Symbolism of the Pine Part II

The Symbolism Of The Pine Tree (Part II)

by Larry Fyffe

This article continues from The Symbolism of the Pine Tree I 

In ancient mythology, the Mother Goddess, is depicted as hermaphroditic before being transformed into a female; s/he is associated with the coniferous pine; son Attis turns into a sweet-smelling evergreen tree with needled leaves. . The Hebrew God by some is considered at first to be hermaphroditic, but the female aspect soon disappears from the Judaic/Christian Bible:

And God said "Let us make man is our image
After our likeness, and let them have dominion ..."
So God created man in His own image
In the image of God created He him
Male and female created He them
(Genesis 1: 26, 27)

In any event, the coniferous juniper tree appears later on in the Holy Bible, standing over the prophet Elijah, protectively and mother-like:

And he lay and slept under  juniper tree
Behold, then an angel touched him
And said unto him, "Arise and eat"
And behold there was a cake baken on the coals
And a cruse of water at his head
And he did eat and drink
And laid him down again
(l Kings 5, 6)

In the song lyrics below, the deciduous Dionysus, the “Semi-God” of the Vine from Roman/Greek mythology, appears beside the motherly juniper in the form of an ash, hickory, and oak tree:

Build you a fire with hickory, ash, and oak
Don't use no green or rotten wood, they'll get you by the smoke
We'll just lay down by the juniper while the moon is bright
Watch them jugs a-filling in the pale moonlight
(Bob Dylan: Copper Kettle ~ Albert Beddoe)

The year-round shelter, smell, and warmth provided by the pine tree serves it well as a symbol for matronly comfort.

As illustrated by the following song lyrics:

You can smell the pinewood burning
You can hear the school bell ring
Gotta get close to the teacher
If you wanna learn anything
(Bob Dylan: Floater)

According to Greek/Roman mythology, Titan Saturn (Cronus), is overthrown by the Olympian Zeus, the Sky God of Thunder. The ancient Romans celebrate Saturn, the God of Agriculture, at the winter solstice, a sign of spring in the offing. The Romans hang evergreen boughs in their houses and temples, and the tradition is taken up by the followers of Christianity:

Though the years we all will be together
If the Fates allow
Hang a shiny star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas
(Bob Dylan: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas ~ Martin/Blane)

The mythological Fates be three females figures:

  • Clotho – the Spinner – spins the thread of life
  • Lachesis – the Alotter –  assigns destiny
  • Atropos – the Shearer –  cuts the thread at death

The following song lyrics could be a depiction of Clotho:

First we wash our feet near the immortal shrine
And then our shadows meet, and then we drink our wine
I see the hungry clouds up above your face
And then the tears roll down, what a bitter taste
And then you drift away on a summer's day where the wildflowers bloom
With your golden loom
(Bob Dylan: Golden Loom)

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One comment

  1. * little Christmas now

    **Dylan lyrics of ‘Loom’ are varied slightly by the singer above

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