The Serpent God of Miwa

(The ancient god-tree of Miwa at dusk.)

I just uploaded this photograph onto my other blog and thought I should contribute the legend tied to this tree while I’m at it.

As you may have noticed from my post about oak trees, I love trees and think they have a power that is underestimated in our modern society (we see trees as sources of oxygen and lumber, but little more). An ancient tree can seem to radiate energy.

I’m one of those strange people that actually places her hands on trees to feel their strength, but please don’t dismiss what I have to say because I might seem superstitious. For anyone has to admit, there is something more to trees than the resources they provide us, but what is that “something more?”

I don’t think I have the answer to my own question, but perhaps to think about it, we have to adjust our perspective from the present, technologically-based point of view.

Past societies valued the power of trees and even worshiped that power. The ancient cedar tree at Miwa Shrine in Sakurai, Nara is a marvelous example of this. Here is the legend of that tree as I remember it. . .

A long time ago in Yamato, there lived a daughter of the Miwa clan. Every night she was visited by her husband, but every morning before the sun came up, he would leave.

One night, she expressed her desire to see him during the day time, and he sadly replied that he was too ugly to be seen by day and if she really felt that way, he would have to part ways with her. “Tonight will be our last together,” he said sorrowfully.

As morning approached, the woman took thread and needle and looped one end of the thread three times through the hem of his robe (“miwa” literally means three loops, and looping a thread three times through cloth is stronger than tying a knot).

After he left, she followed the thread. It was threaded through the keyhole of her door and went far, far away. She followed the thread all the way to Mt. Miwa, where she found it was attached to the trunk of the great cedar tree and realized her husband was a god.