The Ash Tree In Indo-European Culture

Mankind Quarterly, Volume XXXII, Number 4, Summer 1992, pp. 323-336.

Darl J. Dumont

The Musaios Project


Many species of Fraxinus, the ash tree, exude a sugary substance which the ancient Greeks called méli, i.e. honey. This substance was harvested commercially until the early part of this century, and is found on Fraxinus excelsior in northern Europe and Fraxinus ornus in the mountains of Greece.

This fact sheds light on certain themes in classical literature - the idea of a golden age when men ate acorns and honey that dripped from trees, the idea that bees collect honey from the leaves and branches of trees, and that ash tree nymphs were nurses of the infant Zeus in the Cretan cave of Dicte. (They fed him honey). Also, a new etymology of the Greek word for ash tree is proposed in light of these connections.

In Norse mythology certain details of the description of Yggdrasil, the world ash, also can be explained by the sugary property of ash trees. It is felt to rain honey on the world, and mead is said to flow in its branches.

Again in Sanskrit literature certain beliefs are found which parallel the Greek and Norse ideas, for instance that honey rains down upon the world from the skies. Certain things that are said about the divine intoxicant soma seem to indicate a connection to ash trees, or rather a confused memory of ash trees, since they do not grow in India except in the Himalayas.

In light of these parallels in the Indo-European literatures, it seems very probable that sugar from ash trees played an important role in Indo-European mythology and ritual. A surviving Finno-Ugrian ritual, observed in 1911, connects honey, tree resins, and tree worship in a way which must be similar to ancient Indo-European ritual.

Ash Tree in Indo-European Culture(*)

The importance of the ash tree in Germanic Mythology is clear. The world ash, Yggdrasil, is central to the structure of the cosmos. The first man, Ask, ("Ash"), was formed from an ash tree found son the beach by Oðin and his brothers, the sons of Bor.(1) After Ragnarok, the race of mankind will be restored from a man and woman who are somehow sheltered within the world ash and nourished on dew.(2) But some scholars are not sure why the ash tree should have this importance. Ellis-Davidson among others has suggested that the world ash may really have been an oak.(3)

In Greek Mythology also, ash trees have a prominence that has puzzled some scholars. Hesychius in his lexicon contains this entry: melías karpós: tò anthrópon génos. ("Seed of ash: the race of men"), and this idea is found elsewhere in the literature.(4) At the time when Ouranos was overthrown by Kronos, the Giants, the Furies, and the nymphs called Meliai were formed. (Hesiod, Theogony 187). The word melíai means ash trees, but West in his commentary says "they are tree nymphs, probably without distinction of the particular kind of tree".(5) At the next change of régime among the gods, the Meliai were present again, in the cave of Dikte on Crete serving as nurses of the infant Zeus.(6) A. B. Cook wrote an article interpreting the Meliai as honey nymphs or bee nymphs, never mentioning their standard interpretation as ash tree nymphs at all.(7)

But ash trees have a property apparently not so well known to philologists which may explain their prominence: They secrete a sugary substance from their bark and leaves, which until the early part of this century was harvested and sold under the name "manna".(8) In the nineteenth century this product was important as a pharmaceutical, and early editions of The Dispensatory of the United States of America devote substantial space to it:

MANNA... a concrete saccharine exudation of Fraxinus ornus and of Fraxinus rotundifolia... Besides the two species of Fraxinus indicated by the Pharmacopoeias, it is said to be obtained from several other trees belonging to the genera Ornus(9) and Fraxinus among which F. excelsior and F. parvaflora have been particularly designated...It exudes spontaneously or by incisions during the hottest and driest weather in July and August...It is owing to the presence of true sugar and dextrin that manna is capable of fermenting...Manna, when long kept, acquires a deeper color, softens, and ultimately deliquesces into a liquid which on the addition of yeast, undergoes the vinous fermentation.(10)

The Flora Europaea lists four species of Fraxinus native to Europe including F. ornus and F. excelsior, which are explicitly named above as producing manna.(11) F. excelsior is the only species which grows in northern Europe, and must have been the model for the world ash Yggdrasil. It grows only as far south as what the ancients called Macedonia.(12) However F. ornus is widespread in Greece, and the two remaining European species of ash are found there also.(13)

