Hoole's words suddenly came back to Grank. He swiveled his head toward the young king. "You said the tree had Ga', lad. We should call it Ga'Hoole. Ga'Hoole," he shouted to the clouds and the rising sun.
—Grank, The Coming of Hoole
The Great Ga'Hoole Tree, often simply called the Great Tree, refers to the large, sprawling tree found on the Island of Hoole, and the society that lives within it. The tree is home to mostly owls and blind snakes, as well as the legendary Guardians of Ga'Hoole.
The Great Ga'Hoole Tree is over a thousand years old, since it sprouted in the time of The Legends of Ga'Hoole.
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While on their way to Beyond the Beyond, Hoole, Grank, Theo and Phineas stopped on an island in the middle of a vast sea in the Southern Kingdoms (also known as the S'yrthghar). Upon landing on the island, the owls noticed that it was barren and lifeless. Hoole, being grieved because of his lost mother, let loose a few tears on the soil. This caused a seedling tree to push up out of the ground at an incredibly fast rate. Despite Grank's protests, Hoole claimed that the seedling tree had Ga' (great spirit). The owls then left the island but unknown to them, the seedling tree continued to grow and became as luminous as the egg Hoole had hatched out of. When Hoole, barely a king after the battle in the Beyond, decided to establish his court on the island. As the king and his company of owls flew across the Sea of Hoolemere, they discovered that the tiny seedling tree had become enormous in size. The place was known from that point on as Ga'Hoole and the tree the Great Ga'Hoole Tree.
Recently, revealed in Lost Tales of Ga' Hoole, Otulissa claimed the Ga'Hoole Tree had bloomed a flower, therefore containing a seed that would become a second Ga'Hoole Tree. There is a theory that a Ga'Hoole Tree starts blooming a thousand years after its birth, and a seed to a Ga'Hoole Tree will only grow once it comes in contact with the tears of an embered king. If this proves to be true, Ga'Hoole may not have a second Great Tree until an embered king is born again.
"The Great Ga'Hoole Tree is a most unusual tree. Beyond it's immense size and extraordinary longevity, it's natural history is full of fascinating facts and phenomena."
—Otulissa, A Guide Book to the Great Tree
The Great Tree is an enormous tree that has lived for over a thousand years. It has many hollows for the Guardians to rest in, or for other reasons, like the library and the parliament. The tree had guest hollows, and visitors could also nest on the outer branches. During the Striga's time manipulating Coryn, enough Blue Brigade owls moved into the tree that all of these guest places were full.
For some reason, when King Coryn brought the Ember of Hoole to the Great Tree for the first time, the Tree stayed a gold color, even during winter when it should have been white. This continued until the Ember was hidden in a cache of bonk coals, which were thought to contain its power.
"You know, the berries taste like what some creatures call milk," Grank added. "Some owls call them milkberries now," Grank said.
—Grank, To Be a King
Milkberries are a popular fruit in the Great Ga'Hoole Tree. The milkberries are shaped like a teardrop and grow on vines hanging from the tree. The berries obtained their teardrop shape from the tears of the first Ga'Hoolian King, Hoole, himself. Foods that contain the milkberries are Milkberry Tea and Milkberry Tart. Those dishes are popular in the Great Ga'Hoole Tree. The milkberries' color will change with the season. In the time of the silver rain(spring), they are silver, in the time of the golden rain (summer), they are gold, in the time of the copper-rose rain (autumn), they are copper-rose, and in the time of the white rain (winter), they are white. The seasons of the Great Tree are named after the colors of the milkberries.
The Island of Hoole's climate is temperate, the Tree experiencing four distinct seasons. Being in the middle of the sea, the Tree is subjected to harsh weather at times, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, which the Weather Interpretation chaw learns to navigate.
As a society, the Great Ga'Hoole Tree appears to function as a constitutional monarchy, ruled by either a king and queen or a single monarch. These monarchs make important decisions for the Great Tree with the input of the parliament, a group of trusted advisors mostly consisting of the head rybs (teachers) of the Tree's chaws. Throughout most of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series, the monarchs of the Great Tree are King Boron and Queen Barran.
