Discovering Gnosis: The World Ash Wonder Tree By Frater Apollonius

My adepts stand upright; their head above the heavens, their feet below the hells.
—Liber XC:40

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

The „axis mundi‟ is a geographic and mathematical symbol used by Hermeticists to represent the center of the world where the heavens connect with the earth; „as above, so below‟. It is represented in the Gnostic Mass by the Rod that the Priest holds. Yet it also represents an anatomical trinity representing the birthing process. As a feminine symbol, it is represented by the umbilical chord that connects the child to the womb; as a masculine symbol, it is represented by the phallus and as a unisex symbol, it represented by the navel—the sacred omphalos.

As the Tree-of-Life is presented as the connecting link between humanity and that which we call divine, the „World Tree‟ is represented in several religions and mythological systems as the tree that supports the heavens and is yet rooted in the Earth. This of course includes the „underworld‟ that for us today, is the Astral Plane. The Tree-of-Life then, is an archetypal map of our Astral Bodies. As an evolving symbol, it has had its own ontological development in Western culture. The tree reaches from the underworld to the sensory and material world, on into the starry sky.

It is this same tree represented in the Book of Revelation:

22:1 And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb,

22:2 in the midst of the street thereof. And on this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve manner of fruits, yielding its fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

It is not a far cry from „World-Ash Tree‟ to the „Tree-of-Life‟; the completion of the journey that started with the „Tree-of-Knowledge (of Good & Evil).‟ Indeed, the symbol in Revelation comes at the end of the biblical story as the Tree-of-Knowledge was at the start in Genesis. And as an evolving symbol, these two trees have had their own ontological development in Western culture. The Tree-of-Knowledge finds its placement on the Tree-of-Life in Da‟ath (Knowledge) where PAN is Guardian; PAN being the ALL and with the Abyss being the conversion from the ONE to the ALL. We are also told in Liber AL vel Legis that Nuit‟s hair is “the trees of eternity;” and even that such saps and/or gums that come from these things are her incense.

AL I.59: “My incense is of resinous woods & gums; and there is no blood therein: because of my hair the trees of Eternity.”

This paradigm is yet remembered of various cultures; for example, the story of Yggdrasil (a huge ash tree) of the Hungarian region of Europe is still told and as well, those in today‟s spiritual community know of the Sacred Oak of Nordic mythology. Yggdrasil is generally translated as „Odin‟s Horse‟1. In the more secular, we use the symbol of the tree to denote social, professional and familial networks. Crowley‟s Liber CXXIV, which lays out some recommendations for the O.T.O. as a community, and is subtitled: Of Eden and the Sacred Oak: and of the Greater and Lesser Hospitality of the O.T.O.

1 The horse is also a vehicle, both independent of and attached to the Chariot of the Merkabah Tradition.

From the East, there is the Hindu Ashvastha, or fig tree, which interestingly enough includes the root „ash‟ in its name. And for us, has an interesting connection to the praeter-human correspondence of Runar Karlsen; the DOzmt Index, which as a symbol of the Tree-of-Life.

A ancient shamanic seeress in Nordic prophecy called the „Volva‟ (with an interesting phonetic relation to the female anatomy; vulva) remembers in this prophecy called the „Edda‟, being reared by „Jotnar‟ or giants with an obvious connection to the story in Pseudpegripha of the Nephilim. The „Nine Worlds‟ of the Yggdrasil would seemingly be equivalent to the nine Sefirot on the Tree-of-Life.

