The Man Who Planted Trees

Translation from french by Peter Doyle

In order for the character of a human being to reveal truly exceptional qualities, we must have the good fortune to observe its action over a long period of years. If this action is devoid of all selfishness, if the idea that directs it is one of unqualified generosity, if it is absolutely certain that it has not sought recompense anywhere, and if moreover it has left visible marks on the world, then we are unquestionably dealing with an unforgettable character.

About forty years ago I went on a long hike, through hills absolutely unknown to tourists, in that very old region where the Alps penetrate into Provence.
This region is bounded to the south-east and south by the middle course of the Durance, between Sisteron and Mirabeau; to the north by the upper course of the Drôme, from its source down to Die; to the west by the plains of Comtat Venaissin and the outskirts of Mont Ventoux. It includes all the northern part of the Département of Basses-Alpes, the south of Drôme and a little enclave of Vaucluse.
At the time I undertook my long walk through this deserted region, it consisted of barren and monotonous lands, at about 1200 to 1300 meters above sea level. Nothing grew there except wild lavender.
I was crossing this country at its widest part, and after walking for three days, I found myself in the most complete desolation. I was camped next to the skeleton of an abandoned village. I had used the last of my water the day before and I needed to find more. Even though they were in ruins, these houses all huddled together and looking like an old wasps’ nest made me think that there must at one time have been a spring or a well there. There was indeed a spring, but it was dry. The five or six roofless houses, ravaged by sun and wind, and the small chapel with its tumble-down belfry, were arrayed like the houses and chapels of living villages, but all life had disappeared.

It was a beautiful June day with plenty of sun, but on these shelterless lands, high up in the sky, the wind whistled with an unendurable brutality. Its growling in the carcasses of the houses was like that of a wild beast disturbed during its meal.
I had to move my camp. After five hours of walking, I still hadn’t found water, and nothing gave me hope of finding any. Everywhere there was the same dryness, the same stiff, woody plants. I thought I saw in the distance a small black silhouette. On a chance I headed towards it. It was a shepherd. Thirty lambs or so were resting near him on the scorching ground.
He gave me a drink from his gourd and a little later he led me to his shepherd’s cottage, tucked down in an undulation of the plateau. He drew his water – excellent – from a natural hole, very deep, above which he had installed a rudimentary windlass.

This man spoke little. This is common among those who live alone, but he seemed sure of himself, and confident in this assurance, which seemed remarkable in this land shorn of everything. He lived not in a cabin but in a real house of stone, from the looks of which it was clear that his own labor had restored the ruins he had found on his arrival. His roof was solid and water-tight. The wind struck against the roof tiles with the sound of the sea crashing on the beach.
His household was in order, his dishes washed, his floor swept, his rifle greased; his soup boiled over the fire; I noticed then that he was also freshly shaven, that all his buttons were solidly sewn, and that his clothes were mended with such care as to make the patches invisible.
He shared his soup with me, and when afterwards I offered him my tobacco pouch, he told me that he didn’t smoke. His dog, as silent as he, was friendly without being fawning.

It had been agreed immediately that I would pass the night there, the closest village being still more than a day and a half farther on. Furthermore, I understood perfectly well the character of the rare villages of that region. There are four or five of them dispersed far from one another on the flanks of the hills, in groves of white oaks at the very ends of roads passable by carriage. They are inhabited by woodcutters who make charcoal. They are places where the living is poor. The families, pressed together in close quarters by a climate that is exceedingly harsh, in summer as well as in winter, struggle ever more selfishly against each other. Irrational contention grows beyond all bounds, fueled by a continuous struggle to escape from that place. The men carry their charcoal to the cities in their trucks, and then return. The most solid qualities crack under this perpetual Scottish shower. The women stir up bitterness. There is competition over everything, from the sale of charcoal to the benches at church. The virtues fight amongst themselves, the vices fight amongst themselves, and there is a ceaseless general combat between the vices and the virtues. On top of all that, the equally ceaseless wind irritates the nerves. There are epidemics of suicides and numerous cases of insanity, almost always murderous.

The shepherd, who did not smoke, took out a bag and poured a pile of acorns out onto the table. He began to examine them one after another with a great deal of attention, separating the good ones from the bad. I smoked my pipe. I offered to help him, but he told me it was his own business. Indeed, seeing the care that he devoted to this job, I did not insist. This was our whole conversation. When he had in the good pile a fair number of acorns, he counted them out into packets of ten. In doing this he eliminated some more of the acorns, discarding the smaller ones and those that that showed even the slightest crack, for he examined them very closely. When he had before him one hundred perfect acorns he stopped, and we went to bed.
The company of this man brought me a feeling of peace. I asked him the next morning if I might stay and rest the whole day with him. He found that perfectly natural. Or more exactly, he gave me the impression that nothing could disturb him. This rest was not absolutely necessary to me, but I was intrigued and I wanted to find out more about this man. He let out his flock and took them to the pasture. Before leaving, he soaked in a bucket of water the little sack containing the acorns that he had so carefully chosen and counted.

I noted that he carried as a sort of walking stick an iron rod as thick as his thumb and about one and a half meters long. I set off like someone out for a stroll, following a route parallel to his. His sheep pasture lay at the bottom of a small valley. He left his flock in the charge of his dog and climbed up towards the spot where I was standing. I was afraid that he was coming to reproach me for my indiscretion, but not at all : It was his own route and he invited me to come along with him if I had nothing better to do. He continued on another two hundred meters up the hill.
Having arrived at the place he had been heading for, he begin to pound his iron rod into the ground. This made a hole in which he placed an acorn, whereupon he covered over the hole again. He was planting oak trees. I asked him if the land belonged to him. He answered no. Did he know whose land it was? He did not know. He supposed that it was communal land, or perhaps it belonged to someone who did not care about it. He himself did not care to know who the owners were. In this way he planted his one hundred acorns with great care.