LSJ defines melía as "manna ash, Fraxinus ornus".(14) Directly above lies the entry for melí, "honey". LSJ's third definition for méli is "sweet gum collected from certain trees, manna". In light of this juxtaposition it seems odd that none of the standard etymological dictionaries consider, even to dismiss in passing, that melía may be derived from méli, making the ash tree a honey tree.(15)

"Ét. peu clair" says Chantraine.(16) Frisk comments "Morphologisch und etymologisch isoliert."(17) The common Indo-European word for ash, *os- (from which our English word "ash" descends) was transferred to the beech tree (oxúe) by the Greeks at some point in their migrations.(18)

Both Frisk and Chantraine cite without enthusiasm an ancestral form originally proposed by Schulze in 1892: *smelwía.(19) Prellwitz in 1905 compared *smelwía. with the word smëlùs which is found in a dialect of Lithuanian. It means "brownish" or "grayish".(20) Page in 1959 commented that in Homer, melíe lengthens a preceding short vowel in 11 of 13 places, which he felt to be the memory of the lost sigma.(21) The compound eummelíes "having a good ash spear", with its geminated -mm- must also be cited in support of this idea.

However, Chantraine in his Homeric grammar discusses many cases where an initial sonant (l and n as well as m) geminates or lengthens a preceding short vowel, including words which surely never had an initial sigma.(22) Also the suffix -ía is very common among Greek plant names and these names are almost always derivative from another Greek word.(23)

But whether or not ash trees and honey are related etymologically, the connection in mythology is definite. First it should be noted that classical writers used a single word to describe three different substances: honey made by bees, honeydew (which we now know is produced by aphids and scale insects), and manna secreted by trees, and that these substances were not necessarily felt to be different in nature. Both the Greeks and the Romans felt that bees' honey resulted from the bees' collection of the other two substances. The belief that honey first falls from the skies, and is then collected by bees, not only from flowers, but also from tree leaves, fields, etc. is well attested. Aristotle says:

The honey is what falls from the air, especially at the risings of the stars and when the rainbow descends. On the whole there is no honey before the [morning] rising of the Pleiad... Honey [the bee] does not make, it fetches what falls.(24)

Pliny the Elder speculates as to the source of this dew:

Honey comes out of the air, and is chiefly formed at the risings of the stars, and especially when the dogstar itself shines forth, and not at all before the risings of the Pleiades, in the periods just before dawn. Consequently at that season at early dawn the leaves of trees are found bedewed with honey and any persons who have been out under the morning sky feel their clothes smeared with damp and their hair stuck together, whether this is the perspiration of the sky, or a sort of saliva of the stars, or the moisture of the air purging itself... Falling from so great a height, and acquiring a great deal of dirt as it comes, and becoming stained with the vapor of the earth that it encounters, and moreover having been sipped from foliage and pastures and having been collected in the stomachs of bees - for they throw it up out of their mouths, and in addition being tainted by the juice of flowers, and soaked in the corruptions of the belly and so often transformed, nevertheless it brings with it the great pleasure of its heavenly nature. (25)

These ancient beliefs, although they have been treated condescendingly by classicists, are neither as untrue nor improbable as one might think at first. A modern scholarly work on honey contains the following:

Honeydew and manna are collected by bees; in some coniferous forests honeydew may provide the main honey flow, and a very prolific one... Honey produced from honeydew is explicitly included in the definition for honey in many countries...(26)

The ancients felt that honeydew spontaneously precipitated from the atmosphere. We ourselves have no trouble believing the same thing about normal dews of water, so it was not unreasonable for the ancients to feel that honeydew was similar in nature. Honeydew was associated with the same seasons as water dews.(27)

The truth about honeydew, that it is the excrement of aphids and scale insects, would have seemed astonishing and bizarre. This is from a modern work on bee-keeping:

Honeydew... is often so abundant on the leaves of trees and bushes that it drops upon the grass and sidewalks, covering them with a glistening coating resembling varnish. At times it falls in minute globules like rain... The dew is forcibly ejected or flipped from the end of the abdomen, and when there are many aphids it falls in a spray of minute globules. If the dew were not thrown a little distance from their bodies they would soon be glued together... When freshly gathered it may be clear, sweet, and agreeable in flavor... The better grades find a sale to bakers.(28)

There is no evidence in the literature that in historical times the Greeks or Romans themselves depended on honeydew or manna as a source of nutrition.(29) Beekeeping requires a settled way of life, but once beekeeping is adopted, there is a large and reliable source of honey, and the incentive to forage for the seasonal wild sugars is reduced. The Greeks and Romans were avid beekeepers - Solon made an ordinance that no man might put a beehive within three hundred feet of his neighbor's (Plutarch, Solon 23. 6).

