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Archive for December 9th, 2010

Vandals have destroyed one of the most celebrated Christian pilgrimage sites in Britain and chopped down a tree said to have sprouted from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea 2,000 years ago.

The Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury, Somerset, is visited by thousands every year to pay homage and leave tokens of worship. Those visiting today were moved to tears on finding the tree cut to a stump.

The sacred tree is unique in that it blossoms twice a year – at Christmas and Easter – and sprigs taken from the thorn are sent to The Queen each year for the festive table.

the vandalised holy thorn tree Police tape surrounds the vandalised Holy Thorn tree on Wearyall Hill in Glastonbury as stunned locals look on. The branches were cut off overnight and a police investigation has been launched

 

The tree in all its glory before it was hacked apart. Legend says it sprang from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea, the man who helped Jesus of the cross. To the right of the tree, in the distance, is Glastonbury TorThe tree in all its glory before it was hacked apart. Legend says it sprang from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea, the man who helped Jesus of the cross. To the right of the tree, in the distance, is Glastonbury Tor

 

A member of the public gathers sprigs from the vandalised Holy Thorn tree that was cut down overnight
People come to say prayers over the vandalised remains of the hawthorn tree on Wearyall Hill

A member of the public gathers sprigs from the chopped branches while (right) onlookers cry and say prayers

BROUGHT TO LIFE BY JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA, CHOPPED DOWN BY CROMWELL’S ROUNDHEADS, REBORN THANKS TO LOCALS

oliver cromwell

Christian legend dictates that Jesus’s great uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, came to Britain after the crucifixion 2,000 years ago bearing the Holy Grail – the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper.

He visited Glastonbury and thrust his staff into Wearyall Hill, just below the Tor, planting a seed for the original thorn tree.

Roundheads felled the tree during the English Civil War, when forces led by Oliver Cromwell (pictured) waged a vicious battle against the Crown.

However, locals salvaged the roots of the original tree, hiding it in secret locations around Glastonbury.

It was then replanted on the hill in 1951. Other cuttings were also grown and placed around the town – including its famous Glastonbury Abbey.

Experts had verified that the tree – known as the Crategus Monogyna Bi Flora – originated from the Middle East.

A sprig of holy thorns was taken from the Thorn tree by Glastonbury’s St Johns Church on Wednesday and sent to the Queen.

The 100-year-old tradition will see the thorns sit on Her Majesty’s dinner table on Christmas Day

Avon and Somerset Police have launched an investigation after locals found that vandals had hacked off the branches of the iconic tree. They were dumped next to the trunk which is protected by a metal cage.

Locals wept openly today at the foot of the tree, on the town’s Wearyall Hill opposite its world-famous Tor as they struggled to contain their emotion.

Katherine Gorbing, curator of Glastonbury Abbey, said: ‘The mindless vandals who have hacked down this tree have struck at the heart of Christianity.

‘It holds a very special significance all over the world and thousands follow in the footsteps of Joseph Arimathea, coming especially to see it.

‘It is the most significant of all the trees planted here and can be linked back to the origins of Christianity.

‘When I arrived at the Abbey this morning you could look over to the hill and see it was not there.

‘It’s a great shock to everyone in Glastonbury – the landscape of the town has changed overnight.’

Glastonbury Mayor John Coles rushed to the tree site after he heard the news.

Mr Coles, 66, said: ‘I’m stood on Wearyall Hill looking at a sad, sad, sight. The tree has been chopped down – someone has taken a saw to it.

‘Some of the main trunk is there but the branches have been sawn away. I am absolutely lost for words – I just do not know why people would want to do this.

‘This tree was visited by thousands of people each year and is one of the most important Christian sites. It is known all over the world.’

Deputy Mayor William Knight, 63, added: ‘This is absolutely mindless. We are all devastated.’

I lived in Glastonbury for many years and this is a sad day……………

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Few people realize that the origins of a form of Christmas was pagan & celebrated in Europe long before anyone there had heard of Jesus Christ.

Pagans at Stonehenge

Pagans at Stonehenge

 

No one knows what day Jesus Christ was born on. From the biblical description, most historians believe that his birth probably occurred in September, approximately six months after Passover

One thing they agree on is that it is very unlikely that Jesus was born in December, since the bible records shepherds tending their sheep in the fields on that night. This is quite unlikely to have happened during a cold Judean winter. So why do we celebrate Christ’s birthday as Christmas, on December the 25th?

The answer lies in the pagan origins of Christmas. In ancient Babylon, the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25. Raucous partying, gluttonous eating and drinking, and gift-giving were traditions of this feast.

In Rome, the Winter Solstice was celebrated many years before the birth of Christ. The Romans called their winter holiday Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, the God of Agriculture. In January, they observed the Kalends of January, which represented the triumph of life over death. This whole season was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The festival season was marked by much merrymaking. It is in ancient Rome that the tradition of the Mummers was born. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and dancers who traveled from house to house entertaining their neighbors. From this, the Christmas tradition of caroling was born.

In northern Europe, many other traditions that we now consider part of Christian worship were begun long before the participants had ever heard of Christ. The pagans of northern Europe celebrated the their own winter solstice, known as Yule. Yule was symbolic of the pagan Sun God, Mithras, being born, and was observed on the shortest day of the year. As the Sun God grew and matured, the days became longer and warmer. It was customary to light a candle to encourage Mithras, and the sun, to reappear next year.

Huge Yule logs were burned in honor of the sun. The word Yule itself means “wheel,” the wheel being a pagan symbol for the sun. Mistletoe was considered a sacred plant, and the custom of kissing under the mistletoe began as a fertility ritual. Hollyberries were thought to be a food of the gods.

The tree is the one symbol that unites almost all the northern European winter solstices. Live evergreen trees were often brought into homes during the harsh winters as a reminder to inhabitants that soon their crops would grow again. Evergreen boughs were sometimes carried as totems of good luck and were often present at weddings, representing fertility. The Druids used the tree as a religious symbol, holding their sacred ceremonies while surrounding and worshipping huge trees.

In 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated on December 25. There is little doubt that he was trying to make it as painless as possible for pagan Romans (who remained a majority at that time) to convert to Christianity. The new religion went down a bit easier, knowing that their feasts would not be taken away from them.Christmas (Christ-Mass) as we know it today, most historians agree, began in Germany, though Catholics and Lutherans still disagree about which church celebrated it first. The earliest record of an evergreen being decorated in a Christian celebration was in 1521 in the Alsace region of Germany. A prominent Lutheran minister of the day cried blasphemy: “Better that they should look to the true tree of life, Christ.”The controversy
External links:
http://ukpagan.com/
Stonehenge Stone Circle
http://www.paganfed.org/
http://www.pagan-network.org/site/

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