Forest In Ancient Beliefs: Powerful Realm Of Good And Evil, Ghosts, Gods And Monsters
A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com - Forests have played an important role in legends, myths, and fairy tales worldwide, from the dawn of recorded history.
The Forest was believed to be the seat of ghosts, gods, monsters, or the underworld. To Belarusians and Lithuanians, the forest realm was ruled by the demonic Snake King, and those who disturbed the peace of the huge reptile with a golden crown had to meet severe punishment.
People have always believed in the existence of magical powers hidden in deep dark forests. The rich were also folk beliefs associated with evil forces joined with the Forest, which survived almost to our times.
In the Old Testament, there are several references to forests, of which the best known are the 'Cedars of God', the extensive forests that once thrived across Mount Lebanon in ancient times.
Also, several sacred writings of India refer to forests and their power. Buddha, one of god Vishnu's incarnations, in his youth, was never so happy as when sitting alone in the depths of the forests, lost in meditation.
Mr. H. M. Stanley, in his journey for the relief of Emin Pasha in 1887, when crossing Africa through the ancient Forest, expressed the eerie feelings that beset one when alone in these gloomy depths, similar to those mentioned by Mr. Maxwell when writing of the Malay forests. Stanley wrote that
"awe of the Forest rushed upon the soul and filled the mind. The voice sounded with rolling echoes as in a cathedral. One became conscious of its eerie strangeness, the absence of sunshine, its subdued light, and marveled at the queer feeling of loneliness while inquiringly looking around to be assured that this loneliness was no delusion. It was as if one stood amid the inhabitants of another world."
In Sweden, people believed for a long time that older women who lived in the Forest were credited with powers of sorcery, and they had the wolves under their control. In North America's vast, dark, and deep forests, an Elf called Mikamwes was responsible for naughty actions in the moonlight. In contrast, the forests of Canada were governed by fairies called Mamagwasewug.
The forests were places full of magic; they were 'inhabited' by diverse mythical beings, all endowed with superhuman powers and characters, often appearing in human form. Some of them possessed benevolent qualities, seeking to do good to humanity.
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Still, according to ancient Slavic beliefs, the Forest was full of mythical beings of a usually malevolent type, always trying to work harm.
Forests - the seat of ghosts, gods, monsters, or the underworld - have played an important role in legends, myths, and fairy tales worldwide, from the dawn of recorded history. Other folk beliefs were associated with evil forces joined with the Forest, which survived almost to our times.
Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism's cosmologies refer to the so-called 'jambudvipa' (literally "the land of Jambu trees"). From Hindu mythology, we learn about a great cosmogonic forest with the mighty Jambu with an immortal fruit as large as an elephant, resembling gold, and of which the seeds produce pure gold. In this celestial Forest are flowers of light, the plant of immortality grew, and from this plant, Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods, extracted the divine ambrosia.
In many beliefs, forests were a great danger and a gloomy, mysterious, barren area of magic, evil spirits, and darkness that should be avoided.
Updated on August 4, 2022
Written by A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com Staff Writer
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