The Joy of Research: The Fae…Tree spirits

Tree spirits ~ when people think of tree spirits many immediately think of the Greek dryads, sometimes also called nymphs. Within the mythos of the Guardian Circle I have chosen one of the traditional ideas around dryads being related to only one particular tree and there being many other types of spirits for the other trees. In the same vein, nymphs within this world are now connected to the other types of nature spirits.

While devas are related to many elements of nature and are often seen in a small winged form, tree spirits (as well as water spirits) tend toward full-size human forms and do not have wings, nor do they fly. Tree spirits particular tend to either be bound to the tree they protect, or they are tasked to protect a territory such as a grove of trees or a particular forest. Those that are free to move around and are guardians of the whole area can be extremely dangerous when that which they protect is threatened.

(below are listed just a few, but more will be added as the research continues)

1. Bela ~ Indonesian tree spirits. If a person wishes to cut down a tree they must offer food to the bela and ask it, politely, to move to another tree. If these precautions are not taken the bela can cause nightmares or illness.

2. Dryads ~ Oak tree spirits, who unlike the hamadryads are not bound to their tree, but can move about freely. They are most often connected in legend to Artemis, goddess of the hunt, and are considered unlucky if seen by humans. They are fierce guardians of the forest, and protectors of those they deem worthy of their attention. Dryads normally seen as naked or near naked women draped in soft fabrics of greens and browns, but when going into battle can cover themselves in armor made from oak bark. Often the term dryad his thoughts relate to spirits of other trees, but especially within the Guardian Circle mythos true dryads are connected to the oak. Other similar spirits are Meliai; the spirit of ash trees is a, the spirit of apple trees is an Epimeliad, and the spirit of walnut trees is a Caryatid. There are many others, but being the oak tree is sacred to the Archiquette family and their local clan, the connection to the dryads would be the strongest.

3. Canotila ~ Lakota tree spirits from the regions of North and South Dakota, who like hamadryads are bound to the tree they call home. If the tree comes to harm, so does the canotila. They are messengers from the spirit world and often appear to the Lakota people in dreams. The canotila can absorb into a tree, or take on tree like properties making them nearly impossible to see. They will hunt anyone who mistreats their protected area, often resulting in the troublemakers death.

4. Hamadryads ~ unlike the dryads, the hamadryads find connections in many different types of trees, but the connections are much deeper and fraught with peril. For hamadryads injury to their tree hurts them physically. The loss of a tree in which they are born and their lives, results in their death. Though many tree spirits take on human form, the hamadryads have the upper body of a woman and their lower body form trunk and roots of the tree.

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