After the noon meal, he began once more to pick over his acorns. I must have put enough insistence into my questions, because he answered them. For three years now he had been planting trees in this solitary way. He had planted one hundred thousand. Of these one hundred thousand, twenty thousand had come up. He counted on losing another half of them to rodents and to everything else that is unpredictable in the designs of Providence. That left ten thousand oaks that would grow in this place where before there was nothing.
It was at this moment that I began to wonder about his age. He was clearly more than fifty. Fifty-five, he told me. His name was Elzéard Bouffier. He had owned a farm in the plains, where he lived most of his life. He had lost his only son, and then his wife. He had retired into this solitude, where he took pleasure in living slowly, with his flock of sheep and his dog. He had concluded that this country was dying for lack of trees. He added that, having nothing more important to do, he had resolved to remedy the situation.
Leading as I did at the time a solitary life, despite my youth, I knew how to treat the souls of solitary people with delicacy. Still, I made a mistake. It was precisely my youth that forced me to imagine the future in my own terms, including a certain search for happiness. I told him that in thirty years these ten thousand trees would be magnificent. He replied very simply that, if God gave him life, in thirty years he would have planted so many other trees that these ten thousand would be like a drop of water in the ocean.
He had also begun to study the propagation of beeches. and he had near his house a nursery filled with seedlings grown from beechnuts. His little wards, which he had protected from his sheep by a screen fence, were growing beautifully. He was also considering birches for the valley bottoms where, he told me, moisture lay slumbering just a few meters beneath the surface of the soil.
We parted the next day.

The next year the war of 14 came, in which I was engaged for five years. An infantryman could hardly think about trees. To tell the truth, the whole business hadn’t made a very deep impression on me; I took it to be a hobby, like a stamp collection, and forgot about it.
With the war behind me, I found myself with a small demobilization bonus and a great desire to breathe a little pure air. Without any preconceived notion beyond that, I struck out again along the trail through that deserted country.
The land had not changed. Nonetheless, beyond that dead village I perceived in the distance a sort of gray fog that covered the hills like a carpet. Ever since the day before I had been thinking about the shepherd who planted trees. « Ten thousand oaks, I had said to myself, must really take up a lot of space. »
I had seen too many people die during those five years not to be able to imagine easily the death of Elzéard Bouffier, especially since when a man is twenty he thinks of a man of fifty as an old codger for whom nothing remains but to die. He was not dead. In fact, he was very spry. He had changed his job. He only had four sheep now, but to make up for this he had about a hundred beehives. He had gotten rid of the sheep because they threatened his crop of trees. He told me (as indeed I could see for myself) that the war had not disturbed him at all. He had continued imperturbably with his planting.
The oaks of 1910 were now ten years old and were taller than me and than him. The spectacle was impressive. I was literally speechless and, as he didn’t speak himself, we passed the whole day in silence, walking through his forest. It was in three sections, eleven kilometers long overall and, at its widest point, three kilometers wide. When I considered that this had all sprung from the hands and from the soul of this one man – without technical aids – , it struck me that men could be as effective as God in domains other than destruction.
He had followed his idea, and the beeches that reached up to my shoulders and extending as far as the eye could see bore witness to it. The oaks were now good and thick, and had passed the age where they were at the mercy of rodents; as for the designs of Providence, to destroy the work that had been created would henceforth require a cyclone. He showed me admirable stands of birches that dated from five years ago, that is to say from 1915, when I had been fighting at Verdun. He had planted them in the valley bottoms where he had suspected, correctly, that there was water close to the surface. They were as tender as young girls, and very determined.
This creation had the air, moreover, of working by a chain reaction. He had not troubled about it; he went on obstinately with his simple task. But, in going back down to the village, I saw water running in streams that, within living memory, had always been dry. It was the most striking revival that he had shown me. These streams had borne water before, in ancient days. Certain of the sad villages that I spoke of at the beginning of my account had been built on the sites of ancient Gallo-Roman villages, of which there still remained traces; archeologists digging there had found fishhooks in places where in more recent times cisterns were required in order to have a little water.
The wind had also been at work, dispersing certain seeds. As the water reappeared, so too did willows, osiers, meadows, gardens, flowers, and a certain reason to live.
But the transformation had taken place so slowly that it had been taken for granted, without provoking surprise. The hunters who climbed the hills in search of hares or wild boars had noticed the spreading of the little trees, but they set it down to the natural spitefulness of the earth. That is why no one had touched the work of this man. If they had suspected him, they would have tried to thwart him. But he never came under suspicion : Who among the villagers or the administrators would ever have suspected that anyone could show such obstinacy in carrying out this magnificent act of generosity?

Beginning in 1920 I never let more than a year go by without paying a visit to Elzéard Bouffier. I never saw him waver or doubt, though God alone can tell when God’s own hand is in a thing! I have said nothing of his disappointments, but you can easily imagine that, for such an accomplishment, it was necessary to conquer adversity; that, to assure the victory of such a passion, it was necessary to fight against despair. One year he had planted ten thousand maples. They all died. The next year,he gave up on maples and went back to beeches, which did even better than the oaks.
To get a true idea of this exceptional character, one must not forget that he worked in total solitude; so total that, toward the end of his life, he lost the habit of talking. Or maybe he just didn’t see the need for it.

In 1933 he received the visit of an astonished forest ranger. This functionary ordered him to cease building fires outdoors, for fear of endangering this natural forest. It was the first time, this naive man told him, that a forest had been observed to grow up entirely on its own. At the time of this incident, he was thinking of planting beeches at a spot twelve kilometers from his house. To avoid the coming and going – because at the time he was seventy-five years old – he planned to build a cabin of stone out where he was doing his planting. This he did the next year.

In 1935, a veritable administrative delegation went to examine this « natural forest ». There was an important personage from Waters and Forests, a deputy, and some technicians. Many useless words were spoken. It was decided to do something, but luckily nothing was done, except for one truly useful thing : placing the forest under the protection of the State and forbidding anyone from coming there to make charcoal. For it was impossible not to be taken with the beauty of these young trees in full health. And the forest exercised its seductive powers even on the deputy himself.
I had a friend among the chief foresters who were with the delegation. I explained the mystery to him. One day the next week, we went off together to look for Elzéard Bouffier, We found him hard at work, twenty kilometers away from the place where the inspection had taken place.
This chief forester was not my friend for nothing. He understood the value of things. He knew how to remain silent. I offered up some eggs I had brought with me as a gift. We split our snack three ways, and then passed several hours in mute contemplation of the landscape.
The hillside whence we had come was covered with trees six or seven meters high. I remembered the look of the place in 1913 : a desert… The peaceful and steady labor, the vibrant highland air, his frugality, and above all, the serenity of his soul had given the old man a kind of solemn good health. He was an athlete of God. I asked myself how many hectares he had yet to cover with trees.
Before leaving, my friend made a simple suggestion concerning certain species of trees to which the terrain seemed to be particularly well suited. He was not insistent. « For the very good reason, » he told me afterwards, « that this fellow knows a lot more about this sort of thing than I do. » After another hour of walking, this thought having travelled along with him, he added : « He knows a lot more about this sort of thing than anybody – and he has found a jolly good way of being happy ! »
It was thanks to the efforts of this chief forester that the forest was protected, and with it, the happiness of this man. He designated three forest rangers for their protection, and terrorized them to such an extent that they remained indifferent to any jugs of wine that the woodcutters might offer as bribes.

