Thursday, September 30, 2010

Are There Really Such Things as Tree Spirits?

My research for Ghosts of Long Island, has taken me on several fascinating adventures. Many I time I've traipsed through haunted woods with paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto. The woods at Sweet Hollow and Satan's Trails are two that come to mind. What makes the woods haunted? Is it the events which took place there? Is it the spirits who are left behind? Or is it possible that trees themselves can be haunted?

I have learned from Joe that sometimes spirits can morph an image onto an object, especially a natural object such as a tree. He has often captured what appears to be a face on the trunk of a tree. Now, I know what you're thinking. When Joe first told me I thought the same thing. Isn't it the same as finding an image in the clouds; our way of creating a picture which is recognizable to us? I remember standing in the woods of Sweet Hollow when he first told me about tree spirits. With my arms folded I gave him a look as if to say, I'm not buying this one. He insisted it was true. Spirits can form images on trees as another means of communicating with us.

I put that theory on the back burner for a while. It wasn't until this past July when I ran into friend and fellow "ghost" author Monica Randall. For those of you who don't know her, she is a very talented writer and photographer who has investigated Long Island's Gold Coast mansions as well as the mansions in the Hudson Valley in upstate New York. She began telling me about a cabin she had been to over the summer and about a haunted tree that was located on the property. I laughed to myself thinking, here we go again.

I still didn't give much credence to the idea until two weeks ago, when a terrible, fifteen minute storm swept through. In its fury, my beloved forty-foot Maple tree came crashing down. I was devastated at the loss of my tree. Thankfully, the way it fell did not cause any damage, nor was anyone hurt. It took eight men and three hours to remove it the next morning. It broke my heart to watch the men cutting up my tree and hauling it away. I have to admit, I am a tree person. I love trees and I love all the animals that inhabit them. For me, it really was a loss.

Before the men came to clear it out, I took photos. It wasn't until later when I looked at them that I discovered several orbs in the damaged limbs, and perhaps the image of a miniature person in the trunk of the tree! I thought I must be going crazy! Could there be any truth to what Joe and Monica told me?

I then decided to poke around in some books I have, and I did an Internet search as well. It turns out there are all kinds of information out there on "tree spirits". It is believed that spirits and ghosts use trees as a dwelling place when visiting the earth. This theory goes way back to the Old Testament where there are references to "sacred groves". The early Celts, Romans and Egyptians all believed in tree spirits. The Egyptians believed that it was deities who occupied their trees. In India, shrines have actually been built under trees to gain the favor of a revered spirit. Many have believed that if you cut down a tree with a spirit dwelling in it, you will lose your life. The Celts believe that all trees have spirits. Some of the more common "spirit" trees would be ash, apple, cedar, oak, cherry and pine to name a few. Each of these trees are said to host a particular type of spirit. Are these just superstitions? Perhaps, but I continued my search for answers.

There is said to be a famous haunted tree in Gilberton, Alabama in the United States. A woman named Linnie Jenkins claimed to hear strange noises and crying coming from her pecan tree which was located on her front lawn. It attracted media attention, and by 1981 thousands of people from all over the country came to see the mystical tree. It was discovered that the house had been built on the site of an old Indian graveyard, and many believed the cries heard were from those Indians who had died.

Have you ever heard of Huna? Huna is a philosophy of ancient Hawaiian magical shamanism and healing. In Huna, it is believed that everything is "alive, responsive and aware" therefore everything has a spirit. Huna teaches that spirits are connected even if they are of different life forms. For instance, human spirits connect more closely with other human spirits. But, human spirits connect with animal spirits as well, especially dogs and horses. Huna states that human spirits also have a very spiritual link to the tree. This may be the reason why so many people are distraught, myself included, when a tree is destroyed. For reasons unknown to us, we form a connection to it.

Wisdom can be gained from trees, especially old trees. Supposedly, tree spirits act as guardians and protectors. How often has a person taken comfort in leaning against a tree trunk or lying on the ground beneath its branches? This brings to mind the children's story The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Even the book Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, refers to tree spirits.

Could there really be something to all of this? I have only touched on the subject. There is still so much more to explore. For those interested, I have posted some images of my tree on my Facebook fan page. You can get to it by searching my name, or by going to my website, and clicking on the Facebook icon. While you're there click "Like" and become a fan.

So if you're considering cutting down a healthy tree, maybe you should think twice. One never knows what spirits may be dwelling within.