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Sacred geography – Picts – Sacred trees and sacred groves 01

Identifier

026506

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

ardnamurchan-ariundle-woods, even today the woods of Scotland have an air of mystery about them

A description of the experience

Tree of Life from a Pictish stone carving

Detail from the Fowlis Wester Sculptured Stone, which can be
found near to Crieff. This tall cross-slab with Pictish symbols
used to stand in the village

The Pictish stones were used as visual signposts to features in the sacred geography - natural or man made - of their landscape. 

The symbol of a tree in effect said, 'you will find this sacred tree [or sacred grove], so many megalithic yards from this stone in this direction'.

Sacred trees especially if they are big and old like oak trees are usually chosen to represent the tree of life. 

It is extremely unlikely that any of these trees still exist in the Pictish landscape today,  although their offspring may still be around.

A sacred grove can represent the symbolic Planets or the twelve signs of the zodiac. 

Celtic and Pictish people were less likely to use sacred groves than other cultures as they tended to build wood henges instead, thus although there may have been a symbol for a sacred grove once, it would have been rarely used.

Example of the tree of life from Groam house museum

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We have provided below some other example carvings of trees of life in stone from other cultures with which to compare.  They bear a rather uncanny resemblance.

Notice the horns, the snake, the falcon, wings  etc, all universal symbols in mystic cultures

 

The source of the experience

Picts

Concepts, symbols and science items

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Commonsteps

References