B) Goddesses of the Plant Kingdom

The plant kingdom was particularly revered in ancient times, as proved by legends, classical accounts, iconographic and archaeological evidence, and by divine, proper and tribal names.1033 The sanctity of plants and trees can be explained in several ways. First and foremost, vegetables and the fruit of some trees, such as those of oak, apple-tree or hazel, were highly-valued foodstuffs, being both nourishing and easily-accessible. Secondly, some species of plants and trees were specifically used for curing pains and illnesses. The wood of certain trees was also used in the making of habitations, weapons and tools, enabling people to grow food, hunt and protect themselves. In times of storm and rain, trees and forests could also serve for shelter to the population. Finally, as Paul Friedrich demonstrates in his analysis of tree names in Indo-European languages, certain trees seem to have held a peculiar and significant place in the religious and cultural sphere: yew, beech, birch, linden and more particularly oak.1034


Ó hÓgáin, 2003, pp. 46-60 ; Vendryes, 1997, pp. 50-52 ; Ross, 1996, pp. 59-65 ; Maccullogh, 1911, pp. 198-207 ; De Vries, 1963, pp. 195-199 ; Green, 2001, pp. 100-106, 151-155 ; Mackillop, 2004, pp. 12, 41, 27, 42, 265-266, 412 ; Green, 1992a, pp. 212-214.


Friedrich, 1970.