But the Greeks did note the consumption of manna and honeydew by their barbarian neighbors - and they called these substances méli, or honey. Aelian mentions honey from box trees in Pontus and reports of honey from plants in Thrace. He claims that there are rains of honey in the spring in India (De natura animalium 5.42, 15.7). Diodorus Siculus says that the Nabateans ate "plenty of so-called honey from trees" (Bibliotheca Historica 19.94), probably the Biblical tamarisk manna. Herodotus mentions the town of Callatebus in Lydia, "where craftsmen make honey from wheat and tamarisks" (Historiae 7.31). Polyaenus describes the Persian king's daily requisition of food, inscribed on a brass column. It includes 100 cakes of "raining honey" (úontos mélitos), weighing around ten minae (Strategemata 4.3.32). Strabo tells of some extremely barbaric peoples on the eastern side of Pontus who put bowls of "crazing honey" (mainoménou mélitos) in the road, which they had made from tree twigs. Some of Pompey's troops were supposed to have drunk the mixture, and were driven out of their minds, and so were easily slaughtered (Geographia 12.3.18).

To the north, the Germanic peoples had a unified theory of honey which accounted for all its manifestations. The Prose Edda contains a concise account: The world ash tree, Yggdrasil, has three roots. One root lies in the spring of Mimir, which gives wisdom and understanding. Oðin himself gave up one eye for a single drink from the mead of this spring. Another root lies in the spring of Urð, "which is so sacred that everything that comes into the spring becomes as white as the film... that lies within the eggshell". Snorri quotes from the Völuspá in the Poetic Edda:

I know an ash-tree
known as Yggdrasil
a tall tree and sacred
besprent with white clay
thence comes the dews
that fall on the dales
it stands ever green
over Urð's spring.(30)

After which Snorri comments "The dew which falls from it to the earth is called honey-dew by the men, and the bees feed on it." Rydberg observed:

The flowers receive it in their chalices where the bees extract it, and thus is produced the earthly honey which man uses and from which he brews his mead. Thus the latter too contains some of the strength of Mimer's and Urd's fountains, and thus it happens that it is able to stimulate the mind and inspire poetry and song - nay used with prudence it may suggest excellent expedients in important emergencies.(31)

The white film of Urð's spring and the white clay of the ash tree have puzzled scholars. Ellis Davidson said:

It is said that the ash is sprinkled with aurr from the spring. The meaning of this word is uncertain, but DeVries(32) takes it to mean clear, shining, water.(33)

It is clear enough that aurr is ash tree manna. In his Altnordisches Etymologishes Wörterbuch, de Vries' himself makes the following comment:

Das wort wird auch gedeutet als 'glanz' und in diesem fall entweder aus urgerm. *auzom 'glanz', glänzende flüssigkeit, verwandt mit lat. aurum 'gold' ...oder entlehnt aus lat aurum.(34)

Thus the white clay is in some sense also "gold". As Viktor Rydberg observed a century ago:

Thus the world tree is among the Teutons, as it is among their kinsmen the Iranians, a mead tree...(35)

We may now return to the ash trees' most important service in Greece, as nurses of Zeus in the Diktean Cave on Crete. Rhea contrived to hide the infant Zeus from Kronos in this cave, and various stories are told about arrangements within the cave. Callimachus says that the Diktean Meliai and Adrastea took him into their arms, laid him in a cradle of gold, and gave him honeycomb to eat and the udder of the she-goat Amalthea to suck. It was at this time that bees first began to appear in the surrounding mountains (Hymnus in Jovem 47). In Diodorus Siculus' version the nymphs mixed honey and milk and also gave him Amalthea's udder. The bees' reward for their honey was their golden color and ability to withstand the cold of a mountain climate (Bibliotheca Historica 5.70). Apollodorus gives the nymphs' names as Adrasteia and Ida, daughters of Melisseus (Bibliotheca 1.1.6). Hyginus mentions other stories, naming goats and nymphs who are said to have been nurses of Zeus.(36)

Virgil says that the bees fed Jupiter in payment for the ability to make honey (Georgics 4.150-152); Later Jupiter ended the dripping of honey from trees when he ordained labor for men (Georgics 1.131).

