We are in the season of summer and we have just celebrated the Solstice. I work with Ogham in my spiritual practice because it brings nature into my life so effectively. It helps me listen to the many messages available to me from my kindred in nature. In the Celtic tradition, heather is the tree for the Summer Solstice, something we can all associate with Scotland and Ireland, but the linden is the alternate tree for this season, and this tree is actually much more prevalent all over Europe.
Let’s take a look at the linden tree, its botanical profile as well as the messages it shares with us.
Called lime trees in the British Isles (not closely related to the lime fruit) and linden, lime, or basswood in North America, lindens are hermaphroditic and have perfect flowers with both male and female parts.
The wood of linden trees is soft and easily worked. Throughout history it has been used for sculptures, model building, shields, altar pieces, marionettes, and puppets. Having a fine light grain and being comparatively light in weight it has been used for carving, even though more modern alternatives are available.
Both the European and American lindens flower in early summer, and the flowers have a wonderful heady sweet scent.
The tea made from the linden flower is pleasing to the taste. The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are used for medicinal purposes as flavonoids and antioxidants, and it has astringent properties. The flowers are used for colds, coughs, fevers, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headaches, and as a diuretic, an antispasmodic, and a sedative. The double-flowered species are used to make perfumes. The leaf buds and young leaves are also edible raw.
Originally, communities not only assembled to celebrate and dance under a linden tree, they also held their judicial meetings there in order to restore justice and peace. It was believed that the linden tree preserved the truth.
In mythology, the linden tree is a symbol of peace, truth, and justice. This connection comes from Germanic mythology and the linden tree’s association with Freyja, the motherly goddess of truth and love.
Freyja is the most important goddess in the Norse pantheon. She and Odin are the two most loved and respected deities in that tradition. She is the daughter of a giantess and was suckled at the breasts of the nine giantesses (primordial mothers). It is thought that she was born parthogenically and later fostered to the Vanir. The giants reflect primordial power within the Norse cosmology. They exist outside of time and prior to all creations. We are told that Freyja is the ancestor of femaleness, known as dsir. That she comes from the primordial and creative power of the giants, tells us that Freyja is, herself, primordial and outside of time. She is the sacred daughter of the “mothers” and she is self-resurrecting. Freyja is not only a shapeshifter, but also an immortal figure, someone who not only was alive at the beginning of time, but who will remain alive after the end days and life on Earth as we know it.
Freyja, known as “Ancestor Spirit”, is viewed as the timeless, self-renewing energy in the universe. She witnesses and shapes the direction of creation and undoing. She is not the originating, creating Goddess, but rather a conduit for energy and life. Women who learn seiðr become like her, living conduits.
Freya is famous for her great beauty, and is called “The Fair One.” She represents fertility and she is known for both lust and love. I see her sexuality as representing her magical powers of creation. Sexual orgasm is a fundamental, primary, and potent force in magic and manifestation.
Summer Solstice is the time when the Goddess sacrifices her consort in orgasmic union. The bees emulate this dance with the drone’s attraction to the Queen, dying a climactic dance of death.
According to legend, the linden tree was considered to be sacred because the bees desired their taste, which resulted in wonderful honey. It was often called the bee tree.
In German folklore, the linden tree is the “tree of lovers.”
While softly rings
While softly rings
The evening’s cool wind
Above me the holy Tilia
In a Greek myth, the gods turned Baucis and Philemon, a devoted old couple, into an oak and a linden tree when they died. The trees grew close together.
Philemon (linden tree) and Baucis (oak tree) were an elderly couple who welcomed the disguised gods into their humble dwelling. Because of their hospitality, they were saved from destruction and were led to a mountain. Their home became a temple and they became the caretakers of the temple. They were standing by the temple steps discussing their coming deaths when each saw the other sprouting leaves; one turned to oak (Baucis) and the other to linden (Philemon).
It is believed that the linden tree’s presence protects against ill luck and against lightning strikes. It also repels spirits that bring harm to the home. This is interesting because it is honored within the same time period as the oak, the tree that courts the lightning bolt!
This ancient fragrant flowering tree has often been planted along streets leading majestically from one place to another. The flower essence of the linden tree suggests to us that ushering us through thresholds is a gift of lindens. Lindens offer us timeless wisdom about vibrational adaptation. As we continue to adapt to match the rising planetary vibration, linden tree can help us to evolve in ways that we can integrate this vibration while also staying grounded. These trees can help us move through this time with greater ease and grace.
In the northern hemisphere, the Summer Solstice occurs in June, which holds the lunar cycle of oak. It is the seventh moon of the lunar year; therefore, it is a threshold cycle. The word for qak is Duir, means door. Thus, the linden flower essence is most appropriate as a threshold aid.
The linden tree tells us much about the season of summer. It is a time to relish the abundance of the Earth’s gifts to us. It is a time for fun and frolic, and a time of love making. The linden tells us to play, to dance, to smell the sweet perfume of life, to make passionate love, and to enjoy this season of abundant color! Taste the sweetness of the linden flower, taste the honey and know the Ecstasy of Life.