Information compiled by Guild Member, Holly Borba
The many names…Linden /Lime/Basswood/Bee tree!
There are many different species in the genus Tilia. The native tree in southeast Canada and northeast coast USA is called basswood or American Linden.
Probably non-natives here in Spokane—little leaf linden (or in Europe known as lime). The word linden apparently is an adjective meaning “made of lime.”
The bark and wood…
Indigenous peoples of North America
Hugely important for Native cultures like Chippewa who used it to make twine, and fibers for baskets and cooking bags.
Ceremonial masks by Iroquois who carved into the trunk of the tree and then cut the mask of and hollowed the backside.
Other parts of the world–
Weaving fiber in clothing
The bast or lime tree fiber has been used as a weaving fiber for clothing by Ainu in Japan and in the Bronze Age in Britain
Major resource for Sculpture
Was classic wood for sculpture and elaborate carving throughout Europe –carvings found on altarpieces, other examples are for marionette puppets, matryoshka dolls
The wood apparently used for shields for Germanic tribes (protective against ill luck and harmful spirits).
Musical Instruments, probably all over world guitars and wood instruments and some percussion as well
Symbolic significance through time…
In pre-Christian times, symbolized Freyja (mistress of Earth) and Frigga (mother goddess) to the Germanic and Norse tribes
For Romans, it symbolized love and fidelity
The village linden or lindens in 18th and 19th centuries in Europe were meeting places for celebrations and for court of law proceedings, legal agreements, contracts
Was used in place names and for the names of the months June (croatia) and July (Poland). Apparently is the root of the name for Leipzig.
National tree in Latvia and frequently mentioned in their fairytales and traditional songs.
Sacred tree of the Latvian goddess of luck and fate, Laima. She measures the length of the day, the length of a lifespan, and one of her most important duties is prophesying.
Association with the Solstice…
Linden was one of the most important ritual plants for celebrating the summer solstice. It was gathered and woven into garlands and wreaths that decorated the home, the garden, even the livestock to protect from bad luck and negative forces.
In traditional dances (around the midsummer bonfire) women dancers wore sprays of linden.
In Estonia and Lithuania, women brought food offerings at a blooming linden tree asking for fertility and good fortune.
Flower Essence and plant spirit communication…
Flower essence meaning: I’ve not tuned into this because the blooms have not emerged on my trees yet. I resisted temptation to look up the meaning of the flower essence online because I feel it’s better to tune into a plant ourselves.
But I will share my personal experience of feeling the tree’s energy this season. When I sat down right next to the trunk of one a couple weeks ago, it felt like a giant tree person came and sat in front of me. It revealed a truth about myself, just as a good counselor or good friend would do. This is another reason why I think it’s good to tune in ourselves because a good friend is going to tell you something different than they would someone else. That said, with flower essences, there are quite often universal truths about them.
Can live to be 1,000 or even reports of 2,000 years old!! And as for how long they’ve existed, there are fossils of a relative to the American linden that date from Eocene (56-33 million years ago)