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 In tribute to the Oak

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Ephemeron

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PostSubject: In tribute to the Oak Sun Nov 10, 2013 2:28 am

In Tribute to the Oak,

For Lyssa and those which revere that sacred symbol.


The oak is a part of my life, its wood I burn to heat my home and I work with it often in my trade.  It sustains me in many ways.  It is a prevalent tree on my property of which five types spring from the soil there, the “red”, “white”, “black” “pin” and “burr”.  Some are quite isolated and beautiful in form, some crowded, some exceedingly tall and straight and others quite crooked and misshapen but so many variations and configurations that I never cease to marvel at their adaptability.  Some grow on hillsides and their root systems entwine around the rocks and boulders.  Some lean at sharp angles toward the sun, some become stunted and wither.  Some being in great competition where they are too dense and crowded to reach maturity and some are so tall and spindly that they have virtually no character and seem flat and boring to me.  I find those with the most character to be the most interesting, and beautiful, the flat and boring ones I cut down to feed my stove.    

I've observed its various forms throughout all the seasons, in the spring its tender pinkish buds gently unfold to become broad lobed and emerald green in the summer.  In the fall, the leaves turn crimson and scarlet, and a deep burgundy and then gold before they fall.  Their bark contrasts well against the evergreens.  In the winter, the rugged and shaggy texture of the white oak stands silhouetted against the snow covered hills, some days the sun brings out a deep ruddy red, and other days they are nearly silvery white and even blackish looking depending on how the light hits them and what the background appears as.  In late Summer, the sound of acorns dropping is musical, as the squirrels and chipmunks scurry to and fro collecting their food for the winter throwing down the empty caps to get the hard nut inside.  I have found them to have a very distinct acidic odor when freshly cut and have aged tobacco and whiskey in oak casks to capture some of that flavor and aroma.  I have used the wood to smoke meats, which instills a pleasant nutty flavor if one is careful not to use too much.  I've also ruined meats, by doing just that.  

I've had the fortune to observe some very old oaks, in different parts of the country.  The most beautiful to me were those with massive trunks sometimes over six feet in diameter.  The most magnificent trees I have ever seen, being well over 250 years old.  At the time I marveled at how much these trees must have endured, how many harsh winter storms and scorching summer days they survived.  I imagined that I was just one among a chain of many which stood beneath their umbrella of limb and leaf.  In the stateliest cases this was almost as wide as the tree was tall.  Some nearly 100 ft!  How many young boys and girls climbed its branches and how many older ones lay beneath its shade?  I tried to image its beginning, when it was just a delicate sapling first breaking free from its seed.  I envisioned all the forces which have acted upon it up until that very moment I stood before it which gave to it, its shape, its character.  I was awed.  

What roots these trees must have to stand for so many years to support such a massive trunk and branches.  I compared them to men who had developed their whole bodies and minds to such strength that nothing shakes them from their positions.  The Oak stands as a symbol of unchanging and unflinching life amidst a world of constant change.  Its life unfolds in accord with its inner nature and is beautified by its surroundings and all that acts against it.  The Oak is truly a sacred tree, which one can only truly appreciate when they endure with it.
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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Sun Nov 10, 2013 4:50 pm

I didn't know this board had its own Richard Jeffries.

In thanks for sharing that Ephemeron;


Quote :
"It is sweet on awaking in the early morn to listen to the small bird singing on the tree. No sound of voice or flute is like to the bird's song; there is something in it distinct and separate from all other notes. The throat of woman gives forth a more perfect music, and the organ is the glory of man's soul. The bird upon the tree utters the meaning of the wind--a voice of the grass and wild flower, words of the green leaf; they speak through that slender tone. Sweetness of dew and rifts of sunshine, the dark hawthorn touched with breadths of open bud, the odour of the air, the colour of the daffodil--all that is delicious and beloved of spring-time are expressed in his song. Genius is nature, and his lay, like the sap in the bough from which he sings, rises without thought. Nor is it necessary that it should be a song; a few short notes in the sharp spring morning are sufficient to stir the heart. But yesterday the least of them all came to a bough by my window, and in his call I heard the sweet-briar wind rushing over the young grass. Refulgent fall the golden rays of the sun; a minute only, the clouds cover him and the hedge is dark. The bloom of the gorse is shut like a book; but it is there--a few hours of warmth and the covers will fall open. The meadow is bare, but in a little while the heart-shaped celandine leaves will come in their accustomed place. On the pollard willows the long wands are yellow-ruddy in the passing gleam of sunshine, the first colour of spring appears in their bark. The delicious wind rushes among them and they bow and rise; it touches the top of the dark pine that looks in the sun the same now as in summer; it lifts and swings the arching trail of bramble; it dries and crumbles the earth in its fingers; the hedge-sparrow's feathers are fluttered as he sings on the bush.

I wonder to myself how they can all get on without me--how they manage, bird and flower, without me to keep the calendar for them. For I noted it so carefully and lovingly, day by day, the seed-leaves on the mounds in the sheltered places that come so early, the pushing up of the young grass, the succulent dandelion, the coltsfoot on the heavy, thick clods, the trodden chickweed despised at the foot of the gate-post, so common and small, and yet so dear to me. Every blade of grass was mine, as though I had planted it separately. They were all my pets, as the roses the lover of his garden tends so faithfully. All the grasses of the meadow were my pets, I loved them all; and perhaps that was why I never had a "pet," never cultivated a flower, never kept a caged bird, or any creature. Why keep pets when every wild free hawk that passed overhead in the air was mine? I joyed in his swift, careless flight, in the throw of his pinions, in his rush over the elms and miles of woodland; it was happiness to see his unchecked life. What more beautiful than the sweep and curve of his going through the azure sky? These were my pets, and all the grass. Under the wind it seemed to dry and become grey, and the starlings running to and fro on the surface that did not sink now stood high above it and were larger. The dust that drifted along blessed it and it grew. Day by day a change; always a note to make. The moss drying on the tree trunks, dog's-mercury stirring under the ash-poles, bird's-claw buds of beech lengthening; books upon books to be filled with these things. I cannot think how they manage without me.

To-day through the window-pane I see a lark high up against the grey cloud, and hear his song. I cannot walk about and arrange with the buds and gorse-bloom; how does he know it is the time for him to sing? Without my book and pencil and observing eye, how does he understand that the hour has come? To sing high in the air, to chase his mate over the low stone wall of the ploughed field, to battle with his high-crested rival, to balance himself on his trembling wings outspread a few yards above the earth, and utter that sweet little loving kiss, as it were, of song--oh, happy, happy days! So beautiful to watch as if he were my own, and I felt it all! It is years since I went out amongst them in the old fields, and saw them in the green corn; they must be dead, dear little things, by now. Without me to tell him, how does this lark to-day that I hear through the window know it is his hour?

The green hawthorn buds prophesy on the hedge; the reed pushes up in the moist earth like a spear thrust through a shield; the eggs of the starling are laid in the knot-hole of the pollard elm--common eggs, but within each a speck that is not to be found in the cut diamond of two hundred carats--the dot of protoplasm, the atom of life. There was one row of pollards where they always began laying first. With a big stick in his beak the rook is blown aside like a loose feather in the wind; he knows his building-time from the fathers of his house--hereditary knowledge handed down in settled course: but the stray things of the hedge, how do they know? The great blackbird has planted his nest by the ash-stole, open to every one's view, without a bough to conceal it and not a leaf on the ash--nothing but the moss on the lower end of the branches. He does not seek cunningly for concealment. I think of the drift of time, and I see the apple bloom coming and the blue veronica in the grass. A thousand thousand buds and leaves and flowers and blades of grass, things to note day by day, increasing so rapidly that no pencil can put them down and no book hold them, not even to number them--and how to write the thoughts they give? All these without me--how can they manage without me?
For they were so much to me, I had come to feel that I was as much in return to them. The old, old error: I love the earth, therefore the earth loves me--I am her child--I am Man, the favoured of all creatures. I am the centre, and all for me was made..."
Richard Jeffries: Hours of Spring contd. ...

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Sun Nov 10, 2013 4:51 pm

Quote :
"The blackbird's whistle is very human, like a human being playing the flute; an uncertain player, now drawing forth a bar of a beautiful melody—then losing it again. He does not know what quiver or what turn his note will take before it ends; the note leads him and completes itself. It is a song which strives to express the singer's keen delight, the singer's exquisite appreciation of the loveliness of the days; the golden glory of the meadow, the light, the luxurious shadows, the indolent clouds reclining on their azure couch. Such thoughts can only be ex­pressed in fragments, like a sculptor's chips, thrown off as the inspiration seizes him, not mechanically sawn to a set line. Now and again the blackbird feels the beauty of the time, the large white daisy stars, the grass with yellow-dusted tips, the air which comes so softly un-perceived by any precedent rustle of the hedge, the water which runs slower, held awhile by rootlet, flag, and forget-me-not. He feels the beauty of the time, and he must say it. His notes come like wild-flowers, not sown in order. The sunshine opens and shuts the stops of his instrument." [Jeffries, The Toilers of the Field]

_________________


"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Sun Nov 10, 2013 4:51 pm

Quote :
"The sun at his meridian pours forth his light, forgetting, in all the inspiration of his strength and glory, that without an altar-screen of green his love must scorch. Joy in life; joy in life. The ears listen, and want more; the eyes are gratified with gazing, and desire yet further; the nostrils are filled with the sweet odours of flower and sap. The touch, too, has its pleasures, dallying with leaf and flower. Can you not almost grasp the odour-laden air and hold it in the hollow of the hand?" [Jeffries, Nature near London]

_________________


"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Sun Nov 10, 2013 4:52 pm

"The sun at his meridian pours forth his light, forgetting, in all the inspiration of his strength and glory, that without an altar-screen of green his love must scorch. Joy in life; joy in life. The ears listen, and want more; the eyes are gratified with gazing, and desire yet further; the nostrils are filled with the sweet odours of flower and sap. The touch, too, has its pleasures, dallying with leaf and flower. Can you not almost grasp the odour-laden air and hold it in the hollow of the hand?" [Jeffries, Nature near London]


_________________


"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Sun Nov 10, 2013 4:52 pm

Quote :
"Twelve thousand years since the Caveman stood at the mouth of his cavern and gazed out at the night and the stars. He looked again and saw the sun rise beyond the sea. He reposed in the noontide heat under the shade of the trees, he closed his eyes and looked into himself. He was face to face with the earth, the sun, the night; face to face with himself. There was nothing between; no wall of written tradition; no built-up system of culture—his naked mind was confronted by naked earth. He made three idea-discoveries, wrest­ing- them from the unknown: the exist­ence of his soul, immortality, the deity. Now to-day, as I write, I stand in exactly the same position as the Caveman. Written tradition, systems of culture, modes of thought, have for me no exist­ence. If ever they took any hold of my mind it must have been very slight; they have long ago been erased. From earth and sea and sun, from night, the stars, from day, the trees, the hills, from my own soul—from these I think. I stand this moment at the mouth of the ancient cave, face to face with nature, face to face with the supernatural, with myself. My naked mind confronts the unknown." [Jeffries, The Story of my Heart]

_________________


"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Sun Nov 10, 2013 4:53 pm

Quote :
"The soul throbs like the sea for a larger life. No thought which I have ever had has satisfied my soul." [Jeffries, The Story of my Heart]