The forest did not run any grave risks except during the war of 1939. Then automobiles were being run on wood alcohol, and there was never enough wood. They began to cut some of the stands of the oaks of 1910, but the trees stood so far from any useful road that the enterprise turned out to be bad from a financial point of view, and was soon abandoned. The shepherd never knew anything about it. He was thirty kilometers away, peacefully continuing his task, as untroubled by the war of 39 as he had been of the war of 14.

I saw Elzéard Bouffier for the last time in June of 1945. He was then eighty-seven years old. I had once more set off along my trail through the wilderness, only to find that now, in spite of the shambles in which the war had left the whole country, there was a motor coach running between the valley of the Durance and the mountain. I set down to this relatively rapid means of transportation the fact that I no longer recognized the landmarks I knew from my earlier visits. It also seemed that the route was taking me through entirely new places. I had to ask the name of a village to be sure that I was indeed passing through that same region, once so ruined and desolate. The coach set me down at Vergons. In 1913, this hamlet of ten or twelve houses had had three inhabitants. They were savages, hating each other, and earning their living by trapping : Physically and morally, they resembled prehistoric men . The nettles devoured the abandoned houses that surrounded them. Their lives were without hope, it was only a matter of waiting for death to come : a situation that hardly predisposes one to virtue.
All that had changed, even to the air itself. In place of the dry, brutal gusts that had greeted me long ago, a gentle breeze whispered to me, bearing sweet odors. A sound like that of running water came from the heights above : It was the sound of the wind in the trees. And most astonishing of all, I heard the sound of real water running into a pool. I saw that they had built a fountain, that it was full of water, and what touched me most, that next to it they had planted a lime-tree that must be at least four years old, already grown thick, an incontestable symbol of resurrection.

Furthermore, Vergons showed the signs of labors for which hope is a requirement : Hope must therefore have returned. They had cleared out the ruins, knocked down the broken walls, and rebuilt five houses. The hamlet now counted twenty-eight inhabitants, including four young families. The new houses, freshly plastered, were surrounded by gardens that bore, mixed in with each other but still carefully laid out, vegetables and flowers, cabbages and rosebushes, leeks and gueules-de-loup, celery and anemones. It was now a place where anyone would be glad to live.
From there I continued on foot. The war from which we had just barely emerged had not permitted life to vanish completely, and now Lazarus was out of his tomb. On the lower flanks of the mountain, I saw small fields of barley and rye; in the bottoms of the narrow valleys, meadowlands were just turning green.
It has taken only the eight years that now separate us from that time for the whole country around there to blossom with splendor and ease. On the site of the ruins I had seen in 1913 there are now well-kept farms, the sign of a happy and comfortable life. The old springs, fed by rain and snow now that are now retained by the forests, have once again begun to flow. The brooks have been channelled. Beside each farm, amid groves of maples, the pools of fountains are bordered by carpets of fresh mint. Little by little, the villages have been rebuilt. Yuppies have come from the plains, where land is expensive, bringing with them youth, movement, and a spirit of adventure. Walking along the roads you will meet men and women in full health, and boys and girls who know how to laugh, and who have regained the taste for the traditional rustic festivals. Counting both the previous inhabitants of the area, now unrecognizable from living in plenty, and the new arrivals, more than ten thousand persons owe their happiness to Elzéard Bouffier.

When I consider that a single man, relying only on his own simple physical and moral resources, was able to transform a desert into this land of Canaan, I am convinced that despite everything, the human condition is truly admirable. But when I take into account the constancy, the greatness of soul, and the selfless dedication that was needed to bring about this transformation, I am filled with an immense respect for this old, uncultured peasant who knew how to bring about a work worthy of God.

Elzéard Bouffier died peacefully in 1947 at the hospice in Banon.




Presenting preview and “sketches” of work in progress coming soon as a book “The Western Mysteries (White, Red & Green)” by me.


In the month of Heshvan in the year 5413(1652) I dreamed of an enormous camel pursuing me. Fleeing it, I entered a room and closed the door with a double bolt. The animal broke through the door with a double bolt. The animal broke through the door, so I hid myself successively in many other rooms. In the last room there was a fragile light as transparent as a wave in which I wrapped myself. Having descended into the sea, I no longer feared the camel. There a young woman of great beauty came out to meet me, embracing me intimately and beseeching me not to forget that I was to be married to a queen who was, at present, hidden both by the sun and the moon. Much moved by this, I swore by her and believe I had relations with her. Immediately after, another young woman appeared, followed by the sun and the moon and I saw the resplendent queen who  apparently was my destiny. Full of terror, I awoke, stirred by that vision in which nothing in me was hidden. I went to Torah!

Abraham ha-Yakini (transl. by Jack Hirschman)

Abraham Yachini (Heb: אברהם יכיני ; also transliterated as Abraham Yakhini, or Abraham ha-Yakini) b. 1617 – d. 1682,[1][2] was one of the chief agitators in the Sabbatean movement, the son of Pethahiah of Constantinople. He studied under Joseph Trani of Constantinople (died 1644), and under Mordecai, a German kabbalist. From the latter he probably derived the touch of mysticism which, combined with cunning and great intelligence, made him the most suitable representative of Sabbatai Zevi. Yachini persuaded Sabbatai Zevi, who at that time was convinced that he was the Messiah but was timid and fearful of proclaiming himself, boldly to declare his claims. It was in Constantinople, about 1653, that Sabbatai Zevi became acquainted with Yachini, who, on account of his learning and oratorical powers, enjoyed a great reputation in his native town.[3] He is described by contemporaries as the best preacher of his day.

