Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year: A Meditation on Time...

Happy New Year everybody!

Time is an odd sort of thing. It is a man made construct that we perceive to have imposed upon ourselves, and yet there really is something there to be measured. Ancient measurements of time were invariably based on the movements of the moon or the sun, and the shift of the seasons. The earliest calendars were lunar; due to the variations of the moon's cycle the calendar did not stay in sync with the seasons and would "process" in advance of the actual seasons. Adding a 13 month helped a little, but it was not the most accurate measure. Solar calendars were more accurate, but also tended to gain time and "advance" in relationto the flow of the seasons. This would mean that when the suns rays from the Winter Solstice shown through the center of Stonehenge, faithfully every year, the lunar calendar would become increasingly at
odds with it.

Other mechanisms for telling time evolved, notably sundials, water clocks and candle clocks were all used with varying degrees of success. None of them were precise, and all had to be adjusted or maintained. The word clock itself traces a twisted path of etymology back through Dutch,to old Northern French - cloque or Bell (tolling bells at intervals was another way to mark time) to Latin and from thence to the Celtic Gaul clocca.

We have arrived today in the Western World at a system of time based on the second, which is grouped into 60 seconds per minute, 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours in a day, varying days (ahem) in a month, and 12 months in a year. The average person may think this is an arbitrary man made device artificially imposed on the surface of the seasons which are our most notable visual indicators of the shifting of time. The minute, hour, days of 24 hours, months and years are not "accurate" in that they vary and thus we have leap years, once again to keep "time" in the right measure with the seasons. However the second IS a "scientific"

accurate measurement - the second is the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom. If your eyes have just crossed, I am right
with you! It is interesting to me that this does not represent the triumph of science over primitive inaccurate methods of simply means that we now have the means to measure something very, very small that is very, very stable and use that as a mechanism for marking time. The moon was the same back then as it was easiest observable thing to use as our measure in the early eras of our history. We are still measuring time based on observable natural phenomena. We also have it down to the smallest measurable unit which is labeled an "altosecond" which is a 1/10 to the 18th of a second. Hanging out at the other end, the largest unit of time based in seconds is the exasecond which is 10 to the 18 power times 1 second or rather roughly 32 billion years.

And then, God help us all, there's Einstein, the Father of modern physics and his great equation, E = mc2 . When he synchronized time on the unit of the constant finite speed of light, as the maximum signal velocity, this means that two individuals in motion relative to each other will observe different elapsed times for the same event. Time suddenly became a very strange thing. (never mind that a gravity well will literally slow time.) This has become beloved of the science fiction writers, or perhaps hated. In theory, a ship traveling through space near the constant speed of light will reach a destination many light years away in what they perceive to be a matter of months. Meanwhile, back on earth decades may pass, meaning that the relatives they leave behind and the world that they know are all dead and changed past recognition, even they are only

a few months older. Is it any wonder so many writers have "invented" faster than light drives and technology that are not affected by time paradox, from the antimatter drive of the Enterprise to the Star Wars hyper space to the Warshawski Sail and impeller drive technology of David Weber's Honor Harrington series, there by negating Father Albert's great equation? There is a continuity in keeping everyone the same age and in the same time frame for story telling purposes. It also indicates maybe how much the idea of time and aging and connection affects us. Of all the Science Fiction writers who have taken us to the stars, Ursula LeGuin maybe the one writer who has met Einstein's time paradox head on in her loosely connected Ecumen series, where space travel does separate and severe families and worlds forever in the relativity of passing time. (and I highly recommend both authors to my readers, Weber and LeGuin. They are very different and they are both excellent!)

Of course, none of this speaks to our perceptions of time. Different cultures have different views of time expressed in their mythos. For instance the JudeoChristian view of time is linear - time had a beginning and will, accordingly have an ending. Other cultures have a cyclical view - a wheel of time that repeats endlessly - this is found in the Hindu, Jain, Mayan, Babylonian, Mayan and many "pagan" mythos. I live in the 21st century in modern America - our calendar year ends on December 31st and the new year begins on January 1st. As a descendant of Celtic ancestors, their ancient new year was Samhain, the last harvest fest of the year, and they counted forward from there their new year. Emotionally, for me, the Winter Solstice is the logical spot for the turn of the calendar...the sun begins to return, and the days begin to lengthen, incrementally.