The universal presence of honey in these stories is not surprising: Honey was the first food given to Greek and Roman infants.(37) The presence of the ash trees has been more troubling. As was mentioned above, A. B. Cook wrote a long article in which he discusses the nurses as melíssai, or bee nymphs, and omitted all mention of ash trees.(38) However, if the Meliai are considered to be both ash tree nymphs and honey nymphs due to their production of manna and honeydew, the common elements of these stories make considerably more sense. And strong confirmation of this connection can be found in recent folklore: Apparently even as recently as the beginning of this century, there were Germans who gave newborns honey from ash trees, and Scottish highlanders who gave infants sap from the ash tree for their first food.(39)

The goat Amalthea recalls the goat Heiðrun of Norse mythology, which bites stalks off the branches of the world ash tree and then yields mead from its udders into large jars for the enjoyment of those feasting in Valhalla.(40) One can imagine an earlier version of the story in which the bees were altogether absent, and the ash trees and goat by themselves were sufficient to carry honey mead to Zeus.

The idea of honey raining from heaven onto the world is found in Indian mythology also, and the divine intoxicant Soma is identified in the Vedas with honey that falls from the skies. The twin horsemen Avins have a honey whip (madhurasa), which has been interpreted as lightning. Rig Veda 1.157 is a prayer to them: "Bedew our power with honey and with oil... sprinkle us with your whip that drops honey-dew".(41)

Macdonnell said:

In both the Rig Veda and the Avesta it is stated that the stalks [of Soma] were pressed, that the juice was yellow and mixed with milk; in both it grows in the mountains, and its mythical home is heaven, whence it comes down to earth.(42)

...Soma is the branch of a ruddy tree (Rig Veda 10.94.3) . ...The Soma drops themselves are several times compared with rain (Rig Veda 9.41.3, 9.89.1, 9.106.9) and Soma is said to flow clearly with a stream of honey like the rain-charged cloud (Rig Veda 9.2.9). ...The belief in an intoxicating beverage the home of which is heaven, may be Indo-European. If so, it must have been regarded as a kind of honey mead (Skt. mádhu, Gk. methu, As. medu) brought down to earth from its guardian demon by an eagle (the Soma-bringing eagle of Indra agreeing with the nectar-bringing eagle of Zeus and with the eagle which, as a metamorphosis of Odhinn, carried off the mead).(43)

A huge volume of research has been published about Soma. A large recent bibliography appears in Haoma and Harmaline by D.S. Flattery and M. Schwartz.(44) They argue that the Iranians in their haoma used a species of Ephedra, the American species of which are sometimes called Mormon Tea. No summary of the state of the debate is possible, but it appears that no one has considered the possibility that soma is the memory of a honey mead beverage based on fermentable "honey" obtained from plants. Ash tree manna, as the Dispensatory of the United States of America noted, is fermentable, and ash trees do grow in India, including Fraxinus excelsior (the species familiar to the Germanic peoples), but only in the Himalayas above the elevation of 1300 m.(45)

Furthermore, soma, like the ash tree, is connected with newborns both in folk practice and in myth. Among modern Parsis in Bombay, newborns are still given a few drops of haoma (in the form of Ephedra) as a medicine of longevity,(46) and in Rig Veda 3.32 we are informed that the first thing Indra did after his birth was to drink soma with pleasure. And there is an element of intoxication in the stories of Zeus' infancy: While Amalthea and the ash tree nymphs nursed Zeus in the cave, the Curetes, a warrior band, stood guard outside, drowning out the sound of Zeus' cries with their tambourines, and dancing terrifying war dances. They were in a state of orgiastic possession.(47)

Calvert Watkins provided another link between soma and European customs in an article published in 1977 which discussed the various mixtures of honey, grains, spices, etc. which appear in Greek literature(48) and are still drunk in modern Greece.(49) One famous example is in book 10 of the Odyssey (lines 233-236) in which Circe mixed a drugged beverage that turned men into swine. Watkins notes strong parallels between the accounts of the Greek beverages and the Soma ritual. His conclusion is that there was "a single Indo-European liturgical cultic practice" which gave rise to the Vedic and the Indo-Iranian Soma ritual, to the act of communion of the Eleusinian mysteries, and an archaic Greek warrior ritual by women for men, all involving a mixed potion.

