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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Mayans Loved Trees!

My WIP has a lot to do with trees, so I whenever I can, I read a lot about tree mythology, tree folklore, tree care, interesting tree facts... anything tree I can get my eyes on. If I meet a horticulturist who specializes in trees... oh you can' t imagine the conversations! I had one expert ask me, "Why aren't your eyes glazing over like my wife's do when I talk about trees." And he kept saying, "You're sure this isn't boring for you?" Couldn't he see, I was rapt with fascination! I took notes, for crying out loud! Later that night, I watched as my husband's eyes glazed over with every tree detail. Fascinating! Truly fascinating!

To me, trees are truly captivating. I love learning about them. (Thanks Lainey for your quote, btw... "You can always tell an old soul by how they treat trees.") Trees are important to me. They always have been. I can't really explain why or how this came to be, but it's true. As a young child, I used to play in the trees, creating secret worlds only my sister and I knew about. Under it's canopy I felt at peace and as I got older, I felt (and still do) that I am with G-d when I am amongst the trees.

I began today with something new. Meditation. A few people keep telling me I need to meditate. I'm not good at meditating. My brain is too active and I can't just sit there, thinking about nothing. But, I am also open-minded, so "why not," I thought. "Why not start today?" I began by meditating on the things I am going to give to the Universe so they will no longer fill me with worry or doubt. That actually felt pretty good. There, POOF! Gone. Then, I went on to meditate about what I wanted to accomplish today - which was to answer more questions before outlining.
When I was done, I must admit, I felt focused and attuned. So, I began my research for the day - interesting facts about trees. I typed in "trees associated with evil" and came upon, of course, The Tree of Life - Adam and Eve's Tree of Good and Evil, genesis 2.3. When I think of it in terms of my story.... fascinating!

Then I was lead to the Mayans. I have no idea why. I don't know much about that culture other than what I had to learn about the in the seventh grade. I am not particularly interested or uninterested in the Mayans. To show how little I know... I thought they were a bloody civilization who believe in spilling blood at alters to please their G-ds. But I might be very mistaken. As I said, I never had much inclination toward learning more about their unique civilization.

Almost immediately, my search led to a site about the Mayans beliefs about trees. I was enthralled! The thought that trees could be good or evil was not even a thought until Roman Catholicism - I have no idea why?? The Mayans only saw the trees as sacred and good. Their word for tree was te (T) - which to me is also fascinating - think about the letter T's shape - very tree-like. Or the other word for tree was che. Humans and trees are shown as related in their word baalche meaning "thing of (the) trees."

The Mayans believe Trees first, then animals, then humans. They believed if trees ceased to exist, all life would cease to exist. They knew, even in those ancient times, that the wind from the trees had to do with creating the air we breathe.

The Mayans were convinced trees were a life form that felt reactions similar to humans. The term uahomche (see the word che or tree in there?) means "the tree awakens us” or “we awaken in the tree.” A uahomche was a cross made of our wood, or in the wood of a tree. It seems to suggest that our consciousness lives within the wisdom of the trees.
Another fascinating fact is that every major religion has a sacred tree.
Here's my challenge to you, and no, I haven't gone off the deep end... At some point today or tomorrow, really look at a tree. Spend time with a tree. I know it sounds crazy, but just try it. Read under a tree. Eat your lunch under a tree. Spend some time looking at its bark, it's leaves... I bet you'll feel lifted in spirit when you're done.

17 comments:

Erin Melanie said...

Marine creatures are my trees. I involve myself in conversations with total strangers on public transit if I hear them talking about the mating rituals of a sea horse.

There is one particular tree I'm crazy about. It's got wild flailing arms, and a facelike a monkey. I'll go stare at him in honor of your post.:)

Sheri said...

Sea creatures are your trees - funny. Yeah I guess we all have our "thing." that's a better question for us to share here...

So everyone, WHAT IS YOUR THING? What is your tree?

What tree is this with a face like a monkey and flailing arms? Sounds like JK Rowling's Whomping Willow. I hope you don't have one of those!

Jeanie W said...

I love being amid the pine trees in the Adirondacks. The air is so pure. It's no wonder they used to send TB patients there to recover.

My trees are trees. I love to be near them, to climb them, to draw pictures of them. The gnarly ones are especially fun.

