One of the most familiar symbols of the natural world is that of a tree. Think of a place outside of our concrete cities and the first image to enter your mind will more than likely be trees. One of the most important and widely recognised symbols of our holy faith is that of Yggdrasil – the World Tree. Part of this world tree is our land of Midgard.
It has been proclaimed by scientists the world over that without the influence of man, the land surface of Midgard would be 40% covered with forests. The rest being taken up with grassland, tundra, mountains and desert regions. The plants and trees (a tree is officially a plant anyway) given to us by our mother Jorth, have adapted to grow, survive and propagate in each of these environs. Enriching the soil, providing and being part of an immense eco-system, such as the tropical rain forests, the giant redwood forests and our own mighty oaks in northern hemisphere forests. The diversity of these trees and plants, in genus, species and sub-species is vast, with new varieties being discovered all the time the number must be almost incalculable (as in insect species to be covered in another article).
Importantly for these plants, including the humble grass, conditions must be right. The rarity of orchids illustrates this very well. I once worked for the millennium seed bank (part of Kew), germinating rare seeds. The conditions for germinating orchids meant a full scale surgical operation, full sanitary conditions, temperatures, lighting, full body suits including surgical masks. Just in the hope of germinating one seed. So the eco-balance needed in nature is evident. Obviously the same isn’t so for the majority of our plants, but conditions still have to be right. An oak wont grow if it’s acorns are not transported away from the canopy of it’s parent, redwood seeds wont germinate without a low, cool fire etc.
Approximately 500 – 225 million years ago the first plants began to invade the land areas and evolve, gripping tightly to a soil which was nothing more than wet gravel. As this soup was enriched by fallen vegetation and the evolution of organisms, the plants began to evolve again, the first tree like plants grew in extensive swampy areas creating giant forests, seeds began to evolve and fall and leaves began to take other shapes than that of the fern like leaves.
Eventually these giant forests began to recede allowing grassland to form and other varieties of plants began to take hold, the first flowers began to form. Mother Jorth has had a busy time providing us with the natural world we have.
But how much longer do we have it? We have already seen the effects that soil erosion and contamination will have on our lives but how about massive deforestation and chemical pollution? Trees and plants are not only beautiful, wondrous creations of nature, they are also essential to our survival. Without them only a few bacteria may live in deep caverns and deep oceans. Photosynthesis is the essential function these plants perform for us, no air no life.simple!
The Northern Hemisphere lands of Europe were once covered in dense ancient forests, massive oaks grew in abundance providing our ancestors with the means to build their homes, means of transport (Carts and boats etc), means to cook food and warm themselves in winter. Despite clearances for settlements and crops the ancient forests were fully self sustainable, too huge for man to make a difference. But our numbers continued to grow and now to our lament, they are gone, merely surviving in tiny patches. We must defend these last pockets of our ancestral forests.
Work is afoot however, as more and more people are becoming aware of the impact of deforestation steps are being taken to slow the decline. New forests are being planted, due to pressure companies are using wood from sustainable sources, and many (though probably through good marketing exercises) are sponsoring new planting and reserves, though this is still no where near enough, just a mere band aid on Mother Jorth’s ravaged skin.
Smaller plants are at risk also as more of our grasslands are bulldozed to make yet more areas for housing and office blocks. Species are destroyed, cross pollination becomes harder, weaker plants struggle to hold on to a depleted land till they die out as well. Wildlife also suffers with this, snails insects, mice and voles etc, lose habitat and die. The list goes on and all in a small area cleared for housing!
As I have previously stated there is a limit to what we as individuals can do but as a movement, a pressure group we can achieve many things.
Hail The Aesir & Vanir
Hail The Rite
Hail Mother Jorth