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Are There Really Tree Spirits?

Following the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, the talk of trees has been a hot topic, so I decided to do some research into a very bizarre subject...tree spirits. Do they exist?

I've been thinking a lot about trees lately. How can I not? There are still piles of them everywhere after Hurricane Sandy's wrath swept through our island.

It's amazing that something so beautiful can cause so much damage and havoc under the right conditions. Like most people on that fateful day, I kept glancing out my window, hoping and praying my trees would stay standing. I was one of the lucky ones sustaining only minor damage. A few blocks away, a great, big pine tree on the corner of a two lane road was blown into a house. Every Christmas for as long as I can remember, that tree was decorated from head to toe in Christmas lights. On my morning walk, I came across a car, smashed, with a huge chunk of tree still wedged in the broken back window. The damage, and the tragedy of it all, was widespread.

Over the years, a few people have spoken to me about "tree spirits." I never really gave it much thought, in fact, I thought it sounded a bit bizarre, to say the least. With trees on the mind, however, I decided to do a bit of research on the subject.

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 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.

Do tree spirits really exist? I honestly can't say. By the likes of Hurricane Sandy however, the spirit of Mother Nature is alive and well.

Kerriann Flanagan Brosky is the author of Ghosts of Long Island; Stories of the
and Ghosts of Long Island II; More Stories of the Paranormal, both available on Amazon in hardcover and e-format. www.ghostsoflongisland.com. Her debut novel, The Medal, is available in trade paperback and in e-format. Visit

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Eileen Coles November 30, 2012 at 08:22 AM
Yes, they do. The word "Druid" translates to "one who works with the oaks". Tree spirits in the Greek tradition were called Dryads, and you can of course see the similarity between the two words. The Sanskrit linguistic root (pardon the pun) for the word oak, "dreu", shows the crossover between area traditions as the Indo-Europeans migrated across the continent. To cut down a Dryad's tree would kill the spirit and earn the hostility of all the others. Likewise to concern oneself with the needs of these beings would bring benefits to the people living there. Oaks lend strength, birches help lead you to water and new beginnings, juniper helps purify and clarify vision, yew protects. The true Druids learned many secrets by working with the trees. Isaac Bonewits was a friend, after he died he became a helpful ally on the other side and shared with me one of the basics about working with oak trees, which to both the Celts and the Scandinavians is a "King" or "Warrior" type tree.
Eileen Coles November 30, 2012 at 08:23 AM
The spirits of human ghosts can also take shelter in trees when they are stuck here due to some catastrophe (war or disaster) that causes sudden or traumatic death, and prevents a lot of them from moving on. It was very important that they planted trees in Zuccotti Park after 9/11. Once these unrested spirits shelter in the trees, especially if the trees are living, they can make the transition more gently. This is also why some spirits can cling to things like furniture or wooden houses, although since these structures are not of living wood the spirit can become "stuck" there. Spirit workers such as yourself will run into these types of once-human spirits attached to trees, but are less likely to work with a Dryad, because those spirits have other concerns and other ways of communicating. Dryads only occupy living trees and are intrinsically attached to the tree. True shamans also know that Sandy as it made landfall also had very little to do with Mother Nature, but that is a discussion for a different time and place.
Kerriann Flanagan Brosky December 04, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Hi Eileen, Thanks so much for your response. Very interesting. I can't believe how much information there is out there on this subject matter. Someone else just recently told me they heard about the human ghosts taking shelter in trees as well. I can't say I've run into any of this during my investigations, but I wasn't really looking for it either. Some food for thought, that's for sure. Thanks for writing!


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