News, views and festival clues...

  • Jennifer Howden

The 'mystree' - rooted in the local community...

Updated: Aug 28, 2018

The Mystery Literary Festival came to life through the Beautiful Ideas Company’s Beautiful Parks project, an initiative which encourages Liverpool communities to make use of the parks and green spaces that surround them. Our festival is a celebration of the Wavertree Playground, known colloquially as ‘the Mystery’.


So, what better to represent the Mystery Literary Festival than a tree?

But not just any old tree: an aspen tree – a tree rich in mythology, with its roots set firmly in the underworld; a tree representing shared stories and a symbol of the strength of community. Our mystery ‘mystree’ – the namesake of Wavertree.



Known as ‘waefre treow’ in the Domesday Book, Wavertree’s roots are shrouded in mystery, with many experts believing that the place name is derived from the term ‘wavering tree’, in relation to the abundance of aspen trees in the area – trees which stand tall in the area today.


The aspen tree – the icon of the Mystery Literary Festival, sits at the heart of our brand for more reasons than it just being a little bit mysterious looking; it encapsulates what the Mystery Literary Festival is about – community.


Rarely will you find a solitary aspen tree. With roots spreading throughout the earth’s soil, aspen trees thrive in a group; interconnected roots share nutrients throughout the grove and support each individual tree throughout its life. If one aspen tree needs water, the rest will work in unison to pass water through their roots from areas of abundance, to the ailing tree. If affected by forest fires or droughts, aspen roots can remain dormant for years, and then magically regenerate as a community, returning as strong and durable as before.


Aspen trees flourish when their groves contain trees of all levels of maturity – the perfect representation of strength through diversity – and symbolic of a community uniting for a common cause and purpose.


Taking a mythical and mystical twist, the aspen is featured heavily throughout folklore and legend around the world. The sacred tree of Persephone – the daughter of Zeus – aspen crowns were gifted to legendary heroes, to ensure their safe passage into the underworld; allowing them to travel between the two worlds unharmed.


Celtic mythology believes that the trembling leaves of the aspen represents the tree communicating between this world and the next. The aspen is the ‘whispering tree’ that the Celts revered as a mystical portal to speak with their ancestors, through which they could share inspiration and poetry.


And on an additional literary note… The aspen is valuable in paper production and is used as a source of pulp for books.


The Mystery Literary Festival takes place in Liverpool on 22 & 23 September 2018. For more information, sign up to our newsletter.

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©  The Mystery Literary Festival 2018

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