Those who have studied the history of mead have commented that the fermentation of mead was unreliable, and that this may explain the origin of these mixed beverages:

This is an ideal medium for the growth of many undesirable microorganisms, which will multiply if not suppressed by yeast growth ( the opposite is true of most ripe fruits, including grapes, whose surface is covered with yeast cells.) Excellent mead can be made without the addition of spices and herbs, just as good meat is not in need of improvement. The strength, as well as the quantity, of many of the materials added in these old recipes - either before or after fermentation - strongly suggests an attempt to mask a poor or faulty product.(50)

One can imagine a migratory people, collecting honey, honey-dew, and sweet tree resins (calling them all by the same name), fermenting them into a frequently bad product, and throwing in aromatic herbs of every variety, which varied in the course of migrations. There is no reason that every speculation about the hallucinogenic ingredients of soma ever made could not have been true at some place and time. But it seems likely, if the mead of the gods was thought to flow through the ash tree, that ash tree manna in the Urheimat had a symbolic significance in establishing communion with the gods, which after the Indo-Iranian peoples migrated into a tropical area far from ash trees, was remembered only in a most confused manner.

An interesting confirmation is found in the rituals of a Finno-Ugric people who were never converted from their heathen religion. Ellis Davidson has commented on the importance of Finno-Ugric mythology to the understanding of Norse mythology, since there are marked resemblances between the two systems, including the idea of a world tree. In rituals, the Finno-Ugric shamans would ascend the tree symbolically, passing in a state of ecstasy through a series of heavens.(51)

The Cheremiss (or Mari), a Finno-Ugric people, were observed in 1913 by Uno Holmberg.(52) Their homeland lies on the Volga river about 150 km. east of the nearest ash trees.(53) The central tree of their ritual was the lime tree. (Lime tree here is in the older sense, still maintained in Britain, of Linden tree). The lime tree exudes sugary material in great quantity, as is noted in a popular work on bees and honey:

As anyone who has a lime or sycamore in the garden will know, the sticky honeydew generally becomes coated with a black unsightly mold, like soot, as the summer advances... I have tasted pure honeydew "honeys" which looked like axle-grease, but were palatable and in some cases excellent.(54) And it was noted that, at least before the revolution, "in Russia a drink termed lipez is made from the delicious honey of the linden."(55)

The following details of a Cherimiss ceremony in a sacred grove of lime trees are sufficient to suggest a relationship to the ancient tradition suggested by Calvert Watkins, in which women serve men a honey beverage:

To the right of the sacrifice tree, a little round pillar is also stuck in the ground, and a little wooden bowl placed on it. Into this a drink of honey is poured, but judging by the name "resin-bowl" it must formerly have contained resin... Before all this, white cloths are spread on the ground bestrewed with lime branches, and on these rows, the sacrificial "butter and milk" loaves are placed touching one another... Behind the loaves nine wooden bowls are laid parallel with these. Later a drink made of honey is poured into them, the drink being prepared for the festival by young maidens.(56)

This ritual, which connects trees, tree resins, and honey, may be added to the literary evidence already cited, which has shown similar associations in Greek, Germanic, Vedic, and Avestan sources. The world tree for Indo-Europeans was indeed a mead tree, and it rained celestial honey on the world. The secretion of fermentable honey by the ash tree gave the Indo-Europeans good reason for their particular attention to that tree, and for their apparent belief that it was the nurse of gods and men. The honey in its perfect and original form which flowed through the tree provided the food of the gods. Recall that Indra is celebrated for drinking great pools of soma(57) , Oðin eats no food and drinks only "wine"(58), and the nectar and ambrosia of the Olympian gods is often compared to honey.(59) Therefore just as the world ash physically linked gods and men, its fermented resins could provide communion between gods and men.

* I would like to thank Richard Janko of UCLA, Apostolos N. Athanassakis, D. Barton Johnson, Borimir Jordan, and Robert Renehan of UCSB, and Egbert J. Bakker of the University of Leiden for valuable suggestions and comments.

1J. I. Young, trans., The Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson (University of California Press, 1954), p. 37.

2Vafthrunismál 45; J. I. Young, trans., Prose Edda p. 92; H. R. Ellis Davidson, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe (Penguin, 1964) p. 38.

3H. R. Ellis Davidson, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, p. 191.

4Palaephaetus 35; sch. Theogony 187; sch.T Iliad 22.126; According to Hesiod at Opera et Dies 145, the men of the bronze age were made of ash.