When we are very young, time seems to go slowly; when we grow older, it seems to speed up. One day to an eleven year old person would be approximately 1/4,000 of their life, while one day to a 55 year old individual would be approximately 1/20,000 of their life. Based on that, a day appears much longer to a child than to an adult, even though the measure of time has not changed.

And so we arrive at New Years Eve. New Years Day, actually. The clock rolled over as I wrote this and we will now arbitrarily date our checks and documents and letters 2011. A lovely conceit, that this day is any different from the day that went before. We are driven, for whatever reasons, by time as a lash whipping us onward. Maybe it is that whether time is or is not finite, we feel that we are, with the universality of death - the great unknowable transition before us. Should we live the so called Biblical three score and ten, that is 70 years, we would then live 25,550 days. Days! 70 years sounds like a long time...twenty five thousand, five hundred and fifty days sounds way too short! It gets your attention! So, having gotten your attention, what is my point?

What will you do with the 365 calendar days just now given to you?

Live. LIVE!

Treasure the breath you breathe, the light that you see, the touch of the earth, the sound of the world around you, the love - above all else - the love that you share and treasure with those close to you. Don't sleep walk through it. Don't push away days and times because they are hard or you hurt. Thats a part of your life too, fleeting and precious days. Whether the coming year is "good" or "bad", it is ours to have, experience to the fullest and then let go in the great wheels passing. We should not miss a minute of it...

There are 525,600 minutes ahead of you...
Measure your life in love!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gender Identity Project...

Some very good things in this...a lot of good information!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

When the Cold goes to my Head....

We follow earth’s rune prints,
Into sharp winds teeth
Howling full round
Ice giants breathe…
Stout hearted MacDubh
Four legged brother
Braving white ground cloak
By bitter ice water…

Ghosts of great prows
The dragons in winter
Slip past on swan road,
Great water unending
Hard ice lines burn
Hold Windcloaks full billow,
Leap spirits brighter
Far from lands red with slaughter
Dream open eyes,
Of fell deeds and laughter…

Warm home and house sun,
Wait for brothers returning
Linger we still in snow field
And worldshadow
Wind words chant boldly,
Long ice spears form
Óðinn-blind gifts seek we
From great world tree
Sharp runes voice-cry
From sun’s dark falling
Hear we the word swords,
To our soul shields calling -

"Hige sceal þe heardra,
Heorte þe cenre,
Mod sceal þe mare,
Swa ure mægen lytlað…" *


Ok...Where did THAT one come from??? Here's the's the day after Christmas, and we have 4 inches of snow on the ground. Around about 10:00 pm at night, MacDubh (see really cute dog in my pictures to the side...) came and insisted that he wanted to "go walkies" again (typing the words very quietly - he is asleep and i don't want him to hear them!). He'd already been outside once this evening and it was a bit of an appalling experience for a Southerner. We have snow on the ground, icicles hang, and there is a 30 - 40 mph wind screaming down the lake. I do NOT want a computation of wind chill, thank you...the technical term for it was &%$@ COLD! We'd already been out once and WHY he wanted to go out again is beyond me...its not like he has real fur! We had come in from that first trip out into the wind, and I had joked with Wordweaving that I had seen the Viking ship go by on the fjord, trailed by the ice flow with the seals up at the lake. Now the idiot boy asked to go again, and I always take him if he asks.

So I bundled up again, and out we go...if anything it was um...colder. Seriously, we live in a double wide trailer, and the wind was screaming around our humble home hard enough to shake it! So back MacDubh drags me to the lake...where he has to sniff and catalog everything. Didn't have to go to the bathroom either. Hmph! So I am standing there, looking out across the dark water, fancying I could see the sail on the Viking ship, and distant bonfires on the far shore...

