Monday, 2 March 2009

The Inverted Tree

In 1998 an inverted oak tree stump surrounded by an oval of 55 posts of split oak logs with the bark on the outside forming a solid wall with only a small entrance, was discovered on the Norfolk shore, and promptly dubbed, Seahenge. Originally it was on an island in a marsh, which was later invaded by the sea. The narrow eight inch entrance faced south west, apparently towards the mid winter sunset, and was concealed by a smaller stake outside it. Some of these posts were inverted, like the central stump. There was some controversy as to whether it should be dug up to preserve it from the sea, which was eroding it after having covered and preserved it for millennia. Archaeologists took it away to examine and strengthen the timbers, and it has now been put in a museum. Here is a Wikipedia article about it, at

Another site, at tells of other discoveries in what appears to have been a ritual landscape.

Although it's been sent to a museum at Lynn, it's function still eludes the authorities.

The technicians have determined that the central tree was felled between April and June 2050 BC. The surrounding trees were felled in the same season a year later.

Dr. Francis Pryor, an eminent member of the British archaeological establishment, and one who features in archaeological programmes on television, was in charge of the site where the wood was treated to preserve it, and has written a book titled Seahenge. Here's the Amazon page with description and reviews of Dr. Pryor's book Seahenge.

This is a bit of a misnomer, because it's mostly a volume of his autobiography with comments on various aspects of the ancient landscape, although the subject of the title does get some mention. It's an enjoyable read. He was also involved in a Time Team reconstruction for television.

His conclusion as to its purpose, given on page 277, is ''The mighty oak perhaps symbolises life itself - the Tree of Life of medieval mythology. So a living organism of this world is being offered to the world below the ground, which was possibly seen as the source of all life.It's about propitiation and renewal. It's also about the cycle of life and indeed the cycle of the seasons.''

I like Dr. Pryor's work. His other books Britain BC and Britain AD are worth a read. He seems to have a very good feel for the distant past, especially when associated with water, and the offerings deposited in watery settings. Alas, I think he has missed the point of Seahenge, because he is looking 180 degrees in the wrong direction. He mentions several things which strike me as clues whose significance he under rated. That's not really surprising. He is a man of his time, as he must be to reach eminence in his profession and in the media; and the times are very much more sympathetic to material, social, watery, feminine attitudes than to the spiritual, fiery, masculine symbolism which in my view give the real explanation of Seahenge.

Some time ago, quite by chance I came across the Aryan Buddhism site and its associated library of texts on religious symbolism, Buddhism and Neoplatonism, which has now disappeared. I was stunned to see an article called 'The Inverted Tree. The Tree of Brahma. The Bodhi Tree.' by the famous Anglo-Indian religious scholar A.K.Coomaraswamy, apparently written around 1940, long before Seahenge had come to light. This explained that the inverted tree is a symbol widespread in religious traditions. We may have read of The Tree of Life, the Tree of Knowledge, Yggdrasil and the Burning Bush, but I was suprised to find that inverted as well as upright trees feature strongly in religious traditions. He draws material from a wide variety of sources, including Buddhism, the Vedas, Plato, the Zohar and Dante.
Here's an extract from it.
BG xv.1 3 describes the Tree with equal fervor, but finally as one to be cut off at the root: "With root above and branches downward, the Asvattha is proclaimed unwasting : its leaves are the meters, he who knoweth it a knower of the Vedas.(33) Downwards and upwards both its branches are outspread, the outgrowths of the qualities; its shoots the objects of the senses, and its downward stretching roots the bonds of action in the world of men. Nor here can be grasped its form, nor can its end or its beginning or its ultimate support: it is [only] when this firmly rooted Asvattha has been felled by the axe of nonattachment that the step beyond it can be taken, whereby going there is no return." Here the Tree is plainly described as rooted both above and below, and as branching both upwards and downwards. We have already seen that the Axis of the Universe is, as it were, a ladder on which there is a perpetual going up and down. To have felled the Tree is to have reached its top, and taken wing; to have become the Light itself which shines, and not merely one of its reflections. ...
The gist of the whole matter for us is that the Trees, which seem to be different aspects of the only Tree, are inverted only below that point at which the rectification and regeneration of man takes place.
Plato has also said, "Man is a heavenly plant; and what this means is that man is like an inverted tree, of which the roots tend heavenward and branches downwards to earth."(47) Furthermore, the symbol of the inverted tree is widely distributed in "folklore." An Icelandic riddle asks, "Hast heard, O Heidrik, where that tree grows, of which the crown is on the earth, and of which the roots arises in heaven?" A Finnish lay speaks of an oak that grows in the floods, "upward its roots, downward its. crown." The Lapps sacrificed every year an ox to the god of vegetation, represented by an uprooted tree so placed on the altar that its crown was downward and roots upward. It is quite possible that the symbol of the Inverted Tree may have a distribution and antiquity as great as that of the Upright Tree. ...
the coming into being of the man presupposes a descent, and that the return to the source of being is an ascent; in this sense, the man, qua tree, is inverted at birth and erected at death. ...
It is, accordingly, the express intention of the sacrificial ritual that the Sacrificer should not only imitate the First Sacrifice but at one and the same time reintegrate and erect (in both senses of the word, to build up and set upright) the immanent and as it were divided and inverted Agni Prajapati, and himself. ...
a tree that must be felled at the root "when this Asvattha, so nobly rooted, has been cut down with the axe of nonattachment, then is that Station (padam) to be reached, whither having gone they return no more," BG xv.3 4....

