Trees and herbs were also seen as in possession of the divine; they housed the spirits/gods too. Þôrr resided in the oak tree. Ôðinn in the ash tree. Sunna (the Sun) in the apple tree etc. Further, they were believed to reside in several different trees; e.g. Sunna's temple was built around or near a tree sacred to Sunna, such as the acacia (acacia
), the orange tree (citrus sinesis
), the birch (betula
), the beech (fagus sylvatica
), the oak (quercus
), the apple tree (malus sylvestris
), the hazel (corylus avellana
), the laurel tree (laurus nobilis
), the stone pine (pinus pinea
), the populus (populus
), the rowan tree (sorbus aucuparia
) or the lemon tree (citrus limon
The spirits/gods were so important for the properties of these plants that when the ancient sorcerers cut them down, for use in potions, they used only special, sacred knives or sickles for this purpose; known best as the golden sickles of the druids, and in Scandinavia for their rune carvings spelling the word linalaukaz
("white linen clothing flower meadow"), suggesting the herbs were gathered (as we know they were by the druids) from the meadows in white linen clothing - to make sure they were not "relieved" of their sorcerous powers by contact with the soil or anything else impure.
Now, some spirits are weak, others are strong, but they all come from the Sun; all life on Earth is "caused" and maintained by the Sun! So everything that has been granted life by the Sun has been granted a spirit of some sort, a spark from the Sun, A tiny bit of the Sun on Earth. Warmth. Light. Yes; light...
This may sound fantastical, but it is actually what happens in real life; the warm light of the Sun is the direct cause of all life on Earth, whether or not we think of this as spirits. This light is then changed over time as it is continuously fed by more light from the Sun. Even if you burn the wood, in your fireplace in complete darkness inside a stone house, this is still light that stems from the Sun, because the trees too have their light from the Sun. Everything on this planet does!
Well, perhaps not everything, because we are indeed influenced in this context not only by our Sun, but also the stars (other Suns) and the reflection of Sunlight/Starlight from other celestial objects - such as Mercury (Loki), Venus (Freyr), the Moon (Mâni), Mars (Tyr), Jupiter (Þôrr), Saturn (Heimdallr), Uranus (Ôðinn), Neptune (Njörðr) and even Pluto (Hel). And of course the light reflected by our own planet Earth (Jörð).
The trees and other plants would also be shaped by this light. Perhaps they knew or just believed that some trees and plants were able to accept and store the light (and warmth) of one or more celestial light sources better than the others. The oak tree the power of Þôrr (and Baldr, and Sunna...), for example. Because of this they became the shapes of those deities or spirits. Their attributes.
The most important deities of our forebears were not, like many believe today, Ôðinn or Þôrr, but the Sun and the Moon. Even during the Viking Age the Sun and the Moon remained the most important deities - although often in the background; like a King and Queen watching over their court. They were the most important sources of light. The Sun during the day, and the Moon during the night. The Sun worship was linked to mountains and the Moon worship to sacred sources - reflecting the light of the Moon. The by far most common names in Norway support this too, and these names always come in pairs; the Sun and the Moon. Like Solherg
("Sun Mountain") and Skadvin
("Meadow of Skaði) or Skadvatn
("Lake of Skaði"), always located very close to each other. The whole Scandinavian peninsula is even named after the Moon goddess Skaði (originally a god called Skanþan) of hunting; Skanþinawio ("Skanþan's Land by the Sea" or "The Islands of Skaði").
Light does influence not just our physical bodies, but also our minds. The European pantheon could then very well be a carefully investigated and categorized list of divine (light) influences on the human mind. Our behaviour and our blood (genetic makeup) allow us to accept more or less light from the different deities, to strengthen this or that deity in us much or little.