Roots & Wings

Roots & Wings

I believe that Stories are like Roots to the Past… and Wings to the Future.

Denise Valentine, Storyteller

Denise Valentine, Professional Storyteller, Teaching Artist, Public Speaker, Historical Performer, Consultant

Amazing Trees, Awesome Roots.


Umbrella Thorn Acacia Tree

About the tree that inspired my logo: 

The Umbrella Thorn Acacia “Mimosa Tree” gets its name from a spreading, flat-topped crown. It grows in the sand dunes and rocky grounds of Africa’s grasslands. This tree can survive 122° F temperatures during the day, freezing temperatures at night,  and an annual rainfall as low as 4 cm. A deep taproot, which can reach 115 ft under the ground, and a second set of roots spread out just under the ground helps it get water during dry spells.

The Acacia provides shade for the animals of the savanna. The trunk of the tree makes very good charcoal and firewood. The flowers on the Acacia provide a good source of honey in some regions. The stem of the tree is used to treat asthma, and diarrhea. The bark of the acacia is used as a disinfectant, and the pods are used to make porridge.

Storyteller under a Baobab Tree

“Out of little seeds, great trees can grow!”

Animation Library



Plant Sequence Cutaway

The tips of small plant roots move through the soil with a twisting screw-like motion. Mature trees can have as many as 5 million active root tips. 

The plants growing in a 2-acre wheat field can have more than 30,000 miles of roots, greater than the circumference of the Earth.

The Deeper the Roots…

The Stronger the Tree.

Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park, California. TREES AROUND THE WORLD

Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park, California. TREES AROUND THE WORLD

Truth is like a baobab tree; one person’s arms cannot embrace it. (African proverb)

Australian Baobab tree Adansonia gibbosa at De...

Australian Baobab tree Adansonia gibbosa at Derby, Western Australia Deutsch: Adansonia gregorii ist eine Pflanzenart der Gattung Affenbrotbäume (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About the Baobab Tree:

In traditional villages, children gathered under Baobab trees to listen to the elders telling stories. The baobab is a meeting-place, symbolic of the exchange of ideas and opinions. Some legends identify the Baobab as the one true Tree of Life.

The Baobab, also known as the “Monkey-bread tree,” is native to the savanna region of Senegal in Western Africa. It can also be found in the remote deserts of Australia, in Madagascar, or in Barbados (brought from Guinea). Most live over 500 years and some specimens in Africa are believed to be up to 5000 years old. With a circumference up to 51.5 ft (18.5m.), it takes 10-15 adults joining with outstretched arms to encircle it.

The Baobab looks as if it is growing upside-down, with twisted roots sitting atop a huge, smooth, trunk. According to legend, the baobab trees used to brag about being the most beautiful trees ever created. God was unhappy about the bragging trees, so as a punishment, he turned them upside down. But, the reason the baobab looks like this, is so that ts massive trunk can hold 300 –100,000 liters of water enabling it to live through long periods without rain. The baobab is leafless for nine months of the year. People use its leaves for medicine, its bark for cloth and rope, while the fruit, called “monkey bread”, is eaten. The hollowed-out trunks of dead trees have been used as prisons, and even as tombs. Sometimes people live inside of the huge trunks, and animals called “bush-babies” or “moonchildren” live in the crown.

The Spirit of Trees

English: Monarch butterflies in the trees and ...

English: Monarch butterflies in the trees and air at the Cerro Prieto Sanctuary of the Sierra Chincua, Michoacan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since ancient times, trees have been thought to have souls or spirits. The Bodhi tree (Ficus Religiosa) in Bodhgaya, India, is where the Buddha Guatama, meditated to attain enlightenment. To Native Americans, every plant, every tree, as well as Mother Earth and Father Sky, were imbued with a spirit.

Acacia trees were believed to have greater power than other trees because their roots penetrated more deeply into the Earth. Tales of their healing and sacred power have been told by elders, sung of by poets, and invoked by mystics.  (See: Spirit Trees and Plants: spirit plants).