Yggdrasil is presented in two books in the prophetic work, the „Prose Edda‟ as „chief or holiest place of the gods‟ and „the biggest and best of all trees, that its branches extend out over all of the world and reach out over the sky‟. It has three main roots that reach deep into manifestation; one reaching out over the demonic Aesir, who war with the more angelic Vanir. A second root reaches over the „Frost Jötnar‟ or the Jotun; decribed aptly in Wikipedia with a very obvious connection with the legend of the Nephilim:

A Jötunn [ˈjøːtun], Old Norse jǫtunn /’jɔtunː/, anglicized Jotunn or Jotun, pronounced /ˈjoʊtən/, /ˈjoʊtʊn/, or /ˈjɔːtʊn/,[1][2] is a giant in Norse mythology, a member of a race of nature spirits with superhuman strength, described as sometimes standing in opposition to the races of the tribes of the Æsir and Vanir, although they frequently mingle with or intermarry with these. Their otherworldly homeland is Jötunheimr, one of the nine worlds of Norse cosmology, separated from Midgard, the world of humans, by high mountains or dense forests. Other place names are also associated with them, including Niflheimr, Utgarðr and Járnviðr. In some legends and myths they are described as having the same height as humans.

That these Jotnar live in the astral world of the „Nine‟, is notably consistent with the pseudpegriphic idea of the Nephilim being trapped in the lower astral. Cf. Reign of the Demiurge. And with the third root going over Niflheim, the world of mist that we might call the Aethyr and is etymologically consistent with the English word for „dark.‟2 This shows an interesting parallel with the N.O.X. and the physical world of „Dark Matter.‟ Cf. Testing the Night of Pan. And indeed, this third root is also said to extend into heaven, which would be of the Aethyr and from its most dense and invisible origin; that of Dark Matter or the N.O.X.

An eagle or hawk, reminiscent for us as Horus, is said to sit on the branches of the Yggdrasil, sending „malicious messages‟ by way of a squirrel named Ratatoskr (the traveler) to the Niohoggr; a dragon that gnaws at the roots of the tree. This clearly shows the path to the divine as leading away from the cycle of the dragon as depicted in the Starry Gnosis and all reincarnation cycles as the constellation Draco.

The Ash Tree in the mountains of Greece exude a sugary substance called „Méli‟ or honey and most interestingly, „Soma‟ and „Manna.‟ In the Gnostic Mass, this sap (of the “world-ash, wonder tree”) symbolizes the crystallization of light in the blood. Until the early part of the twentieth century ev, this sap was harvested and sold under the name “manna”. “It exudes spontaneously or by incisions during the hottest and driest weather in July and August.”

2 The similarity to the word ‘Nephilim’ is apparent.

In the nineteenth century this product was important as a pharmaceutical, and early editions of The Dispensatory of the United States of America devote substantial space to it:

MANNA… a concrete saccharine exudation of Fraxinus ornus and of Fraxinus rotundifolia… Besides the two species of Fraxinus indicated by the Pharmacopoeias, it is said to be obtained from several other trees belonging to the genera Ornus3 and Fraxinus among which F. excelsior and F. parvaflora have been particularly designated…It exudes spontaneously or by incisions during the hottest and driest weather in July and August…It is owing to the presence of true sugar and dextrin that manna is capable of fermenting…Manna, when long kept, acquires a deeper color, softens, and ultimately deliquesces into a liquid which on the addition of yeast, undergoes the vinous fermentation.

In India, Soma is connected to the ASVATTHA tree, which is rooted in the highest heaven and descends through the spaces bearing all existing worlds on its branches. And in Sanskrit literature there is the assertion that honey rains down from the skies. Something very similar happens with the Jews; Manna fell from the skies as they wandered in the desert. Though references to Soma as a „divine intoxicant‟ indicate a connection to ash trees that only grow in the Himalayas. The twin horsemen Avins have a honey whip (madhurasa), which has been interpreted as lightning. Rig Veda 1.157 is a prayer to them: “Bedew our power with honey and with oil… sprinkle us with your whip that drops honey-dew.”

Macdonnell said:

In both the Rig Veda and the Avesta it is stated that the stalks [of Soma] were pressed, that the juice was yellow and mixed with milk; in both it grows in the mountains, and its mythical home is heaven, whence it comes down to earth.

