Montag, 17. Mai 2010


Some cultural historian once wrote that trees have taught the Germanic peoples how to stand straight and march in line. While that may have been a bit polemically exaggerated, it certainly does have a point. I do think that even today people of Middle and Northern Europe –and their cultural descendants elsewhere- share certain cultural traits that could be recurred to some kind of forest lore. Trees have not only given us shelter, have kept us warm with their leaves and the fuel that their wood provided for our fires, but also have given us culture: letters (the German Buchstabe [literally: beech-stick] means letter) as well as writing, books, prophecy, myth and oracle-magic (a future); yet also dreaminess, wisdom and the famed idealism. Trees teach us how to face life standing up straight, how to have pride in ourselves, but they also reveal and sway and again conceal things beyond our reach: the skies and the sun and beyond those- the stars and the ocean of night, and they sing of them with the voices of leaves.

I seem to remember that one of my favourite authors, J.R.R Tolkien, was especially fond of trees, too. Maybe in an essay about his mythopoetical theories that was attached to the story called 'Leaf by Niggle', he wrote something to the effect of: 'small-minded, mediocre persons cannot stand large trees, they cannot live next to them, cannot tolerate anything greater near them- so they cut them down.' Sadly, when I look into certain suburbs and modern gardens and homes (and minds!), I have to agree with him.


Laguna Beach Trad hat gesagt…

I agree with this, and in fact was just reading something on this topic, Germanics as people of the misty forests and tree covered mountains. A remnant, perhaps, of our Hyperborean origins.

v. Braun. hat gesagt…

That's nice, I had also read a good book last year that could give one a good overview and provide one with many (also mythical) leads. It was called Arktos...

Another one, less occultish and more scholarly and mythologically- tinted, I had read recently by Paul Hermann, a 19th century scholar about German Mythology (maybe not available in English, or you'd have to look around a bit)...

I'm not sure, but that polemic quote about the Germans as militaristic tree-lovers was maybe from Elias Canetti, of all people (just found it, excuse the longwinded reply):

'The crowd symbol of the Germans was the army. But the army was more than just the army; it was the marching forest. In no other modern country has the forest-feeling remained as alive as it has in Germany. The parallel rigidity of the upright trees and their density and number fill the heart of the German with a deep and mysterious delight. To this day he loves to go deep into the forest where his forefathers lived; he feels at one with the trees.'

Simon Friedrich hat gesagt…

Another author who has written excellent things about trees, also a German, is Ernst Jünger. In particular, he wrote one called "Der Baum", as far as I know untranslated into English. But then you probably read German, right?

As with most of his work, this one too contains unique insights, totally self-conceived insights that could only come from an anarch.

Do you know Jünger?


v. Braun. hat gesagt…

Yes, I know Jünger but haven't read 'Der Baum'.

'Danke für den Hinweis!'