrasil – The Tree of Life”).

There are at least three main roots. There are also smaller roots, but they are still important.

In Celtic Ireland, there were forests of trees. When a group of people settled, they would leave one tree in the center of their settlement. This tree was known as the crann bethadh (krawn ba-huh), or Tree of Life. It was the spiritual focus and source of well-being. According to Celtic folklore, the Tree of Life is twenty-six miles high. It provides nourishment to all four corners of the Earth (Felker).

According the apocryphal Book of Enoch, the Tree of Life is fragrant. Enoch 24:4-5 (Carnahan) says:

And amongst them was a tree such as I had never yet smelt, neither was any amongst them nor were others like it: it had a fragrance beyond all fragrance, and its leaves and blooms and wood wither not for ever: and its fruit is beautiful, and its fruit resembles the dates of a palm. Then I said: ‘How beautiful is this tree, and fragrant, and its leaves are fair, and its blooms very delightful in appearance.’

It has a fragrance beyond all fragrances. Its leaves, flowers, and wood will never wither. Not only are the fruit white, but they also resemble the fruit of date palms.

How many fruits does the Tree of Life have? This is significant because: (1) it has a certain number of fruits in different beliefs and (2) it helps us identify the tree.

Revelation 22:2 (KJV) says:

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

This says that the Tree of Life has twelve fruits. Does this mean it only produces twelve types of fruit, or that it only produces twelve fruits at a time? Let’s look at other translations. The NIV says “twelve crops of fruit.” The AMP says “twelve varieties of fruit.” The ESV says “twelve kinds of fruit.” Then, we have the NKJV, which says: “twelve fruits.” When you look up the verse (in the KJV) on www.blueletterbible.org, you will see that there are brackets around “manner of.” You will also see that there are no Strong’s Numbers for this. It is your choice to decide what is actually said. I’m inclined to believe that there are twelve kinds of fruit.

Other Beliefs About the Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is a mystical symbol used in the Kabbalah of esoteric Judaism. It is known as Etz haChayim(עץ החיים). It describes the path to God. The Tree contains ten centers called sephiroth. There are twenty-two paths which connect them (Glorian Publishing).

The Bodhi Tree is the tree that Buddha sat under to achieve enlightenment. It is also known as the Wisdom Tree. There are four watches with this tree: (1) the recollection of human past lives, and knowledge of the cycle of death and rebirth; (2) the recognition that the cycle of rebirth affects all sentient beings in all worlds, and that the law of karma determines the quality and type of rebirth, and its suffering; (3) the recognition of the cycle of causality that leads to death and rebirth, and the means of liberation from this cycle; and (4) the recognition of the state of enlightenment, and the great awakening of the Buddha (Denosky). It taught about certain aspects of life.

Tree of Souls from “Avatar.”

In the movie Avatar(by James Cameron), the Na’vi have a name for their tree of life. In the Na’vi language, its name is Vitraya Ramunong. In English, it is the Tree of Souls. It is the closest connection to their goddess, Eywa. It connects to the Na’vi nervous system. It also holds the souls of future Na’vi.

Conclusion

The Tree of Life may not be physical (if it ever was). What sources do say is that the tree and its fruit are white. It also has fruit that resembles the fruit of date palms. There are twelve different kinds of fruit that bloom every month. The tree will never whither. If the fruit is eaten, one will live forever.

Bibliography

Magickal Elements

The Ancients divided the world into four basic principles, or elements: earth, water, fire, and air. This viewpoint mostly changed with science, but the four elements are still accepted in magick. These elements are closely linked to emotions, the human psyche, and with nature.

Earth

  • Symbol: Square, downward-pointing triangle with a horizontal line through the middle of it
  • Colors: Brown and green
  • Suit: Pentacles
  • Quarter: North
  • Archangel: Uriel
  • Astrology: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
  • Elementals: Gnomes, dwarves, elves, brownies, hobgoblins, leprechauns
  • Opposite: Air
  • Emotional/Physical Attributes: Sensations, decay, patience, stability, strength, health, warmth, comfort, animals, animal instincts, farming, physical labor
  • Magickal Types: Herb/Flower Magick, Routine Magick

Water

  • Symbol: Downward-pointing triangleWater Symbol
  • Colors: Blue
  • Suit: Cups
  • Quarter: West
  • Archangel: Gabriel
  • Astrology: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
  • Elementals: Undine, nymphs, tritons, mermaids, mermen, sirens, harpies
  • Opposite: Fire
  • Emotional/Physical Attributes: Emotions, intuition, insight, conception, pregnancy, fertility, the womb, health, beauty, and divination
  • Magick Types: Beach/Ocean (shells, animals, sand, seawater, etc.), Well Water Magick, Scrying

Fire

  • Symbol: Upward-pointing triangleFire Symbol
  • Colors: Red
  • Suit: Swords
  • Quarter: South
  • Archangel: Michael
  • Astrology: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
  • Elementals: Jin, genies
  • Opposite: Water
  • Emotional/Physical Attributes: Passion, enthusiasm, desire, courage, force, lust, fertility, virility, initianiation, and rejuvenation
  • Magick Types: Bonfire Magick, Candle Magick, Sun Magick

Air

  • Symbol: Upward-pointing triangle with a horizontal line through the middle of it.Air Symbol
  • Colors: Yellow
  • Suit: Wands
  • Quarter: East
  • Archangel: Raphael
  • Astrology: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
  • Elementals: Sylph, fairies (faeries), angels
  • Opposite: Earth
  • Emotional/Physical Attributes: Mental activity, thoughts, reason, intellect, memory, knowledge, persuasion, birth, friendship, freedom, clarification, and expression
  • Magick Types: Visualizations, Word (especially spells), Mirror Magick

These elements are interconnected. They each have their positive and negative aspects. Conway Stewart wrote:

The Earth without Water to moisten it, without Fire to warm it, and without Air to surround it, would be a lifeless planet.

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