Elm Tree – Ulmus glabra

Sacred to: Dionysos (elm and plane saplings were used for the trellacing of vines); Haides (the tree was associated with graves of the dead)

Myth 1: Tree of Dreams. The Oneiroi, spirits of dreams, roosted on the branches an elm tree near the entrance of Haides. (Source: Virgil)

Myth 2: Barrow of Eetion. The Nymphs planted elms on the barrow of Eetion, the king of Trojan Thebes, who was slain by Akhilleus. (Source: Homer)

Myth 3: Metamorphosis Hesperides. When Orpheus and the Argonauts encountered the Hesperides in their garden, the three nymphs transformed themselves into trees: Erytheia became an elm (ptelea), Hesperiea poplar (aigeiros), and Aigle a willow tree (itea). (Source: Apollonius Rhodius)

Myth 4: Hamadryas Ptelea. The Hamadryad nymph of the elm tree. (Source: Athenaeus)

Myth 5: In Greek mythology, the hero Orpheus, having rescued his beloved wife Eurydice from the Underworld by enchanting everyone there with his harp music, paused to play her a love song, at which spot the first elm grove was said to have sprung up. In Celtic mythology, too, elm trees were associated with the Underworld. They had a special affinity with elves who were said to guard the burial mounds, their dead and the associated passage into the Underworld.

Other Note: Elm tree meaning includes strength of will and intuition

The word wych has its origins in Middle English wiche, from the Old English wice, meaning pliant or supple, and which also gives us wicker and weak. Owing to its former abundance in Scotland, it was occasionally known as the ‘Scotch (sic) Elm’, the name Loch Lomond a corruption of the Gaelic Lac Leaman, or ‘Lake of the Elms’.


Germanic Creation Myth

The ancient Germanic peoples, who came to inhabit much of Europe, believed that three gods, Odin, Vili and Ve, created the world.  

According to the myth, these three gods were walking by the sea examining their handiwork when they came upon two fallen trees. One was an ash, the other an elm. Odin imbued them with the spark of life. Vili endowed them with spirit and a thirst for knowledge. Ve gave them the gift of five senses.

When they had finished, the fallen trees resembled the gods themselves. Out of the ash came man. Woman was created from the elm and her name was Embla.

(Source: “Mythologies” compiled by Yves Bonnefoy v. 1, p.281)

Mongol Wedding Prayer

“Mother Ut (Fire), Mistress of Fire, descended from the elms on the tops of the Khangai-Khan and the Burkhatu-Khan mountains. Thou, who wast born when Heaven and Earth parted, who camest forth from the footprints of Mother Ötygen (Earth), thou creation of Tengeri-Khan.  Mother Ut, thy father is the hard steel, thy mother the flint, thy ancestors, the elm trees. Thy brightness reaches the heavens and spreads over the earth. Thy brightness reaches the Heaven-dweller, nursed by the Mistress Uluken.

Goddess Ut, we offer thee yellow butter and a yellow-headed white sheep. Thine are this brave boy and the beautiful bride, the slender daughter.”

(Source: “Mythology of All Races” vol. iv, Uno Holmberg, p.453)

American Elm

American Elm

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