Trees in Taiwanese Folklore
In Taiwanese folklore, the worship of immortal trees has taken various forms. Often such practices are closely related to the worship of the earth god. In other cases, what is called Dashugong, literally ‘great tree god’, acts as a child’s guardian figure: the health and reproduction of a living tree in an otherworldly setting parallel the health and posterity of a human being. Religious rituals associated with ancient tree worship continue today. Trees symbolise fertility in folk beliefs and in folk art, and the impact of ancient beliefs may be traced in horticultural practices, and in the retail sale of trees. The idea that gods reside in large trees persists, as does the belief that a tree spirit appears only when it – or the living tree – is confronted, wounded, or killed. Reacting to such violence, a tree spirit becomes vengeful and dangerous. Government agencies and environmentalists have alluded to this concept to promote conservation. When an old tree dies, people nowadays plant a sapling to replace it. The tree of life continues to be celebrated, no longer for its gigantic profile but as a symbol of renewal.