Sacred plants


GUIDE TO KNOWLEDGE AND CARE OF PLANTS

SACRED PLANTS

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Since ancient times, there has been a close relationship between plants and religion, sacredness; in fact, deities are often identified in plants or at least they are considered the manifestation of divinity. Moreover, among the plants, it is the tree that has most stimulated popular beliefs, certainly for its majesty, for the fact that it rises upwards as if to establish a bridge between the earth and the sky, between man. and divinity. Therefore, a divine and protective function has always been attributed to the tree. And if the trees form a wood or a forest then their beneficial influence is even more pronounced. For example both the ancient Romans and the Druids always celebrated their rites in the woods but still today in many African countries, the forest is the place deglispiriti and therefore sacred.

The same thecosmic tree common to almost all cultures as a symbol of the world, as a mediator between the earth and the sky, which unites the three levels of the existing: the underground, earthly and celestial worlds are present in many religions: for the Nordic countries it is a olive tree (European olea), for Islam it is one Birch (Betula spp.), in Siberia it is the larch (Larix spp).


Larch


Birch

In India it is a Ficus religious under whose branches Buddha was enlightened ... In various religions of India it is forbidden to build a temple in a clearing without trees, especially withoutFicus benghalensis, the banyanas it is called. Better if these trees grow around a clearing where you will build the house because this will mean that you will have the maximum protection from the deities.


Ficus benghalensis

It is likely that behind this belief there was a very simple reason: these trees create a great shadow so the Templists would stay in the cool, representing a safe refreshment for pilgrims and animals who took refuge there. And if you think that trees grow near water, that's why it was suggested to build temples in their shade. Now, beyond finding a rational meaning to a religious belief, apart from the inevitable deformations that time has brought to ancient beliefs, let's see which plant species have been and which are still today actively entered into the religious rituals of different populations.

In ancient Babylon, the Templierano surrounded by a sacred enclosure that enclosed a wood, an area reserved for animals that had to be sacrificed to the divinity and all plants that grew inside the enclosure could not be touched because it was considered a desecration that could also be punished with death.

In Egypt, at the entrance of the temples, a plant of sycamore (Ficus sycomorus).


Sycamore

In China, at the pagodas there are beautiful plants of Ginko biloba.One would think that if it had not been for this custom, today these ancient plants, which date back to 250 million years ago, perhaps would not have reached the present day.

In Sudan, it was used and still used to hold at each hut where the fetish of the tribe was kept, four trees acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia) from the umbrella-like foliage and therefore with the branches parallel to the ground. These branches were then suspended from large pots that were used to collect the blood of the chickens that were periodically sacrificed to the deities to ask to give the sorcerer the power to know the future.

In the Annam region of Vietnam, pagodas are surrounded by groves of tamarind(Tamarindus indicates) as it is the only wood that can be used to build the colonnades of the peristyle where the life of the monks takes place. sandal(Adenanthera pavonina) called nghien.


Sandal


Tamarind

In China, the altars of the God of the ground must be surrounded by five trees: a Pine tree of the species Pinus mugo to protect great God of the soil; a thuja(Thuja spp.) where the Soil god of the east;a Catalpa bignonioidesfor the Southern Soil God; a chestnut(Castanea spp.) for God of the soil of the west; aacacia (Robinia pseudoacacia) for the God of the northern soil.In the Himalayas there are many around the temples cypressescharged with transmitting the messages of men to heaven.

For New Zealand Maori it is the kauri (Agathis australis), a huge tree with very hard and precious wood considered sacred.

In the area of ​​Morondova (Madagascar), there are numerous trees of baobab(Adansonia grandidieri) among which one in particular with a circumference of many meters, which is venerated so much that under its foliage there are offerings of rice and rum.They are considered sacred because the baobabs have always been plants with a thousand virtues as they provide man with both food what medicines.


Baobab (note 1)

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1. Image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic license courtesy of Bernard Gagnon


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