_________________


"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Sun Nov 10, 2013 4:53 pm

Quote :
"Nature sets no value upon life, neither of mine nor of the larks that sang years ago. The earth is all in all to me, but I am nothing to the earth: it is bitter to know this before you are dead. These de­licious violets are sweet for themselves; they were not shaped and coloured and gifted with the exquisite proportion and adjustment of odour and hue for me. — ‘Field and Hedgerow': Hours of Spring." [Jeffries, Field and Hedgerow]

_________________


"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Sun Nov 10, 2013 4:53 pm

Quote :
"The sun rolls on in the far dome of heaven, and now day, and now night sweeps with alternate bands over the surface of hill, and flower. Old walls, as we saw just now, are not left without a fringe, on the top of the hardest brick wall, on the sapless tiles, on slates, stonecrop takes hold and becomes a cushion of yellow bloom. Nature is a miniature painter and handles a delicate brush, the tip of which touches the tiniest spot and leaves something living. The park has indeed its larger lines, its broad open sweep, and gradual slope, to which the eye, accustomed to small enclosures, requires time to adjust itself. These left to themselves are beautiful; they are the surface of the earth, which is always true to itself and needs no banks nor artificial hollows. The earth is right and the tree is right; trim either and all is wrong: the deer will not fit to them then." [Jeffries, Field and Hedgerow]

_________________


"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Sun Nov 10, 2013 4:54 pm

Quote :
"Our modern people think they train their sons to strength by football, and rowing, and jumping, and what are called athletic exercises; all of which it is the fashion now to preach as very noble, and likely to lead to the goodness of the race. Certainly feats are accomplished and records are beaten, but there is no real strength gained, no hardihood built up. Without hardihood it is of little avail to be able to jump an inch farther than somebody else. Hardihood is the true test, hardihood is the ideal, and not these caperings or ten minutes' spurts. Now, the way they made the boy John Brown hardy was to let him roll about on the ground with naked legs and bare head from morn till night, from June till December, from January till June. The rain fell on his head, and he played in wet grass to his knees. Dry bread and a little lard was his chief food. He went to work while he was still a child. At half-past three in the morning he was on his way to the farm stables, there to help feed the cart-horses, which used to be done with great care very early in the morning. The carter's whip used to sting his legs, and sometimes he felt the butt. At fifteen he was no taller than the sons of well-to-do people at eleven; he scarcely seemed to grow at all till he was eighteen or twenty, and even then very slowly, but at last became a tall big man. That slouching walk, with knees always bent, diminished his height to appearance; he really was the full size, and every inch of his frame had been slowly welded together by this ceaseless work, continual life in the open air, and coarse hard food. This is what makes a man hardy. This is what makes a man able to stand almost any­thing, and gives a power of endurance that can never be obtained by any amount of gymnastic training." [Jeffries, Field and Hedgerow]

_________________


"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Sun Nov 10, 2013 4:57 pm

A Tribute to the Oak would be incomplete without Frazer's passage on it from the Golden Bough, XV:

'The Worship of the Oak'

Quote :
"THE WORSHIP of the oak tree or of the oak god appears to have been shared by all the branches of the Aryan stock in Europe. Both Greeks and Italians associated the tree with their highest god, Zeus or Jupiter, the divinity of the sky, the rain, and the thunder. Perhaps the oldest and certainly one of the most famous sanctuaries in Greece was that of Dodona, where Zeus was revered in the oracular oak. The thunder-storms which are said to rage at Dodona more frequently than anywhere else in Europe, would render the spot a fitting home for the god whose voice was heard alike in the rustling of the oak leaves and in the crash of thunder. Perhaps the bronze gongs which kept up a humming in the wind round the sanctuary were meant to mimick the thunder that might so often be heard rolling and rumbling in the coombs of the stern and barren mountains which shut in the gloomy valley. In Boeotia, as we have seen, the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera, the oak god and the oak goddess, appears to have been celebrated with much pomp by a religious federation of states. And on Mount Lycaeus in Arcadia the character of Zeus as god both of the oak and of the rain comes out clearly in the rain charm practised by the priest of Zeus, who dipped an oak branch in a sacred spring. In his latter capacity Zeus was the god to whom the Greeks regularly prayed for rain. Nothing could be more natural; for often, though not always, he had his seat on the mountains where the clouds gather and the oaks grow. On the Acropolis at Athens there was an image of Earth praying to Zeus for rain. And in time of drought the Athenians themselves prayed, “Rain, rain, O dear Zeus, on the cornland of the Athenians and on the plains.”

Again, Zeus wielded the thunder and lightning as well as the rain. At Olympia and elsewhere he was worshipped under the surname of Thunderbolt; and at Athens there was a sacrificial hearth of Lightning Zeus on the city wall, where some priestly officials watched for lightning over Mount Parnes at certain seasons of the year. Further, spots which had been struck by lightning were regularly fenced in by the Greeks and consecrated to Zeus the Descender, that is, to the god who came down in the flash from heaven. Altars were set up within these enclosures and sacrifices offered on them. Several such places are known from inscriptions to have existed in Athens.  

 Thus when ancient Greek kings claimed to be descended from Zeus, and even to bear his name, we may reasonably suppose that they also attempted to exercise his divine functions by making thunder and rain for the good of their people or the terror and confusion of their foes. In this respect the legend of Salmoneus probably reflects the pretensions of a whole class of petty sovereigns who reigned of old, each over his little canton, in the oak-clad highlands of Greece. Like their kinsmen the Irish kings, they were expected to be a source of fertility to the land and of fecundity to the cattle; and how could they fulfil these expectations better than by acting the part of their kinsman Zeus, the great god of the oak, the thunder, and the rain? They personified him, apparently, just as the Italian kings personified Jupiter.  

 In ancient Italy every oak was sacred to Jupiter, the Italian counterpart of Zeus; and on the Capitol at Rome the god was worshipped as the deity not merely of the oak, but of the rain and the thunder. Contrasting the piety of the good old times with the scepticism of an age when nobody thought that heaven was heaven, or cared a fig for Jupiter, a Roman writer tells us that in former days noble matrons used to go with bare feet, streaming hair, and pure minds, up the long Capitoline slope, praying to Jupiter for rain. And straightway, he goes on, it rained bucketsful, then or never, and everybody returned dripping like drowned rats. “But nowadays,” says he, “we are no longer religious, so the fields lie baking.”  

 When we pass from Southern to Central Europe we still meet with the great god of the oak and the thunder among the barbarous Aryans who dwelt in the vast primaeval forests. Thus among the Celts of Gaul the Druids esteemed nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and the oak on which it grew; they chose groves of oaks for the scene of their solemn service, and they performed none of their rites without oak leaves. “The Celts,” says a Greek writer, “worship Zeus, and the Celtic image of Zeus is a tall oak.” The Celtic conquerors, who settled in Asia in the third century before our era, appear to have carried the worship of the oak with them to their new home; for in the heart of Asia Minor the Galatian senate met in a place which bore the pure Celtic name of Drynemetum, “the sacred oak grove” or “the temple of the oak.” Indeed the very name of Druids is believed by good authorities to mean no more than “oak men.”  

 In the religion of the ancient Germans the veneration for sacred groves seems to have held the foremost place, and according to Grimm the chief of their holy trees was the oak. It appears to have been especially dedicated to the god of thunder, Donar or Thunar, the equivalent of the Norse Thor; for a sacred oak near Geismar, in Hesse, which Boniface cut down in the eighth century, went among the heathen by the name of Jupiter’s oak (robur Jovis), which in old German would be Donares eih, “the oak of Donar.” That the Teutonic thunder god Donar, Thunar, Thor was identified with the Italian thunder god Jupiter appears from our word Thursday, Thunar’s day, which is merely a rendering of the Latin dies Jovis. Thus among the ancient Teutons, as among the Greeks and Italians, the god of the oak was also the god of the thunder. Moreover, he was regarded as the great fertilising power, who sent rain and caused the earth to bear fruit; for Adam of Bremen tells us that “Thor presides in the air; he it is who rules thunder and lightning, wind and rains, fine weather and crops.” In these respects, therefore, the Teutonic thunder god again resembled his southern counterparts Zeus and Jupiter.  

 Amongst the Slavs also the oak appears to have been the sacred tree of the thunder god Perun, the counterpart of Zeus and Jupiter. It is said that at Novgorod there used to stand an image of Perun in the likeness of a man with a thunder-stone in his hand. A fire of oak wood burned day and night in his honour; and if ever it went out the attendants paid for their negligence with their lives. Perun seems, like Zeus and Jupiter, to have been the chief god of his people; for Procopius tells us that the Slavs “believe that one god, the maker of lightning, is alone lord of all things, and they sacrifice to him oxen and every victim.”  

 The chief deity of the Lithuanians was Perkunas or Perkuns, the god of thunder and lightning, whose resemblance to Zeus and Jupiter has often been pointed out. Oaks were sacred to him, and when they were cut down by the Christian missionaries, the people loudly complained that their sylvan deities were destroyed. Perpetual fires, kindled with the wood of certain oak-trees, were kept up in honour of Perkunas; if such a fire went out, it was lighted again by friction of the sacred wood.

 Men sacrificed to oak-trees for good crops, while women did the same to lime-trees; from which we may infer that they regarded oaks as male and lime-trees as female. And in time of drought, when they wanted rain, they used to sacrifice a black heifer, a black he-goat, and a black cock to the thunder god in the depths of the woods. On such occasions the people assembled in great numbers from the country round about, ate and drank, and called upon Perkunas. They carried a bowl of beer thrice round the fire, then poured the liquor on the flames, while they prayed to the god to send showers. Thus the chief Lithuanian deity presents a close resemblance to Zeus and Jupiter, since he was the god of the oak, the thunder, and the rain.  

 From the foregoing survey it appears that a god of the oak, the thunder, and the rain was worshipped of old by all the main branches of the Aryan stock in Europe, and was indeed the chief deity of their pantheon."

_________________


"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Mon Nov 11, 2013 12:55 am

Three men have been my greatest influences, the materialist, London, the empiricist, Goethe, and the naturalist, Thoreau, but I never came across Jefferies who seems a bit of each.  Thanks for the link.  