And my brain took off. I love alliterative narrative poetry, such as Beowulf, The Battle of Maldon (both Anglo Saxon) and Old Norse Poetry such as the Prose Eda. I haven't always had the best of luck trying to write in that style, even though I adore it, and the above poem started evolving as I stood freezing slowly to the shore of the lake and MacDubh was bounding about, wondering why the squirrels weren't out to play. I informed the dog that we were going in, that all self respecting squirrels were in bed for the night, pried my feet up from their frozen niche in the bracken, and generally aimed the dog (with many course corrections) back to the house.
Once inside and having thawed out enough to be able to think, I started muddling through writing this poem.

The last four lines are from the actual "Battle of Malden, quoted at the end of my poem. I hope that every one enjoys it...and that everybody who also reads this kind of poetry, will be kind and not tear apart, I mean - ahem - critique it too harshly. I did attempt to use "Kennings", the lovely "figures of speech" used in the Nordic poetry...some that I used were actual kennings pulled from reading such poetry - "swan road" for instance means water, and some I made up myself.
Obviously the cold has gone to my head to the detriment of my good sense. But it was fun to write. Hopefully I can continue to improve in this style. Going to crawl in a warm bed now, and thaw out!

"Will must be the harder, courage the bolder,
spirit must be greater, as our strength lessens…”
Battle of Maldon, 991 C.E.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day - SNOW!!! December 25th, 2010

And its still coming down and may reach 4 inches by tomorrow morning! This is special for us...we don't get a White Christmas hardly ever here - we're too far South. So Happy White Christmas to everyone..

Christmas Eve at Church, December 24th, 2010...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Solstice Gift...

Outside the water on the ground
Is frozen down to stone
I step from warmth into the dark
And hear the deep wind moan
The Solstice Moon lights up the sky
the Dark lies on the Earth
The Great Wheel trembles at the turn
Moving to rebirth

I have seen the Solstice dark
With blood upon the ground
Giving lie to "Peace on Earth"
And no light was there found
I have seen the Solstice heal
Ceasing all my pain
Granting peace and clarity
A sweet carols refrain

And which Truth is now is greater
The violence on the ground?
Or Peace and hope now given
In new memories that I've found?
Change the date's remembrance
Like water into wine
The miracle of renewed life
A harvest on the Vine

Roll Great Wheel and turn
Deep upon the Earth
Bring the change and hope and pain
All bound up in Rebirth
Can we understand whats broken
Until it starts to mend?
No meaning given in our lives
Until we reach our End

In endings are beginnings
In the eternal Wheel of time
The bottom of the great Abyss
Begins to rise and climb
Growing there the Oak tree
Strong in the Solstice Wind
And like those mighty branches
I've learned how to bend.

Cameron 2010

Walking a Pet Peeve...'s one of my pet peeves. (lets get it on the leash and take it for a walk...)

INEVITABLY from someone I haven't seen in awhile..."Oh, it Wordweaving? Are you still together?"ARGGGHHH! Wordweaving and I have been together for 7 years, and are half way through year 8. We wear matching rings (that I proposed with). We refer to each other as wife. If I could legally marry her, I'd be at the court house and my church in five and ten minutes respectively - well, maybe a little more than that - there are speed limits and distances involved. But the automatic assumption behind this is that GLBT relationships will not last, and so you are expecting to hear about the tragic break up any minute. *headdeskthud* Not to mention not remembering Wordweaving's name. Is it just me...or is this as clueless as it sounds?

I know not all relationships last. I have had 2 explode in my face with individuals that each the time I expected seriously to spend the rest of my life with. Heterosexual marriages have a freaking half fail rate. I do understand that marriages and relationships are and can be fragile things. But I don't address ANYONE in a relationship right off the bat within five minutes of reconnecting with them with the "Are you still together?" question. And my straight acquaintances do not ask that of their straight friends. It's demeaning and relegates us to not real. Not a real marriage. Not a lasting couple. Not capable of commitment.