Yachini is said by some to have put into the hands of Sabbatai Zevi a spurious book in archaic characters, which, he assured him, contained the Scriptural proof of his Messianic origin. This fabrication, entitled The Great Wisdom of Solomon, began as follows:


I, Abraham, was confined in a cave for forty years, and I wondered greatly that the time of miracles did not arrive. Then was heard a voice, proclaiming, “A son will be born in the year 5386 [1626] to Mordecai Ẓebi and he will be called Sabbatai. He will humble the great dragon… he, the true Messiah, will sit upon My [God’s] throne.”

Queen Ragnhild’s dream Erik Werenskiold (1855-1938) – Snorre Sturlassons Kongesagaer

“Ragnhild, who was wise and intelligent, dreamt great dreams. She dreamt, for one, that she was standing out in her herb-garden, and she took a thorn out of her shift; but while she was holding the thorn in her hand it grew so that it became a great tree, one end of which struck itself down into the earth, and it became firmly rooted; and the other end of the tree raised itself so high in the air that she could scarcely see over it, and it became also wonderfully thick. The under part of the tree was red with blood, but the stem upwards was beautifully green and the branches white as snow. There were many and great limbs to the tree, some high up, others low down; and so vast were the tree’s branches that they seemed to her to cover all Norway, and even much more.”[15]

Heimskringla orThe Chronicle of the Kings of Norway Halfdan the Black Saga


Dreams could sometimes foretell the future. Their ability to do so went hand in hand with the Norse view that all events were directed by fate; as the Eddic poem The Song of Skirnir (Skírnismál) puts it, “My destiny was fashioned down to the last half-day, and all my life was determined.”[2] Since the future was preordained, it could be known in advance.

Take, for example, the famous dream of Queen Ragnhild, who reigned in southern Norway during the ninth century alongside King Halfdan the Black. One night, Ragnhild dreamed that she took a brooch off of her cloak and held it out in front of her. Roots immediately began trailing out of it and toward the ground, where they took hold. Branches then shot up from the brooch, and the tree soon grew so tall that Ragnhild was unable to see over it. The tree’s bowl was blood-red, its upper trunk green, and its branches snowy white. The branches spread out to cover all of Norway, and even extended into other lands as well.[3]

Years later, Ragnhild realized the significance of the dream. The tree symbolized her descendants. Her son, Harald Finehair, was to become the first ruler of all of Norway. The tree’s blood-red bowl symbolized the bloodshed that would occur while Harald was coming to power, the green upper trunk the vigor and glory of his reign, and the white branches his own descendants, from whom would come Norway’s rulers for many generations.[4]

The Viking Spirit by Daniel McCoy


[1] Davidson, Hilda Roderick Ellis. 1988. Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions. p. 138-139.

[2] Turville-Petre, E.O.G. 1972. Nine Norse Studies. p. 32.

[3] Ibid. p. 30-31.

[4] Ibid


Queen Ragnhild’s dream gives us a vision of White Green and Red. White above, Green in the middle and Red below. This traditional pattern we may find in the three realms. The White above, the Green in the middle and Red Below. This is the familiar pattern found in European myth. The White and the White and Red we see war of the roses, the Houses of York and Lancaster. In alchemy we see the marriage of Red King and White Queen.

This is a familiar pattern, the marriage of Sun and Moon, Gold and Silver. In Plato we see the red and white rivers of blood and stars. The World of the Sky we can see the Celestial realms full of the Angelic hosts and beings of the “sky.” The Gods of Thunder, Zeus, Taranis. The Wisdom of the Birds breathing breath from the heavens.

The Red shows us the blood of the earth or the deep fiery “blood” of the planet itself. This is not without significance, that we can see allusions to three “bowls”; or as tradition would have would be three cauldrons. Caitlin Matthew’s points to this as Knowledge, Vocation and Warming (Coire Sois, Emmae and Goirath: Three Cauldrons of Inspiration, Caitlin Matthews, from “Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom.”)


In that Earth there are gardens, paradises, animals, minerals…

Everything that is to be found on that Earth,

absolutely everything, is alive and speaks, has a life analogous

to that of every living being endowed with thought and

speech. Endowed with thought and speech, the beings there

correspond to what they are here below, with the difference

that in that celestial earth, things are permanent, imperishable,

unchangeable; their universe does not die.

Ibn Arabi


For it is one of their Tenets that nothing perishes, but, as the

Sun and Year, everything goes in a Circle, Lesser or

Greater, and is renewed, and refreshed in its revolutions.

As it is another that Every Body in the Creation moves,

which is a sort of life, and that nothing moves but what has

another Animal moving on it, and so on, to the utmost

minute corpuscle that is capable to be a receptacle of life

Robert Kirk

Here is no water but only rock

Rock and no water and the sandy road

The road winding above among the mountains

Which are mountains of rock without water

If there were water we should stop and drink

Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think

Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand

If there were only water amongst the rock

Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit

Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit

There is not even silence in the mountains

But dry sterile thunder without rain

There is not even solitude in the mountains

But red sullen faces sneer and snarl

From doors of mudcracked houses

T.S. Eliot


Above image from secret symbols of the rosicrucians

Here we The Heavenly energies and the divine magnet, pouring down into the Prima Materia. From here we travel to the mysteries again of Red and White. The Red rose of Christ and the White Lily of the Virgin Mary. We can of course continue this pattern and discus Christ’s wounds and of course Red and White roses.

But what is the Green? In Green we see Venus and Aphrodite and Copper. It is from Copper Sulphate that is once source for traditional green pigment. In the Rosicrucian mysteries we see Venus as the Light within the Earth itself. She is the source, the Spirit trapped in amber, the Goddess of Matter itself. It is not without reason we see this green repeat within the Western mysteries. We see Green prominently in several places. The Emerald Tablet of course is a well known image. A green tablet of Wisdom, found deep within the Earth. The green skin of Osiris in some depictions.. In Queen Ragnhild’s vision we see Green as the trunk and “the Glory of her reign.” Perhaps this links to the well known Arthurian axiom “ The King and the Land are One.” Thus the Body of the Tree not only is the very Kingdom, or as we know Kingdom is all manifest reality in Qabalah, it is the very person sitting on the throne and their actions as they do. Signifying that the candidate is the very land they walk upon, as touched upon briefly in “The Rose Cross and The Goddess” (Gareth Knight).