Quote :
This blade of grass grows as high as it can, the nightingale there sings as sweetly as it can, the goldfinches feed to their full desire and lay down no arbitrary rules of life; the great sun above pours out its heat and light in a flood unrestrained. What is the meaning of this hieroglyph, which is repeated in a thousand thousand other ways and shapes, which meets us at every turn? It is evident that all living [Pg 299] creatures, from the zoophyte upwards, plant, reptile, bird, animal, and in his natural state—in his physical frame—man also, strive with all their powers to obtain as perfect an existence as possible. It is the one great law of their being, followed from birth to death. All the efforts of the plant are put forth to obtain more light, more air, more moisture—in a word, more food—upon which to grow, expand, and become more beautiful and perfect. The aim may be unconscious, but the result is evident. It is equally so with the animal; its lowest appetites subserve the one grand object of its advance. Whether it be eating, drinking, sleeping, procreating, all tends to one end, a fuller development of the individual, a higher condition of the species; still further, to the production of new races capable of additional progress. Part and parcel as we are of the great community of living beings, indissolubly connected with them from the lowest to the highest by a thousand ties, it is impossible for us to escape from the operation of this law; or if, by the exertion of the will, and the resources of the intellect, it is partially suspended, then the individual may perhaps pass away unharmed, but the race must suffer. It is, rather, the province of that inestimable gift, the mind, to aid nature, to smooth away the difficulties, to assist both the physical and mental man to increase his powers and widen his influence. Such efforts have been made from time to time, but unfortunately upon purely empirical principles, by arbitrary interference, without a long previous study of the delicate [Pg 300] organization it was proposed to amend. If there is one thing our latter-day students have demonstrated beyond all reach of cavil, it is that both the physical and the mental man are, as it were, a mass of inherited structures—are built up of partially absorbed rudimentary organs and primitive conceptions, much as the trunks of certain trees are formed by the absorption of the leaves. He is made up of the Past. This is a happy and an inspiriting discovery, insomuch as it holds out a resplendent promise that there may yet come a man of the future made out of our present which will then be the past. It is a discovery which calls upon us for new and larger moral and physical exertion, which throws upon us wider and nobler duties, for upon us depends the future. At one blow this new light casts aside those melancholy convictions which, judging from the evil blood which seemed to stain each new generation alike, had elevated into a faith the depressing idea that man could not advance. It explains the causes of that stain, the reason of those imperfections, not necessary parts of the ideal man, but inherited from a lower order of life, and to be gradually expunged.From the Hills and the Vale
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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:17 am




Ivan Shishkin




















The Forest and the Faustian Soul

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"Deep roots are untouched by frost. —J.R.R Tolkien

It has been said that the Germanic soul and the forest are one and the same thing; the mythological Forest that contrasts the splendid isolation of man in his solitude against the infinity of nature. Only this kind of soul could have such a word in its language as Waldeinsamkeit—”Forest-loneliness”—just as one of the most moving passages in Western literature is the Easter scene in Goethe’s Faust: “A longing pure and not to be described/drove me to wander over woods and fields/and in a mist of hot abundant tears/I felt a world arise and live for me.” Northern legends have been built around certain species of trees—firs, ash, oak, elm—and in the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich, the representative of German Romanticism at its height, dense walls of magnificent trees dwarf a lone Napoleonic soldier—a metaphorical relationship that is withdrawn, fortress-like, dark and impenetrable. The fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm all took place in the woods, while Siegfried, Parsifal, Tristan, Hamlet, Faust—those quintessentially Northern heroes—all longed for the woods in which their inner lives were awakened. Oswald Spengler, the maniacally erudite German historian, wrote in his Untergang des Abenlandes (“Decline of the West“) of the northern “longing for the woods; the mysterious compassion, the ineffable sense of forsakenness” and compared “Faustian” man—his Western ideal—with the Classical men of Antiquity, writing that “the rustle of the woods, a charm that no Classical poet ever felt, stands with its secret questions—whence, whither?”

The Forest: so invigorating and baptismal, suffused with those Goethean echoes that reverberate the lyrical tristesse of the high-minded loner; its contemplative splendor broken only by an occasional spray of sun-rays, like “fitful light-flecks playing in their shadow-filled volume”, as writes our Dr. Spengler. Indeed, if God made man in His image, one may say that Nature had her say and added three elements of her own: the Sea, the Stone and, above all, the Forest. The Sea—representing that which is rational, clear, enlightened in a man’s soul; Stone—to express his need to give shape to history, experience and memory. But most profoundly, the Forest—the darkness within him; a silent summons from deep within the murmur of trees giving rise to a man’s discovery of his own, authentic voice.

For Spengler, Classical man was the Apollonian—an individual static entity, for whom History is mythological, anecdotal, ever-present. He is city-states, public life, political life, Doric and Euclidean. The “anxious, caring” Faustian, on the other hand, who “blossomed forth with the birth of the Romanesque style”, is forever tending-towards and looking-back; he is perspective depth in painting, he is the irrepressible discoverer of continents and the explorer of ocean floors. The Apollonian “is the nude statue; the Faustian the art of the Fugue”; in art, the former is calculated contours; the latter—light and shade. The Apollonian is Delphi, Olympus and Elysium; the Faustian is Valhalla, Avalon and the Grail. The Apollonian sees himself in Homeric epic; the Faustian in the Gallilean, Catholic and Protestant; he is shaped by Baroque dynasties, Dante’s Beatrice, and…Faust. (There is, too, a third civilization-soul, the Magian, belonging to Judaic- Islamic and “Oriental” cultures). Faustian man is, in sum, the Forest, “restless and unsatisfied”, like an oak “straining beyond its summit” or a linden tree, which between sun and shadow is “bodiless, boundless, spiritual”.

The Forest expressed as the soul of the West takes shape in the highest creations of art, religious architecture, music, literature, and in the Western sense of Destiny and Duration—the “rootedness” of a man’s spirit, family and legacy. In architecture, the great forests of the northern plains, wrote Spengler, were the inspiration for cathedrals, their interiors mixed with mysterious light, “the endless, lonely, twilight wood….the secret wistfulness of all Western building forms.” In his work, Le Genie du Christianisme (“The Genius of Christianity“), the 19th century French writer Chateaubriand attributed the development of Gothic cathedrals to worship under tree arches. The French sacred-art historian Emile Mâle, evoking the dramatic relationship of that architecture to the works of Nature, wrote that “the cathedral, like the plain or forest, has atmosphere and perfume, splendor and twilight..and gloom.”


The Forest is classical music: There is Siegfried—the hero who never knew Fear—born in the forest and killed in them, whose glorious Rheinfahrt in Act One of the Götterdammerung seems to bring the listener in layer after layer deeper into a pitch-black world of clan-loyalties, blood-ties, soil and seed all within a cavernous labyrinth of Wald. There is the high Romanticism of Carl von Weber’s magisterial Freischutz, a ghost-story opera of a huntsman, his bride and the Devil that takes place during the Thirty Years’ War. That work’s famously frightening “Wolf Glen” scene is a twenty minute excursion into sylvan ecstasy that one British critic from The Times said must be heard “late at night, with the lights off, and no more than a glow from the amplifier panel”. Even the shape of a Church high-organ, the invention of which is one of the most emotional chapters in the history of Western music, is, Spengler writes, “a history of a longing for the Forest, a longing to speak in the language of that true temple of the Western soul”. And I challenge anyone to listen to Elizabeth Schwarzkopf sing Richard Strauss’ “Morgen” and not see a lush mist breaking over a crusader castle-ruin, one fortified by woods but vulnerable to troubadors…

The Forest is literature: For the deeply spiritual Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke, God was not to be found in painting, sculpture or icons, but living on in the dark woods, to be portrayed “not with lapis or gold, but color made of apple bark”. In his beautiful Stundenbuch (“Book of Hours”), Rilke writes in a series of love letters to God: “Often I imagine you, your wholeness cascades into many shapes. You run like a herd of luminous deer and I am dark. I am forest.” Robert Musil, the cranky and brilliant Austrian author behind Der Mann Ohne Eigenschaften (“The Man Without Qualities“), in contemplating human relations, writes of “love, this ancient forest of eccentricity”. Ernst Jünger used forest-symbolism to take a philosophical-political approach against Nazism, Communism and what he saw as the totalitarian tendencies of modern Democracy in his 1951 work, Der Waldgang (“The Forest Passage”), writing of the “forest rebel”—the individual who, “isolated and uprooted” by the State, seeks to preserve his freedom in a totalitarian world by finding shelter in the forest. As for inward journeys seeking shelter—whether ideological or purely emotional—who can forget the captivating first line of Dante’s Inferno: “When I had journeyed half of our life’s way/I found myself within a shadowed forest/for I had lost the path that does not stray…”


Northern mythology is, of course, the ancient precursor to such literary forest-imagery. Deep in the Black Forest, the noble Fürstenburg family resides and decades ago purchased from the then-impoverished German state the original Nibelungenlied, the epic poem of the North, one also born in the woods. In Scandinavian epic, the Poetic Eddas, the Norse god Odin hangs himself from the great ash tree Yggdrasil for nine days and nights trying to acquire supreme power. One of the recurring symbols in German, Austrian and Swiss Christian mythology is that of St. Hubertus, the hunter redeemed by a holy stag with a Cross between its antlers. Today, the sets of antlers one often sees above the front doors of villas and jagdhüte in German-speaking Europe are not hunting trophies as is commonly thought but representations of this Christian legend.

Why the German-speaking countries are so attached to their woods may be traced back to the legend of the Battle of Teutoburg as described by Tacitus in his history, Germania, when the soldiers of Arminius used the camoflauge of trees to distract the Romans, unhabituated to forests as these latter were, using surprise, guerilla-like attacks from the forests. Even the German word for ‘Western’—Abendland, or ‘Evening Land’—denotes the forest: height and maturity, as opposed to a developing country, called a Morgenland.

Then, too, there is Russia, with its own brand of Northern mythology and an intense forest-consciousness. As historian and Librarian of Congress James Billington wrote in his classic The Icon and the Axe, the Russian Bear, according to legend, was originally a man who had been denied the traditional bread and salt of human friendship, and in revenge took on a new shape and retreated to the forest to guard against intrusions of humans, his former species. Leonoid Leonov’s great novel of the mid-fifties, The Russian Forest, describes how the Soviet regime played a central role in cutting down the forest, as it was a symbol of Old Russian culture.


The Forest is also history: There is the famous Castle Road leading out from Burgenland, the easternmost province of Austria, to Semmering, just south of Vienna, westward into Styria and to Carinthia, where among eighteen fortresses and castles one will come across Schloss Schalling, the ‘Castle of the Devils’, sitting reclusively, warily, within a rich Styrian forest, where one day in the 13th century two Babenberg princes translated the Magna Carta into High German. Then there is Burg Stubegg, a fortress another ten miles south, where Crusader knights chose to recuperate because the wines produced there were thought to be Heaven-sent. Any of these travels will certainly take one past the many castles of the Princes of Liechtenstein, themselves among the largest owners of forests in Europe and Latin America, whose princely dominions have guarded and guard the world’s greatest private collection of art.

But most of all, the Forest is the rootedness of life, it is Destiny—therefore, Time—for Faustian man, no matter his origin. As Spengler puts it, “nobility and peasantry are plant-like and instinctive, deep-rooted in ancestral land, propagating themselves in the family tree, breeding and being bred”. In aristocratic Mitteleuropa, the Forest became the means by which to preserve the long-term, in wealth and family. There was a famous “Fürstenspiegel” or “Mirror of Princes”—those classic instruction manuals for the education of a monarch, born in the kingdoms of Persia and written well into the European 19th century—that instructed Germanic princes on this very subject. Fürst (Prince) Gundaker von und zu Liechtenstein, in his Instructio et Consilium Pro Principe Regente of 1653, proposed an abstract theory on the relationship between land and longevity, time and money. “Das Geld ist sanguis corporis politici“—Money is the blood of the body politic—he wrote in the work’s preface, and no good prince, Holy Roman Empire-bred or otherwise, ever strayed from that awareness. This meant a firm tie to forested land which was, and remains to this day, the enterprise of choice for those old families: “Virgin forests turned into financial energy; the slumbering spirits of gold awakened in enterprise”, wrote Spengler (once more) in his beautiful formulation. Or, as Prince Gundaker remarks: “Timber, salt mines, gold, silver, quicksilver, copper and iron—these are Nature’s gift to the Intelligent”. His Fürstenspiegel further warns: “The prince should always make sure his financial situation is better than any rival, and should see to it that no other nobility has a greater financial reserve as he does.” Certainly his family name lived up to such promise from the woods that they owned.

