The Canuck World Tree

In lieu of a Q of the Week (since I was in Edmonton for the last four days…)

At the Spirit of the West Gathering, I had a brilliant time. The event is run by excellent people, and I do recommend to those within reach of Edmonton to attend next year.

At this year’s event, I made a suggestion. There has been talk, on and off, at various times, of forming a Canadian Druid association of some kind. The rationale is sometimes just the mere fact that as of yet there isn’t one; we Canucks are members of imported American Druidic Federations, like ADF, or British groups like OBOD, if we are members of any Druidic groups at all. Why not a Canadian one? We have a distinct society (remember that phrase?), a different history, a truly flippin’ huge landscape, lots of regional variations, two official languages (or we have seven, if we count unoffficial-official languages like Cree, Ojibway, Inuktituk, Jouale, and Scots Gaelic)

I’ve nothing against the idea of a Canadian-made druidic organisation, at least principle. However, for my part, while there are a lot of things I’d like to do and to change in the pagan movement in Canada and around the world, I don’t feel the need to create an institution around me to accomplish them. I think they can be achieved by writing books, talking to people wherever I travel, posing good questions, and as we try things we keep what works and discard what doesn’t work. I proposed the idea of the Clan-maker in that kind of way.

Here’s another suggestion, a simpler one, which I proposed in Alberta this weekend, and now offer to everyone.

At your next ritual, or pub moot, or camp, or conference, no matter what organisation or group is hosting it, and no matter whether you are Asatru, or Wiccan, or a Ceremonialist, or whatever: if you have any reason at all to refer to the World Tree, make it the sugar maple. That’s the leaf that appears on the flag of our country. And that leaf has been a symbol of Canadian national identity long before 1867.

Doing this could help create a sense of a shared Canadian spiritual identity, without a need for a “Canadian ADF”.

Yes, I know that the Eddas say that the World Tree, Yggdrasil, was an ash. But I don’t live in Norway. I live in Canada. I think it would be interesting and positive if we hosers decided together that here in the Great White North, the world tree is a maple.

Other countries already do similar things. I’ve heard that many American druids and wiccans now invoke “Lady Liberty” as a goddess in some of their rites, and refer to the signatories of the constitution as important ancestor – predecessor figures. This is perfectly appropriate for American pagans, for whom values like freedom feature so prominently in the national story.

In Canada, obviously we value freedom too, but the values that loom largest in our origin-story are peace, order, and good government. These values were symbolised in the sugar maple, a strong, tall, hardy tree, that grows everywhere in the four original provinces, was of central importance to the early lumber industry, and is so tall and beautiful that it was an almost obvious choice.

I think this can be a way for we Canadians to assert a distinct Canadian spiritual presence in the world, so that we can create the terms of our spirituality more ourselves, rather than importing almost everything from Britain and America. And this might serve as a way for us to identify each other wherever we go in the world: if you are attending a ritual in New Zealand, or South Africa, and the person presiding over the right invokes the world tree in the name of the sugar maple, then you know you have a Canadian there, or someone trained in a Canadian tradition.

What do you think?

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