REVERING THE NATURE – Part-I Human-Plant Lineages

Post 721 by Gautam Shah

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23 Sacred Groves of Kerala KAAVU

14 Sacred Green places calm water_trek peace tranquility pxhere image 1193814Natural elements in various forms have been revered in all cultures and ages. The reverence for natural elements was due to both, fear and appreciation. Natural entities have been venerated in their original whole, parts or representative adaptations. Natural elements, like the flora and fauna were worshiped in original forms, and also by equating to human body elements like arms, hands, legs, fingers, head, face, blood, semen, etc. Similarly terrestrial features like rivers, water-bodies, stones, hills, mountains, valleys, sun, moon, planets, stars, air, winds, light, rains, clouds, etc. have awed humans by their scale and power. The life processes like birth, death, fertility or procreation, growth, rejuvenation, pain, joy, love and compassion, feelings, remembrances, etc. are happenings that roused curiosity.

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In India and elsewhere, unchanging patterns of far off stars were sensed as the consistency in nature, but over that imposition of certain other patterns, like the movements of moon and other planets, showed the anomalies of seasons causing floods, dry spells, earthquakes, storms and hurricanes. Man has worshiped everything real on earth, in the skies, and their symbolic representations. These astral forms over the period became extremely abstract, with no trace of the original.

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There were many abstract and un-explainable happenings that were challenges, like the omens, good or bad luck, irrational punishments. These experiences were formless, but associated with contextual things and that became objects for veneration. One universal belief was living beings having a soul that transcended the various body forms. The transition of a soul from one body form to another, or to a body-less ghost was accepted as the realm of existence. Souls needed places to go to, like, the underworld, heaven, hell or ethereal, and also as many animal-human body manifestations.

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The mundane body forms did not adequately express the extraordinary powers that some of the souls were endowed with. So, it perhaps began with the human body gaining the heads of other beings. These body forms were of many realms and created a bizarre mix of reality, unreality and even virtual reality. Why was the first body transmutation of the head? Was there realization that the head controls the body? The Egyptian Isis, Hindu Ganesha -Son of God Shiva, many reincarnations of Vishnu, were all with modified heads. The mutant heads expressed the anger, cruelly and grotesque expressions. Reverse mutation with body of an animal and head of human were exploited to endow strength, running speed, flying or jumping powers. Wining a fight against a monster was another such expression in Sumerians, Chinese or Indian mythologies.

20 Tree Monsters Image by wallpaperflare

Attributing qualities of a living or dead person, to plants, inanimate objects or natural phenomena, is a form of Animism. It is perhaps, the most ancient form of worship. In many societies totems or emblems part of animism. In India Kalpa-Vriksha, also known as kalpataru, kalpadruma or kalpapādapa, is a wish-fulfilling divine tree. Animism perceives all natural things as ‘animated and alive’. All objects, places and creatures, and even words, sounds, smells and other sensorial expressions have spiritual significance.

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24 Tree of Life God and Goddess From Sumer around 2050–1950 BC Wikipedia Image

In ancient periods of Europe, trees or especially groves of yew and oak were objects or places of worship. A sacred grove, a natural holy place, is known as alka (Lithuanian) and elks (Latvian). In Kerala, India sacred groves are known as ‘Kavu’, and Devrai (gods’ forest) in hilly range -Ghats of Western India. Such clusters have associated water bodies such as rivulet or pond and a presiding animistic deity (often a serpent or cobra -Naag Dev).

1 Chandod Sacred Grove

2 Sacred Groves ART by Arnold Böcklin

Trees have been worshiped both as Male and Female forms, and through the parts like the trunk, branches, twigs and sap representing the human arms, fingers, blood etc. Trees have been symbols of rebirth, cycle of growth in spring, fertility or procreation. The trees were associated with death and rebirth, because of their capacity to regrow from almost dried and dead condition.

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While Muslims (Arabs and Bedouins) consider sacred trees especially as an abode of righteous figures’ (Wellis’) souls or as having a connection to their graves, the Druze relates sacred trees especially to the events or deeds in the lives of prophets and religious leaders’

‘According to the Druze religion only people like prophets could be ‘sacred; physical objects like, trees may be regarded only as ‘blessed’. A plant species all of whose specimens, are worshiped owing to religious tradition (regardless the exact background) has to be treated as ‘holy. Amots Dafni

(from-https://ethnobiomed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1746-4269-2-26).

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The term Druid, possibly derives from the Celtic word for oak. Druids were the ceremony masters, who organized worship, sacrifices, divination, and judicial procedures at Oak groves. Many religions, like Christianity and Islam were very suspicious of the tree worship, but had to concur with the public belief that groves were sacred places of the ghosts. First public gatherings and later the churches, though first occurred in such groves. Earlier saints were buried under already accepted sacred trees. Later the saint’s graves under a tree became a beatified place. With larger buildings, Kings and high priests were buried inside the churches. The Trees and the graves seem to have usurped each others position.

21 Cult of Druids The Druids; or the conversion of the Britons to Christianity'. Engraving by S.F. Ravenet, 1752,Druids were banned by the Roman government from 1st C AD., as they opposed the coming of Christianity. It was then said that ‘Jesus’ was ‘better than a prophet, more knowledgeable than every Druid, a king who was a bishop and a complete sage’. With Christianity, the focus on trees changed fromrebirth’ to ‘resurrection‘. Christianity.

16 Tree Sucking Egyptian Deities

Osiris was the green skinned deity of vegetation, agriculture, fertility, afterlife, death and resurrection. Osiris was in charge of the underworld of the dead. The Hebrew word for ‘die’ is used only in relation to the death of a person or animals, but not for plants. Former two have the breath of life. In Arab folklore, sacred trees are haunted by Jinn. In many folk-lores, trees were homes of spirits and where the deceased find blissful repose. Trees are places where sick and dying are placed for blessings. Objects like wreaths, ribbons, threads or rags are hung on trees for sick humans, livestock, or for good luck.

