The Baobab Tree
(Selections from the Internet)
The baobab is found in the savannas of African and India, mostly around the equator. It can grow up to 25 meters tall and can live for several thousand years. The baobab is leafless for nine months of the year. If I were to describe the baobab, I would say that it looks like it has been picked out of the ground and stuffed back in upside-down. The trunk would be the tap-root, and the branches the finer capillary roots.
The Arabian legend of the boabab is that "the devil plucked up the baobab, thrust its branches into the earth and left its roots in the air." Another legend describes what happens if you are never satisfied with what you already have.
"The baobab was among the first trees to appear on the land. Next came the slender, graceful palm tree. When the baobab saw the palm tree, it cried out that it wanted to be taller. Then the beautiful flame tree appeared with its red flower and the baobab was envious for flower blossoms. When the baobab saw the magnificent fig tree it prayed for fruit as well. The gods became angry with the tree and pulled it up by its roots, then replanted it upside down to keep it quiet."
The baobab looks like this for a reason. In the wet months water is stored in its thick, corky, fire-resistant trunk for the nine dry months ahead. The baobab's bark, leaves, fruit, and trunk are all used. The bark of the baobab is used for cloth and rope, the leaves for condiments and medicines, while the fruit, called "monkey bread," is eaten. Sometimes people live inside of the huge trunks, and bush-babies live in the crown.
THE LEGEND OF THE AFRICAN
BAO-BAB TREE is the story of a beautiful tree who complained to the GREAT SPIRIT
of the WILD PLAINS about wanting to be the BEST and BRIGHTEST and most HANDSOME
of all the African trees. The GREAT SPIRIT became tired of the complaints, and
reached down from the sky, yanked the tree out of the ground and placed it back
into the earth UPSIDE DOWN! All the animals were alarmed, and so was the huge
tree. For after that, the magnificent tree only grew leaves once a year. The
other months the ROOTS seemed to bend and grow towards the sky. Bobby Dooley
The Baobab History
The Baobab Tree is a symbol of the strength of Africa. There are any myths and legends about the Baobab Tree and it is revered for its healing properties. The most common myth is that the gods in error, planted the Baobab tree upside, hence its strange shape.
In June 1999 I received a message from a plant spirit to go and make the essence of a beautiful white flower which I saw as a vision in my mind during a mediatation. It had large white petals and a profusion of white stamens emerging from it. I later found out the flower I had seen was that of the Baobab Tree. I was asked to go in December 1999 to the north of South Africa to make the remedy, and was told that it would help to "heal the scars of South Africa" and bring black and white people together. The struggle for freedom in South Africa has become a symbol for the struggle more widely in the world to end wars and inequality. The Baobab Flower Essence will be helpful to anybody who wishes to further this cause, as well as those that have been directly and indirectly affected by racism, oppression and war. The essence will help to balance the collective energies of all people in the world.
The signature of the Baobab Flower Remedy is that it will assist in the spiritual transformation in the exciting times we live in at the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. The flower is a large, white waxy flower with 5 petals. The flower has a prehistoric feel to it, and is pollinated by fruit bats. The Baobab has 5 petals and 5 leaves, and the number 5 in numerology represents the emotional plane (the heart). The flower essence relates specifically to the heart and crown chakras, opening our hearts and minds to the higher forces of the Universe. The essence will help people to see how spiritually we are all ONE on the same journey home. The word Baobab means "the time when man began", a time where we were all One and our journey home is to return to this state of being, oneness with other human beings and nature. The new millennium also marks a time for a new beginning of man and woman, as the consciousness of Oneness continues to expand and grow across the globe. It is a time where people are increasingly taking responsibility for their own lives, health and the environment rather than relying on governments or other institutions. The success of this journey will mean an end to all forms of war, oppression and ecological destruction as our respect for all life becomes central to our way of thinking. The Baobab Flower Essence is a gift from nature to help humanity on this journey. The ascending astrological sign of the Baobab Essence is Aries, which is the start of the zodiac and indicates the start of a new cycle.
The Essence is able to heal wounds from lifetimes in the Age of Pisces as well as the Age of Aries. The Age of Aries started when Moses led the Jews out of bondage, according to the bible. It is also reputed that the Archangel Raphael gave Moses the book of all herbs to heal maladies.
The other distinctive feature of the Baobab Tree is that it can undergo a huge amount of mutilation, and still continue to thrive and heal. For example, I visited a Baobab Tree with a pub inside it near Magoebaskloof, which amazingly was still alive and well. This indicates that the Flower remedy of the tree can heal even the deepest scars and mutilation of body and spirit. It is a tree of incredible resilience, strength and self-healing properties. It is interesting that a Baobab Tree of South Africa has chosen to give us this gift, where the divide between black and white people has been most marked, and has caused very deep wounds and spiritual and emotional damage to both the oppressed and oppressors. The astrological birthchart of the essence also indicates that it can heal very deep wounds, particularly emotional and spiritual wounds. Chiron (the Wounded Healer Archetype), Vulcan (a hypothetical transneptunian planet who helps to put our dismembered and fragmented bits back together), Pluto (the unconscious and dark side) and the Sun (the heart) are all found in the 9th House of the Chart, the house of long distance travel. In one case the Baobab Essence healed a flesh wound virtually overnight.
The Baobab Essence has been very useful for pain, for example back pain or pain caused by arthritis, again having almost instantaneous results.
The leaves of the Baobab Tree resemble an outstretched hand, hence its Latin name Adansonia Digitata, as if reaching out in friendship.