The Tree of course like the Garden is an ideal form, a paradise or Pardes (Orchard, Garden, Paradise) image. Our image above from the Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians moves from our two flowers to the fons miraculorum. The tree, the garden and paradise. So here we begin to understand our Green circle. The intermediary between White and Red, and idealised paradisical world, the physical realm. In Dreams though we see something perhaps inherent in the human consciousness. ILLUMINATED LANDSCAPE.jpg

So the Green circle then become the doorway, gateway between the sky and land. In turn it is a doorway between the land and the paradise world and into the under realms of the Ocean (interior ocean) realms, or Chthonic.

‘From Ismarus we sailed, with heavy hearts for the loyal friends lost, though happy to have escaped death ourselves: nor would I let the curved ships leave till we had called three times in ritual to each of our luckless comrades, who died there on the plain, at the hands of the Cicones. But Zeus, the Cloud-Gatherer, stirred the north wind against our ships, in a blinding tempest, hiding the land and sea alike in cloud, while darkness swept from the sky. Headlong the ships were driven, sails torn to shreds by the force of the gale. In terror of death we lowered the masts on deck, and rowed the vessels wildly towards land.

There we stayed for two days and nights, troubled at heart with weariness and grief. But when Dawn of the lovely tresses gave birth to the third day, we upped masts, hoisted the white sails, and took our seats aboard, and the wind and helmsman kept us on course. Now I would have reached home safely, but as I was rounding Cape Malea, the north wind and waves and the ocean currents beat me away, off course, past Cythera.

For nine days I was driven by fierce winds over the teeming sea: but on the tenth we set foot on the shores of the Lotus-eaters, who eat its flowery food. On land we drew water, and my friends ate by the ships. Once we had tasted food and drink, I sent some of the men inland to discover what kind of human beings lived there: selecting two and sending a third as herald. They left at once and came upon the Lotus-eaters, who had no thought of killing my comrades, but gave them lotus to eat. Those who ate the honey-sweet lotus fruit no longer wished to bring back word to us, or sail for home. They wanted to stay with the Lotus-eaters, eating the lotus, forgetting all thoughts of return. I dragged those men back to the shore myself by force, while they wept, and bound them tight in the hollow ships, pushing them under the benches. Then I ordered my men to embark quickly on the fast craft, fearing that others would eat the lotus and forget their homes. They boarded swiftly and took their place on the benches then sitting in their rows struck the grey water with their oars.’

Homer, Odyssey, Book IX, 63-104


W. Heath Robinson – Stories from the Odyssey Told to the Children – Jeanie Lang

This image of a dreamer, laying on the ground is significant. We know Green shows us the earth, growth, regeneration within and on the land. Thus we can see in tradition the importance of the inner landscape and the Dreamers Within the land itself. The King and the Land are One is one Arthurian Axiom. Another well known Arthurian theme is that Arthur is not dead, but is asleep deep within the land itself. Traditionally under Glastonbury Tor or similar in the Celtic Anwynn or Avalon. Barinthus perhaps helped guide Arthur to Avalon after his final battle.

Who live in this idealised paradisical landscape? We can see this in several european traditions. Most notably we see the Celtic and often Norse traditions we see the “faery races.” Most notably these are detailed by the likes of Robert Kirk, William Sharpe and many others, Jim (1891-1945) and Michael (1876-1937) of County Sligo, Eire famously entered the Illuminated Landscape and thus into Faery Land. Unlike the trite images of Walt Disney though, these are more the proud races of Tolkien. Tall and majestic. But in reality we know they may be small or tall. Scottish tradition shows us short beings such as Brownies. As short as two or three feet or typically around six feet. In the writings of William Sharpe/Fiona Macleod (member of the Golden Dawn) we find the faery cities of Falias, Gorias, Finias and Murias; similar to those mentioned in poems such as the Arthurian Spoils of Anwynn.

Dreamers then besides King Arthur we know, the sacred King Sacrificed and placed into the earth for the Goddess. We see this in the Merlin Stories.At the end Merlin is taken to the Crystal cave by Vivienne/Nimue. The Faery crystal cave deep within the earth. In turn we can return to our axis mundi tree of Buddha, surrounded by “demons” points to the earth under the Bodhi tree. Of course this pattern in the early Merlin tales ends with Merlin in his Observatory of the Stars within the Forest (1) which is also significant. We see Merlin the King having faced trials, gone mad through the reality of war, eventually ends his days in contemplation. Contemplating The Land the Stars, the Goddess. For Merlin the Land is not only the King and the Land, but also the Land and the Stars. So we see from our above diagram from the Secret symbols, we see the fruits of the planet, the metals, which we can see are fruits below that reach to the fruits above.

Dreamers are found not only in the Land but in the stars, for the Crown is within the Kingdom as any Qabalist knows. Familiar dreamers of course are Sleeping Beauty and of course Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Gnomes). It is not perhaps without merit that we see the returning motifs of the garden, the rose garden, paradise and sleepers. This we see in the Chemical wedding, Snow white and ancient stories such as Beauty and the beast (2). In the Islamic and Sufi traditions we of course see the faery races associated with trees. The rose garden in Islam is important. The gardens of figs, olives, dates and pomegranates surrounding a fountain, in which was a garden that Adam and Eve we commanded to grow roses. (3)

(1) The Vita Merlini (Life of Merlin) , Geoffrey of Monmouth.

(2) Now thought to be approx. 5000 years old

(3) PaRDeS: On the Symbolism of the Fountain & the Garden By Nigel Jackson, Sacred Web 38

Now as to Cuchulain it has to be related thus: He called upon Laeg to come to him; and “Do thou go, O Laeg!” said Cuchulain, “to the place where Emer is; and say to her that women of the fairies have come upon me, and that they have destroyed my strength; and say also to her that it goeth better with me from hour to hour, and bid her to come and seek me;” and the young man Laeg then spoke these words in order to hearten the mind of Cuchulain:

It fits not heroes lying

On sick-bed in a sickly sleep to dream:

Witches before thee flying

Of Trogach’s fiery Plain the dwellers seem:

They have beat down thy strength,

Made thee captive at length,

And in womanish folly away have they driven thee far.

Arise! no more be sickly!

Shake off the weakness by those fairies sent:

For from thee parteth quickly

Thy strength that for the chariot-chiefs was meant:

Thou crouchest, like a youth!

Art thou subdued, in truth?

