Sacred Tree of Gods and Prophets
The Acacia Tree has long been associated with the mysteries of old. In ancient Egypt, it was believed that the very first Gods were born beneath its sheltering branches in Heliopolis. The hind part of the celestial boat of Ra was made of Acacia wood and it was sacred to the Goddess Isis. All parts of the tree were used for medicinal and ritual practices.
It is indeed a tree of life and death. It can be used for healing and sustenance, however, it seems to have an uncanny awareness of danger and a built-in sentient defense mechanism. It has the ability to sense when its leaves are being eaten or grazed on by animals. When this occurs, it releases poisonous tannin which can be fatal if too much is ingested. Not only can it protect itself this way, but it will alert other Acacia trees in the vicinity as well by releasing another chemical which can be carried by the wind to nearby trees. When the other Acacias receive this chemical on their leaves, they too will begin producing the poisonous tannins, heading off any attack.
The sacred nature of the tree was likely passed on from the Egyptians to the Hebrews. The wood of the Acacia is used in the construction of perhaps the most holy object in the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant, the lid of which was known as the Mercy Seat. This symbology was perhaps akin to the Throne of Isis, and emerged later in descriptions of Mary mother of Jesus as being the “Seat of Wisdom”.
Not only did Yahweh instruct Moses to fabricate the Ark from Acacia wood, but also it’s carrying poles and more. Within the Tabernacle mentioned in Exodus 37-38, the table of showbread and its poles, along with the brazen altar and its poles and the incense altar and its poles were all fashioned from Acacia.
Most are familiar with the story of Moses and his encounter with the burning bush which is not consumed by the flames on Mount Sinai/Horeb. Some say these are the same mountains, others claim they are different places, but both places are given as being the site of this encounter. It is interesting that Horeb seems to mean “Glowing/Heat”, and perhaps a solar reference, while Sinai may have been derived from Sin, the Sumerian deity of the Moon. The Biblical story does not mention which species of bush was encountered, but it is not uncommon to see the Acacia mentioned when researching this topic. Acacia species can be trees or bushes, they are the same family and they are plentiful in the area. In addition, Acacia seems to have fire-resistant properties, as well as being repellent to water, which made it useful for constructing boats.
Of all the figures in the Old Testament, Moses is most closely associated with Acacia. The following story may seem familiar to you:
“My mother was a high priestess, my father I knew not. The brothers of my father loved the hills. My city is Azupiranu, which is situated on the banks of the Euphrates. My high priestess mother conceived me, in secret she bore me. She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid. She cast me into the river which rose over me. The river bore me up and carried me to Akki, the drawer of water. Akki, the drawer of water, took me as his son and reared me. Akki, the drawer of water, appointed me as his gardener. While I was a gardener, Ishtar granted me her love, and for four and … years I exercised kingship.”
The story above is the origin tale of Sargon, the first ruler of the Akkadian empire. The similarities to the origin story of Moses are too similar to not believe one was adapted from the other. As far as the timeline goes, the story of Sargon likely precedes the story of Moses by some 700 years or more. While the etymology of Akkadia or Akkad is not known for certain, I have my suspicions that Akkadia and Acacia share similar roots along with other significant names as we will see later.
If we look to the list of the Kings of Akkadia, we will find the Grandson of Sargon, Naram-Sin ruling about 2254 BC. His name means the “Beloved of Sin”. Remember Sin? The Sumerian Moon god for whom Mt. Sinai may be named for? Where Moses had his vision? Naram-Sin is frequently shown as being a horned god, or wearing a horned helmet. He was a warrior-king, which fits in nicely with the advent of the age of Aries, the god of war. Moses is also associated with Aries the ram. When Moses returns from the mountain and presents the Ten Commandments to the people, the “Shofar” a wind instrument made from a ram’s horn, is blown to announce the presence of god. Strangely enough, though Moses is not described as anything other than a mortal man in the Old Testament, he is frequently depicted with horns. And, though this is just conjecture on my part, it may be more than a coincidence that the seed pods of the Acacia are curved and resemble ram’s horns.
Regarding the other Ark, the Ark of Noah, there is also speculation that Acacia was used, though many other trees have also been suggested. The Bible says that “Gopher wood” was used and there seems to be no agreement to be found regarding what sort of wood that could be, but Acacia always makes its way into the lists of possible contenders.
Similar to Acacia and Akkadia is the word Akakia. An Akakia was a cylinder made of purple silk carried by Byzantine priests. The cylinder contained dust, the metaphorical dust from which mankind was formed, to symbolize our mortal nature.