The converse of this is "So, how long have you been together?" When patiently told the year amount, a look of awe crosses their face, like "Wow...they haven't broken up yet. They might really last." And of course, how many years do we have to be together before it "legitimizes" the relationship? *sigh*I am not as jumpy about trans questions, because I regularly put myself on the spot for them in college class rooms - have been speaking regularly to classes about transgender issues, and I welcome the questions, even the really personal ones and the clueless ones as an opportunity to educate.

So perhaps I should try to view the above idiocy as a chance to educate. Maybe that would lower my blood pressure.*sigh*

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christians and Pagans...

We are moving towards Winter Solstice (Yule) and Christmas - holy times of year for both Pagans and Christians...and of course the arguments about which came first, who stole what from which and the overlap of the two has always provoked discussion, emotions and reactions, This song is one of the best answers to the situation I have ever heard. So if you are burning your Yule log, or decorating your Tree, or setting up your Manger Scene or all of the above, may happiness and joy be yours...we are all not that far apart in sharing the wonder of the universe we have been given! Peace on earth to all of good will!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Hat

This past summer I managed to snag yet another art commission at a local church where I have painted a lot of murals – most of the mural work in my sidebar on this blog comes from this church. So, I was working down on the school wing, where we have a Noah’s Ark theme of animals going in a simplified illustrational style on the walls. The latest painting – I don’t say the last, because we seem to keep adding to things over there – was a representation of the Lion and the Lamb, both from the scripture verse (“…the lion shall lie down with the lamb…”) and a tip of the hat to C S Lewis’s Narnia with Aslan and in particular, the Lamb that becomes Aslan in the last chapter of “Voyage of the Dawn Treader”. What does all this have to do with a hat…my hat in particular?

First of all, this sets up the context for where I got my hat. I was painting this particular painting, in a church where there are carefully researched, deeply religious murals that I have painted, on the school wing of that church, and working on a painting with deeply embedded Christian meaning…and I am a transgendered guy/lesbian identified individual. So, what is the nature of my relationship with this church? Amazingly enough, I am Out to them and they are very accepting and aware and loving. And I value that beyond any price, in the very conservative homophobic area that we live in. I have murals at one church that severed their relationship with me after they realized I was gay, although they left the paintings up, which surprised me. So this lovely church, where I was currently working on this Lion and Lamb mural, knows that I am indeed GLBT identified.

So the week I was painting this part of the installation, the church was setting up to hold an annual fundraising rummage sale, which given the efforts to organize the sheer raw amount of stuff, must have come from hundreds of donations, attics, garages and storage buildings! The sheer scope of it was huge. The sale was that Saturday, and they were organizing the loot into categories like clothing, kitchen ware, video tapes etc. The room that was the staging area was right next to the entry into that room where I was painting Lion and Lamb. Every so often I would take a break and stretch my legs – important, given my arthritis – and talk with the women who were organizing the mounds of stuff. I was prowling the room, looking at things, when I spotted “The Hat” – a gorgeous, high quality wool fedora with a jaunty little spray of feathers and rolled back brim and I went head over heels for it! I asked whether or not I could go ahead and purchase it, since the actual sale was Saturday and I knew I could not make it back over to the church on that day. They hemmed and hawed, and teased me and then relented (they weren’t really suppose to sell anything in advance) and charged me $3.00 dollars! Understand, wool fedora’s run anywhere from $30.00 to $80.00 dollars, so this was so close to stealing I felt guilty! I asked if they were sure, and they laughed and told me go ahead.

So I gave them my three dollars and scooped up the hat and tried it on (again – had already done so before buying it) and it was a perfect fit. I tipped it at a jaunty angle which made them all laugh again. These were several women in their 60’s and 80’s…the kind that are the mainstays and unsung unappreciated backbone of churches everywhere…you know what I am talking about. While the 20 and 30 something crowd was dropping off this incredible mound of stuff and then going merrily on about their business (which probably did include kids, work and errands, let’s be fair), these two older members of the congregation were organizing single handedly this over-their-head mountain of junk into usable categories, hanging clothing on hangers, tossing stuff that was not fit to use, shuffling stuff to different rooms for staging. It was huge! So, the older one of them paused after the laugh, and said, hesitantly, cautiously, and with deep curiosity “So, I suppose you are the…guy in your relationship with Wordweaving?” (they have all met my sweetheart) I could tell that she didn’t want to offend me, but she was intensely curious and truly had no clue about the GLBT subculture. I was actually pleased she asked…it was an opportunity to talk about the subject with people who live in a different world from mine.

