“Castagno dei Cento Cavalli” – Jean-Pierre Houël (1776-1779)
*Post originally created in Jan 2017, updated 30 Jan 2020*
Known as the 100 Horse Chestnut Tree, (“Castagne de Cento Cavalli”), the ancient tree is considered to be between 2000 and 4000 years old. It is the oldest tree in Europe and the oldest Chestnut Tree in the world. The Tree lives on Mount Etna in Sicily, which is the most active volcano in Europe. The Tree has survived several earthquakes, (which have devastated cities along the east coast of the Island), volcanic eruptions, as well as seen the rise and fall of numerous ancient cultures, over thousands of years.
The name “Castagno de cento Cavalli” (Chestnut Tree of 100 horses) derives from a traditional story in which a queen of Aragon and her company of one hundred knights, during a trip to Mount Etna, were caught in a severe thunderstorm. The Queen and her horsemen all took shelter under the tree.
We visited the tree in winter, just as spring was about to arrive in Sicily. The advantage of this was to see the structure of the ancient trunk and the beauty of the trees form because there was no foliage. After the mystical events that played out over the course of our visit to the tree, (more information to follow) we returned to the tree at a full moon. For me, this was the most memorable, sacred time I spent alone with the ancient tree being.
The following beautiful text (translated from Italian) was taken from a sign, located at the foot of the Chestnut Tree:
Monument Messenger of the Culture of Peace.
Throughout the centuries, the tree has been a favorite destination of men and women of all backgrounds. The tree has brought these people together by their common desire to experience pristine nature, the potential inspirer of superhuman and eternal messages and the means by which we discover the absolute within each of us. Next to this tree, all find harmony with nature and peace with one another and the universe. The passions and anguish within the soul relax as it finds equilibrium and the body finds its well-being.
The site was cherished by visitors in the 18th and 19th centuries for its wild and overgrown appearance, which evoked in their minds the idea of the tree as a symbol of fertility. The chestnut vividly demonstrates the generative power and fecundity of nature. The tree is renowned as a symbol of life force. Around its trunk, it attracts lovers from around the world. Thus, the dialogue between man and nature becomes permanent and infinite, an endless union that brings together the richness and fertility of the tree with the industrious of man. Various rituals and legends are associated with the thousand-year-old chestnut. One fascinating myth tells of a queen named Giovanna, beloved by her retinue of one hundred knights, who all took refuge with her one stormy night under the boughs of this majestic tree.
* * *
A Message for the Soul
“When I create my music, I feel like an instrument of nature.
I wonder what delight nature must feel when we open our hearts
and express our God-given talents….
the sound of approval arose across the universe
and the whole world abounds in magic, wonder fills our hearts
for what we have glimpsed for an instant,
the playfulness of life…”
* * *
There is a harmony, a rhythm in all of creation, which we are a part of.
Every moment, miracles happen before our very eyes, yet we have been programmed to dull our senses and walk through life blindfolded.
The playfulness of life flows through the transparent heart of our inner child.
However, for many of us, this vulnerable child has been forgotten, abandoned, neglected, rejected and deeply hurt.
Can we commit ourselves to the ongoing Inner work of reconnecting with our inner child?…The inner child who longs for our recognition, love, and compassion?
As we progress on this Soul Journey and heal our inner child (children), we become more open to feel and see the magic and wonder, which surrounds us.
We open ourselves more to receive the love and divine guidance of our spirit helpers – in the form of angels, spirit and animal guides or our many ancestors who all walk beside us.
We become more present to each moment and conscious of how we can be of service to humanity, all of life and Mother Earth – through simply being our authentic self, honoring and sharing our soul gifts, unique talents and strengths.
“Cento Cavalli” A newborn, abandoned puppy I found under the 100 Horse Chestnut Tree.
Juerg and I are taking care of Cento Cavalli and after 10 days, he is doing very well.
We named him “Cento Cavalli” or “Cento” to honour the magnificent, ancient tree he was born and found under.
We also believed this name would give him the strength, trust, and resilience he needed – considering he was left without a mother at such a tender, early stage of his life.
UPDATE 30.01.2020: Cento Cavalli has recently celebrated his 3 year anniversary with us. We feel very blessed to have him with us on our journey. We know that the way he came into our lives was very magical and that he is an ancient teacher of the playfulness in life! Cento teaches us to slow down, be in the moment and to always make time to laugh, create simple fun and play together! In October 2019 we returned to the Castagne tree where we found Cento. The time spent there was a wonderful and magical point of reflection on our journey together over 3 years.
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