Rituals, ceremonies and customs related to sacred trees with a special reference to the Middle East

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Abstract

Tree worship is very common worldwide. This field study surveys the ceremonies and customs related to sacred trees in present-day Israel; it includes the results of interviews with 98 informants in thirty-one Arab, Bedouin, and Druze villages in the Galilee. The main results are: 1. Sacred trees were treated as another kind of sacred entity with all their metaphysical as well as physical manifestations. 2. There is not even one ceremony or custom that is peculiar only to a sacred tree and is not performed in other sacred places (such as a saint's grave or a mosque). 3. Few customs, such as: quarrel settling (= Sulkha), leaving objects to absorb the divine blessing and leaving objects for charity) seem to be characteristic of this region, only. 4. In modern times, sacred trees were never recorded, in Israel, as centres for official religious ceremonies including sacrifices, nor as places for the performing of rites of passage. 5. There is some variation among the different ethnic groups: Kissing trees and worshipping them is more common among the Druze although carrying out burials under the tree, leaving water and rain-making ceremonies under them have not been recorded in this group. Passing judgments under the tree is more typical of the Bedouin in which the sacred trees were commonly used as a public social centre. Most of the customs surveyed here are known from other parts of the world. The differences between Muslims and Druze are related to the latter's belief in the transmigration of souls.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
JournalJournal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
Volume3
DOIs
StatePublished - 9 Jul 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Cultural Studies
  • Complementary and alternative medicine

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