If you’re a tree hugger, all is well. If you’re an arborist, even better. But if yer a tree chopper, you might want to be sure these little darlin’s don’t really exist. If you kill the tree, you kill the Hamadryad of that tree. That pisses off the gods and you know what that means, right?
Hamadryads live in the trees, more precisely in an individual tree. They are a specific type of dryad, which are a type of nymph. A nymph is a minor female nature deity usually associated with a specific location or landform.
They are different from other goddesses in that they are divine spirits who animate nature. They are beautiful young maidens who love to dance and sing. Their amorous freedom makes them very different from wives and daughters of the Greek polis. Now we know why those guys were hugging those trees.
Nymphs are beloved and can be found in forests by lakes and streams, and in or on trees.
Hamadryads are born bonded to a certain tree. If the tree dies, the hamadryad associated with it dies as well. For that reason, dryads and the gods punished any mortals who harmed trees.
I feel a twinge when I read Poe’s sonnet to science. To a degree, the poet is scolding science and, in a way, me.
He pines well for the wonderfulness of fantasy and nature’s unknown wonders. He is right.
Sonnet—To Science (By Edgar Allan Poe)
Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet’s heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car,
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?
Source: The Complete Poems and Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (Pub: Alfred A Knopf, 1946)
Look both ways as you walk the woods
and recall within each tree lives a Hamadryad to protect.
Mind the gaps and morn the loss of so many trees.