…Soma is the branch of a ruddy tree (Rig Veda 10.94.3) . …The Soma drops themselves are several times compared with rain (Rig Veda 9.41.3, 9.89.1, 9.106.9) and Soma is said to flow clearly with a stream of honey like the rain-charged cloud (Rig Veda 9.2.9). …The belief in an intoxicating beverage the home of which is heaven, may be Indo-European. If so, it must have been regarded as a kind of honey mead (Skt. mádhu, Gk. methu, As. medu) brought down to earth from its guardian demon by an eagle (the Soma-bringing eagle of Indra agreeing with the nectar-bringing eagle of Zeus and with the eagle which, as a metamorphosis of Odhinn, carried off the mead).

A huge volume of research has been published about Soma. A large recent bibliography appears in Haoma and Harmaline by D.S. Flattery and M. Schwartz. They argue that the Iranians in their haoma used a species of Ephedra, the American species of which are sometimes called Mormon Tea. No summary of the state of the debate is possible, but it appears that no one has considered the possibility that soma is the memory of a honey mead beverage based on fermentable “honey” obtained from plants. Ash tree manna, as the Dispensatory of the United States of America noted, is fermentable, and ash trees do grow in India, including Fraxinus excelsior (the species familiar to the Germanic peoples), but only in the Himalayas above the elevation of 1300 m.

3 The similarity of this word to the modern (so-called) Alchemical substance called ORMUS is apparent.

In Norse mythology, the description of Yggdrasil (the world ash) explain the sugary property of ash trees. It rained honey on the world, and mead flowed in its branches. The first man, Ask (Ash), was formed from an ash tree found on the beach by Odin and his brothers, sons of BOR. Odin is called Yggjung – old-young. Ygg is eternal, awesome or old as in ageless. Yggdrasil is Odin’s steed. After Ragnarok, mankind will be restored from a man and woman sheltered within the world ash and nourished on dew. The Greek goat Amalthea parallels the goat Heidrun of Norse mythology, which bites stalks off the world ash tree and yields mead from its udders for the enjoyment of those feasting in Valhalla.

Ash trees have a prominence in Greek mythology. Hesychius writes: melías karpós: tò anthrópon génos. (“Seed of ash: the race of men”). When Ouranos was overthrown by Kronos, Giants, Furies, and nymphs called Meliai were formed. Meliai means ash trees; the Meliai are honey or bee nymphs. A single word described three different substances: honey made by bees, honeydew (produced by aphids and scale insects), and manna secreted by trees. The Giants are a certain reference to the Nephilim of the Pseudpegripha. In the biblical account “jealous” deities (Elohim) – when humans had eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil – feared “lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.”

Greeks did note the consumption of manna and honeydew by their barbarian neighbors, and they called these substances meli. Aelian mentions honey from box trees in Pontus, honey from plants in Thrace, and rains of honey in the spring in India. Diodorus Siculus says Nabateans ate “plenty of honey from trees” and Herodotus mentions the town of Callatebus in Lydia, “where craftsmen make honey from wheat and tamarisks”. Strabo tells of some extremely barbaric peoples on the eastern side of Pontus who put bowls of “crazing honey” (mainoménou mélitos) in the road, which they had made from tree twigs. Some of Pompey’s troops drank the mixture, were driven out of their minds, and were easily slaughtered. In the Odyssey, Circe mixed a drugged beverage that turned men into swine (some things don’t change.)

This sap seems to have a similar effect as that of the; being transformative in nature. Note also, the ancients felt that honeydew spontaneously precipitated from the atmosphere, much in the same way as the normal dews of water are examined in The Golden Chain of Homer. In fact, the honeydew of the Ash Tree was associated with the same seasons as water dews.
Aristotle says:

The honey is what falls from the air, especially at the risings of the stars and when the rainbow descends. On the whole there is no honey before the [morning] rising of the Pleiad… Honey [the bee] does not make, it fetches what falls.