Have they shaken thy prowess and deeds that were meet for the war?

Yet Labra’s power hath sent his message plain:

Rise, thou that crouchest: and be great again.

And Laeg, after that heartening, departed; and he went on until he came to the place where Emer was; and he told her of the state of Cuchulain: “Ill hath it been what thou hast done, O youth!” she said; “for although thou art known as one who dost wander in the lands where the fairies dwell; yet no virtue of healing hast thou found there and brought for the cure of thy lord. Shame upon the men of Ulster!” she said, “for they have not sought to do a great deed, and to heal him. Yet, had Conor thus been fettered; had it been Fergus who had lost his sleep, had it been Conall the Victorious to whom wounds had been dealt, Cuchulain would have saved them.” And she then sang a song, and in this fashion she sang it:

Laeg! who oft the fairy hill

Searchest, slack I find thee still;

Lovely Dechtire’s son shouldst thou

By thy zeal have healed ere now.

Ulster, though for bounties famed,

Foster-sire and friends are shamed:

None hath deemed Cuchulain worth

One full journey through the earth.

It fits not heroes lying

On sick-bed in a sickly sleep to dream:

Witches before thee flying

Of Trogach’s fiery Plain the dwellers seem:

They have beat down thy strength,

Made thee captive at length,

And in womanish folly away have they driven thee far.

Arise! no more be sickly!

Shake off the weakness by those fairies sent:

For from thee parteth quickly

Thy strength that for the chariot-chiefs was meant:

Thou crouchest, like a youth!

Art thou subdued, in truth?

Have they shaken thy prowess and deeds that were meet for the war?

Yet Labra’s power hath sent his message plain:

Rise, thou that crouchest: and be great again.

And Laeg, after that heartening, departed; and he went on until he came to the place where Emer was; and he told her of the state of Cuchulain: “Ill hath it been what thou hast done, O youth!” she said; “for although thou art known as one who dost wander in the lands where the fairies dwell; yet no virtue of healing hast thou found there and brought for the cure of thy lord. Shame upon the men of Ulster!” she said, “for they have not sought to do a great deed, and to heal him. Yet, had Conor thus been fettered; had it been Fergus who had lost his sleep, had it been Conall the Victorious to whom wounds had been dealt, Cuchulain would have saved them.” And she then sang a song, and in this fashion she sang it:

Laeg! who oft the fairy hill

Searchest, slack I find thee still;

Lovely Dechtire’s son shouldst thou

By thy zeal have healed ere now.

Ulster, though for bounties famed,

Foster-sire and friends are shamed:

None hath deemed Cuchulain worth

One full journey through the earth.

Yet, if sleep on Fergus fell,

Such that magic arts dispel,

Dechtire’s son had restless rode

Till a Druid raised that load.

Aye, had Conall come from wars,

Weak with wounds and recent scars;

All the world our Hound would scour

Till he found a healing power.

THE SICK-BED OF CUCHULAIN TRANSCRIBED FROM THE LOST YELLOW BOOK OF SLANE. By Maelmuiri mac Ceileachair into the Leabhar na h-Uidhri in the Eleventh Century.


PaRDeS, an acronym formed from the first letters of the four levels of Torah interpretation, means ‘orchard’ in Hebrew. (The English word Paradise (PaRaDiSe) is derived from the same Persian root).


Peshat: often inaccurately translated as literal, it comes from the root which means simple, although peshat is sometimes anything but simple! Peshat correctly means the intended, explicit meaning.

Remez: alluded meaning (reading between the lines). Remez in modern Hebrew means hint. Traditionally, remez referred to methods such as gezera shava (equivalent language implying equivalent meaning) and gematria (word-number values)

Derash: Homiletical or interpretative meaning. The word ‘midrash‘ is from the same root. The drash is an interpretation that is not explicit in the text.

Sod: (lit. secret). The mystical or esoteric meaning.

I dreamed of Orchil, the dim goddess who is under the brown earth, in a vast cavern, where she weaves at two looms. With one hand she weaves life upward through the grass ; with the other she weaves death down- ward through the mould ; and the sound of the weaving is Eternity, and the name of it in the green world is Time. And, through all. Orchil weaves the weft of Eternal Beauty, that pass- eth not, though its soul is Change.

This is my comfort, O Beauty that art of Time, who am faint and hopeless in the strong sound of that other weaving, where Orchil, the dim goddess, sits dreaming at her loom under the brown earth.

–Fiona MacLeod

Reading 4 2 14, The Alchemical Tarot Renewed by Robert M Place

Reading 4 2 14, The Alchemical Tarot Renewed by Robert M Place



Position 1 Hanged Man, air, beginning…

Position 2 The Magus, reversed. Fire. changing. maturing

Position 3, the Queen of Vessels, Water of Water, Goddess as grail bearer of the Ocean

Position 4 9 swords, Air, destruction, cutting, moon, sex, completion not quite complete

Position 5 The High Priestess, Sophia, Lifter of the Veil, Bearer of Gnosis, Shekinah, Her of the heavens.



Tarot is an interesting thing. It works on many levels and in many ways. Some even view it as the perfect window into the soul. I don’t believe they are that good, personally…One large aspect of modern Tarot is the Hermetic traditions. The Hermetic traditions center around a form of Gnosticism (see the passages of the Corpus Hermeticum in comparison to Sethian for example cosmological beliefs etc.) centering around a divine priest in the Melchizadeck tradition honoring all priests, but from Thoth. Thoth the A Egyptian God, to Thoth the Atlantean. To a more familiar Hermes and Mercury. As an archetype for all priests the Hermetic tradition then is an interesting one. By archetype we mean more Platonic archetype and not Jungian.

One key principle or more accurately axiom of Hermeticism is “As above, So below.” The concept of macro and microcosm. The universe in miniature and in full expanse, the self and the Self. Hermeticism textually goes back around 2000 years, or approx. 1st Cent CE. Of course all text documents, of such nature are often far older than their written equivalents, oral tradition can date things… but that’s an argument for another time.

Tarot then can be seen through this lens of the Hermetic Axiom. We can see the court cards and number cards as the Microcosm, or the self. The trumps then can be seen as the Macrocosm. The Macrocosm of course can be seen as the Nous or divine mind, the mind of the divine.


The above reading is interesting in that it is composed of three potent Macrocosmic images and two Microcosmic images.