Folk Village Wish Korean Folk Village

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The World Tree, Cosmic Tree or Tree of Life is a conceptual form that exists in many cultures of the world. It occurs as description and also as a mystical image. One of the oldest records of the World Tree is of Babylonia (about 3-4 Millennium BC). Such trees have an image with foliage (heaven), trunk (earth) and roots (underworld) and a spatial presence (position and metaphysical imagery). The position was the axis Mundi (axis of Earth’s rotation between the celestial poles) and the imagery that connected the heaven, earth, and underworld (or past, present and future).

7 Kalpataru,_Kinnara-Kinnari,_Apsara-Devata,_Pawon_TempleIn Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, ‘Kalpa-Vriksha or Kalpataru’ is a wish-fulfilling divine tree, and also associated as the tree of knowledge. The Vedic Aranyani, the protector goddess of the forest is a daughter of Shiv and Parvati, who was raised by Kalpa-Vriksha. VanaDevi is worshiped in rural India by Hindus as VanaChandi, and BonBibi (Bon=jungle) by Muslims in Sunderbans (West Bengal) India. In Hinduism, the Goddess Vrinda (holy basil plant =Tulsi in India) was blessed by God Krishna. Shakambari, the mother of all vegetation, is a form of Goddess Durga. She represents nine plants of medicinal benefits. Buddha and Mahavira (Jain) attained wisdom and salvation under trees (respectively the pipal and sal).

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25 Adam-Eve and the Tree httpspixabay.comphotosbremen-historic-center-historically-4689974

22 Japanese Tree Spirit Kodama from the Gazu Hyakki Yakō

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Next Article in this series > REVERING THE NATURE – Part-II Green Man

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DEPTH and DISTANCE PERCEPTION -Issues of Design 33

Post 720 by Gautam Shah

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Depth is ‘the most existential dimension’. It is the dimension of dimensions, most inevitable experience of the world and being. Merleau-Ponty (1968) considers depth to be the primary spatiality that grounds experiences of the world. Depth designates the primary dimension that defines the distance between one’s self and other things. In this sense the depth allows the ‘coexistence’.

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Depth is often considered as the third measure. Width and Length, both are parallel to the gravity, but depth is usually vertical. Depth is measured from a high to a lower point or from front to back side. The bottom point of depth is the gravity. Depth and Height are synonymous, except that Depth is downward and Height is upward. Other terms for depth include altitude, elevation, datum, thickness, etc. Depth relates to a point, that is less accessible or fathomable, like depth of water, drawer, field or someone’s feeling. Depth differentiates the front from the the background and so reflects the intensity.

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Depth gives an ‘additional dimension to a two-dimensional (Width and Length) representation, and revels other qualities of the field’. The perception of depth, indicates information like the position of the perceiver, target and the mediating context. Depth is the distance between one’s self and other things, even, if the later are unreal. Distance gives a wider perspective, but Depth offers better or detailed insight.

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Depth of measurable Distance, implies a Direction, which in turn reflect concentration, assimilation, densification and comprehension. Depth nominally relates orientation towards the Gravity. But, we say looking inside the space though it is up and away from our gravity. Similarly, we say viewing deep inside the microscope or telescope. The measure of deepness is down or inwards, like a deep place, deep waters, deep winter, etc. Emotionally depth means abstruseness, extent of sagacity and penetration. Depth of expression have intensity, density, complexity, strength and seriousness.

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Visual depth defines the position of objects by connecting and separating them in space. Audio depth has many facets, the sound could be of high or low pitch, direct or reverberated. Depth of smell and Taste, both reflect the intensity of experience. Tactile Depth is the reach of experience to subcutaneous level. Depth is a measure, perceived through the sensorial faculties.

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The presence of dual (two eyes-ears) or multi-nodal (touch) perceptions define the direction, to make the depth-measure more accurate. The movement of eyes and the ability to shift the focus create a sense of visual and aural perspective. Here the far-off objects become duller and the intervening distances proportionately change.

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Depth perception leads to judgement of distance. Depth constitutes a perceptual horizon that places the body with other things, as well as the world, such ‘interconnection is indispensable to understanding of the depth’.

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Depth and Distance are different. Distance is sensed between two objects, as a multi sensorial experience and also as a contextual phenomena. Depth offers the distance and sense of volume. Distance is between two objects, and for that both the objects need to be experienced simultaneously, or alternatively bridged through several mediating things like time delay (motion picture frames) and spatial proximity, through convergence, divergence and interventions. Depth judgements can be personal, but the Distance, once measured is real. Distance manifests as remoteness or work-reach.

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All depth perceptions are distinguished by the primary experience of third dimension, followed by delayed or spaced out realizations of the ‘after-effects like traces, shadows, context, front-back, etc. The visual shadows occur mainly due to illumination and recognition of tint-hue of the colour. The depth of visual shadows formed with illumination, have two qualities, the orientation (angle) and the intensity (degree of brightness). Through the phenomenon of visual perception, the other concealed depth aspects of objects emerge. Effects of surface illumination are visually perceived as change in the brightness, intensity of colour and texture. The depth dimension continuously changes, yet over a period with persistent exposure and past experiences, together, form a reliable measure.

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The depth, is the realization of spatiality of objects and the realm between objects. The depth and space are synonymous. A space exists for the person, where the variable measures of depth form a dynamic and subjective experience. So depth is not a Euclidean definition or element geometrical space, but a personal rapport with the world.

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This is the 33rd article (in continuation of old series -new beginning) on ISSUES of DESIGN.

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