Posts Tagged ‘Glastonbury’

Note: I meant to post this a couple weeks ago, but was sidetracked. Though not the most timely post, I still wanted to comment on the situation.

The Holy Thorn before being vandalized in 2010.

On Palm Sunday (April 1), the good folks of Glastonbury tried to move forward from a terrible event – they planted a new Holy Thorn tree on top of Wearyall Hill. You might remember the story seen here last September about the vandalizing of the thorn tree in December 2010 and the subsequent efforts to save it.

However, the misdirected affection for the tree by people pouring honey and beer on it and removing leaves from it (presumably as souvenirs) has prevented it from making a recovery (take it from this gardener – the best uses for beer in the garden are to kill slugs and to speed up composting – not to help a tree recover from damage). According to the This is Somerset web site, a new shoot taken from a Devon nursery’s parent tree that was originally taken from Glastonbury was used to replace it.

Much to the shock and dismay of many, vandals have destroyed the new thorn tree as well. Though there are already plans to replace it and try to make it more secure, this is devastating news. Further, it is a pathetic act committed by selfish individuals.

In case you are unfamiliar with the story of the Glastonbury Holy Thorn, there is a body of mythology about Joseph of Arimathea coming to England after the death of Jesus, wearily climbing the hill where they landed (now Glastonbury’s Wearyall Hill), and planting his staff – which took root and became the thorn tree.

Some folks might wonder why I, as a Pagan, would be that concerned with the destruction of a clearly Christian symbol. Well, here’s a few basic answers to start with:

  • As a law-abiding citizen, I deplore the illegal destruction of property.
  • As a tree hugger, I deplore the destruction of one of Gaia’s trees.

But the main reason is that the Christian and Pagan elements at Glastonbury are interwoven. Joseph is credited not only with causing a thorn tree to grow but also with bringing the Holy Grail to the Isle. Further, the legends of the Grail family say they are descended from him. Yet there are Pagan associations with the Grail, particularly the idea of the Celtic Cauldron of Rebirth being the mythological predecessor of the Grail. And there are other Pagan colorings to the Grail stories.

The truth is, these two seemingly disparate religions share much when it comes to Glastonbury and its legends. And both Pagans and Christians travel to this place as a spiritual quest – walking together up the Tor and visiting the Chalice Well and Gardens. Much like the vesica piscis design that adorns the Chalice Well’s cover, these two religions are two entities that overlap. They cannot be completely separated – at least not at Glastonbury.

The Chalice Well cover featuring a vesica piscis design.

So I hope some of you join me in sending energy to heal the Holy Thorn as well as the hearts of those who feel the need to destroy something beautiful to so many people.

Bright blessings,



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