Ininatig is Chippewa for Maple. We kicked off our Summer Nights Radio Episode with The Trees by Neil Peart, lyrics for a song in which the Maples demand that the Oaks share the light with them.
Tonight Maples and Oak and how they figure into our history and Severed Conscience.
The Legend of Maples and Their Magic Gift – Chippewa / Ojibwa
A very long time ago, when the world was new, Gitchee Manitou made things so that life was very easy for the people. There was plenty of game and the weather was always good and the maple trees were filled with thick sweet syrup. Whenever anyone wanted to get maple syrup from the trees, all they had to do was break off a twig and collect it as it dripped out.
One day, Manabozho went walking around. “I think I’ll go see how my friends the Anishinabe are doing,” he said. So, he went to a village of Indian people. But, there was no one around. So, Manbozho looked for the people. They were not fishing in the streams or the lake. They were not working in the fields hoeing their crops. They were not gathering berries. Finally, he found them. They were in the grove of maple trees near the village. They were just lying on their backs with their mouths open, letting maple syrup drip into their mouths.
“This will NOT do!” Manabozho said. “My people are all going to be fat and lazy if they keep on living this way.”
So, Manabozho went down to the river. He took with him a big basket he had made of birch bark. With this basket, he brought back many buckets of water. He went to the top of the maple trees and poured water in, so that it thinned out the syrup. Now, thick maple syrup no longer dripped out of the broken twigs. Now what came out was thin and watery and just barely sweet to the taste.
“This is how it will be from now on,” Manabozho said. “No longer will syrup drip from the maple trees. Now there will only be this watery sap. When people want to make maple syrup they will have to gather many buckets full of the sap in a birch bark basket like mine. They will have to gather wood and make fires so they can heat stones to drop into the baskets. They will have to boil the water with the heated stones for a long time to make even a little maple syrup. Then my people will no longer grow fat and lazy. Then they will appreciate this maple syrup Gitchee Manitou made available to them. Not only that, this sap will drip only from the trees at a certain time of the year. Then it will not keep people from hunting and fishing and gathering and hoeing in the fields. This is how it is going to be,” Manabozho said.
Maple symbolizes balance, love, longevity and abundance. It also speaks of success, generosity and practicality. It is also connected with power and money. I wonder if the connection with money came before or after it appeared on Canadian coins. However, one of its best aspects is its connection to a promise. A promise all Canadians uphold to the country we love.
Among the different maple species, the great maple stands out with slightly different symbolism and connections to crests. The great maple represents imagination, great energy, one’s personality and creativity, along with creative thought. The great maple is connected to the Scottish Clan Oliphant.
A famous Oliphant
The Oaks – The Father Tree
The Oak Tree Folklore is nearly universal throughout Europe, but the British Isles claim to have the mightiest of Oak Tree species.
In British lore, The Oak Tree represents a fatherly figure, a strong, brave, kind, ever watchful presence who cares for his children. This is associated by some with Jupiter, or Jove as the Celts adopted. The word Jovial has it’s roots in Jove, and the Oak is considered to have the spirit of jovial father or uncle who laughs at adversity. Strength and endurance are associated with the Oak.
The Legend of The Green Man
The American Revolution is not the first civil war that the British fought among themselves. 100 years prior, Oliver Cromwell, a Puritan, lead the forces in Britain and unseated Charles The First, a Stuart King. Charles was beheaded by Cromwell, and the Puritans formed a republican government that lasted 30 years before Charles the Second returned to establish the monarchy in England once again.
As one of the generals on the parliamentary side in the English Civil War against King Charles I, Cromwell helped to bring about the overthrow of the Stuart monarchy, and, as lord protector, he raised his country’s status once more to that of a leading European power from the decline it had gone through since the death of Queen Elizabeth I. A man of outstanding gifts and forceful character, he was one of the most remarkable rulers in modern European history.
The Green Man is a term with a variety of connotations in folklore and related fields.
During the early modern period in England, and sometimes elsewhere, the figure of a man dressed in a foliage costume, and usually carrying a club, was a variant of the broader European motif of the Wild Man. By at least the 16th century the term “green man” was used in England for a man who was covered in leaves as part of a pageant, parade or ritual, who often was the whiffler (a person who clears a path or space through the crowd for a parade or performance). From the 17th century such figures were used for the names of pubs, and painted on their signs.
Charles the Second was a fugitive before he could re-establish his monarchy, and was a wanted man. To evade capture he went into hiding, and according to legend hid in oak forests in England. One legend claims that he hid inside an oak, making the Green Man a more powerful metaphor. The Green Man became King.