Pliny the Elder speculates as to the source of this dew:

Honey comes out of the air, and is chiefly formed at the risings of the stars, and especially when the dogstar itself shines forth, and not at all before the risings of the Pleiades, in the periods just before dawn. Consequently at that season at early dawn the leaves of trees are found bedewed with honey and any persons who have been out under the morning sky feel their clothes smeared with damp and their hair stuck together, whether this is the perspiration of the sky, or a sort of saliva of the stars, or the moisture of the air purging itself… Falling from so great a height, and
acquiring a great deal of dirt as it comes, and becoming stained with the vapor of the earth that it encounters, and moreover having been sipped from foliage and pastures and having been collected in the stomachs of bees – for they throw it up out of their mouths, and in addition being tainted by the juice of flowers, and soaked in the corruptions of the belly and so often transformed, nevertheless it brings with it the great pleasure of its heavenly nature.

The honeydew of the Ash Tree is actually the excrement of aphids and scale insects, though still, this is from a modern work on bee-keeping:

Honeydew… is often so abundant on the leaves of trees and bushes that it drops upon the grass and sidewalks, covering them with a glistening coating resembling varnish. At times it falls in minute globules like rain… The dew is forcibly ejected or flipped from the end of the abdomen, and when there are many aphids it falls in a spray of minute globules. If the dew were not thrown a little distance from their bodies they would soon be glued together… When freshly gathered it may be clear, sweet, and agreeable in flavor… The better grades find a sale to bakers.

Some scholars have suggested that the world ash may really have been an oak. This may further explain the title of Crowley‟s O.T.O. document: Of Eden and the Sacred Oak: and of the Greater and Lesser Hospitality of the O.T.O.; connecting the Oak Tree with Eden and the Tress of Life & Knowledge. Another synonym for the „sap‟ of the Ash Tree is „Mead,‟ and the fermentation of mead was found unreliable, which has been said to possibly explain the origin of mixed beverages:

This is an ideal medium for the growth of many undesirable microorganisms, which will multiply if not suppressed by yeast growth ( the opposite is true of most ripe fruits, including grapes, whose surface is covered with yeast cells.) Excellent mead can be made without the addition of spices and herbs, just as good meat is not in need of improvement. The strength, as well as the quantity, of many of the materials added in these old recipes – either before or after fermentation – strongly suggests an attempt to mask a poor or faulty product.

Migratory peoples collected honey, honey-dew, and sweet tree resins (calling them all by the same name), fermenting them and adding aromatic herbs and often enough, hallucinogenic ingredients. This ritual, which connects trees, tree resins, and honey, is also found amongst the Indo-Europeans, and was indeed a mead tree; raining celestial honey on the world. The secretion of fermentable honey by the World Ash Wonder Tree was said by Indo-Europeans to be the nurse of gods and men. This honey in its raw form, direct from the tree provided the food of the gods. Therefore, the World Ash Wonder Tree physically linked gods and men; becoming the connecting link.

Love is the law, love under will.

Bibliography

A history of the English parish: the culture of religion from Augustine to Victoria
By Norman John Greville Pounds

The Ash Tree In Indo-European Culture
Mankind Quarterly, Volume XXXII, Number 4, Summer 1992, pp. 323-336.

Odin’s Ordeal Nine days on Yggdrasil
By Pip Wilson

http://www.wilsonsalmanac.com/odins_ordeal.html
Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Yggdrasil.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_tree
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yggdrasil
Axis Mundi
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Axis_Mundi
Notes from Diane’s Garden Or The Curious Lore and Magical Property of Plants By Diane Fenster
http://www.compostcoven.org/cnl/dianelam89ash.html
The Western Wisdom Teachings Supplementary Philosophy Course Lesson No. 30
http://members.fortunecity.com/rosanista/library02/spceng30.htm
http://www.musaios.com/ash.htm

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