Nous: “Mind”, The soul, not the same as ‘pneuma’ or spirit. It is the part of
the anima that gives us consciousness. The anima as a whole gives life (or
literally movement.. “animates”) to our bodies. Tatian declares the soul as a
special kind of spirit. (See; Tatian’s “Letter to the Greeks’)


Ogdoad: Regarded in some texts as the “eighth kingdom above the hebdomas.” It is the realm of the Demiurgos (or sometimes that is the 7th, with the eighth being that of Sabaoth), as well as usually being the realm of the zodiac
(dodecon). Sometimes it is also seen as the beginning of freedom from the
Archons, and the beginning of connection to the Aeons. Pythagoris says…
“The ogdoad–8–was sacred because it was the number of the first cube, which
form had eight corners, and was the only evenly-even number under 10
(1-2-4-8-4-2-1). Thus, the 8 is divided into two 4’s, each 4 is divided into two
2’s, and each 2 is divided into two 1’s, thereby reestablishing the monad. Among
the keywords of the ogdoad are love, counsel, prudence, law, and convenience.
Among the divinities partaking of its nature were Panarmonia, Rhea, Cibele,
Cadmæa, Dindymene, Orcia, Neptune, Themis, and Euterpe (a Muse).” (Thomas
Taylor’s Theoretic Arithmetic, Thought by one source to be the rarest and most
important compilation of Pythagorean mathematical fragments extant.)

”… the Ogdoad, which is the eighth, and that we might receive that place of
salvation.” (”The Testimony of Truth.” See also; ”A Valentinian
Exposition.”) ) The Sacred ogdoad according to some sources is: Barbelo (deep), Sige (silence), Nous (mind), Veritus (truth), Sermo (word), Vita (life), Homo (man), Ecclesia (church). The last member of the group acts to syncretize the group.


Rba , Rabai – elect priest, chief intator and the ordainer of new Mandaean priests. Holds the office known as rabuta. Compare to the Jewish “rabbi”.

Seth: ”From Adam three natures were begotten. The first was the irrational, which was Cain’s, the second the rational and just, which was Abel’s, the third the spiritual, which was Seth’s. Now that which is earthly is “according to the image,” that which is psychical according to the ” likeness ” of God, and that
which is spiritual is according to the real nature; and with refer­ence to these three, without the other children of Adam, it was said, “This is the book of the generation of men.” And because Seth was spiritual he neither tends flocks nor tills the soil but produces a child, as spiritual things do. And him, who “hoped
to call upon the name of the Lord” who looked upward and whose “citizenship is in heaven – him the world does not contain.” (Theodotus, Criddle Collection.)

Sethian: It is a name for a specific sect of Gnostics, but also a category created by scholars to refer to a number of sects that are related to Valentinians. The Sethians as a group were known to Hippolytus who dedicated Book Five in his work, ”The Refutation of All Hereseys,” to denouncing them. (See Gaffney) Seth was a character of Gnosticism who represented a savior figure and third son of Adam, founder of the Gnostic race. Generally Sethian works include, “Pistis Sophia,” “Allogenes,” ”The Gospel of Mary,*” “Sentences of Sextus,” “Marsanes,” “Gospel of The Egyptians,*” ”The Apocalypse of Adam,*”
“Origin of The World,” ”The Gospel of Thomas,*” ”The Gospel of Philip,” “The Three Steles of Seth,” “Melchizidek,” ”The Apocryphon of John,” ”The Gospel of Judas,” Trimorphic Protennoia,” the un-named text in the Bruce Codex, and ”Zostrianos.” (Others) Some Sethian works suggest strong ties with
Jewish Gnosticism, as well as Platonic thought, as well as Zoroasterism. (They maintained three principles; darkness below, light above, and spirit in-between, according to work attributed to Dr. Roy Blizzard, University of Texas. See also; ”Sethian Gnosticism, A Literary History,” Turner) see also;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sethian ( * Indicates works from the Nag Hammadi Lib., with other works by the same name.)

Sethian Monadology: The system of the monad, constructed through the tetraktys
of the decad, which serves as an underlying philosophy in Sethian Gnosticism. It
is developed from the creation myths. The system is like, and based upon that
of Pythagoreans, and resembles the principles of the ancient Chinese philosophy
of the Tai Chi., which is based upon the ogdoad. The system is based upon
working variations of numerical values. Turner states, ”….vigorous
arithmological speculation on the first ten numbers, but especially the first
four numbers, comprising the Pythagorean tetraktys (the {mode} of the first four
numbers). This was carried on by such Pythagoreanizing Platonists as Theon of
Smyrna and Nicomachus of Gerasa, who in turn depend in part on similar
arithmological and mathematical theories produced by such early first century
Platonist figures as Dercyllides, Adrastos of Aphrodisias (a Peripatetic
commentator on Plato’s Timaeus) and Thrasyllos, a court philosopher under the
Emperor Tiberius. The harmonic ratios produced by these first four numbers and
the geometric entities of point, line, surface, and solid had been applied to
the structure and the creation of the world soul long before by Plato and his
successors in the Old Academy, especially Speusippus and Xenocrates. (See;
Turner, See also; ”The History of Chinese Philosophy, Vol. 2.,” by Fung
Yu-Lan, Princeton, 1953, See also; ”A Valentinian Exposition.”)



The Sufi mystic Ibn al-Arabi drew a diagram similar to the one used to develop a pattern around a khatam (see above). However, Al-Arabi’s diagram’s diagram is concerned with spirituality, not ornamentation. He drew it as part of his explanation that “all phenomena are nothing but manifestations of Being, which is one with God.” Conincidentally, Al-Arabi was born in Spain at around the same time the practice of zillij, mosaic design, was starting to flourish. As Sufism had particular appeal to North Africa, his spirtual use of the pattern may explain the prolific use of the eight-point star and and symetries of eight in Moroccan Islamic patterns.


The number eight was important among Sufi mystics. “The octagon, with a ninth point in the center, is also central to the mystical symbology of Sufism. It is the seal or design which Ernest Scott says ‘reaches for the innermost secrets of man’. Meaning wholeness, power and perfection, this primary geometrical symbol is one which Sufis associate with Shambhala …”

On his website of natural patterns, Ian Alexander refers to the eight-point star as both the Sufi star and the Moroccan star. He offers the following explanation, as quoted from Friday mosque in Iran “Form is symbolised by the square. Expansion is symbolised by the square with triangles pointing outwards (an 8-pointed star). Contraction is symbolised by the square with triangles pointing inwards (a 4-pointed star). The two star-shapes together symbolise the cycle of creation, ‘the breath of the compassionate.’”