Akakia has another root meaning: Spine. Spine refers to thorns. Something that is spiny has many thorns, like a crown of thorns. The human spine is called a “spine” because of the spiny vertebrae it is composed of. Acacia trees are so called because they are a very thorny plant/tree.
There is a further link between Acacia and the spine/backbone. When we look to the legend of Osiris, we see that after being tricked and locked into a coffin by his brother Set, he is set adrift upon the river (Like Moses and Sargon). When the coffin found its way to dry land, a giant tree grew up around it. The King of that land ordered the tree cut down, fashioned into a pillar and installed in his palace. Isis eventually rescued Osiris and this pillar became known as the Djed Pillar, which most agree is in fact the Spine of Osiris. While some say the tree was a Tamarisk, there is evidence that it was in fact an Acacia:
“To return to ancient Egypt, there is evidence that the great Osiris was originally a tree-god. According to Egyptian mythology, after he had been murdered his coffin was discovered enclosed in a tree-trunk, and he is spoken of in the inscriptions as ‘the one in the tree’, the ‘solitary one in the acacia’.”
— J.H. Philpot (1897), The Sacred Tree: the Tree in Religion and Myth (pg. 11)
So, it is quite possible that the Spiny Acacia Tree is symbolic of the Spine of Osiris. And, if we are talking about spines, we must include that magical energy which was known to many cultures but called “Kundalini” in India. This is the theory, to put it in a necessarily simplistic way, that there is an energy which is sleeping and coiled like a snake or twin snakes at the base of the spine that when awakened will travel up the spine and awaken the higher faculties of consciousness in the practitioner.
This Kundalini awakening, or a very similar spiritual experience was perhaps assisted by the use of hallucinogenics in ancient times. It is well known today that the root bark of the Acacia tree contains very high levels of the hallucinogenic DMT (Dimethyltriptamine). There are many who theorize that the holy visions and experiences of the character of Moses were brought on by the ingestion of DMT from the Acacia tree. It should be noted that merely ingesting DMT will have no hallucinogenic effect. Digestive enzymes in our body break down the drug and render it impotent. It must be taken along with what is known as MAOI, an inhibitor that prevents the enzymes from doing their job. MAOIs can be found in nature in plants species that would have been available in the region Moses traveled in. The knowledge of this preparation was likely a closely guarded secret available only to initiates of the mysteries.
As DMT may be seen as a “Doorway” to other dimensions, a means of communicating with spiritual or divine entities, I can’t help but see a connection between this magical substance of the Acacia and the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was also a means of communication with an otherworldly being. Descriptions of it make it sound a bit like a radio tuned to a divine frequency. Perhaps the wood from which it was fashioned was really just a subtle hint as to what was really going on within the tabernacle?
Another way to reference the “Ark of God” would be to say the “Arc-a-Dia” or Arcadia, that fabled Utopia of ancient Greece. The name is of course very similar to Acacia and Akkadia and in fact, the modern region in North America which was once referred to as Arcadia is now known as Acadia, having lost the “R”. Though it is outside the scope of this article, I think it is possible that Nicolas Poussin’s famed painting “The Shepherds of Arcadia” with its enigmatic inscription “Et in Arcadia Ego” (Even in Arcadia, there I am) upon a stone coffin, has more than a little to do with the mysteries of the Acacia Tree and the Coffin and Spine of Osiris.
Another etymological connection to “Acacia” that deserves to be touched upon is a concept known as the “Akashic Record”. This idea of a sort of universal astral library where everything that has ever occurred or will occur was recorded and could be accessed by those who were initiated, was popularized by H.P. Blavatsky within her Theosophical movement and was further promoted by her associates C.W. Leadbetter and Alice Bailey. Rudolph Steiner, though ostracized from the Theosophical movement, also spoke of it in his Anthroposophical journal, “Lucifer-Gnosis”.
The idea remains a popular belief today. Blavatsky described the records as “Indestructible tablets of astral light”. It is interesting that she used the term “Tablets” just as we are told that Moses recorded the commandments upon stone tablets, having received them from the acacia bush engulfed in an astral fire. It is said that in this case, “Akashic” is a Sanskrit word referring to an “Ethereal fluid pervading all of the cosmos”. In Hinduism, it is believed that Akasha is the first element created, the basis and essence of all things, much like the Philosopher’s Stone is said to be the Prima Materia.
And finally, the Acacia also figures prominently in Freemasonry, where it is ostensibly a symbol of the immortality of the soul, perhaps a harkening back to Osiris, the “One in the Acacia” and his resurrection from the dead.
Obviously the Acacia has roots extending throughout many esoteric traditions. It is a symbol of life, death, and immortality. Thanks for reading and allowing me to speculate on the many possible connections this sacred tree has to various occult streams of thought and belief systems.