Chad Aaron Sayban said...

"Later that night, I watched as my husband's eyes glazed over with every tree detail. Fascinating! Truly fascinating!"
----
What was more fascinating, the tree details or your husband's eye glazing?

I love traveling up to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon because the trees are so thick. Not so much down here in the desert.

Sheri said...

Jeanie, we have trees in common! Aren't they just amazing? Did you draw the trees in your avatar? I've been meaning to tell you, I think they are very cool. As a matter of fact, the illustration looks cool - as in climate. BTW, one myth about pine trees is... they are called "sweet wood" because Pitys, Pan's love, was turned into a pine tree...

Chad, I was just making a comment that was oblivious to his glazy eyes. His eyes glazed like the expert's wife's eyes glazed and that even still with his glazy eyes, I still find it fascinating. To each his/her own. I spent a summer on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. I missed the trees so much when I was there. When we visited Flagstaff one day, I almost cried. I was so happy to be with the trees again. I could not make it in the desert! When I finally came home to the lush No East, I was so happy. It was like being reunited with a forgotten friend.

keri mikulski :) said...

Wow, Sheri. That's interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing.

I love being around trees. They are so calming. But, I live at the beach now, so we're not surrounded by the big trees I grew up around. In fact, the town I grew up in is named Maple Shade. :) So, as a MSHS alumni, I'd have to say my favorite tree is a maple tree. :)

Sheri said...

Keri, I know where Maple Shade is. I went to college with a guy from there. He was a very cute saxophonist.

Jeanie W said...

Sheri,

Thanks. Yes, I drew them - several years ago for an art show. I plan to come up with something more children's book illustrationy, but only after I'm done with my current round of novel revisions. The tree picture's just a space holder until then.

Gottawrite Girl said...

Trees. How can you not appreciate them? Maybe that's why Shel's The Giving Tree enchants everyone?

Sheri said...

Jeanie - I noticed you don't have a blog at blogspot. I'd love to see more of your artwork. Do you have a blog somewhere else? You should check out my friend Leeza's blog at leezyblogs@blogspot.com. She is a good friend of mine and a talented writer and illustrator. Too bad you don't live in NJ - you could join our writer's and illustrator's group - the Hunterdon County Children's Writer's and Illustrator's group.

Susan - I used to cry when I read that book to my kindergarteners. But then I all I could think about was how selfish the boy is! And it just made me angry. I still love that book and I love the leafy illustrations.

Jeanie W said...

Sheri - I don't have a blog. I only just discovered blogs this past July. Since then I have spent so much time reading other people's words that barely spend time on my own.

I am pulling together a portfolio and intend to get it online in some form or other soon. I have set the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI conference date (Oct 25) as a tentative deadline. But I'm also hoping to revise two MG novels by then as well so who knows if I'll make it. I don't know if I'll use a blog format for my portfolio or lay out the cash for an independent website. Seems the latter might look more professional.

Sheri said...

oh Jeanie, then you really must check out Leeza's blog and the links to other illustrator blogs on her site. She is very informative. Just signed her first book deal illustrating a book. If you do go and check her out, let her know I sent you. Are you going to go to the NYC SCBWI conference in Feb. It has a lot for illustrators - a portfolio review. Also the NJ SCBWI is doing an illustrator's day coming up. Leeza's baby...

Jeanie W said...

Sheri-
I think I found your blog after popping in on Leeza's and then the Hunterdon group site. I probably found Leeza's through the NJ SCBWI website.

I probably won't make the illustrators day in November - too much going on at home to take a trip up to NJ. I haven't decided about NYC in February. That depends on a lot of things. Still plenty of time to decide.

Sheri said...

Yeah, but those deadlines creep up quickly! Leeza and I met at an NJ SCBWI event. It was friendship at first site. Then I founded the Hunterdon Writer's Group and asked her if she would help facilitate. We have 6 small groups run by 6 facilitators. Each group consists of no more than 6 members in a group. A lot of our members are also members of SCBWI. I hope we meet at one of the events one of these days...

PJ Hoover said...

I will look at a tree (I love looking at nature)! And I will meditate! Great post!

Sheri said...

Thanks PJ! Welcome home.

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“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

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