Axis mundi / tree of life explained
Hello friends! Before we get deeper into the topic of archaeo-astronomy and its impact on the ancient beliefs we need to define some basics. One of the starting points is definitely the so-called “axis mundi” – the world axis.
In short, all stars in the night sky appear to rotate around the celestial poles, except for the North star, currently represented by the star Polaris. This can be easily illustrated with the help of the long exposure photography.
Knowing this for millennia, the ancients imagined an invisible line going trough the center of the Earth, harmonizing our world with the realm of the gods. Depending on the culture, this “line” has been variously seen as a pole (hence the pole-star), a spindle, a mountain or a tree, to name a few.
The last motif is still very popular in the western culture, as we can witness every Christmas. The evergreen pine tree represents the eternal, world tree, the star on its top represents the polar star, the rest of the decorations stand for the other luminous bodies in the sky, while the ribbon represents the milky way.
Besides the symbolic of eternity, another reason why our ancestors chose the pine tree is probably because its very shape helps us visualize the rotation of the universe – a gigantic cosmic chakra – a whirlpool so essential for the very existence of the universe.
It is said that the Galo-Celtic Druids, just like Slavs, revered the oak tree the most (even though other trees were worshiped as well). But which oak was considered as the tree of life is the question. In my opinion it was the holly tree – an evergreen oak, shaped very similar to the pine tree. As you can read in the highlighted article, the holly tree has always been popular as a Christmas decoration in the west, and also well known and worshiped by the Druids.
In Balkans, the holly tree is known as Bozhika or Bozhikovina – a name that comes from the Slavic word for Christmas – Bozhic, meaning that its use for this purpose is very ancient. Unfortunately, for the same reason this tree is now almost extinct in Balkans and almost completely replaced by the pine tree during the Christmas celebrations.
But back to the Druids, according to Wikipedia, this native Gaulo-Celtic word can be reconstructed as follows:
“based on all available forms, the hypothetical proto-Celtic word may then be reconstructed as *dru-wid-s(pl. *druwides) meaning “oak-knower”. The two elements go back to the Proto-Indo-European roots *deru- and *weid- “to see”. The sense of “oak-knower” (or “oak-seer”) is supported by Pliny the Elder…”
As I already mentioned many times in my blog, whenever an etymology of some ancient word sounds Slavic, it is reconstructed as “Proto-Indo-European” by the western authors. I really don’t know why is that, but let’s just say that the tree is called “drvo” or “dervo” in Slavic languages, and the same goes for the verb “to see”, “to know”, which has the root “vid” in all Slavic languages.
But this was just a small digression, in order to make a transition to the next topic – the whirling Dervishes. Most of the linguists will not agree that the words “Dervish” and “Druid” are related. Apparently, the word Dervish is derived from Persian “darvesh, darvish “beggar, poor,” hence “religious mendicant”. Nonetheless, the similarity between these words did not go unnoticed, and there are authors (including myself) who believe that the words are in fact related. I say this because the symbolic of the whirling is virtually the same as the symbolic of the Christmas tree:
“It is a customary meditation practice performed within the Sema, or worship ceremony, through which dervishes aim to reach the source of all perfection, or kemal. This is sought through abandoning one’s nafs, egos or personal desires, by listening to the music, focusing on God, and spinning one’s body in repetitive circles, which has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun.“
Unfortunately, most of the historians are completely clueless about astronomy, and therefore they see everything related to the Sun, but in fact, it is precisely the polar star that was seen by the ancients as the source of the Eternal, something that will be a topic of another article.
If we accept the fact that the rituals of the Dervishes and Druids could indeed be related, it would be interesting to try to determine the period when this contact could have happened. And the options are many – it could be brought to Turkey from Balkans with the Phrygian tribes already in second millennium BC, or it could come from the east via Persia with the Scythian and Saramatian tribes, or it could have simply be brought much later by the Gauls who founded Galatia in Turkey.
Regardless of the answer, the point here was to illustrate how archaeo-theology can give us a deeper insight of the ancient history, there where archaeology is of no use. This is why I plan to write many more articles on this topic. In the next chapter on the axis mundi we will go deeper into the subject, focusing on the extremely important astronomical phenomena of the precession and more examples of the polar star symbolic in mythology.