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Photography: Digital, Dye Transfer on Paper.
I came across these linden trees high up above the Sirhowy Valley, near the village of Wattsville, South Wales. I suspect that they were planted around 200 years ago by a farmer, as a form of barrier between fields. Situated in rarely used pastureland, I doubt whether anyone has seen many of these trees up close for a very long time.
Recent philosophical writing has speculated as to whether plants and trees might have a form of consciousness and an ability to "communicate" to other "beings" within their species. When I saw these lindens, it wasn’t difficult to accept this notion; that they are driven by an intelligence that involves interaction, co-operation and co-dependency with others of their own. It may be that it was a similar perception of the tree’s intelligence that led to the status it was afforded by early Europeans; references to the linden tree abound in mythology, literature and music, where its many and various virtues are celebrated.
Linden or lime trees are considered sacred in Slavic countries and many towns and villages are named after the linden. It was a tradition in Slovenia for communities to congregate under a linden tree in the village square to make important decisions and such trees are still considered by some to carry the soul of the village. The linden is the national symbol of Slovenia. In Pre-Christian Germanic mythology also, the linden was highly symbolic. Not only did local communities assemble to celebrate and dance under a linden, but they, also, held meetings to restore justice and peace, in the belief that the tree would help unearth the truth. The tradition of planting linden trees in towns and villages continues in Germany. Unter den Linden, the street that runs through central Berlin has had an avenue of linden trees since the 16th century.
Throughout the Baltic region of the tree is associated with the goddess Laima, who lived in a linden tree as a cuckoo. She is responsible for the fate of childbirth and marriage and is the patron saint of pregnant women.
In a Greek myth, Chyrion’s mother, Phylira transforms into a linden tree to escape the shame of giving birth to a half-horse, half-man as a result of having been raped by Kronos, and according to the fifth century Greek historian Herodotus, a privileged cast of hereditary, effeminate priests of the Scythian religion, called the Enerai, would wrap three strips of the tree’s bark around their fingers and practice their divination as they unwrapped the strips. Homer, Horace, Virgil and Pliny also mention the linden tree and its virtues. More recent references to the linden can be found in the works of Franz Schubert, Hans Christian Anderson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Hermann Hesse, Marcel Proust and J.B. Priestly.
Archival quality print, signed, with white border of 5 cms. Certificate of Authenticity provided. Edition of 50.