It is unknown by what means Boron and Barran ascended the throne, but after Coryn retrieved the Ember of Hoole, they both died together as Coryn was then destined to be the Tree's next true king by divine right.
The Great Tree's economy is not described in any great detail. The main goals of Ga'Hoole as a society appear to be helping owls of neighboring kingdoms, improving and maintaining a high quality of life for their own citizens, providing homes for owls and a place where both citizens and outsiders can learn. Most jobs performed by the owls of the Tree are to either benefit their own society or to help outsiders in need; the only thing workers expect in return for their labor is the improvement of society as a whole, as the Great Ga'Hoole Tree uses no form of physical currency. The owls of Ga'Hoole also do a small amount of trading with outside parties, notably Trader Mags.
While not without its societal flaws, in many ways, the Great Ga'Hoole Tree fits the definition of a utopia.
As mentioned in The Golden Tree, the Great Ga'Hoole Tree is notable for its lack of a prison, and the prison briefly constructed during that particular book is quickly demolished upon the return of Coryn.
For small misdemeanors such as bad behavior or rudeness, rybs may assign a flint mop to a particular student. These punishments often take the form of community volunteer work or extra classwork. More serious offenses are handled by the parliament. The most severe form of punishment sentenced by the parliament is usually exile to either the Glauxian Brothers' Retreat or the Glauxian Sisters' Retreat in the Northern Kingdoms. Here it is hoped that exiled owls will come to understand the severity their transgressions after many nights of quiet contemplation.
Agriculture and cuisine
While agriculture is only hinted at in the series, it appears the owls of Ga'Hoole have learned how to cultivate certain crops for their consumption, most notably milkberries and nootie nuts. Honey is also mentioned, perhaps suggesting that the owls of the Tree practice beekeeping. Protein sources such as mice, voles, rats, bats, rabbit, fish and insects are acquired via hunting and gathering.
Meals are usually eaten communally in the dining hollow, prepared by a team of cooks. Owls at the Great Tree eat most of their meals cooked unless they prefer otherwise; Ezylryb would always make his students eat their mice or rats raw and whole before flying into a storm, convinced raw meals were more filling.
The owls of Ga'Hoole also make a variety of beverages. Tea made from milkberries is a common drink enjoyed by most owls at the Great Tree. milkberries are also made into bingle juice, an alcoholic drink similar to cider or wine, as well as milkberry mead, which is similar to bingle juice but with a higher alcohol content.
Holidays and events
Main article: Ga'Hoole Calender
The Great Ga'Hoole Tree observes many different holidays and annual events. The dates usually fall on equinoxes, solstices, and dates around these lunar events.
Painting and illustration are widespread hobbies at the Great Tree. Artists also work in collaboration with writers to illustrate books. Rikard is a notable artist mentioned in A Guide Book to the Great Tree.
The Great Ga'Hoole Tree is famous for its extensive library as well as the many authors who have contributed to it. These authors include both owls and snakes alike.
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The Great Tree maintains a long tradition of having a resident member of the Plonk family sing for the whole tree accompanied by the music of the Great Grass Harp, which is played by the harp guild. Besides this, it appears individual owls also take up singing as a hobby. In The Rescue, rowdy, boisterous folk songs are sung during the Milkberry Harvest Festival.
In The Golden Tree, Fritha is briefly mentioned to have written plays, suggesting theater is written and performed at the Great Tree. However, this aspect of Ga'Hoole's cultural arts is never elaborated on.
- Great Hollow- One of the main chambers, location of the Great Grass Harp
- Dining Hollow- Where all the owls gather to eat meals
- Parliament Hollow- Meeting place of the Parliament to discuss important issues
- Listening Chambers- Hollow chambers below the Parliament Hollow, can be used to listen in on meetings
- Library- Run by Ezylryb, one of the largest libraries in the Southern Kingdoms, location of the Research-and-Printing chaw after it is established
- The Band's Old Hollow- The hollow Soren shared with the rest of the Band when they first arrived at the tree
- Snake Social Branches- High branches of the tree where the snakes meet to socialize
- The Island of Hoole- The rest of the island beneath the tree, a small forest with a beach