Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Whale and the Tree of Life

In an earlier post I described the creative process behind the making of the Whale Tail Desk. My deepening fascination with whales inspired me to learn more about them. The resulting compilation was made into a short story that backed an art card handed out during the "Forest Leadership Forum".

Entitled "Whale and the Tree of Life" it attempted to explain the metaphor represented by the Whale Tail Desk and Andiroba Credenza:

Whale and the Tree of Life

Flood legends can be found in the mythologies of most ancient civilizations, from the Sumerians, Babylonians and Egyptians of the Middle East to India, China and in the Americas in the myths of the Mayans, Aztecs and numerous Native American tribes including the Hopi.

In Western society the most well-known of these legends is the story of Noah and the Ark, as recounted in the Book of Genesis.

Many oral traditions of Native Americans tell the story of a great civilization that once inhabited the Earth. These Original Peoples strayed from their harmonious ways and began to argue and fight with one another. Before long a Great Flood was sent to purify the Earth and destroy all that had lost its way.

A number of animals and birds managed to escape the rising waters by clinging to a large floating log. In an effort to restore the land these animals decided to take turns diving to the very depths of the floodwaters in an effort to retrieve handfuls of earth.

When this earth was placed on the back of a turtle's shell it began to grow and soon as island was formed in the water, much to the delight of the animals and birds. This island became known as Turtle Island, which originally represented North America but today represents all of the Earth as it swims through the Universe.

From the centre of the turtle's back grew a magnificent tree, with branches that reached skyward and pointed in each of the 4 cardinal directions. This tree became known as the sacred Tree of Life since it is the focal point of all this is living and is rooted at the centre of the Universe.

The whale is probably the most ancient of all mammals since it lived on the Earth in the time before the Great Flood. Whale survived by learning to swim but having experienced all that took place it carries with it the memory of the watery disaster and the history of all life on this planet.

It is for this reason the whales are considered the ancient symbol of Creation and have become one of the most revered and sacred of all living beings.

Aboriginals consider whales to be highly intelligent and believe that their actions can foreshadow events that are about to take place on the Earth. When whales suddenly enter freshwater rivers or swim ashore and deliberately beach themselves it is because they can sense a serious imbalance in their environment and are instinctively seeking escape by attempting to become land mammals once more.


With this in mind I often find my interest level piqued when I hear of unusual news stories involving whales.

On May 5, 2010, for example, a Grey Whale ended up wandering into downtown Vancouver by way of False Creek.

Five days later something even more spectacular happened off the coast of Israel when a Gray Whale was spotted on the wrong side of the world.

Probably my favorite story involving a whale took place in August 2007 when the rescue of a baby Humpback coincided with the opening of "The Green Chain" at the Montreal World Film Festival. This story is told in the next post.

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