But perhaps the most poignant example of this Faustian tie to land as the basis of family, wealth and History is to be told in the journey of one of the great woods of Europe from the pinnacle of vibrancy and production to utter modern-day waste and ruin. It was one day, around three hundred years ago in the early 18th century, that Emperor Charles VI offered a distinguished old German family a large swathe of land in the Habsburg Kingdom of Croatia- Slavonia (modern Croatia and a part of Serbia) for military Dienst (service) against invading Ottoman armies. The far-sighted noble family—the Eltz of the woods-rich Rhein—declined the offer as a gift, as they wished to stay Reichsfrei (“free“ of the Emperor’s political and financial conditions), offering instead to by the land from his Imperial Majesty on the condition that the land be composed of the right soil—the palaces, titles, trimmings, etc. that would have come with ownership of that land were of little concern. A member of the family went to examine the soil, noting how it poured loosely through his fingers, was grainy and silky, sticking together but not clumping, forming a loose ribbon of earth.


It was a rich, loamy loess (a kind of sediment) soil—“that could feed the whole of Europe“, as has been said of that fertile land—born to a calcareous terrain rich in clay and well-supplied with calcium. It was a soil rare in Europe—a mild balance of opposing elements in a region of Europe used to extremes in more sense than one. This black earth was the product of the so-called “Pannonian” climate, one known for its stark summer heat and bitter winters, creating some of Europe’s best agriculture and… its very greatest oaks. The young man immediately recognized he had, literally in his hands, the makings of a great forestry industry—a mere two centuries down the line. And sure enough, by the mid-19th century, one hundred sixty years after their first oak harvest had been cultivated, the family emerged as one of the richest in Central Europe, their estate crowned by a stunning yellow and white baroque palace as well as the original breeding grounds of the famous all-white Lippizzaner horses. The family had turned the soil of Slavonia into one of the most sought-after woods in the world—until, that is, the family was driven out and the woods, the oaks, the soil and the palace were confiscated in part after World War I and then completely after World War II. Only the horses survived, having been sent out of the country in time to Austria, where they are still trained with the Eltz coat of arms on their pure silver bridles. The land fell into such ruin by the second decade of the 20th century that many of that land’s diverse new communal-owners—recipients of Socialist largesse—begged the family back to take up its management; the family declined. Only a picture of their palace on the back of the largest currency note in former-Yugoslavia remained as acknowledgement of what that family, blue-blooded but with love of forest coursing through their veins, once meant to the region.

“Here I am a Man. Here, I dare to be!“ wrote Goethe of his beloved dreamscape excursions into the woods. That sense of “Being“ is what the Forest is all about to the Faustian: the Mystery that inspires imagination—the most intense Reality that there is."

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:52 am

Awesome post. Both the ideas in the essay and those existing in the forest art were salient.
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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:43 pm

Hrodebert wrote:


Awesome post. Both the ideas in the essay and those existing in the forest art were salient.


A not so heard of art theorist is Worringer, who compared the Gothic architecture with its Faustian spirit with the forest and ornamental power of natural life - leaves, flowers, etc.

Variations on the Gothic Line

A lot of ideas that can be tapped here.

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*


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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Tue Jan 27, 2015 11:08 am


_________________


"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Sat Apr 18, 2015 5:38 pm

Lyssa wrote:


A not so heard of art theorist is Worringer, who compared the Gothic architecture with its Faustian spirit with the forest and ornamental power of natural life - leaves, flowers, etc.

Variations on the Gothic Line

A lot of ideas that can be tapped here.



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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Tue Aug 25, 2015 3:40 am


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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Sun Sep 06, 2015 10:44 am


_________________


"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Thu Jul 14, 2016 11:31 am


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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Thu Jul 14, 2016 12:52 pm

The oak tree is very sturdy. Its branches are not as flexible.
When there is a storm you will hardly see healthy thick branches having been ripped off from other more flexible trees. With an oak tree that might happen.
But also you won't find that many oak trees having been felled by that storm.
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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Thu Jul 14, 2016 3:06 pm

The hardness or firmness of the Oak was the I.E. basis of concordance between Tree and Truth; the thunderbolt breaking the branch if and whenver it did, would have likely been seen as the opening of the "door" / dru / true  like a portal through which the Thunder gods spoke - and hence, the carving of runes as fatal marks on such branches, and oracular decisions through lots - how the branches fell - recorded in Tacitus' Germania…
This was a common I.E. meme; Iran included...



Calvert Watkins, How to Kill a Dragon:












A Druid/Vedic priest was literally an "oak-seer", or "dharma-seer". Druidry and Vedas, therefore lit. translated as "strong-knowledge", or "firm-wisdom", etc.:

Quote :
"1560s, from French druide, from Latin druidae (plural), from Gaulish Druides, from Celtic compound *dru-wid-, probably representing Old Celtic*derwos "true"/PIE *dru- "tree" (especially oak) + *wid- "to know" (vision). Hence, literally, perhaps, "they who know the oak" (perhaps in allusion to divination from mistletoe). Anglo-Saxon, too, used identical words to mean "tree" and "truth" (treow).

The English form comes via Latin, not immediately from Celtic. The Old Irish form was drui (dative and accusative druid; plural druad); Modern Irish and Gaelic draoi, genitive druadh "magician, sorcerer."


Quote :
"It is worth remembering that the key Buddhist term, Dharma, is etymologically directly related to that of Druid, which can thus be translated as “Dharma seer” Etymological details on this are given in Dr Ernest Klein, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary Of The English Language, Elsevier, 1971: Dharma in Sanskrit, meaning law, right, justice, is related to Latin Firm, firm, steadfast, stable, strong, dharna – a mode of obtaining justice by fasting while sitting at one’s debtor’s door, exactly as practiced in Druidry; these come from the speculative IE root *dher, to hold, support, whence also therapy, throne, Darius “he who holds the Good”, confirm, affirm, and many other words in many other languages. The Celtic term for the oak tree was dru, in the etymological sense of the tree which endures, which supports, which outlasts the storm. Endurance, duration, durable, during, all come from Latin durus, hard, literally meaning as “hard as wood” from an IE base “derew, *drew *dru, meaning tree, wood, whence also comes Greek drus, meaning oak, tree, dromos meaning forest, wood, dendro – Greek combining form meaning tree; old Irish dru, wood, wooden, daru – wood, Old English tree, treow, meaning tree, wood. From a related root comes also the Old English word truth, trust. So too comes Old Irish dron, firm, Welsh Derwen, oak, Lithuanian derva – resinous wood, Russian droma, thicket, primeval forest, Old Irish daur, oak tree; Armenian tram – firm, Avestan Persian dauru, dru- meaning wood, Hittite taru – tree, wood Ancient Greek drumos, oakwood, Albanian dru – wood, tree, pole, drusk – oak, and also the Greek Dryades, meaning wood spirits, female Goddesses who inhabit trees. The basic sound cluster and conceptual clusters evidenced in these primeval roots in the Indo European language cluster, seem to indicate that early ancestral peoples of all Indo European tribes equated trees, woods and forests with the primaly enduring ultimate truth, relying as they did on wood for warmth, fire, light, shelter, houses, many foods, utensils, carts, wheels etc. So too the related metaphysical concepts of justice and truth and right were expressed with similar sounds. The way that sounds have physical correlates as well as metaphysical correlates goes back to the metaphor forming capacity of the human mind; so wood, being hard, comes also to denote metaphysical things which are likewise hard and enduring. The Druid is by definition one who sees, knows and works with both realities – physical and metaphysical. See Klein’s Dictionary under “dure”, “tree”, “truth”, “Druid”, “Dharma”, for the exact details of these etymologies. It was Pliny who first suggested that "Druid" came from the “knower of the oak” but this was a Roman trivialisation (possibly without realising it)…"

One Tree Project: Order of Bards and Druids


In 723, the Xt. missionary Winfrid/Boniface cut down an oak tree sacred to Thor, marking the beginning of the germanic christianization.
Donar's Oak










Riiiight

Quote :
"Winfrid accordingly set out for Rome, taking his course through France and Burgundy. He was warmly welcomed by the pope, who questioned him carefully, made him take the usual oath of allegiance, received from him a profession of faith, and on 30 November, 722 (723), consecrated him a regional bishop, with the name Boniface. Some say that Winfrid had taken this name at the time of his religious profession; others, that he received it on his first visit to Rome. The same discrepancy of opinion exists in derivation from bonum facere or bonum fatum; perhaps it is only an approximate Latinization of Wyn-frith."

Boniface

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Thu Jul 14, 2016 3:07 pm


_________________


"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Thu Jul 14, 2016 3:09 pm


_________________


"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:18 am

Alchemy in work: building, dwelling, thinking, thanking...

From earth to fire: recreating the primal genius; just trees.


_________________


"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Wed Nov 23, 2016 10:41 am

Bible wrote:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." [John 1:1]


Heraclitus wrote:
"This logos holds always but humans always prove unable to understand it, both before hearing it and when they have first heard it. For though all things come to be in accordance with this logos, humans are like the inexperienced when they experience such words and deeds as I set out, distinguishing each in accordance with its nature and saying how it is. But other people fail to notice what they do when awake, just as they forget what they do while asleep." [DK:22B1]

Heraclitus wrote:
"Τὰ δὲ πάντα οἰακίζει κεραυνός."

"Thunderbolt steers all things." [B64] /

"Lightning steers all things."

Heraclitus wrote:
"Eν τὸ σοφὸν μοῦνον· λέγεσθαι οὐκ ἐθέλει καὶ ἐθέλει Ζηνὸς οὔνομα."

"One being, the only wise one, would and would not be called by the name of Zeus." [B32] /

"The wise is one only. It is unwilling and willing to be called by the name of Zeus." [ib.] /



The origins of "In the Beginning was the Word", that Heraclitus rightfully connects to Zeus/Thunderbolt/Lightning has a natural origin in lightning and thunder, recorded even farther back than Heraclitus in both the ancient Greek and Semitic sources.

Judaism's YHWH [whose name ought not to be pronounced] is a corruption of Heraclitus' allusion of "Zeus that is and is not" to truth that is not abstract and cannot be abstracted by a name, but metaphors to the ordering of life.

Judaism's Hellenistic inversion is a postdating to a prior abstraction of its own Syrian/Ugaritic/Semitic polytheism.


The oldest Ugaritic and Greek texts preserve the original metaphor of "The Word""


Quote :
"Of all semantic ambiguities in Homer, perhaps the most perplexing, and commanding the most attention of modern scholarship has been the enigmatic phrase involving “tree and/or rock.”
In tracing the history of the phrase, this article will include a reanalysis of this metaphorical idiom’s earliest form as “speech from tree and/or rock,” distinct from a more general phrase of “tree and/or rock” that has been thoroughly addressed elsewhere.

In the second millennium b.c.e., this metaphor described the sight and sound of lightning and thunder as representations of a storm-god’s divine speech. The nexus of semantic associations with this earlier context persists to various degrees in the Greek instantiations of the phrase.
Within the Greek tradition, the phrase as it appears in the Iliad clearly possesses a spoken context within the narrative of Book 22 (119–28):


Τρωσὶν δ’ αὖ μετόπισθε γερούσιον ὅρκον ἕλωμαι μή τι κατακρύψειν, ἀλλ’ ἄνδιχα πάντα δάσασθαι κτῆσιν ὅσην πτολίεθρον ἐπήρατον ἐντὸς ἐέργει· ἀλλὰ τίη μοι ταῦτα φίλος διελέξατο θυμός;
μή μιν ἐγὼ μὲν ἵκωμαι ἰών, ὃ δέ μ’ οὐκ ἐλεήσει οὐδέ τί μ’ αἰδέσεται, κτενέει δέ με γυμνὸν ἐόντα αὔτως ὥς τε γυναῖκα, ἐπεί κ’ ἀπὸ τεύχεα δύω.
οὐ μέν πως νῦν ἔστιν ἀπὸ δρυὸς οὐδ’ ἀπὸ πέτρης τῷ ὀαριζέμεναι, ἅ τε παρθένος ἠΐθεός τε παρθένος ἠΐθεός τ’ ὀαρίζετον ἀλλήλοιιν.


