Myths, Legends, and Sacred Stories - Archive of Older Posts

"Myths and Legends are Born from the Truth."  - anonymous


Hauntingly wise Green Man "speaking" in hawthorn leaves.  Parish Church in Sutton Benger, UK (c.1300)

Green Man, detail of a medieval misericord in Ludlow parish church.


Myths, Legends, and Sacred Stories

On March 14, 2010 The Eastern Native Tree Society and Western Native Tree Society switched from discussion lists on Google Groups to a new discussion list in a Bulletin Board format at:  Posts made since the inception of the BBS on march 14, 2010 will be sorted and archived on the BBS. Click on the link above to go to the equivalent section on the new BBS. This website will continue to serve as a front end for the ENTS and WNTS groups. It will continue to serve as a repository of older posts, and will serve as the host site for special projects and features that are not well suited for a BBS format. Please visit the BBs for the latest information and trip reports.


Myths, Legends, and Sacred Stories

by Edward Forrest Frank

In this section I am using the word myth in the scholarly sense.  It refers to a story of a supernatural, sacred, or religious nature that relates the world of man, to the natural world, and to the supernatural.  All myths are, at some stage, believed to be true by the peoples of the societies that used or originated the myth  The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word:  "A traditional story, typically involving supernatural beings or forces or creatures , which embodies and provides an explanation, aetiology, or justification for something such as the early history of a society, a religious belief or ritual, or a natural phenomenon."   Myth by this definition is clearly distinguished from the use of the word in everyday speech, in which it basically refers to any unreal or imaginary story.  If a story is referred to a myth in this section, it is not meaning or implying that the story is false or imaginary, but simply a story of a religious or sacred nature.    

Virtually every religion in the world has stories involving trees in their sacred literature.  In the Judeo-Christian religious tradition are accounts of the Garden of Eden, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, in the very first book of the Bible.  Other religions, both past and present, also have passages in which trees play an important role in defining the relationship among man, nature, and  higher beings or gods..  

The other major category of stories to be represented here are allegories, fables, and parables.  These commonly use the same thematic elements as other sacred stories, but are designed to teach the reader or listener about some value or concept.  These are generally acknowledged to be fictional in nature, but still play an important role in the context of a particular religion.  One thing to consider is that many of these stories were told by generations of people around campfires before they were ever put to paper.  Many therefore are meant to be told aloud, and listened to, rather than to be quietly read.  



Celtic Myths

The Green Man 


The Tule Tree, Oaxaca, Mexico

Nature Spirits / Tree Spirits