Acacia tree resin gum has been used by traditional healers in diagnosis and treatment of disease, prophecy, and divination. In ancient times, a monarch, after becoming an initiate, was anointed king with Balsam Plant Oil (“Liquid Myrrh”). Among the titles of Osiris was ‘He that Dwelleth in the Acacia Tree’ (The Acacia Tree and the Rites of Initiation).  And, the Banyan tree is revered as the tree of justice among several cultures. Its wide spreading branches send trunk-like roots to the ground in order to support itself. A single Banyan trees may cover acres of ground.

Jacaranda Tree, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Jacaranda Tree, Mpumalanga, South Africa


Trees as Sanctuary  

The Roman philosopher Seneka wrote in the first century A.D.:

“If you come upon a grove of old trees that have lifted their crowns up above and shut out the light of the sky by the darkness of their interlacing boughs, you feel that there is a spirit in the place, so lofty is the wood, so lonely the spot, so wonderous the thick unbroken shade.”


Why do we rest so well in the shade of a tree? Forests and spirituality are intimately connected. There is an intricate relationship between a tree and the forms of life that live with it, and around it. Ancient people cherished and cultivated this connection. Human beings respond to it intuitively and spontaneously. In the forest our soul breathes. We enjoy moments of silent brooding and tranquility, nourishing the core of our being.

Not every tree possesses the same energy and meaning. Ancient people throughout the world set out certain forests as sacred. These special groves and forests were usually enclosed by stone walls. This enclosure was called in Greek Temenos. The Latin term for these demarcated places was templu, the original root of the word ‘temple.

The Buddha defined the forest as “a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demands for its sustenance and extends generously the products of its life activity; it affords protection to all beings, offering shade even to the axeman who destroys it.”

From: Forests as Sanctuaries, by Henryk Skolimowski:
Forests as Sanctuaries.


As trees grow, they record historical events and the passage of time.


 OLD AS METHUSELAH – On the dry windswept mountaintops of the Great Basin in the western United States grow earth’s oldest living inhabitants, the bristlecone pines (Pinus longaeva). With roots that go back over 4,600 years, it predates even the Great Pyramids. It has outlived entire civilizations, survived lethal attacks, weathered brutal climatic catastrophes, and weathered the Nuclear Age.



Strange Fruit – Hangman’s Tree 

In 1937 Abel Meeropol, a Jewish schoolteacher from New York, wrote of the poem, Strange Fruit, about the terror of lynching. The poem became a song, best-known from Billie Holiday’s poignant 1939 rendition.

An estimated 5000 black men and women were lynched in the U.S. from the 1890s to the 1960s.

 A People without Knowledge of their history… 

Are like a Tree without ROOTS.


In overthrowing me, you have cut only the trunk of the tree of liberty. It will spring again from the roots for they are numerous and deep.” 

— Toussaint L’Ouverture, 1802

Each One, Reach One

Each One, Reach One
Bongsanglay Mangrove Natural Park

As each group seeks their separate roots and origins, society fractures along a thousand fissure lines. When neighbors distance themselves from neighbors, continue your … quest for your truer roots in the deepest regions of your lives. Seek out the primordial “roots” of humankind.

~ Daisaku Ikeda, Sun of Jiyu Over a New Land




Family Trees

Family Trees

Family Tree templates







To be Continued with The Spirit of Birds.  



Copyrighted and other images that could not be included above.

About Storymama01

Professional Storyteller, Blogger, Teaching Folk Artist, Cultural Curator, Consultant, History Lover, Humanist
This entry was posted in arts and culture, education, humanities, Peace and Sustainability, storytelling and folklore, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Roots & Wings

  1. zakiyyah ali says:

    Thank you. This is so beautiful. I love trees and was asked to write one of my trees stories. Seeing this sight has confirmed the writing of that story. Thank you again.

  2. Pingback: Spirit of Birds | storymama01

  3. Thank you for giving the meaning of the BAOBAB tree and it has helped us to shape to shape our project <>

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