I talked to them about myself and Dreamweaver, and the butch/femme cliché…that while superficially we did very much fit that idea, we also blurred the boundaries and had a very egalitarian relationship. They began to ask more questions – when did you know you were gay? When did you come out? Do your parents know? And each question I answered seemed to open up more connection and acceptance. They already accepted me – but I went from being known by what I was, to being seen as an individual. That had a unique life. And that life was not always easy, because of where I live and the culture around me.

It was a great conversation, and I finally regretfully wound it down and started back out into the hall to paint some more. And I stopped and turned and said to them, “I want to say thank you.” They looked up in surprise from their sorting and said “Why?” I went on, “Because ever since I have come to this church I have been accepted and loved for who I am…and no one here has ever made and issue of my orientation or gender, or suggested I not be allowed to paint here because of it. That is precious to me, and I treasure this church. You are a blessing!”

And the older woman of the two came to her feet and threw her arms around me and hugged me, and then the second woman joined in. They said “Why would we not want you here or would not want your art? We love you and we feel like you are one of our own!”

And that is the story of The Hat. So despite the gender bending trouble that it got me into the other day in Walmart, to me my hat is a reminder of acceptance and love. It is a troubled area that I live in. There is legislation on the books banning local businesses from offering partners benefits. We live in the shadow of Bob Jones University. There are Exodus style groups here, and billboards condemning homosexuality. Sean Kennedy, a young gay man, was killed here, murdered only minutes from where my wife worked at the time. His killer served only 14 months. We cannot legally marry here. We cannot hold hands in public without concern. We have been preached at. And then there is this small church where my art work lives and breathes that accepts and loves. It is an interracial church – they have had their share of trouble too. They regularly get nasty graffiti on the walls outside, which they handle with grace and a bucket of paint. There is a roaring lion – homophobic, hating, lashing out – that roams our streets in the form of our state government, conservative judging citizenry, and hating, angry violence. In this church is true Christianity – living the life that reflects the peace and unconditional love of the Lamb. This church gives me hope that someday, the Lion will lie down with the Lamb

…and there will be Peace.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Here we go again...

It seems Walmart is a significant trouble spot for me as a transgender…last week, I was running errands, and one of them took me into Walmart. So, I trot up to the door, throw a donation at the Salvation Army bell ringer, and dive for the bathroom first thing, before acquiring a cart.

And I carefully checked before I went in the bathroom to be sure that I had the one that matches the “F” on my driver’s license. This is after all, the store that I used the Men’s room by completely accident and got away with it entirely…So I always check. Yep, right one at least for the societal perceptions. I went in, and of course, all stalls full. So I am waiting my turn, lingering hopefully near the back handicap stall, because it’s easier on the arthritis. The first stall door to open, however, was the one right in front of me. A woman in her fifties, I would say, came out, and we bumped into each other. She looked at me, got this *look* on her face, and said “…oh my…OH MY GOODNESS!...OH! OH!” and ran out of the bathroom, yelling loud enough to clearly carry back through the walls. “THERE’S A MAN IN THE WOMENS REST ROOM!!!”, repeatedly. Meanwhile I am standing there, speaking to her back on its way out the door, saying, “No, ma’am…ma’am, wait, I…MA’AM! HOLD UP!”

