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A Pagan Gathering for Australia and the world

Monday, November 29, 2010

Minoan Tree Cult Experiment

Hi there, as some of you know, I am doing a PhD in Aegean Archaeology, specialising in sacred trees and gardens. I am wondering whether anyone would be interested in participating in a tree and baetyl cult experiment at some stage (in the next year), possibly at Mt Franklin (not necessarily at the time of the Beltane celebration), or another rural (or even urban) site altogether, in order to assess the bodily and cognitive effects of tree and baetyl cult? I probably should not give too much away and prejudice the experiment, but as brief background, the idea is that these natural objects, the tree, the baetyl (rock), are numinous and that ritual interaction therewith caused a certain effect - communication with the Otherworld, divination, prophecy. While I'm primarily looking at Minoan tree cult (that's Minoan Crete, as well as Mycenaean Greece, with comparative material from Cyprus and Israel), you might be more familiar with the biblical examples of the Asherah, both a tree and a goddess, and the Beth El (Beth = house, El = God : baetyl) the stone that Jacob used as a pillow, subsequently had a communication with G*d through a dream while lying upon, and then set up as a massevoth (sacred stone). In Israel tree and pillar cult were enacted at bamot (high places) in the landscape. I need to enact tree cult with some other people, and record the effects. I'm just putting this idea out there. I have previously participated in (someone else's) experimentation with Minoan gestures known from cultic imagery and figurines along with 'sonic driving' by the shaking of a sistrum, and whether this caused or aided trance, and that was a very interesting experiment.


  1. This sounds like a very interesting experiment and I am sure that Mt Franklin would be a great place to attempt it. Keep me updated.

  2. That sounds very interesting Caroline. Please keep us updated with proposals and times/dates. I'm sure I'd know quite a few that would be most interested to assist should you need some participants.

  3. I think it is quite fascinating... because if we're going to be _listening_ to trees and rocks, we might find that they do not actually speak in English, let alone a human language, and so interpreting the communication will be the challenge. I guess in a way it is similar to dealing with what in Ireland would be called faeries, or in Greece, Nymphs, they are really on a very different plane to humans, although related to us as inhabitants of the same planet. I'm thinking here, regarding models of communication with trees, in terms of the Oracle of Zeus at Dodona, Greece, in which priestesses, called 'doves' interpreted the sound of Zeus' oak tree. But there are many western European examples too.