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The tree of peace: Symbolic and spiritual values of the white pineAuthor(s): H.W. Schroeder
Source: In proceedings of the White Pine Symposium (p. 73-83), Sept. 16-18, 1992, Duluth, MN.
Publication Series: Paper (invited, offered, keynote)
Station: North Central Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (684.0 KB)
DescriptionThe original meaning of the word "spirit" (i.e. breath or wind) suggests an experience in which one feels touched or moved by something that can be felt but cannot be seen or grasped. The experience of spirit is often depicted through the use of symbols. Symbolism allows a concrete object, such as a tree, to represent an experience that is intangible and hard to describe. Trees have been important spiritual symbols in many human cultures. Evergreens often symbolize immortality and eternal life because they retain their leaves throughout the winter. To the Iroquois people, the white pine is a symbol of the Great Peace that united their separate nations into an enduring League. The Peace Tree is related to the Tree of Light, a central symbol in Iroquois cosmology. Similar mythological trees are found in European traditions, including the Norse World Tree and the medieval Christian Tree of Life. The World Tree symbolizes the unity of all life, and the struggle of order and growth against chaos and disintegration. The white pine is thus linked to one of the most universal spiritual symbols of the human species.
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CitationSchroeder, H.W. 1992. The tree of peace: Symbolic and spiritual values of the white pine. In proceedings of the White Pine Symposium (p. 73-83), Sept. 16-18, 1992, Duluth, MN.
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