FRED HAGENEDER’S GATEWAY TO THE MEANING OF TREES IN CULTURE AND CONSCIOUSNESS
The Spirit of Trees – Science, Symbiosis and Inspiration
paperback, 224 pages, illustrated
Floris Books, Edinburgh 2017, 3rd edition, ISBN 9781782504481
Continuum, New York 2001 ISBN 9780826417633 (Paperback)
ISBN 9780826413352 (Hardcover)
Trees are one of the Earth’s oldest life forms; silent witnesses to human evolution and the passing of time. Many people today take the presence of trees for granted, unaware of their greater significance in Earth’s ecology, their medicinal and nutritional properties, or the veneration bestowed on them by ancient peoples.
The Spirit of Trees captures all these elements in a holistic appraisal of Earth’s most influential creation, and will captivate readers through the persuasiveness and passion with which the author portrays his subject.
The book explores the relationship of humanity and trees, in terms of the trees’ natural assets, mankind’s cultural interpretations of the forest and particular tree species, and the ability of trees to inspire, soothe and sustain humankind.
The book contains:
• the biology of trees and the ecology of the forest in a holistic approach and with many new insights;
• 24 biographies (cultural and natural) of the most important native tree species of Europe, with unique colour illustrations.
‘The Spirit of Trees is an extraordinary book by an extraordinary man. To hear him play his harp and speak about the trees leads you into the world and indeed the spirit of the forest. You know that this man has made contact with the trees and with their essential being. Then, when you open his book and read the combination of scientific knowledge, intuitive wisdom and historical understanding that flows from its pages, combined with the beauty of its colour photographs and paintings, you realise that here is a treasure trove of lore that needs to be preserved and studied for the sake of all of us – and the planet.’
— Philip Carr-Gomm, chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids
‘After a deep encounter with a birch tree, Fred Hageneder devoted 20 years of his life gathering the facts about how humans related to sacred trees throughout the ages and in all cultures. He shows how it is possible to regain the original human relationship with trees by creating a unison with them rather than with our machines, so that we learn to accept the forest’s wisdom. This book is most important, no one has ever done anything quite like it. And we need it as maybe it can help to stop all the tree destruction going on.’
— Dolores LaChapelle, deep ecologist and author of Earth Wisdom
‘A book well worth reading.’
— Science Group of the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain, Newsletter, March 2001
‘How pleasant to be able to review a book so delightfully informative and thoughtfully inspiring as this one! The Spirit of Trees captures each of its themes in a beautifully illustrated, well printed and fluently written text. This is a book that has been sorely needed. General readers and specialists alike will find much within in its pages for stimulation, reflection and refreshment.”
— Peter Barlow, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, 2002
‘This book really does give the reader a holistic picture of the tree. It is not possible to read it and perceive trees in the same way that one did before.’
— New View, winter 2001
‘Subtitled “Science, Symbiosis, Inspiration”, this must be one of the most inclusive books available on trees. The author is not only a writer but also a harpist and artist – so that a number of his beautiful paintings illustrate the book. He begins with the history of forests in Europe in relation to the ice age then moves on to the relationship of water and forests as described by Viktor Schauberger. He explains the relationship between trees and the Earth’s magnetic field, warning that clear felling brings a decline in the magnetosphere and hence in the protective shield against hard particle radiation. A chapter on light brings in biophotons and the tree’s relationship to the sun, and this is followed by an account of the fascinating work by Lawrence Edwards on planetary and tree rhythms. He moves on to a consideration of sacred grove in a number of spiritual traditions and it is fascinating to learn that the word Druid is derived from the Sanskrit Dru (tree, wood) and the Indo-European Wid, vid (knowledge, seeing). This leads into the symbolism of the World Tree and the Tree of Life. The second part of the book, entitled ‘The Essence of Trees’, begins with ‘botanical basics’ including the life cycle of the tree. Fred then writes about the great European trees with accompanying photographs and his own fine paintings. Each tree is treated with respect to its physical characteristics, healing properties (bark, leaves, sap, flower remedy), tradition and myth, and what he calls ‘inspiration’, which includes astrological correlations. One discovers that beech leaves can be eaten in salads and that beechnuts are very rich in protein and contain up to 50% fatty oil – they are apparently good roasted. As it happens, there is a huge crop on our beeches this year! Fred will be a speaker at next year’s Mystics and Scientists conference where he will undoubtedly bring a rich contribution based on the many insights of this fine book.’
— David Lorimer in The Scientific and Medical Network Review, 2000
‘Woodturning has taught me a love of trees greater even than that I had as a child. In this book I find a rich source of inspiration, information, lore and science coupled with some marvelous paintings and photos of trees. The Spirit of Trees goes beyond your coffee table tome of lustrous photos. Here are facts from the forefront of developing natural science. Regular quotes from leading scientists, as well as references to books and journals, back up an exploration that can hardly fail to raise amazement and wonder at the trees we so love to work. Here is a consideration of the role trees – “earth’s most successful life form” – have played in the development and maintenance of the Earth, long before Homo sapiens emerged. Hageneder considers Earth’s whole eco-structure, and the life forms that intertwine with trees, including water that trees absorb and then enrich and circulate as part of the hydrological cycle. It is on this question of water that he opened my eyes most. The science of water is expanding rapidly, as its structure is now understood to be vastly more complicated than was previously understood. Trees create the life complex we call forests, which in turn are the cradle of water from which water is circulated around the Earth. Forests are also the cradle of human life; their exploitation and decline correlate directly with the rise and fall of nations and their economies. It was news to me that trees sustain the magnetic field of the Earth. Hageneder shows this in detail, charting the flux of magnetic variation over forests with worldscale maps, and shows how this also affects the Van Allen belt that protects the Earth from the sun’s harmful frequencies. The light and warmth that do reach the earth are also explored in depth. The tree’s ability to create wood and its provision of shade are just the tip of the iceberg. Much more lies below the surface. Yet this book does not just chart what we already know. It is a glimpse into the mystery of what we do not yet know about trees. To fully enjoy this book you need only a willingness to open your mind, both to the past, where a deep lore of trees sustained European cultures, and to the future, to what our present understanding of trees might lead. Science and art combine in this book like craftmanship and artistry combine in the best woodturners to create things of beauty. The science of tree growth can become a tedious study, yet here it is presented in such a way that page after page opens the inner nature of the tree to our enquiring minds, like a flower opening to the sun. The final part of the book portrays the principal trees of the northern hemisphere, particularly Europe. The ancient Irish tree alphabet formed the basis of Hageneder’s exploration of tree mythology many years ago. Now he expands on this by adding other European trees that have played a leading part in the structural, cultural and scientific development of mankind, which has occupied the land along with them and grown as a result of the trees’ practical gifts. This book is not just a writer’s research document; it is a tree lover’s compendium of understanding.’
— Tobias Kaye in Woodturning magazine, Jan 2001
‘Hageneder’s passion for his subject and the wealth of scientific fact, historical information, and traditional lore he gathered in the process have resulted in a virtual arboretum of 24 of the most common, best-loved trees of Europe and North America, presented with stunningly beautiful paintings, drawings, and photographs.’
— Kaya Jacolev, Napra Review, December 2001
‘The Spirit of Trees is an attractive, well-illustrated, and rewarding book that explores the relationship between humanity and trees…richly enhanced with photographs, sketches, drawings, and appealing, colorful paintings and watercolors. Like other Continuum books, The Spirit of Trees is sturdy and attractive. Hageneder coherently presents a wide range of information on trees and related subjects.’
— New Age Retailer, 2001
‘Eloquent prose and deeply perceptive paintings.’
— Cygnus Review, 2006