5M. L. West, Hesiod: Theogony (Oxford, 1966), p. 221.

6Callimachus, Hymnus in Jovem 47. Other versions of this story will be discussed below.

7A. B. Cook, "The bee in Greek mythology", JHS 15 (1895), pp. 1-24.

8Botanical works do not usually mention the exudations of plants in their morphological descriptions. However, gardeners are well aware of this property - a friend of mine who is a horticulturist in Southern California says he never parks his cars under ash trees in hot weather.

9Modern botanical practice is to rejoin Ornus and Fraxinus into a single genus Fraxinus. Ornus europaea is a synonym of Fraxinus ornus.

10G. Wood and E. Bache, The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 14th edition (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1878), pp. 572-575. The substance was used as a mild laxative. Bees' honey is also a mild laxative, see Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, s.v. "honey". Modern editions of the Dispensatory simply discuss ash tree manna's active component "mannitol" without mention of ash trees.

11Tutin, Heywood, et. al., Flora Europaea (Cambridge University Press, 1972), pp. 53-54.

12E. Huldén, "Studien über Fraxinus excelsior L.", in Acta Botanica Fennica 28 (Helsinki, 1941), map p. 230.

13O. Polunin, Flowers of Greece and the Balkans: a Field Guide (Oxford University Press, 1978), pp. 363-364.

14Since Jones' revision in 1925, LSJ has defined melía as signifying only a single species Fraxinus ornus, the manna ash. boumelía is defined as Fraxinus excelsior. This is in keeping with the general practice of the revised dictionary to provide exactly one scientific name for every Greek common name. This practice is incorrect; in this case it leaves two other species of ash in Greece for which LSJ provides no Greek words. Before Jones, the definition in Liddell and Scott was merely "ash, Fraxinus", which from Theophrastus' description of the compound leaves and other characteristics of the plant is clearly correct. Theophrastus describes boumelios (which has an alternate form boumelía) as a kind of melía, not as a different kind of tree. He comments that some men, like those in Macedonia, distinguish boumelía from melía, but this would seem to imply that he does not do so himself. The entry for "ash" in the eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica mentions seven genera as being "ash trees", and within the single genus Fraxinus, seven species are named. Common names are of an entirely different nature from scientific names, and the ancient Greeks should be allowed the same luxury of imprecision which is found in modern lanugages.

15However P. J. Murr proposed this derivation in 1890 in Die Pflanzenwelt in der Griechischen Mythologie (Groningen, Verlag Bouma's Boekhuis, reprinted 1969) p. 30.

16P. Chantraine, Dict. Étym., s.v melía.

17H. Frisk, GEW, p. 203, s. v. melía.

18Friedrich, Proto-Indo-European Trees (University of Chicago Press, 1970), p. 96. In fact oxúa / oxúe means both "beech tree" and "spear", just like melía / melíe and askr mean both "ash tree" and "spear". Friedrich comments: "The ash cognates illustrate well the relation between the name of a tree and the products manufactured from its wood".

19W. Schulze, Quaestiones Epicae (1892, reprinted by George Olms, Hildesheim, 1967), p. 118.

20W. Prellwitz, Etymologisches Wörterbuch der Griechischen Sprache, (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1905).

21D. L. Page, History and the Homeric Iliad (University of California Press, 1959), p. 240.

22P. Chantraine, Grammaire Homérique, (Paris: Klincksieck, 1958), vol. 1, p. 176.

23A. Carnoy, Dictionnaire Étymologique des Noms Grecs des Plantes (Louvain: Publications Universitaires, 1959). This work contains many examples with etymologies, for example: antikuría "hellebore" from anti + kúrios "withstanding force", keraunía "sempervirum" from kéraunos "thunderbolt", keratonía "carob tree" from keratón "made of horn", kokkugía "wig tree" from kókkux "cuckoo".

24Aristotle, Historia Animalium 5.22, trans. A. L. Peck (Harvard University Press [Loeb], 1970), vol. 2, p. 191.

25Pliny, Natural History 9.30, trans. H. Rackham (Harvard University Press [Loeb], 1940), vol. 2, p. 450.

26E. Crane, ed., Honey: A Comprehensive Survey ( New York: Crane, Russak, and Co., 1975), p. 21.

