“It is their belief that when a family member dies, their spirit resides in the natural environment to watch over their kin, relay messages to and from God, and grant blessings, wishes, and requests.”
In Africa the practice of Tree worship is based on the belief that Ancestor spirits live in the Trees and forests as well as any other natural formations that are considered peaceful.
Sacred Trees are highly manicured and sculpted so that they can provide a sheltered place for gatherings. In many villages they were the center of social activity—from community dances to court sessions, as well as metaphors for the strength of community bonds. And as the mythology goes, Sacred Trees represent a cosmic connection between Earth and the Heavens. The Trees helped people measure the passing of time through seasonal changes and became the centerpiece of local folklore.
In many cultures around the world, Trees are used in creation stories and myths to explain human, and spiritual, origins. Such trees frequently represent the axis of the universe that connects different realms of the cosmos. Its branches hold up the heavens, its trunk stands in the earthly realm, and its roots descend into the underworld.
The supernatural characters and powers of sacred trees…
In many religions, sacred places as well as Orishas were thought to possess supernatural characters and the power to carry out miracles or as having magical powers. The same attitude is found throughout history as an outcome of tree Worship-Adoration-Veneration.
Sacred Trees were sometimes described as possessing huge or unusual dimensions or miraculous physical characters. Frequently, sacred Trees were regarded as having omnipotent magic powers to punish, cure, or to carry out miracles and to confer unusual abilities.
In many cultures around the globe sacred Trees are strictly protected, and injuring the Tree in any way is regarded as sacrilege. This deep faith has been established in the course of generations by tradition and stories of actual punishment meted out by the Gods-Souls-Orishas to which the Trees are dedicated. Injuring the Tree, especially cutting it down may leave the resident spirit homeless and it would soon take its revenge.
In some communities fear of revenge by the spirits in response to any harm to the sacred Tree is so great that special ceremonies, which may include sacrifices, prayers, ceremonies, are held to pacify the angry spirit before a Tree is cut.
Not surprisingly, any kind of harm done to the sacred Tree-Grove-Forest is feared to cause a furious punitive response by a supernatural being. This fear is so deeply imprinted in human conscience of various Tribes*Communities that the people are afraid even to pick a leaf or to collect dead wood from below the Tree, which may carry an immediate sentence of death.
Throughout history, and in many cultures, sacred Trees were regarded as omens and oracles, as well as soothsayers that may speak in human voices. Punishment of whoever violates the Tree All over the world sacred Trees are protected by a system of taboos and ceremonies which were developed to prevent any damage. These Trees are regarded as the abode of supernatural beings, gods, souls and any harm to such abodes are to be heavily punished. Cutting down sacred Trees is regarded as a particularly serious offence against the supernatural element because such an act leaves the spirit homeless. There is thus a need to repatriate these supernatural beings by means of special ceremonies.
***The manner in which clothes are tied to a sacred Tree to transfer personal troubles or using objects that “absorb” the supernatural powers of the Tree are typical examples of contact magic. Things which have once been in contact with each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed. Practically all these manners are methods of “conveying the divine effluence” from the Tree to the devoted people. In this way the supernatural being, which is connected with the sacred Tree, has the power to grant petitions.
Sacred Trees are believed to have magic curative powers in Africa, even species of some plants or parts of it that are not known as having medicinal properties, such as the leaves of a Sacred Oak (Iroko) are regarded as omnipotent forms of medication when administered externally as a decoction. Clearly, the leaves acquire the healing powers when granted by Orishas; just as actual medicinal plants gathered in the vicinity of the sacred Tree are more potent. Most of the uses of sacred Trees for divine blessings or cure seem based on magical contact.
IROKO = Milicia Excelsa = African Teak : Iroko is a large hardwood Tree from the west coast of tropical Africa the Tree is known to the Yoruba as Irókò or loko and is believed to have supernatural properties. It is one of the woods sometimes referred to as African teak, although it is unrelated to the teak family. The Tree is feared in some cultures where it originates and hence is shunned or revered with offerings. Yoruba people believe that the Tree is inhabited by a spirit, and anybody who sees the Iroko-man face to face becomes insane and speedily dies. The spirit of the Iroko can be heard in houses which use Iroko wood, as the spirit of the Iroko is trapped in the wood. It is often protected when the surrounding bush is cleared, ritual sacrifices take place underneath it and gifts are given to it. Fertility and birth are associated with it and its timber is used to make ceremonial drums and coffins.
Benefits Of The Iroko Tree: With the tremendous increase in human population and the need for activities such as construction, cultivation, rearing of animals, and environmental development, there has been a tremendous rise on the loss of natural habitats, ecosystems, wild animals, vegetation etc. One important tree that has suffered this sort of habitat loss is the Iroko Tree. Despite its reduction in number, researchers have revealed that there are several incredible benefits of Iroko Tree that makes it stand out from other Trees in the ecosystem.
The Tree features in many myths and tales. It consistently reflects a few important symbolic images. The Tree stands between heaven and earth and is associated with creation as well as the underworld. The Tree is a maternal symbol: a protector and provider who gives fruit, other foods and medicines, provides a reservoir for water, protects against the elements and evil spirits. The Tree often symbolizes human fecundity. It may also be a phallic and paternal symbol, symbolically linking people with their ancestors while being a symbol of political unity.
Finally, the deciduous characteristic of the tree gives it an ambiguous image which reflects the tree’s power to give life and rebirth as well as to bring about death. In many African myths and stories, the tree is portrayed as an Ancestral symbol of wisdom, authority and custom, providing a bond between the dead and the living.
It Is Dark And The Trees In The Farm Are Silent. One Who Taps Palm Wine Must Pay Attention To His Climbing Rope.
Reference Sources: Blessing Okpala = Wikipedia = Google Search/Photo