The Celtic Tree of Life… sort of!

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Ever hugged a tree? No? Okay… Maybe you’ve thought about hugging a tree, or something that looked like a tree?

The ancient Celts – there are very few real ones left in Ireland – absolutely adored trees. People used to think that fairies lived in them and they were often described as having special powers. I love trees myself, they are strong and unwilling to move whatever goes against them and they rejuvenate themselves year after year.

Ireland is full of them or was full of them, but the English came over one day and decided to chop the strong and big ones so they could build their naval fleet, which meant that Ireland had to offer their sacred trees to the enemies of the day. We’re talking about centuries ago, of course, IKEA didn’t exist yet and neither did Argos, so pre-packed furniture was not a common thing just yet.

Now, all that aside, I love to think I have some Celtic blood in me so I read about the Celtic Tree of Life and loved it. Actually, a friend of mine got me a nice birthday present years ago: the Tree of Life carved into a piece of trunk.

My love of trees has become a bit legendary since moving to Ireland in 2002 and I still giggle when I think of it.

There are some stories which I might just as well say, just for a minute of laughter. One very cold December night in 2002 in Oughterard by Lough Corrib, County Galway, after having been in the local pub with friends for hours, singing along to Irish traditional music and feeling drunk of happiness (I don’t drink alcohol so no, this wee one here was being a good girl and staying off the deadly poison).

Anyway, I was so happy that upon leaving the pub, I started hugging trees and declaring my love for them. Some of the Irish people in the gang thought out loud that “they should never have allowed the Belgians into Ireland” and that I was ready for the loony bin, but hey, I don’t need to be drunk on alcohol to feel happy as Larry, and I knew that their comments were meant in a nice, jokingly way.

One of them actually uttered that that crazy Belgian chick knew more about the Irish Celts than some of the Irish people there did, so that was not bad at all. I was on a high and hugging trees.

Yeah, baby!

The horses standing nearby were looking at me as if I had had too many happy pills. “Hugging trees, yeah baby, gimme more, gimme more!”

I was running from tree to tree shouting that I loved the ones with ivy twisted around the trunk. They were just magnificent and I just had to share! I shouted that I had never ever seen such a straight trunk on a tree and that it was massive in height, so it had to be a special one eh?

One very wise man stepped forward, saying “Er… Billie, do you not have trees in Belgium so you can compare because you are hugging a telephone utility pole right here!” to which the crowd of proud Irish/Munster tribesmen started roaring laughter so hard the horses whinnied “hihihi.”

It was pitch dark that night so nobody saw my red cheeks if I had any, but OK, I can take making a fool of myself, by god I’d do it every single day if I can make people laugh, but being laughed at by horses, oh no, that I will never be able to live down properly. To this day people are asking me how the telephone/utility poles are in Galway… Shame… On… Me…

Have I hugged a tree again since that day? Rarely. Imagine making a fool of myself and that even the horses start going “hihihi” and laughing hard at me again…

Hit me once. Shame on you.

Hit me twice, shame on me!

© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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