Slippers, chewing gum, and linden body wash – our ancestors made all of this (and much more) from tree bark. What about us? Let’s not forget about trees – they still have a lot to offer.
Our ancestors believed that trees were endowed with beneficial qualities, or even magical powers. But what is our relationship with trees today? On a daily basis, we tend to give them little attention, even though it’s really simple: we just need to go out, stop for a second, place our hands on their bark and enjoy their power.
To learn about the therapeutic – or even ‘magical’ – powers of trees, it’s worth consulting Plants in Folk Beliefs and Customs, published by the Polish Ethnological Society. This book, written by Polish ethnographer and ethnobotanist Adam Fischer, consists of entries dating back to the early 20th century, as well as the author’s later work. Drawing on old herbariums and ethnological research, Fischer put together a monograph about 200 species of plants. In the past, trees seemed closer to humans. We relied on them for protection, for cooking, and as an easily accessible medicine.
According to Fischer,