Origins and Meanings of the Eight-Point Star




Freedom is not achieved by turning our backs upon the heritage of the land, nor is it won by force of arms. The restricting vessels of a true tradition are the way to freedom, but only if they are correctly understood and utilized. If this operation is successful, the restricting power itself is not only transcend, but transformed.

–The UnderWorld Initiation

Re-reading the underworld initiation. Just finished the hidden adept which was a fun book. Debating whether to read some Gersholm Sholem, Ibn Arabi and/or fiction about cats…..

The liberation mentioned above is a spiritual union if all opposites and transcended. The UnderWorld tradition is a universal one found world wide. The Orphic mysteries, sleeping beauty, the Cult of Venus and the Goddess in her tomb. Transformation within the very depths of the earth, within and without…

As we know in Hermeticism, “As above so below” The macro and microcosm. Transformation in the depths of the earth then is seen on a stellar, solar, lunar scale.. within this lunar scale is ourselves.  Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum lapidem. Visit the interior of the Earth through purification you will find the hidden stone.

I realised, it is this aspect that I must initially explore in the home I live in. Misplaced from England and New york city, now in this spiritually, botanically unfamiliar land. To truly work here, I must work here. Therefore I must pass through the inverted tree, downwards into wonderland… to the realms below.

They summoned Eurydice and gave her to him, but upon one condition: that he would not look back at her as she followed him, until they had reached the upper world. So the two passed through the great doors of Hades to the path which would take them out of the darkness, climbing up and up. He knew that she must be just behind him, but he longed unutterably to give one glance to make sure. But now they were almost there, the blackness was turning gray; now he had stepped out joyfully into the daylight. Then he turned to her. It was too soon; she was still in the cavern. He saw her in the dim light, and he held out his arms to clasp her; but on the instant she was gone. She had slipped back into the darkness. All he heard was one faint word, “Farewell.”

I must embrace the Rose, meet the natives of the land….


From this it is plain that the Earth is like the bass above which the rest of the harmony of the universe progresses. If it were removed, the other voices would remain in an unpleasant and imperfect harmony of many dissonances. Believing sufficient to have been said on the universal symphony of the planets, we will now turn to the particulars of their symphony.

Athanasius Kircher

While romanticized literature describes the Grail as a chalice, this is a much later derivation, extrapolating from Celtic tradition in which the Grail is described as a platter. Many vessels would have passed through the hands of Jesus in his short lifetime…probably humble clay and wooden bowls such as the famous Nanteos Bowl. This medieval relic, long kept sequested in Wales, is thought to be made of olive wood, and was originally revered in Glastonbury Abbey. According to tradition it was secretly carried away to avoid plundering by agents of Henry VIII. The Nanteos relic is a fragment of wooden bowl credited with miraculous healing powers, with well-attested healing effected as recently as the 1950’s. This also is not the Grail, such a humble vessel with proven powers would perhaps be a stronger candidate for having been used by Jesus. Many manifest vessels can hold Grail power, according to human intention, attunement, and practice, but no single one is the Grail itself.


The Hidden Adept & The Inner Vision


A  Parable of the Spirit


St Joseph of Arimathea







Soaring upwards
Can be like reaching down

Pushing forward

Can be like pushing back

Going right

Can be like Going left

Within is within

All things begin

And end at the cross roads

–GraalBaum 2013



This world-mountain was Nizir to the Chaldeans, Olympus to the Greeks, Hara Berezaiti to the Persians of the Avesta, the later Alborz and Elburz; a transfer, as says Mme. Ragozin, of ‘mythical heavenly geography to the earth.’ This mountain—the solar hill of the Egyptians—we shall again refer to in the next two or three chapters. At its apex springs, the heaven tree on which the solar bird is perched. From its roots spring the waters of life—the celestial sea, which, rushing adown the firmament, supplies the ocean which circumscribes the earth or falls directly in rain. At their fountain these springs are guarded by a goddess. In Egypt Nut, the goddess of the oversea, leans from the branches of the heavenly persea and pours forth the celestial water. In the Vedas, Yama, lord of the waters, sits in the highest heaven in the midst of the heavenly ocean under the tree of life, which drops the nectar Soma, and here, on the ‘navel of the waters,’ matter first took form. In the Norse, the central tree Yggdrasil has at its roots the spring of knowledge guarded by the Norns, the northern Fates; two swans the parents of all those of earth, float there. In Chaldea the mighty tree of Eridu, centre of the world, springs by the waters. The Avesta gives a very complete picture—Iran is at the centre of the seven countries of the world; it was the first created, and so beautiful, that were it not that God has implanted in all men a love for their own land, all nations would crowd into this the loveliest land. To the east somewhere, but still at the centre of the world, rises the ‘Lofty Mountain,’ from which all the mountains of the earth have grown, ‘High Haraiti;’ at its

summit is the gathering place of waters, out of which spring the two trees, the heavenly Haoma (Soma), and another tree which bears all the seeds that germinate on earth. This heavenly mountain is called ‘Navel of Waters,’ for the fountain of all waters springs there, guarded by a majestic and beneficent goddess. In Buddhist accounts, the waters issue in four streams like the

Eden from this reservoir, and flow to the cardinal points, each making one complete circuit in its descent. In the Persian Bundahish there are two of these heavenly rivers flowing east and west. To the Hindus the Ganges is such a heavenly stream. ‘The stream of heaven was called by the Greeks Achelous.’ The Nile in Egypt, the Hoang-Ho in China, and the Jordan to the Jews, seem to have been celestial rivers. This mountain of heaven is often figured in Christian art with the four rivers issuing from under the Throne of God.

Sir John Maundeville gives an account of the earthly Paradise quite perfect in its detailed scheme. It is the highest place on earth, nearly reaching to the circle of the moon (as in Dante), and the flood did not reach it. ‘And in the highest place, exactly in the middle, is a well that casts out the four streams’—Ganges, Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates. ‘And men there beyond say that all the sweet waters of the world above and beneath take their beginning from the well of Paradise, and out of that well all water come and go.






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