There are three Acacia tree species in this region: The “Acacia tortilis subsp. raddiana” (Bedouin: Sayyal), Umbrella Thorn Acacia “Acacia tortilis subsp. tortilis” (Bedouin : Samar, Samarah) and giant Talh. Many parts of the tree including roots, shoots, and pods are also often used by natives for a vast number of purposes including tools, and medicines. It is believed that exposure to the Acacia smoke relieves rheumatic pains.
The Acacia was considered sacred in the Old Testament, and it was forbidden to use its wood for any secular purpose, such as building homes or making furniture.
The Acacia tree was also sacred to the Arabs, who used its wood to make idols ...of their deity Al Uzza. The ancient traditions of Arabia suggest that the goddess Al Uzza resided in the Acacia tree (Shajarat Samarat). According to The Book of Idols by Hisham al-Kalbi, an arab built a house called “Buss” over Al Uzza groves, in which people used to receive communications from the oracle.
Another shepherds deity also believed to reside in a tree was Egyptian Hathor. Interestingly, Hathor was worshiped by the Midianites at her temple in Timna, near the gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea.One of the titles of Osiris was 'He that Dwelleth in the Acacia Tree'.
It is believed that the chemical substance DMT found in many Acacia species can produce a powerful psychoactive effect, causing revelatory mind states with profound spiritual and intellectual ramifications.
In the Arabic tradition, the Midianites name were associated with the semi-parasitic plant that grows on top of the Acacia tree. This plant is known as Ayka or Aika (Arabic.) The Aika grows in a vine that resemble a coiled snake, symbolizing the holy spirit or the higher consciousness that descends from the heavens. When in bloom, the vines produce red flowers that, when seem from a distance, create the illusion that the tree is on fire. Thus, according to some Hebrew sources, the Loranthus acaciae vine is called the burning bush.
However, the association between the Aika and the Midianites is rarely touched upon by the scholars. This is because no one knew that the Aika plant was known locally by a completely different name; to the Bedouins, it was Anamah.
To the shaman the Acacia tree with its semi parasitic vine symbolizes the path of the fire spirit that rises from the base of the spine to the apex of the skull (similar to the concept of Kundalini). Alchemists in the Middle Ages, who derived their science primarily from the Arabs, spoke about the "Fire" necessary in all alchemical operations, and they also spoke about a “Living Silver”: a spiritual water, symbolized as a serpent of quicksilver.
According to Manly P Hall in his book, The Secret Teachings of All Ages: “Certain plants, minerals, and animals have been sacred among all the nations of the earth because of their peculiar sensitiveness to the astral fire - a mysterious agency in Nature which the scientific world has contacted through its manifestations of electricity and magnetism. Lodestone and radium in the mineral world and various parasitic growths in the plant kingdom are strangely susceptible to this cosmic electric fire, or universal life force.”
It seems that certain plants, which are thought to have mind-altering effect on the human brain, are also places where the deity was thought to reside. It can be assumed that these plants were ingested ceremonially by the desert tribes in a religious, shamanic or spiritual context, thus serving as entheogens.