Quite clearly the cutting of the inverted tree, using the axe of non attachment, symbolises a mystic ascent to enlightenment, back to one's roots in the realm of spirit, beyond physical existence.

It turns out that this image of the inverted tree is very well known in Hinduism.

Hinduwebsite at explains that Brahman is the spiritual source of all, and it is described as an inverted tree in the Katha Uphanishad. The Uphanishads are next to the Vedas in antiquity and sanctity in Hinduism. They are very famous and well known. The Katha Uphanishad is amongst the most famous, and it states at 2:3:1 "This universe is a tree eternally existing, its root aloft its branches spread below. The pure root of the tree is Brahman, the immortal, in whom the three worlds have their being, whom none can transcend, who is verily the Self". They point out that this was associated with the practices of mystics and not the ceremonies of ordinary worshipers.
Here's a commentary on that verse by a somewhat eclectic Hindu, who makes comparisons with Christianity, at

By now it should be amply clear that our archaeologists don't have a clue about the true significance of Seahenge. Perhaps that's not really true, they had clues but they ignored them or brushed them aside. Dr. Pryor's book mentions that one of his colleagues visited Finland and was told of similar things in their folklore, but this was not followed up. There's no mention that one of the roots of Yggdrasil went to the heavenly worlds and another to the underworlds, no pondering on Irminsul the Saxon Cosmic Tree, no sense that trees were important in the religious mythology of similar peoples and that they should consider this and search the literature - which, as Coomaraswamy indicated, is extensive. It points particularly clearly to the Vedas and the Aryans who were occupying northern India at round about the time that their distant cousins were erecting Seahenge. Amazingly, as if Reality had given him a little tap on the shoulder, Dr. Pryor ends his book with the story of a Hindu schoolgirl who died before she could achieve her strong desire to visit his site at Flag Fen, but whose parents brought her coffin there briefly in its hearse. Earlier in the book he noted that he seemed to find the sort of things that interested him at the time. If he followed this intuition he might find that England has a Vedic monument, from before the Vedas were written and long before England existed!

I found it disturbing that our credentialed experts are so ignorant of it's meaning when I could stumble over it, - and Hinduism is a pretty large elephant in the room to ignore - and even more unhappy that they seem to prefer to avoid the consideration of meanings and concentrate as far as they can on the physical remnants and their social patterns. It's not just that all the experts are too specialised, each digging himself deeper into his own hole without someone taking a broader view; but more as if there's an active avoidance of anything which goes beyond the most literal and physical, for fear of saying anything which might be unpopular with the high priests of degenerate atheistic materialistic socialist political correctness.

Rene Guenon knew a thing or two about ancient spiritual traditions and symbolism, and in The Reign of Quantity he commented that

‘Shamanism’ will also be found to include rites comparable to some that belong to traditions of the highest order: some of them, for example, recall in a striking way the Vedic rites, and particularly those that are most clearly derived from the primordial tradition, such as those in which the symbols of the tree and of the swan predominate.

The offensive thing about our experts is that they they appear to willfully ignore the important in favour of the trivial. They assemble teams including people who can find out all about the number of axes and axe strokes, the environment of the location, the time of year and date when the trees were cut, but they don't see a need to include people who could explain the purpose and meaning of the structure. They behave like lunatics who would discard the baby whilst analysing trace elements in the bathwater. Now we've seen how they fail to understand one antiquity in which there is considerable public interest, we can but wonder what else they've misinterpreted. It goes beyond archaeology, the same sort of people form our intelligentsia in all areas, so considerable scepticism is in order regarding everything promulgated by fashionable experts with good media access. They're probably focusing on the packaging whilst ignoring or denying the contents.

