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Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Tree of Life

posted by on June 14 at 12:34 PM

This image of a very big tree can be found on the comment section of Burial’s Myspace music account.
l_94b797a59c61305c29a9751b0a6ccef9.jpg 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.

RSS icon Comments


that TOTALLY happened to me once.

Posted by adrian! | June 14, 2007 12:46 PM

Trees were made for cutting.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 14, 2007 12:49 PM

Charles, thank you for filling an obvious hole by covering this.

Druids have been around a lot longer than any of these upstarts ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 14, 2007 12:59 PM

What is Chaz's official title at the stranger?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 14, 2007 1:11 PM

How history may have been different had the tree fallen on and killed him.

Posted by elswinger | June 14, 2007 1:11 PM

Where's the punchline?

"And that's why capitalism is bad."

Posted by Ben | June 14, 2007 1:17 PM

Best coverage of Burial this side of Simon Reynolds. Keep it up, Charles.

Posted by Eric Grandy | June 14, 2007 1:22 PM

But maybe keep it up on Line Out?

Posted by Eric Grandy | June 14, 2007 1:24 PM

"I love trees. Because you can lie under them on a moonlit night, with the leaves gently blowing, and ball your brains out."

Posted by monkey | June 14, 2007 1:26 PM

What a tool.

Posted by Sally Struthers Lawnchair | June 14, 2007 1:41 PM

I think I've been to that tree's home

Posted by cdster | June 14, 2007 1:43 PM

please stop writing! yes, you are an intellectual black man. we get it.

Posted by mpw | June 14, 2007 1:54 PM

I want Charles to describe everything in the entire world.


Posted by JC | June 14, 2007 1:56 PM

thats why chaz is the scholar nigga. with all the bad conotations of nigga.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 14, 2007 2:04 PM

I'm absolutely certain that that tree is obscuring a lovely piece of brutalist architecture.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | June 14, 2007 2:22 PM

The Mudedepedia-

Someone needs to get on that right away.

Posted by Engima | June 14, 2007 3:14 PM


Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 14, 2007 3:39 PM

Lots of tiny minds spawning tiny thoughts up there. You wonder who they got to read it to them...

Posted by Bill Webb | June 15, 2007 11:42 AM

Oh jeez. I'd just about die if we had a real mudedepedia.

Posted by Garth | June 15, 2007 5:30 PM

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Posted by hkocyxzed xrmej | June 25, 2007 3:05 PM

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Posted by hkocyxzed xrmej | June 25, 2007 3:09 PM

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Posted by hkocyxzed xrmej | June 25, 2007 3:18 PM

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