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#PeaceForUkraine - No Name Art Group Collaboration

Creating my own square for this mosaic was a very thought provoking and emotional process. How could I define peace in an image, in a unique way? I used the Intentional Creativity process I have been working with to guide me. ( A dancing figure and tree appeared to me after layers of written words, cleansing washes, blessings, prayer dots and love lines. I had read of the ancient Linden trees in Ukraine but did some further research into their symbolism. Here is my square and the finished mosaic. Slava Ukraini!

Some notes on the Linden Tree:

Sacred Trees of Slavs: Linden

Slavs know linden as a tree that absorbs curses sent by women towards men; that’s why in some areas it is believed to be a cursed and unlucky tree; however, in other places it is considered to be a gentle tree that would listen to all your troubles. Ukrainians plant it near fences so that it would absorb jinxes and curses. If linden tree by the house dried out, people expected bad news for the house and the family. The one that cuts down a linden tree would definitely get lost in the woods.

Linden blossom is widely used in love and healing magic (it is a natural fever reducer). In folk medicine, linden blossoms were used to treat cold and cough, fevers, kidney and bladder inflammations, stomach spasms, and neurosis. Linden leaves applied to the head treat headaches. Powdered leaves and seeds of linden help stop bleeding. Fresh leaves and buds soothe burns and mastitis. Linden blossoms are added to aromatic baths. Blond hair shines if rinsed with infusion of linden blossoms. Collect it on Waxing Moon, at noon.

The Slavic name for linden “lipa” derives from the word “lipnut”, i.e. to stick, for its juice was known for being sticky. Linden was associated with femininity and softness, qualities opposite to the ones of the “masculine” oak. Aside from its association with women, Slavs honored linden as “mother of trees”, giver of life – for linden bark could be used to make shoes and ropes, its wood is good for making household objects, and honey that bees make out linden flowers is believed to have healing properties as linden blossoms help reduce fever and induce sweating. Linden is frequently associated with qualities of Goddess Lada. In Russian folk art and lore beautiful linden was a lover of oak or maple (both symbols of masculinity).

In Slavic Christianity, linden was believed to be the tree of Mother Mary. People thought that whenever Mother Mary descends from Heavens upon earth, she rests upon a linden tree. Icons and holy images were hung upon this tree; according to Christian legends, the miracle-making icons most frequently appeared upon lindens. One version of a legend of Mother Mary’s and baby Christ’s escape to Egypt states that it was linden that hid the Holy Virgin and Her Child with its branches.

All Slavs considered linden a “holy”, “blessed” tree. Southern Slavs constructed their churches and temples near linden trees, or alternatively, planted a tree nearby once the church was built. These old large lindens served as courthouses and places of public gatherings and celebrations. Ritual processions stopped under linden trees, ritual feasts were held there, as well.

Linden was considered a lucky tree that people grew near their homes and planted at the graves. Sleeping under a linden tree was considered beneficial. However, in Ukraine, old lindens with many “knobs” on the trunk were avoided for contact, as the “knobs” were believed to appear from wives’ cursing their husbands. Linden’s power to absorb curses and protect men deemed it to be a good tree to grow near the property fence, but not extra-close to the house – so that the curses it absorb would not fall on the heads of people that lived in the house. By growing near a fence, the linden was also believed to absorb the ill wishes towards the family from people who happened to walk by. Linden branches were also never used to whip the domestic animals – they would die from that.

One of the reasons for sacredness of linden is common use of its dry wood to start a “living fire”, i.e. fire produced by rubbing two dry sticks. In this way, fire had been annually renewed in village hearths.

Harming a sacred linden in any way was a taboo: the tree or its branches could not be cut; people could not even “take care of their natural needs” under such tree. It was believed that the one who breaks a branch of linden would lose a horse to illness; however, the horse would recover, if the wrongdoer returned the branch. Poles did not cut lindens down out of fear of death to the one who cut the tree or one of his family members.

Linden was used as a protective charm. All Slavs believed that lightning could not strike linden and were not afraid to hide beneath its branches during a thunderstorm. Russians hung linden crosses around a neck of a person suffering with delusions. In Russia, linden branches were also stuck in the middle of the pasture while the cattle was grazing, so that the cows would not wonder off or be killed by wild animals. All Russians, thought that a witch loses her power of shapeshifting if one hits her hard with a linden branch. At the same time, Ukrainians believed that witches transform themselves into animals and objects by jumping through a circle woven out of linden bark. A swipe of a linden branch was considered to ward off a persistent demon (Chort). In Herzegovina, a branch of linden was held over the heads of the newlywed at a wedding ceremony for protection. Linden branches adorned houses and corrals on Yurii’s Day (St. George’s Day) and on Trinity Day.

As many other trees, linden was important for healing and folk medicine: various illnesses were transferred upon it. For this, bits of clothing from the ailing person, his or her hair and nail trimmings were tucked or nailed into its trunk. Sick people and cattle were censed with smoldering basswood. Linden blossoms (see above) are used in many fever-reducing teas.

A linden dying in the garden is considered a bad omen. It would not be surprising, for people thought with its death, they would lose their protection, as well as the source of many useful materials, medicinal aid, and food (linden honey).

Prepared by Olga Stanton

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