Welcome to Spirit of Trees, a resource for therapists, educators, environmentalists, storytellers and tree lovers! You will find here an abundance of resources, in particular a varied collection of multicultural folktales and myths.

This website was originally conceived of as an educational resource for the DC Memorial Tree Groves Project, a Washington, DC-based national memorial to the victims of 9/11. But the project has grown beyond its original intention and is now offered as an independent resource for a world-wide community of tree-lovers of all ages.

About Spirit of Trees

Many tree-related online resources focus on the scientific aspects of trees or describe simple tree-planting procedures. Spirit of Trees offers a complementary approach, one that highlights the symbolic and aesthetic dimensions of trees. You will find, in particular, an extensive collection of multicultural folktales from contemporary storytellers, with links to more tales on the web. When told with feeling, these have the power to foster a heart felt connection to trees, one that taps deep into the human imagination to inspire hope, wonder and compassion for the living earth.

The tales presented here, taken from oral tradition, have been handed down over generations and are offered by Spirit of Trees, to be retold and shared anew. Tell them indoors and out, in classrooms, parks, community centers, hospitals. Play with them; learn from them; use them to teach others.

Every tale in this collection involves a tree or forest being in one way or another. Some are cautionary tales about the perils of cutting down forests. In others, humans become transformed into trees. Trees appear in dreams. They sing and talk. They offer consolation and convey special powers. In many of the tales, a tree serves as teacher or guardian of the truth. Characters who sit under a tree or climb up into a tree are suddenly inspired to set out on a journey or receive a decisive insight. Enchanted beings, both helpful and forbidding, emerge from forest places. The world itself is shown to emerge from a tree. And, on a lighter note, noodleheads and fools are snapped to their senses through an encounter with a tree.

Exploring this Collection

The Featured Folktales collection of stories have been generously contributed by contemporary storytellers. Their accompanying essays offer insight into the deeper meaning of the stories and also suggest ways of putting the tales to use in particular settings. You may download this material for personal and educational purposes —and please keep the copyright information intact with your download. In accordance with copyright protections, you must contact the contributor for permission to record or to reprint the tales or the accompanying essays.

There is also a selection of poetry, plus other sections for lesson plans, for scholarly essays, and for national and international tree organizations — and more.

Browse and enjoy!
Cristy West
Editor and Program Coordinator

Alone with myself
The trees bend
to caress me
The shade hugs
my heart.
–Candy Polgar