“But I might make a solemn oath again with the Trojans, not to hide anything, but to divide into two shares as much property as the lovely citadel holds within—but why does my heart discuss these things with me? May I not approach him, who would neither pity nor respect me, but would kill me there being naked just as if I were a woman, when I would strip off my armor. In no way is it possible now to woo him from oak or rock, in the way that a maiden and a youth, a maiden and a youth woo one another.”

Hector considers an attempt to placate Achilles, but quickly reconsiders, saying: “In no way is it possible now to woo him, either by oak and/or rock, with things which a youth and a maiden would woo one another.” The subtext of potential procreation is implicit in the use of ὀαριζέμεναι. Ultimately, Hector is considering negotiating with Achilles, but even if he were able to speak “from oak and/or rock,” it would be of no use. It seems that the phrase as it appears in the Iliad is involved in persuasion, and appears within a sexual context.

At least part of the difficulty in rendering a coherent meaning for this idiom has resulted from confusion over Plato’s frequent use of the phrase in the Apology and in the Republic. In these two contexts, he paraphrases lines from the Odyssey in a manner that has suggested to many that Greeks at the time of Homer believed in anthropogonic trees and/or rocks. The lines from the Odyssey are found in Book 19 (162–63):


ἀλλὰ καὶ ὥς μοι εἰπὲ τεὸν γένος, ὁππόθεν ἐσσί.
οὐ γὰρ ἀπὸ δρυός ἐσσι παλαιφάτου οὐδ ̓ ἀπὸ πέτρης.


Penelope, speaking to a disguised Odysseus, asks him about his descent: “So tell me about your race, whence you are, for you are not from oak, spoken long ago, nor rock.” The Platonic examples hold fairly accurate to this earlier appearance, but with significant differences (Apology 34d):


καὶ γὰρ τοῦτο αὐτὸ τὸ τοῦ Ὁμήρου, οὐδ ̓ ἐγὼ ‘ἀπὸ δρυὸς οὐδ ̓ ἀπὸ πέτρης’ πέφυκα ἀλλ ̓ ἐξ ἀνθρώπων

For even as it is in Homer, I am not born from ‘oak nor rock,’ but from men.

Socrates claims that he has not sprung from tree and/or from rock, but from men. Plato therefore seems to have appropriated the Odyssey’s lines in a very similar context, and has set in opposition “oak and/or rock” with “men” (ἐξ ἀνθρώπων). However, Plato has omitted a crucial word, παλαιφάτου, from his usage of the phrase, but we will scrutinize that later. In the Republic we find this example (544d):


οἶσθ ̓ οὖν, ἦν δ ̓ ἐγώ, ὅτι καὶ ἀνθρώπων εἴδη τοσαῦτα ἀνάγκη τρόπων εἶναι, ὅσαπερ καὶ πολιτειῶν; ἢ οἴει ἐκ δρυός ποθεν ἢ ἐκ πέτρας τὰς πολιτείας γίγνεσθαι

“Therefore are you aware,” I said, “that it is necessary that there are as many forms of customs as there are of constitutions? Or do you suppose that constitutions are born from oak or rock?”

In the Phaedrus, the third use of the phrase, whose usage is markedly different from the Odyssey’s, refers to the cultic practices of the oracle at Dodona. Such an overtly ritualistic version of the phrase is not used anywhere else in Greek literature, and in this way closely resembles the Ugaritic instance of the crux.7 This iteration of the phrase could be quite ancient in its retention of an explicit notion of speech associated with trees and rocks (Phaedrus 275b–c):


οἱ δέ γ ̓, ὦ φίλε, ἐν τῷ τοῦ Διὸς τοῦ Δωδωναίου ἱερῷ δρυὸς λόγους ἔφησαν μαντικοὺς πρώτους γενέσθαι. τοῖς μὲν οὖν τότε, ἅτε οὐκ οὖσι σοφοῖς ὥσπερ ὑμεῖς οἱ νέοι, ἀπέχρη δρυὸς καὶ πέτρας ἀκούειν ὑπ ̓ εὐηθείας, εἰ μόνον ἀληθῆ λέγοιεν: σοὶ δ ̓ ἴσως διαφέρει τίς ὁ λέγων καὶ ποδαπός.


“But they used to say, friend, that the words of the oak in the shrine of Zeus at Dodona were the first prophetic words. To the people of that time, not being so wise as you young men, it was enough, in their simplicity, to hear an oak or a rock, if only they spoke the truth; but to you, perhaps, it makes a difference who is speaking and where he comes from.”

Socrates, speaking tongue-in-cheek to Phaedrus, reports that the first mantic words were those of the oak in the shrine of Zeus at Dodona, and that the people back then, not being as intelligent as Phaedrus’ young contemporaries, were happy to listen to “oak and rock” as long as they spoke the truth; but to Phaedrus, maybe, it matters who the speaker is and where he comes from, for he does not consider only whether the man’s words are true or not.

Therefore, Plato uses the idiom of “oak and/or rock” three times in two different contexts. On two occasions, he seems to employ lines of the Odyssey that describe what many reasonably interpret as an anthro- pogonic myth, and on a third occasion he references the cultic practice of Dodona (from source unknown), describing prophetic utterances. The Phaedrus’ passage places the idiom in a speech-context: the tree and rock are speaking, whereas in the Republic and the Apology, they are silent. However, in the Odyssey’s passage, we find the adjective παλαιφάτου, modifying “oak,” but, I would also submit, extending to “rock.” This attests a spoken context (that of speaking or being spoken), for the phrase that approximates that of the Phaedrus. The other appearance of παλαίφατος in the Odyssey occurs at 9.507, where Polyphemus recalls that the prophecy of the seer Telemos has come to pass: ὢ πόποι, ἦ μάλα δή με παλαίφατα θέσφαθ ̓ ἱκάνει. Consequently, the mantic element of the phrase in the Phaedrus finds a Homeric ideological counterpart.

However, the idiom of “oak and/or rock” in the Odyssey is not completely consistent with any of Plato’s three uses of the phrase.

Given these inconsistencies, it seems that Plato was communicating certain instances of the phrase’s iterations in textual or oral traditions, some attested, some not. The variety of the meanings in these attestations suggests Plato’s continued use of an idiomatic phrase.

Hesiod’s use of the idiom has been the subject of significant commentary, due both to the phrase’s particularly elliptical nature and to the more accepted presence of Near Eastern influence in Hesiodic poetry (Th. 29–35):

ὣς ἔφασαν κοῦραι μεγάλου Διὸς ἀρτιέπειαι.
καί μοι σκῆπτρον ἔδον δάφνης ἐριθηλέος ὄζον δρέψασαι, θηητόν.
ἐνέπνευσαν δέ μοι αὐδὴν
θέσπιν, ἵνα κλείοιμι τά τ ̓ ἐσσόμενα πρό τ ̓ ἐόντα.
καί μ ̓ ἐκέλονθ ̓ ὑμνεῖν μακάρων γένος αἰὲν ἐόντων,
σφᾶς δ ̓ αὐτὰς πρῶτόν τε καὶ ὕστατον αἰὲν ἀείδειν.
ἀλλὰ τίη μοι ταῦτα περὶ δρῦν ἢ περὶ πέτρην;

So the apt-worded maidens of great Zeus spoke
and gave me a staff, having plucked a branch of blooming laurel,
a wonder: and they breathed a divine voice into me,
so that I might celebrate the things that will be and the things that were
before.
And they ordered me to sing of the race of the blessed immortals, and always to sing of themselves, both first and last.
But what are these things of oak or rock to me?

I see the Hesiodic phrase as functioning within and comple- menting a contemporary Mediterranean cultural environment in which there appears to have been use of oracular objects made of wood and stone at shrines, but, as I will argue, we can reconstruct a phase in the idiom’s history that is older than any recorded archaeological or textual evidence of these objects in combination, and this additional step offers a new interpretation of the phrase itself. What is uncontroversial is that the Hesiodic attestation of the “tree and/or rock” idiom includes prophetic connotations, but without any overt generative associations, unlike in the Odyssey or Plato’s Republic and Apology. However its implicit relationship to the reception and interpretation of divine speech is relatively secure.

Therefore, although the Hesiodic instantiation of the phrase omits a verb, it is possible to see it as semantically and contextually associated with a divine speech-act, and so an abstract formula of “speech from tree and/or rock” still loosely applies. Apart from the specific meaning of the phrase, its perceived antiquity already in epic poetry, potentially recorded in Penelope’s use of παλαιφάτου (“spoken long ago”), likely would have rendered it a rhetorically salient phrase with connotations of tradition.

In the Phaedrus, Socrates’ use of the phrase in reference to the earlier traditions at the shrine of Dodona would also be consistent with a phrase generally associated with antiquity. Outside of Greek, the Ugaritic evidence will allow us to recover the earli- est recorded meaning of this phrase in text, although the accompanying archaeological evidence will suggest the phrase’s further antiquity.
As we have seen, phrases largely understandable within a semantic sphere of “speech from tree and/or rock” appear three times in archaic Greek poetry, and a very similar phrase surfaces as many times in the Ugaritic Ba’al Cycle found at Ras Shamra in what is now Northern Syria.

It is generally accepted that the text of Ras Shamra, written by the scribe Ilimilku, is a recorded instance of a much older oral tradition. As the oldest textual manifestation of this idiom, dated to the thirteenth century b.c.e., the Ugaritic evidence is crucial to understanding an older and more conservative stage of the phrase, especially given the network of cultural and economic circulation between Anatolia, the Levant, and the Mediterranean. The status of Levantine ports as vehicles for economic and cultural fluidity between the Levant, Anatolia and the Mediterranean during the second millennium is complex, and hardly deniable, but how this fluidity would have resulted in artistic transmission is still a source of debate. A formulaic address that includes the phrase in question has three different speakers. In the first instance, El, the head of the Pantheon, addresses the craftsman god Kothar-wa-Hassis; in the second, Ba’al the storm-god entrusts the speech to two divine messengers; and in the third, the two divine messengers deliver Ba’al’s speech to the goddess Anat. Looking at the storm-god Ba’al’s address to Anat, we have (CAT I.3 iii.18–32):

Hurry! Hasten! Rush!
To me let your feet run,
To me let your legs race
For I have a word, and I will tell you,
A message, and I will recount it to you,
A word of tree and murmur of rock,
Converse of Heaven with Earth,
Of Deeps to the Stars.
I understand the lightning Heaven does not know,
The word humans do not know,
And Earth’s masses do not understand.
Come and I will reveal it,
In the midst of my mountain, Divine Sapan
In the holy place, on the mount of my possession,
In the pleasant place, on the hill of my victory.