Archaeology nowadays concentrates on material remnants of the past, almost ignoring what was important to and about the people of the time. Sticking your head into a ditch or dung heap doesn't put you into the best position from which to view or assess society, although it may enable you to write about drains. The very word comes from the Greek for first things or ruling principles. Indeed a couple of centuries ago, when people began to take an interest in how things began and had been different, they were concerned with matters of mind and thought of it as Archai-ology. There was a famous book in the early 19th century called Myvryian Archaiology, about medieval Welsh poetry, because that seemed to contain the first principles that had ruled the soul of the nation. The mentality of the public and more particularly it's intellectual rulers has so far deteriorated that now they're enthralled by ditch diggers with doctorates. Dung replaces divinity in the scale of public importance. Their world is inverted. John's Gospel assures us that in the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. That's the sort of Beginning that the Gnostic Archons of the Spheres, or rulers of the spiritual levels preceding physical creation, were concerned with. Our version seems to be that in the beginning some savage made a hole in the ground.

The main intellectual response to the discovery of Seahenge seems to have been the production of a television programme by the Time Team of archaeologists, showing how to build a replica. This appears to have been presided over by the Time Lord himself, Baldrick of cunning plans. The ancients had Buddhas (Awakened Minds) and relics associated with them. We have 'Baldrick' the comic actor. From Buddha to Buffoon, that's the temporal sequence; but it's not progress, despite what the 'progressives' want us to believe. Reality may have a sense of humour, this is for us an unwitting self-parody, illustrating the Marxist precept that history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. Monkey see, monkey do; but the monkey only sees the gross physical actions and repeats them without awareness of their spiritual symbolism. The public is given the impression by the media that their ancestors were crude hairy virtually mindless apes, - but that's a better description of many authoritative moderns!

The fault is not all on one side. Despite the millions of Hindus now living in this country, we haven't been informed of any who have pointed out these similarities to the media or the archaeologists. Now most of the world is on-line, so people everywhere can make these connections, and it seems surprising if at least some scholars have not done so. Maybe they feel inhibited for some reason. When Seahenge was dug up there were a few protests from people who claimed to feel that it was a sacrilege to do so, but they were seen as being publicity seekers a few sandwiches short of a picnic, and certainly no understanding of its meaning was expressed by the neo-pagans and New-Agers who took an interest and even attempted to prevent the removal. Dr. Pryor expresses justifiable disdain for the loonies, and patronises the neo-pagans who look to archaeologists for information about the practices of their predecessors. Would that it could be the other way around, and that we had sages who could inform - if not enlighten - the ditch diggers.

By now, if you accept that there's a case for suggesting that the experts have missed the point about Seahenge, you may think that they should be advised, so that they can summon the intellectual and financial resources to undertake a renewed investigation. I briefly entertained that thought, but Baldrick himself showed me its folly.

There was another Time Team archaeological programme on television, about someone who used a metal detector to find thousands of Viking coins and artifacts at a particular place in England. He made a considerable amount of money selling them. It was all legal, and he kept detailed records of his finds, and precisely where each was found. He also learned quite a lot about the Viking period. Metal detecting, although legal, like many other things that are still legal, is frowned upon by the archaeological elite and our politically correct Establishment.Eventually he succumbed to the propaganda about not digging or removing anything unless you're a certified archaeologist in case priceless provenance and a heritage of knowledge is lost. He confessed his sins to Baldrick, and as penance was put in touch to co-operate with the official local archaeologist, and sponsorship was found to finance an official dig at the site. Wonderful. It seemed everything was working as it is supposed to work, and a wealth of information about Viking settlement in the area was about to be uncovered. Not a bit of it. Despite the increasingly angry protests of the metal detectorist, the archaeologists refused to pay much attention to the Viking part of the field, and insisted on spending the money finding and excavating an Ancient British ditch at the foot of the field. No significant discoveries were made, the public gained no knowledge or artefacts of either the Vikings or the Ancient Britons.Harmony between communities of archaeologists and metal detectorists was not attained, rather the reverse. The donors don't seem to have received value for money. Only a bitter wisdom was won. Poor Baldrick was seen, unhappy in the crossfire, puzzled about who was to blame, shocked that attempting to follow the dictates of fashionably inclusive and out-reaching orthodoxy had not generated a sustainable environment of sweetness and light. The archaeologists were cagey, seeming to feel that their time had been wasted. The metal detectorist was bitter, vowing that if he ever discovers anything else, archaeologists will be the last to know.

The moral's obvious. Don't interfere with the experts.They have their own concerns, their own careers to advance. Forget open mindedness. They're the experts, not you. They're the ones with the power and position, the prospects and the contacts, not you. If you aren't able to advance their plans, they will advance over you. Even if you manage to get some public attention and their masters force co-operation upon them, it will avail little. The money to be spent on a Viking market will mysteriously flow into an Ancient British ditch. They love ditches. If you attempt to distract them, they may leave you, your plans and hopes in a ditch.

As the poet Thomas Gray told us in his Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College:
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise


  1. "The offensive thing about our experts is that they they appear to willfully ignore the important in favour of the trivial."

    Could that be also laid at our Government's door?
    A thoughtful and deeply intellectual post, well written and awsomely researched.

  2. Currenyly is back online.