The Baobab is unusual in that it is approximately 90% water, and swells up after the rains. It is therefore a tree that mirrors a human being and the earth, which are also comprised of 90% water.
The bark and leaves of the Baobab tree are used medicinally by the indigenous people of the area for a number of physical illnesses including chest complaints, fever and malaria. The flower essence of the tree may also help with these illnesses. The flower of the tree is the most evolved part of the plant and therefore contains the medicinal properties of the whole. In bushmen paintings women are depicted with breasts of the Baobab fruit, and the essence may help with fertility. The flower essence also holds the wisdom of all the incarnations of the tree and all other trees of its species. As the tree is prehistoric this is a lot of wisdom! As previously mentioned the essence may also help to heal flesh wounds. Many people have reported that the Baobab has good (miraculous in a few cases) effects on pain, especially for the back and related to arthritis.
The Baobab Flower Remedy was made in Messina, near the border of South Africa and Zimbabwe on the 14th December 1999. It was made in the cycle of the brightest Full Moon for 173 years on the Summer Solstice on the 22 December 1999. This area lies on the great rift of Africa which in ancient times was called Gondwanaland before the continents split. Many believe this is the place where man/woman began.
The tree is one of the largest in Southern Africa and is 4000 years old. This area of South Africa, Mpumalanga, is one of the few where the traditional spiritual beliefs of the indigenous people, the Venda have survived the ravages of Apartheid. It is the home of the Rain Queen who has great powers. There are many sacred forests and lakes in the area and it is a landscape of exquisite beauty. The area is also close to the Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa.
Protagonists of religious traditions which lay exclusive claim to divine revelation have tended to regard Africa as a blankly barren land, waiting to be planted and watered with the heavenly seeds of truth which are found in their particular religious traditions. This assumption fuelled the Christian missionary enterprise in the past two centuries and continues, unabated, to this day. And although the agents of the missionary enterprise have changed, the assumption persists, albeit in modified form, in the evangelistic work of the fundamentalist groups, some indigenous African churches, as well as the mission-founded churches.
The zeal to evangelize left no room to accommodate local religion-cultural traditions which were deemed to be palpably wrong and had to be done away with. And to drive home the point that truth and error could not coexist, cultic symbols, shrines and sacred groves were destroyed.
The close identification of the Gospel with the self-image of its propagators led to the unquestioning conviction that God had clearly and decisively acted in their history, and that they were under divine obligation to bring others, in whose history God had apparently not acted, into the arena of this salvation history. And the fundamental questions as to whether God acts in other people's histories and what those histories tell us about God, as well as whether history is the only arena of God's self-disclosure, remained unasked and unanswered.
The relationship between the Gospel and local traditions was considered to be that of total discontinuity, which tended to severely and fastidiously limit God's revelatory activity to one event. But to recognize continuity between the Gospel and other traditions is to accept the fact that in no human history has God been absent; and that God could not be dormant in one historical place or period and active in another.
It may be that in their passionate eagerness to emphasize the centrality of Jesus and the newness of Christianity, theologians inadvertently created a dichotomy in God's truth and claimed the right to evaluate God's revelatory acts in the histories of other people.
Such hardened positions led to the strenuous efforts at converting others and ignored the possibility of human error in the appropriation of divine revelation or truth. Human understanding was invested with a degree of absoluteness which is out of step with our finiteness; and it was almost as if the arms of Christianity alone could completely embrace the baobab tree of divine truth, and that God's thoughts had to coincide with human thoughts.
The existence of a plurality of religions is not to be interpreted as a failure on the part of those who have the truth to carry out their divine mission to bring all humankind into the fold. Nor does this point to the hardness of the hearts of other people. On the contrary, it expresses the spirit of God which blows "where it listeth". And to insist on the same response to the experience of God's spirit is to argue for a uniformity which refuses to respect differences.
Above all, claims to truth must be related to the lives of those who claim monopoly over it. For if the truth is to be rescued from the realm of theory and propaganda, then is must be reflected in the lives of those who lay claim to it. For religious traditions should help humankind to attain and maintain the highest human values - values which make us more human and are fundamental to our ultimate good, and which uphold harmony and order among the community of nations in the world and in our societies.
There is need to go beyond the acceptance of religious plurality to a stage where each religious tradition will bear witness to its faith by doing worthy deeds, and express rivalry, not in contentious disputations about who is right and who is wrong, but by striving to undo each other in improving the lot of humankind, in enhancing the quality of human life and in doing what is good. And if we can compare the improvement in the lot of humanity to building a house, then the meaning of the African proverb which says: "Let the elephant fell the trees, let the bushpig dig the holes, let the mason wasp fill in the walls, let the giraffe put up the roof, then we will have a house", will become clear.
If we recognize that the arms of our particular religious traditions cannot fully embrace the baobab tree of truth, it will engender an attitude of respect for others and rescue us from a position of assumed superiority and righteousness which entitles us to declare, in advance, what God will do in the present and at the end of time.
My own researches and reflections over the past three decades in Africa, have led me to an openness which I believe will rid us of the tendency to disrespect others because their beliefs are inferior to ours. And in any case, how can people be saved if they are being despised? Or is this the price to pay for salvation, whatever we mean by it?
I have also been forced to rethink our efforts to force God to be what we "know" God to be, without allowing God to manifest God's self in multifarious ways. It has become clear to me that our inability to live with differences or pluralism is a measure of our limited knowledge (arms too short to embrace the totality of the baobab tree of truth), rather than an incomparable divine command to impose uniformity in belief and expression on all humanity.
Kofi Asare Opoku is Professor of African Traditional Religions and Cultures at the Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.