What draws one’s attention immediately is the phrase rgm ‘s ̆ w lh°št ’abn, “word of tree and murmur of rock,” which reads very similarly to the archaic Greek textual crux. Whereas rgm normally means “word,” here a word-pair forms of brq “lightning” and rgm, causing us to understand rgm as “thunder.” Under this interpretation, lightning and thunder represent conversation and interconnection between the celestial and earthly (or subterranean) realms. This idea finds a clear antecedent in the contents of the Sumerian “Barton Cylinder” which presents us with a cosmological account that is highly reminiscent of the passage in question:

u4 re-a u4 re-šè na-nam
Those days were indeed faraway days.
Those nights were indeed faraway nights.
Those years were indeed faraway years.
The storm roared,
The lights flashed.
In the sacred area of Nibru,
The storm roared,
The lights flashed.
Heaven talked with Earth,
Earth talked with Heaven.

In a text from the latter half of the third millennium b.c.e., lightning (“the lights flashed”) and thunder (“the storm roared”) are the markers of converse between heaven (An) and earth (Ki). Smith and Pitard’s summation of the commonalities between the two texts is worth quoting in full: “In Baal’s message, the speech of nature may evoke old cosmo- logical elements that now sing of the world’s impending renewal, thanks to the anticipated palace of the storm-god and the full manifestation of his natural power in the storm.” In terms of this passage’s connotations of renewal, the sound of thunder frequently precedes heavy rain storms, which form an additional fertility motif of intercourse between heaven and earth. This notion of “converse” persists in Semitic traditions.

My assertion is that the entire passage of Ba’al’s address is specifically referring to lightning and thunder as the divine voice of the storm-god at the height of his power, and that “word of tree and murmur of rock” is a metaphorical representation of these phenomena. Insofar as “trees and rocks” are generally associated with lightning and thunder, this is a situation where intuitive understanding is confirmed by textual evidence. As typically the highest elements in landscapes, trees and hills attract lightning strikes during storms, even more so in the ancient world due to a relative paucity of tall man-made structures. The following discussion will examine Indo-European and Semitic sources for particular associations of lightning with trees and thunder with rocks. Of note within a variety of Indo-European traditions for their close relationship to oak trees and rocks are the divinities Zeus, Lithuanian Perkúnas, Slavic Perun, Norse Thor, and Jupiter, both mythologically and in some cases etymologi- cally as seen in Hittite peru- (“rock”) and Skt. parvata (“mountain”).

There is also a widespread belief in so-called “thunderstones,” namely, rocks which are associated with the projectile weapon of the storm-god and are thought to have fallen from the sky.31 In addition to these more general associations, the presence of the PIE root *melh2- (“grind”) in the names of thunder gods’ hammers, such as Thor’s Mjöllnir, and in Indo-European words for “lightning,” such as Welsh mellt and Russian mólnija, potentially indicates a sonic commonality between the grinding of stones and the sound of thunder.

The strength of a theory is sometimes found in its ability to explain seemingly unrelated phenomena, and in the case of the association between the grinding of stone and thunder, the paradigm seems to be particularly widespread. A Hittite variation of this association may be involved in the ritualized opening of the harši pots and the associated name of a thunderstorm, haršiharši (KUB XXV 23 I 38–39):

But when in spring and it thunders, then they (break?) open the haršiyalli pot and (they) beat and grind (the grain).

This further invites analysis of a latent association between milling and thunder:

“And let another sign of Zeus appear from the outside.”
So he (Odysseus) spoke praying, and Zeus of the counsels heard him and immediately thundered from shining Olympus,
from high among the clouds. And divine Odysseus rejoiced
and a miller-woman sent forth her voice from the house
nearby, for there the mills sat for the shepherd of the people.


It is likely that having received an inherited association of the grinding of stones and the sound of thunder through a long tradition of oral poetry, the author of these verses has juxtaposed the two activities via the actions of the miller woman and Zeus himself, thereby imparting a collaborative sign to Odysseus based on the common sound of thunder and the grinding of the millstone problematic episode in the Odyssey (20.101–6):

“And let another sign of Zeus appear from the outside.”
So he (Odysseus) spoke praying, and Zeus of the counsels heard him and immediately thundered from shining Olympus,
from high among the clouds. And divine Odysseus rejoiced
and a miller-woman sent forth her voice from the house
nearby, for there the mills sat for the shepherd of the people.

It is likely that having received an inherited association of the grinding of stones and the sound of thunder through a long tradition of oral poetry, the author of these verses has juxtaposed the two activities via the actions of the miller woman and Zeus himself, thereby imparting a collaborative sign to Odysseus based on the common sound of thunder and the grinding of the millstone. This literal translation, if taken to suggest a relationship between the roar of thunder and the sound of a large stone moving repeatedly, potentially resolves both grammatical issues. The iterativity of the verb refers to the repeated movement of a single, very large rock, the sound of which approximates thunder. In summation, there is a relatively secure association in ancient texts between the sound of moving rocks and thunder. Within certain Indo-European traditions this seems to be particularized to the act of milling. Therefore, we can interpret lh°št ’abn, “murmur of rock,” as referring to the sound of thunder. Elsewhere within the Ugaritic tradition, Ba’al’s voice is commonly characterized as thunder, perhaps most relevantly in CAT I.4 V, which contains a well-attested expression *ytn ql, “to give one’s voice.” Lines 8–9 read: wtn.qlh.b’rpt / šrh.lars. ̆brqm, “And may he give his voice in the clouds, May he flash lightning to the earth.”

Given the above, “murmur of rock” appears to reflect an instantiation of Ba’al’s prophetic speech. This leaves rgm ‘s≥, or “word of tree,” and to what extent it can be identified with thunder’s visual counterpart, lightning. In “Northern Syrian” iconography of the late second millenium, Ba’al is featured with two weapons, the spear, which represents the light- ning bolt, and the club/mace, the identification of which is significantly less clear.





In the text, the storm-god possesses power over a “word of tree,” and on the seal, a tree appears in front of his mouth. The implications of this are many, but it may follow that a “the word of tree” is a remarkably ancient visual metaphor for lightning as an expres- sion of the storm-god’s oracular power, and that this particular episode in the Ugaritic text may be included in a much more ancient mythological tradition with undiscovered antecedents.
The coincidence of imagery and text is striking and potentially illustrates the visual nature of “the word of tree.”

Some… have interpreted ’abn brq as a construct noun “rock(s) of lightning” referring to a particular form of lightning thought to derive from heavenly rocks:

For I have a word, and I will tell it to you,
A message, and I will recount it to you,
A word of tree and murmur of rock,
Converse of Heaven with Earth,
Of Deeps to the Stars,
“the rock of lightning” Heaven does not know,
The word humans do not know,
And Earth’s masses do not understand.



It seems rather unclear to what degree these figurative or metaphorical representations of lightning and thunder are operating on the abstract level of visual, auditory, or physical representation. If this is the case, “rock of lightning” is likely not just occurring in a sonic context but actually representing a weapon that is elsewhere associated with Ba’al’s voice, likened to the sound of rolling or crashing rocks.
In looking for parallels of this type of segmentation of lightning and thunder into divine weaponry and oracular response, we find evidence for a division of the storm-god’s lightning and thunder into separate weapons in early Greek epic, likewise encountering the peaceful forms of lightning and thunder as indications of Zeus’ will (Th. 139–41):

γείνατο δ ̓ αὖ Κύκλωπας ὑπέρβιον ἦτορ ἔχοντας, Βρόντην τε Στερόπην τε καὶ Ἄργην ὀβριμόθυμον, οἳ Ζηνὶ βροντήν τε δόσαν τεῦξάν τε κεραυνόν.

And again, she gave birth to the Cyclopes, overbearing in spirit: Brontes, and Steropes and mighty-spirited Arges, who gave to Zeus the thunder and crafted the lightning-bolt.


Zeus receives his βροντή and κεραυνός from the three cyclopes, Βρόντης, Στερόπης, and Ἄργης, but this account curiously omits his frequently occurring weapon, the στεροπή, which ostensibly its eponymous creator crafted for him. The tripartite segmentation of Zeus’ weaponry in the Theogony is as follows: Arges creates the physical bolt, Brontes creates the thunder, and Steropes creates the flash. As in the story of Ba’al, Zeus only attains the height of his power upon receiving these weapons, with which he can inflict terrible violence.53 However, Zeus’ lightning and thunder are also
benign indications of his oracular will, as in (Il. 9.236–37):

Ζεὺς δέ σφι Κρονίδης ἐνδέξια σήματα φαίνων ἀστράπτει

And Zeus son of Kronos showing signs on the right side shoots a lightning bolt


Zeus’ lightning and thunder can function as weapons or as oracular indications, and this division of function is consistent with that of Ba’al’s lightning and thunder. This commonality potentially strengthens the inter- pretation of Ba’al’s “word of tree and murmur of rock” as oracular, and of his dyad of “tree of lighting (lightning bolt)” with “rock of lightning (thunder weapon)” as the weaponized counterparts.

Leaving aside the debate over verbal versus nominal ’abn, one can understand the mysterious “word of tree” (rgm ‘s≥) and “murmur of rock” (lh°št ’abn) as representing a layered metaphor. The phrase contains an audio-visual metaphor for lightning and thunder as indicative of the storm-god’s prophetic utterance, in which the auditory component of the “rock” is vouched for by the Semitic and Indo-European comparative evidence which appears to characterize thunder as the moving of large rocks or stones. The visual nature of the “tree” is suggested by the tree- like iconographic representations of both Ba’al’s spear and his word, but we cannot rule out an auditory layer as well.54 Moreover, the vegetal representation of the storm-god’s lightning bolt will also be striking to anyone familiar with early images of Zeus or Jupiter, and this iconography seems to diffuse into Buddhist representations of what, in Vedic terms, is Indra’s lightning-thunder weapon, the vájra.

Ba’al summons Anat to help him consolidate his power against his rivals. He must convince the powerful warrior goddess to heed his call, so he uses the ultimate persuasion: a great reward. He offers her the ability to understand what no one else can—his divine speech of lightning and thunder—which will remain obscure to mankind and heaven alike. This is reminiscent of the Iliad’s attestation of the phrase, where Hector seeks to convince Achilles but cannot. The Ugaritic text’s interlocking word-order of rgm, ’abn, šmm, and ’ars≥ is perhaps also representative of the connective nature of the “word/murmur” (lightning/thunder) for heaven and earth in this religious text.

The young storm-god Ba’al speaks a “word of tree and a murmur of rock” to the goddess Anat, so Hector concludes that he cannot “woo” (ὀαριζέμεναι) Achilles from “tree or rock” with the things that a youth and a maiden (παρθένος ἠΐθεός τε) would. As in the Ugaritic, the phrase here simultaneously connotes persuasion between a male and female figure. As Ba’al attempts to convince Anat to hasten to him, so Hector momentarily hopes to persuade Achilles to relinquish his anger by accepting Helen and treasures as a sort of placating reverse-dowry. And as there are sexual undertones in the Ugaritic, so they also appear in the Iliad, most obviously in lines 124–25: κτενέει δέ με γυμνὸν ἐόντα / αὔτως ὥς τε γυναῖκα, ἐπεί κ’ ἀπὸ τεύχεα δύω. Hector fears that Achilles will slay him as he would a woman, once Hector has stripped off his own armor. If one interprets this stereotyped instance of the phrase as pos- sessing two frozen connotations associated with lightning and thunder in the Bronze Age and beyond, their role in fertility, as inseminating agents themselves and as harbingers of the nourishing rains, and their irrefutability as divine speech, the phrase in its Iliadic context is particularly appropriate.