27See the biblical version at Numbers 11:9. Discussions of the biblical manna may be found in R. Brown et al., The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 1, pp. 55, 90. and B. Anderson, Understanding the Old Testament (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1975) pp. 76-77. It was excreted by scale insects on Tamarisk trees. Bedouins still rely on this food source today.

28A. I. Root, The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture (Medina, Ohio: A. I. Root Co., 1980), p. 385.

29However, I have been told by A. N. Athanassakis that in Greece today there is a sugary substance called zakharómelos which is gathered from fir trees in the springtime.

30J. I. Young, trans., Prose Edda, pp. 42-46 (Gylfaginning 16).

31V. Rydberg, Teutonic Mythology, trans. by R. B. Anderson (London: Swann Sonnenschein, 1889), p. 438; cf. Tacitus, Germania 22.

32J. de Vries, Altgermanische Religiongeschichte (Berlin, 1957), II, p. 380.

33H. R. Ellis Davidson, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, p. 195. Aurr in modern Icelandic means "mud, wet clay, loam". See Alexander Jóhanneson, Isländisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch, (Bern: Franke Verlag, 1956), p. 140. Jóhanneson derives aurr from *uer- "wet"; cf. Calvert Watkins, American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985), p. 74, s. v. *wegw-.

34J. de Vries, Altnordisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1962) s. v. aurr, p. 20.

35Rydberg, Teutonic Mythology, p. 439.

36Hyginus, Fabulae 139, 182; Astronomia 2.13. See also G. H Bode, ed., Scriptores Rerum Mythicarum (Cellis: E. H. C. Schulze, 1834), 1.104, 2.16, pp. 34, 79.

37Hermann Usener, "Milch und Honig", Rheinisches Museum 1902, pp. 177-195. See especially footnote 20.

38A. B. Cook, "The bee in Greek mythology", JHS 15 (1895), PP. 1-24.

39Charles M. Skinner, Myths and Legends of Flowers, Trees, Fruits, and Plants, Philadelphia: J. P. Lippincott, 1925), p. 54.

40J. I. Young, trans., Prose Edda, p. 64.; L. M. Hollander, trans., The Poetic Edda, Grimnismal 25, p. 58.

41R. Griffith, trans., The Hymns of the Rig Veda (Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, 1963).

42 A. A. Macdonnell, Vedic Reader (Madras: Oxford University Press, 1917), p. 154.

43A. A. Macdonnell, Vedic Mythology (Strassburg: Trübner, 1897), pp. 104-114.

44D. S. Flattery and M. Schwartz, Haoma and Harmaline, University of California Publications: Near Eastern Studies, vol. 2 (University of California Press, 1989), pp. 153-172.

45J. D. Hooker, The Flora of British India (Brook, Kent: L. Reeve and Co., 1882) vol. 3, pp. 605-606.

46S. Madhihassan, "Ephedra, the Oldest Medicinal Plant with the History of an Uninterrupted Use", Ancient Science of Life, vol. 7 no. 2 (1987), pp. 105-109. The author believes that Ephedra was the original soma, but notes the apparent equivalence of Fraxinus excelsior in that both were the source of a newborn's first food.

47Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1.1.7; Strabo, Geographia 10.3.10-11.

48C. Watkins, "Let us now praise famous grains", Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 122, pp. 9-17.

49A. N. Athanassakis, personal communication.

50R. A. Morse and K. H. Steinkraus, "Wines from the fermentation of honey", in E. Crane, ed. Honey, p. 395. The authors studied medieval recipes.

51H. R. Ellis Davidson, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, p. 192.

52U. Holmberg, "Finno-Ugrian, Siberian mythology", in J. A. MacColloch, ed., The Mythology of All Races (Boston, Marshall Jones, 1927), vol. 4.

53Hulden, "Studien über F. excelsior", map p. 230; cf. Holmberg in MacColloch, Mythology of All Races, map, p.1.

54D. More, The Bee Book (New York: Universe Books, 1976), p.73.

55Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, s.v. "honey".

56Holmberg, pp. 266-267. It is possible that the observer didn't know the origin of the "honey" in the resin bowls.

57Rig Veda 1.104.9, 6.17.11, 8.66.4, etc.

58J. I. Young, trans. Prose Edda, p. 66.

59C. Daremberg and E. Saglio, Dictionnaire des antiquités greques et romaines (Paris, 1875), s.v. "ambrosia", "nectar", "mel".