The Mystery of the Tree Goddess

I do love painting trees, they are very patient models and hold their poses very well. Deep down I think we all know that the trees provide life and shelter to us all. I have a love for well crafted instruments and furniture made of wood, and there are hardwood floors here in my studio. An old apple tree struggles as each year more of its limbs grow black and brittle in my yard, while a young pin oak delights in the regularity of sun and rain we’ve been having this year. In the back yard a magnificent silver maple shades much of the yard and our sacred circle space we use to count the months and seasons creates a leafy canopy that we watch the moon travel through.

Around the world stand sacred groves, and I pondered long on how to depict the Tree Goddess. Arms as branches came to mind, but it was this vision of the Goddess as a guardian of the inner mysteries of the tree itself that had to be painted. What lies beyond her gently curving form in the darkness? Just as a woman’s vulva holds the mystery of pleasure and life, so also do trees.

Tree Goddess Art

May the mystery of the secret gate bring you closer to your walk with nature. Tree Goddess painting 8×10″ watercolor by By Beth Hansen-Buth

Trees are sacred all around the world, and culture after culture reveres its sacred groves. The wisdom is found in Wiki these days:

A sacred grove or sacred woods are any grove of trees of special religious importance to a particular culture. Sacred groves feature in various cultures throughout the world.

They were important features of the mythological landscape and cult practice of Celtic, Baltic, Germanic, ancient Greek, Near Eastern, Roman, and Slavic polytheism, and were also used in India, Japan, and West Africa. Examples of sacred groves include the Greco-Roman temenos, the Norse hörgr, and the Celtic nemeton, which was largely but not exclusively associated with Druidic practice. During the Northern Crusades, there was a common practice of building churches on the sites of sacred groves. The Lakota and various other North American tribes consider particular forests or other natural landmarks to be sacred.

Ancient holy trees still exist in the English countryside and are mentioned often in folklore and fairytales.

When I was growing up, we lived for a while on a dead-end street. The farthest house had an old well on it and beyond it were trees. It was a lovely woods, that as a small child I considered a forest. A path led down the hill through the woods to a nearby park where we would go to play. This is where a neighbor lady would sit on her deck telling us fairy tales in late summer while we ate ice cream cones. The nature of magic is self-evident to children, it is everywhere around them, in the stories and songs, the rustle of leaves, and the old well down the street. It’s mysteries are very solid and real, and the trees have their own tales to tell if we will listen.