That the characterization of the thunder’s sound occupies the romantic sphere in the Ugaritic and the Greek is worth emphasizing: we have “moaning” or “murmuring” (lh°št), and “wooing” (ὀαριζέμεναι). In fact, all cases of the phrase’s attestations include real or imagined dialogue between masculine and feminine interlocutors: Hesiod and the Muses, Ba’al and Anat, Penelope and Odysseus, and Hector and Achilles (as youth and maiden).

Plato’s attestation of the crux in the Phaedrus acquires a remarkable clarity when viewed in the context of the Ugaritic phrase (275b–c). Plato describes what was, or could have been thought to be, an archaic technique of divination native to the oak-shrine of Dodona, beloved by Zeus. If the earliest instance of the metaphor in question referred to the speech of the storm-god, this attestation would be in this way the most contextually archaic. It requires mention that Greek δρῦς, as the lightning-wielding Zeus’ favored oak tree, is particularly appropriate in this context since oaks attract lightning strikes at a higher rate than any other tree.59 As the site of frequent lightning strikes due to the oaks’ natural attractive properties, the location could have been interpreted as holy to the leader of the pantheon, and the priests there divined lightning and thunder, “speech from tree and/or rock,” as indicative of Zeus’ will. The sacredness of objects and places struck by Zeus’ or Jupiter’s light- ning was widespread throughout the Greco-Roman world. This could be the most transparent preservation in Greek of the phrase’s earlier function in archaic ritual, but being too far removed temporally (τοῖς μὲν οὖν τότε), Plato’s Socrates presents it as referring to the speech of literal trees and rocks.

Returning finally to the Odyssey, Penelope literally says to a disguised Odysseus, “For surely you are not born from anciently-spoken oak and/or from rock.” There is an anthropologically ubiquitous notion of the “first people” springing from the soil, or from “mother” earth (one who is γηγενής), and I am inclined to see the concept of men springing from vegetation or rocks, the fundamental materials of landscape, as a more specialized extension of literal autochthony. However, if we reintroduce the older metaphor to Penelope’s statement, it may prove instructive: “For surely you are not born from lightning and/or thunder.” Potentially relevant here is the untimely birth of Dionysus, occasioned by Zeus in the form of a lightning bolt striking and killing a pregnant Semele.

As indicated above, there may be a cosmic fertility motif present in the Ugaritic evidence, and there appears to be a relatively robust tradition associating Thor’s hammer with reproduction: it resurrects goats, hallows the womb of a bride, and is used in marriage rituals. The ancients may have observed empirically what modern investigation has confirmed: lightning, in addition to being immediately destructive, fertilizes the ground by converting atmospheric nitrogen to nitrates, and lightning and/or thunder are harbingers of the nourishing rain-waters. Thus the pairing of “oak spoken long ago and rock” as a metaphor for lightning and thunder could feasibly represent a creative event.

We cannot know whether whatever poet(s) crafted these lines had access to the earlier meaning of the metaphor. This situation of idiomatic transformation seems to be the most accurate in attempting to analyze the semantic profile of “to speak from tree and/or rock” in Greek.

What is certain, however, is that this phrase survived for over 1500 years, relatively intact despite wear-and-tear from its lengthy sojourn, in a testament to the power of an oral tradition. The Ugaritic evidence supports the reading of “word of tree and murmur of rock,” as a visual and auditory metaphor for lightning and thunder. If one views the archaic Greek attestations, analyzed as “speech from tree and/or rock” as preserving stereotyped thematic elements of an authoritative prophecy (and secondarily of generation) present in the Ugaritic, there appears a clear, inherited ideological system that persists from the Bronze Age through Homer and Hesiod and is received by various, later local sources, both Hebrew and Greek. In all three archaic Greek contexts the phrase can be understood as reflecting, to various degrees, the semantics of the phrase “speech from tree and/or rock,” which distinguishes the crux from a more general and popular collocation, “tree and/or rock.” In the Iliad, the phrase has connotations of persuasion in a context of courtship; in the Odyssey, it is generative and prophetic; and in the Theogony, it occurs in a transparently prophetic context within a larger work concerned with the creation of the universe.

The visual evidence from Northern Syria suggests that even earlier antecedents of this phrase, “speech from tree and/or rock,” may be lurking in cultures of the early third millennium b.c.e. If the idiom connoted a sense of traditional authority to ancient Greek authors by virtue of its perceived antiquity, their perception appears justified." [Alexander Forte, Speech from Tree and Rock]

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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Sat Nov 26, 2016 5:36 pm


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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:19 pm

Quote :
"The Hiera Oikia (Sacred House) was the residence of Zeus. The oak tree is a recent addition to simulate the approximate location of the ancient one, and the enclosure has undergone several buildings phases.

Initially the sacred area included a temple with a pronaos and cella (4th c. BCE) next to the sacred oak, but after the middle of the 4th c. BCE a stone wall enclosed both the temple and the tree.

Early in the 3d century BCE, during the period of Pyrrhus (297-272 BCE), the Hiera Oikia low wall was replaced by a taller, more ornate one. It included Ionic columns on three sides, and this is the place where Pyrrhus dedicated the Roman shields he captured after his victory at Heraclean in Italy in 280 BCE.

After the Aetolians burned the sanctuary (Polybius indicates that they demolished the Hiera Oikia instead of burning it), the Macedonians rebuilt it even larger. The smaller temple was replaced with a larger one at that time, and enclosing wall was was similarly enlarged."





Dodona


Esther Eidinow wrote:
"What might a pilgrim like Lysanias have seen as he made his way towards the oracular sanctuary at Dodona, set in a high, narrow valley beneath the towering Tomaros mountain? By the second century bce, thanks to the expenditure of the Molossian kings, the sanctuary was quite splendid. The late Sotirios Dakaris, who became Ephor of Antiquities at Epiros in 1959, and excavated the site extensively, wrote that its plan is reminiscent of a theatre: the precinct as if set on a proske ̄nion or a raised stage; its two gates to the east and west, like parodoi, the side entrances of an ancient theatre, between the performance space and the auditorium. From whichever direction he approached, a pilgrim’s attention would have been slowly drawn, past the other ornate buildings and rippling colonnades, to the locus of oracular power, the Hiera Oikia, or holy house, and the sacred oak tree.

But it had not always been like this. For centuries before King Pyrrhos of Epiros raised these magnificent buildings during the early third century bce, the holy site had remained remarkably bare, with little to adorn the sacred oak tree that was its focus. The Hiera Oikia was built in the fifth century. Before this, some sources report, the site was marked with bronze tripods, dedications to Zeus from the oracle’s many visitors, piled so high that they became like the walls of a temple. It was said that these were set so close together that if you touched one, they all vibrated, creating a tremendous sound. As the excavations have slowly revealed, during its hundreds of years of operation, probably thousands of people made the journey to Dodona from all over the Greek world. It is sobering to realize how easily and thoroughly time obliterated any visible record of the site. By the nineteenth century, the sanctuary of Dodona had all but disappeared.

Our evidence introduces mostly men (unsurprisingly, since a large number of these manteis turn up on battle-fields, using their skills to guide commanders), but there were also women in this profession. Other than the mythical Kassandra, we have evidence for at least one named female seer, Satyra, and a number of female so-called engastrimuthoi or ‘belly-talkers’. Some of these are likely to have been on the road: in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon Kassandra herself refers to wandering beggar women, either seers or priestesses, so-called agyrtriai. Theophrastos’ Deisidaimo ̄n, or ‘superstitious man’, also calls for priestesses to purify him after he has seen a shrine at a cross-roads. These are surely referring to figures familiar to their audience.

There were oracular sanctuaries dedicated to a variety of different gods: as well as Apollo and Zeus, we find oracles of Ares, Herakles, and Demeter, among others.57 Asklepios was a particularly popular oracular divinity, consulted using methods of incubation, the healing god appearing to the sick in dreams to tell them what was wrong and how to find a cure. There were sanctuaries belonging to heroes, such as the oracle of Trophonios at Lebadaea. Consultation of this particular oracle involved a journey underground (Trophonios was said to have been swallowed by the earth), which was apparently so terrifying that there was a proverb, ‘He has consulted the oracle of Trophonios’, which apparently meant that someone could no longer laugh.58 There were also nekuomanteia, or oracles of the dead, where, it seems you could contact those who had died and ask them questions.59 Plutarch tells how the Spartan commander Pausanias visited the nekuomanteion at Herakleia Pontika on the south coast of the Black Sea. He wanted to speak with, and somehow appease, the ghost of Kleonike, a young woman whom he had murdered and whose ghost was, as a consequence, driving him to distraction. Kleonike’s reply––that he would find peace in Sparta––actually foretold his death.
Divinatory mechanisms were also various: the oracle of Demeter at Patrai in Achaia, consulted by the sick as to whether they would live or die, made its pronouncement via a mirror that was lowered into a spring that flowed outside the temple. Nearby, in the market-place at Pharai, was an oracle of Hermes: the consultant presented a coin and burned incense before an image of the god, then whispered it his question. He then kept his hands over his ears only removing them once he had left the market-place. The first thing he heard after that was considered to be a divine oracular utterance. There were dice oracles, like the one at Termessos, in Pisidia in southern Turkey, where the consultant threw seven dice, and then matched the result to the corresponding verse, inscribed on the wall. At Olympos in Lykia, in south Turkey, visitors chose letters that matched verses inscribed on the walls of tombs––suggesting some kind of interaction with the dead. At Olympia, they were said to use sacrifices, ‘reading’ the splits in the skins of victims. Consultants at the oracle of Amphilochos and Mopsos at Mallos in Kilikia spent the night there, hoping to see the answers to their questions in their dreams.

The most well-known method of ancient Greek oracular consultation is, of course, the raving Pythia at Delphi: much has been written about who she was, the ways in which she may have reached a state of oracular frenzy, how she managed to compose her baffling hexameters, whether and how they were interpreted by others. And yet, as we have seen, a number of the oracle responses suggest that her answers were far simpler––a choice made between options presented by the consultant. Some commentators have urged that these kinds of responses were probably answered by a lot oracle functioning at Delphi, in addition to the Pythian verse oracle. Evidence includes late stories about lot oracles; a collection of images interpreted as being of Kassandra prophesying the fate of Troy to Priam using a system of lots that may have been in use at Delphi; the use of the verb anairein (to take up) in oracular speech; and the question formulation ‘Is it better that I do x or y/x or not?’ which would be particularly susceptible to this divinatory treat- ment. Some commentators have found this particularly appealing on the grounds that it may have provided a cheaper, more frequently available alternative to consultations of the Pythia, more suitable for those who were not state representatives, for example. In the end, the evidence is inconclusive, but even if there was no official lot oracle both historical and fictional accounts of consultation at Delphi suggest the use of mechanisms that resembled the selection of lots, rather than inspired prophecy.

