History The Tree of Life
posted by June 14 at 12:34 PMon
This image of a very big tree can be found on the comment section of Burial’s Myspace music account.
The tree is for pagans what the cross is for Christians. The tree is a complex life system; the cross is a simple death machine. In the period that saw the replacement of life worship with death worship in much of Europe, the Middle Ages, a popular method of converting German pagans to Christianity was to chop down their huge and sacred trees. In Willibald’s Life Of St Boniface—an account of the Anglo-Saxon missionary, Boniface, who killed his earthy Germanic name and adopted a dead Latin one—you will find this favorable description of his felling of a huge pagan tree, The Oak of Thunor, in AD 723:
Taking his courage in his hands (for a great crowd of pagans stood by watching and bitterly cursing in their hearts the enemy of the gods), [Boniface] cut the first notch. But when he had made a superficial cut, suddenly, the oak’s vast bulk, shaken by a mighty blast of wind from above crashed to the ground, shivering its topmost branches into fragments in its fall. As if by the express will of God… the oak burst asunder into four parts, each part having a trunk of equal length. At the sight of this extraordinary spectacle the heathens who had been cursing ceased to revile and began, on the contrary, to believe and bless the Lord.
Boniface did not stop with just cutting down the tree; he used the dead oak to build a chapel, which he dedicated to Saint Peter.
From my failed project, The Big Trees of Seattle:
Big trees amaze me. They rise up into the open sky and spread out, covering a wide area of city life. During the summer, when big trees have all of their leaves, each is a total universe—a self-contained, self-governed, self-determined society of critters, birds, fungi, and tiny insects that go about their tiny business in the shallow and deep grooves of the bark. Cutting down a big tree is the same as wiping out a whole city, which is why a powerful chain saw is to a big tree what Hurricane Katrina was to New Orleans. In an instant, an entire economy is gone, and exposed insects are stranded, and stunned birds go crazy in the massive absence of what was just there—a big tree.