Among the historical, we can point to the immensely careful consultation process described in the second part of an inscription of Eleusis from the fourth century, the so-called Sacred Orgas (‘Land’) decree. This describes the action taken by the Athenians to resolve questions about the boundaries and cultivation of certain areas of sacred land at Eleusis. These questions had political as well as agricultural or religious ramifications, since the land was on the long-disputed border between Megara and Athens. The first part of the decree describes how a panel of Athenians would be chosen to delineate ‘the disputed boundaries of the sacred land’. It goes on to explain the process to be used to ask the god about whether or not to cultivate the land:

The secretary of the council is to write upon two pieces of tin which are equal and alike, on one ‘If it is preferable and better for the Athenian people that basileus should rent out the parts of the sacred orgas currently being cultivated outside the boundaries, for the building of a colonnade and the equipping of the sanctuary of the two goddesses’ and on the other ‘If it is preferable and better for the Athenian people that the parts of the sacred orgas currently being cultivated outside the boundaries be left to the two goddesses untilled’. When the secretary has written, the chairman of the proedroi shall roll up each piece of tin and tie it with wool and cast it into a bronze water jug in the presence of the people. The prytaneis are to see to these preparations and the treasurers of the Goddess are to bring down forthwith two water jugs, one gold and one silver, to the people, and the chairman is to shake the bronze water jug and then take out each piece of tin in turn and put the first into the gold water jug and the next into the silver water jug, and the chairman of the prytaneis is to seal the jugs with the public seal, and any Athenian who wants can apply a counter seal.

The jugs are then placed in the Akropolis, and the Athenians send a delegation to the Pythia to ask her to choose between them. Note how the question is carefully posed so as to ensure that the options are constrained. The lot process not only ensures that no Athenian can exert undue influence over the outcome, but it also protects the oracle from being put in a situation in which she must speak explicitly for or against Athenian or Megarian interests. The revelation of the god’s answer was to be read out to the people. As Parker has observed: ‘There is a strong element of theatre about the transaction . . . It is an ostentatious acting out of incorruptible procedure, and the climax of the drama is performed in Athens itself, in front of the people.’

A probably fictional example of a lot mechanism is found in the story of the election of the Thessalian king Aleuas the Red, when the Thessalians are said to have taken lots (actually beans) to Delphi, with the candidates’ names written upon them, for the Pythia to make a selection. A similar process to this may have actually taken place when the Athenian political reformer Kleisthenes asked the Pythia to choose ten tribal eponyms from a pre-selected list of a hundred founding heroes. Granted no such process is mentioned in the literary descriptions, but then nor is there any such detail in the descriptions of the Athenian consultation about sacred land at Eleusis.

Further contested evidence may be found in an inscription from Skiathos, dating to 350–340. This document, broken in parts and difficult to read, seems to list the charges that individuals from Skiathos must pay for sacrificial cakes and victims when they visited the Delphic oracle. Depending on how the term phruktos is read, one line of the text may offer information about either a particular charge for consultation by lot or arrangements for the use of sacrificial cakes. Whichever way we read these details, this document does provide evidence, albeit slim, for something of the bureaucracy of divination––that such arrangements might, at least in some instances, be made on behalf of individuals between oracle and state.

This picture of written lots collected in a pot being presented to a priestess/ prophetess for her selection brings to mind some of the divinatory processes described above as occurring at Delphi. These seem to have worked in two distinct ways: in the stories about the selection of Aleuas or that of the ten tribes, the Pythia’s choice was (probably) made from a jar containing a number of tablets inscribed with a variety of names; in the case of the consultation on the Sacred Orgas, in contrast, each vessel presented to the Pythia contained one option. In Kallisthenes’ story about consultation at Dodona, it is possible that the lots were all on the same subject, so that the priestess was choosing from among, for example, an equal number of lots marked ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

However, Parke suggests a further possibility, drawing on a decree of the Thessalian city of Korope that prescribes the process of submitting questions to its local oracle of Apollo. The text describes how, following a procession of oracle officers, each potential consultant’s name is written on a board, then each one is summoned before the officials and submits his question tablet. ‘Once the consultation has been completed’ the tablets are sealed in a jar overnight. The following morning, the sealed jar is opened, and each consult- ant is called back to receive his tablet. Quite how and when the response was given to the consultant is far from clear. The phrase ‘Once the consultation has been completed’ may indicate that the entire oracle process––both question and answer––was completed in a day, and consultants simply stayed over night because it had got too late. Alternatively, it may indicate that the consultation itself took place overnight, which raises the possibility that some form of incubation process was involved.

Could a similar process have occurred at Dodona? Is this, perhaps, the implication of that puzzling detail about the Selloi ‘who sleep on the ground’? Unfortunately, as Parke observes, there is only one literary excerpt that can possibly be taken as an indication that incubation took place: a passage of Eustathios quoting another author who mentions the prophet of Dodona and then immediately afterwards mentions prophecy in dreams. This juxtaposition is far too shaky to provide firm evidence for incubation at Dodona.

Talking doves and rustling oaks, erratic springs and men with dirty feet, women who may or not twitter like birds, echoing vessels and crowing demons, and finally tokens picked from a jar, possibly guided by dreams: in the end, as we said at the beginning, all that we know for certain is that consultants wrote their questions down on lead tablets, which they then rolled up. Occasionally some kind of identifying mark was scratched on what would have been the outside of the tablet, either the initials of the consultant or a reference to some aspect of the question. This may suggest that the tablet was handed over to a sanctuary official, or perhaps consultants marked their tablets before they took them into the presence of a priestess. Did they wait breathless for her wisdom, or leave their question tablet with her, looking back over their shoulders, biting their lip with anxiety as they left the inner sanctum? Or perhaps they were told to keep their tablet close by them, while they spent the night in the shade of the rustling oak tree, listening intently for some token from the god.


"The superstitious man is the sort who washes his hands in three springs, sprinkles himself with water from a temple font, puts a laurel leaf in his mouth––and then is ready for the day’s perambulations. If a weasel runs across his path, he will not proceed on his journey until someone else has covered the ground or he has thrown three stones over the road. When he sees a snake in the house he invokes Sabazios if it is the red-brown one, and if it is the holy one he sets up a hero-shrine there and then." [Theophr. Char. 16, ll. 2–5, trans. Diggle 2004.]


Turning to the oak first: in the Odyssey, as discussed above, it sounds as if the god somehow spoke through the oak, or was thought to be located in it, while the fragment of Hesiod seemed to say that Zeus was dwelling under the oak itself (most un-Olympian and, in fact, probably just the result of a lacuna in the text). The Servian commentaries on Virgil suggest an oracular spring rising from the roots of the oak––the spring that featured in Wordsworth’s list of clues. This was a spring that extinguished torches that were plunged into it, but also, apparently, lit them when they were brought near it. But, unfortunately, there is little if any evidence for such a spring, inflammatory or not, although some ancient trace may remain in the epithet of Zeus ‘Naios’, explained by some ancient authors as deriving from the Greek for ‘to flow’.
Some ancient authors seem to say that responses were given through the rustling of the oak’s branches and leaves that were then interpreted by oracle priests, perhaps Achilles’ Selloi/Helloi, but this is likely to be a less than dependable later reconstruction. The same, unfortunately, is true of the various stories found about the tree and the Argonauts. These relate how the hero Jason and his team of fellow heroes set sail in a ship, the Argo, on their quest for the golden fleece with a beam from the oak tree at Dodona fitted into the keel––a structural addition that had the useful feature of being able to speak, guide, or warn the Argonauts, rather like a sort of early form of GPS. Such accounts suggest that it was the oak itself that was pictured as speaking. However, as noted, these are from late sources and tend to suggest that ancient writers were as much in the dark as we are. As we have noted, there is one oracle tablet, a state consultation by the Dodonaeans, that mentions ‘a sign in the oak’. But this tantalizing snippet reveals little if anything about the mechanism of oracle delivery, what kind of sign was expected, how it was given, or just how the oak was involved.
Doves were, as we have seen, a significant part of the story told at Dodona, at least from the time of Herodotos. In the Histories, Herodotos reports two stories, one told to him by the priests of Theban Zeus, which reports how two priestesses from that temple were taken prisoner by some Phoenikians. One was sold in Libya, where she founded the oracle of Zeus Ammon, and the other was sold in Greece, in Dodona, where she also founded an oracle. The other story is told in Dodona:

The Dodona oracle’s prophetesses say that two black doves took off from Thebes in Egypt, one of which flew to Libya, while the other came to them in Dodona. It perched on an oak-tree and spoke in a human voice, telling the people of Dodona that there ought to be an oracle of Zeus there. The people of Dodona realized that they were hearing a divine command, and they therefore did what the dove had told them to do. The story goes on to say that the dove which went to Libya told the Libyans to construct the oracle of Ammon––another oracle of Zeus. This is the story told by the priestesses of Dodona (who are, from oldest to youngest, Promeneia, Timarete and Nikandra), and it is supported by what the other Dodonaeans connected with the shrine say too.

Plato categorizes the priestesses at Dodona alongside the Pythia at Delphi as examples of divine possession. After Plato, we find this image only, briefly, in Pausanias, and in the Christian writers, where it was most likely created in the service of forging a usefully horrifying stereotype of pagan practices. Herodotos himself expresses decisively rational views about this confusion between women and doves:

I think that the women were called doves by the people of Dodona because they were foreigners and when they spoke they sounded like birds. They say that after a while the dove spoke to them in a human voice, because that was when the woman could make herself understood by them. As long as she spoke a foreign language, however, they thought she sounded like a bird. After all, how could a dove speak in a human voice?

Herodotos’ final emphasis on the intelligibility of the priestesses gives no hint of a suggestion that they fell into the same kind of frenzy as the Pythia at Delphi; nor that their oracles were in any way confusing or ambiguous." [Oracles, Curses and Risk among the Ancient Greeks]

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:22 pm

Very calming. I would recommend, some ASMR videos to go with this. If I had the money, I would have an oak tree growing in my home, while watching an ASMR, made by a person of kind values.
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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:02 pm

William Morris wrote:
Tapestry Trees

"Oak.

I am the Roof-tree and the Keel;
I bridge the seas for woe and weal.

Fir.

High o’er the lordly oak I stand,
And drive him on from land to land.

Ash.

I heft my brother’s iron bane;
I shaft the spear, and build the wain.

Yew.

Dark down the windy dale I grow,
The father of the fateful Bow.

Poplar.

The war-shaft and the milking-bowl
I make, and keep the hay-wain whole.

Olive.

The King I bless; the lamps I trim;
In my warm wave do fishes swim.

Apple-tree.

I bowed my head to Adam’s will;
The cups of toiling men I fill.

Vine.

I draw the blood from out the earth;
I store the sun for winter mirth.

Orange-tree.

Amidst the greenness of my night,
My odorous lamps hang round and bright.

Fig-tree.

I who am little among trees
In honey-making mate the bees.

Mulberry —tree.

Love’s lack hath dyed my berries red:
For Love’s attire my leaves are shed.

Pear-tree.

High o’er the mead-flowers’ hidden feet
I bear aloft my burden sweet.

Bay.

Look on my leafy boughs, the Crown
Of living song and dead renown!"

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: In tribute to the Oak Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:23 am

Quote :
"Thunder was called tonitrus, tonitruum (sometimes in the plural, tonitrua), or tonus from the verb tono, tonare, “to make a loud thundering noise.” Something interesting and perhaps important is that the actual bolt was always referred to by one of the words related to “gleaming.” In other words, the Romans regularly referred to “lightning bolts,” and not “thunderbolts,” as we do in English. Modern scholars and translators have generally not observed the distinction. In Greek, the gleam of lightning is astrape, while the bolt itself is called keraunos, and may refer to either or both lightning and thunder. The hurled bolt is called keraunobolia. Thunder is also bronte, hence the term “brontoscopic” to refer to thunder divination...



Thunder vs. Lightning

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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