Too late. She was loose on the unsuspecting Walmart. I stood there for a moment, empty stall forgotten in front of me, and said out loud, “Oh boy…” Because the next thing that was very likely to happen was a Walmart security guard (probably male) would stick his head in and demand to know what was going on and possibly check my driver’s license. Just then a *snort* was heard from the behind the last stall door, and a woman emerged – a very regal, lovely black lady – who looked me up and down and said, “She’s a twit…*I* can tell you’re a woman!” and went out the door. Which then also, left me standing there, thinking, “Well, actually, I’m NOT, exactly…” *sigh*

At this point, hydraulic pressure was interfering with brain function, so I went on and used the bathroom, washed up, and cautiously stuck my head around the door to go out. Sure enough, next to the women’s room a big Walmart Security guard (male, 1, generic) was waiting for me - all nice and official, with the keys to the bat cave and everything. I groaned and walked out the door, and stepped over to him. “Sir, I can explain…” I began, thinking just HOW am I going to explain and what do you say to explain this. At which point, he looks me up and down, raises his eyebrows, clears his throat and says “The other woman that came out said you were a girl, so I waited just in case.” He eyed me some more, with a rather puzzled, disdainful look, and continued “its fine…go on.” Whereupon, I nodded and headed on to do my shopping. And I kinda thought to myself, ok…whatever I am, Cyndi loves me and so do all my friends. And that’s what matters.

To be fair, in the midst of the unseasonably cold weather we have been having in the south, I was wearing several layers of shirts, a black leather men’s jacket, and a hat…my favorite hat, which is a men’s brown fedora, with a spray of feathers on it. (It’s a really good quality wool fedora, which I managed to acquire for an insanely low price at a rummage sale – there is also a wonderful story behind it which I must post about it sometime.) I undoubtedly looked like a guy very easily, with the layers covering up any betraying curve of figure, and then the masculine jacket, hat, and short hair…so I can see why the first woman made the mistake, although I can’t account even now for her reaction. (If I encountered a guy in the women’s room, I would simply say “Um, sir, do you know which restroom you are in?”) My voice however is light and feminine, and the second woman very clearly heard me speak…so she knew I was physiologically female, even with all the clothing screaming otherwise. It was not a deliberate attempt at “passing” for a man on my part. It was a deliberate attempt at staying warm in subzero temperatures! And I was wearing clothing that l liked and felt comfortable in. I am used to being called “Sir, I mean, Ma’am, I’m sorry!” several times a week, but this reaction was off the scale.

And it left me feeling very confused. I mean…going into gender specific restrooms always twinges a little – it’s like a subtle, low grade reminder that I don’t fit with societal expectations and boundaries. But I REALLY got mistaken for a man that time – and the only thing I had on my mind initially was “Need to pee” so it caught me off guard. And somewhere out there is a poor flustered woman who thinks she collided with a man in the woman’s bathroom. By now she probably thinks I came on to her, since I did politely smile at her when she came out of the stall, initially. It’s distressing. It is rather enjoyable to be called “sir” by mistake – it feels affirming of being a transgender guy. But this put me in the position of having to very loudly assert that I was indeed a female – for all the good it did me – and that felt very uncomfortable. I felt like I was denying my true inner self. Then we have the other woman, who listened to my voice from the other stall, caught the main clue that does give me away, was not in the least fazed by the mixed signals of my clothing…and firmly pronounced me a woman. Which, female body notwithstanding, I am not. And while I am grateful, profoundly, that she set the security guard straight before he walked in and accosted me, that also very much left me feeling very strange…because in my head, I am a guy. *sigh*

Walmart is just getting too weird. But somehow I don’t think it would be any better at Target…

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sacrilege in Glastonbury

The Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury -
in the distance, the great stone Tor of Glastonbury is just visible.

In England in Glastonbury there stands a tree that is known as The Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury. Legend has it that the tree sprouted from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea, the great uncle of Jesus who provided the burial tomb for Christ after he had been crucified, and the linen to shroud the body in. Legend continues that Joseph travelled to England after Christ was crucified, taking with him the Holy Grail of Arthurian folklore. He is said to have stuck his wooden staff – which had belonged to Jesus – into the ground on Wearyall Hill before he went to sleep. When he awoke it had sprouted into a thorn tree, which became a natural shrine for Christians across Europe. To add to its sacred status, the tree ‘miraculously’ flowered twice a year – once at Christmas and once at Easter. The flowers are smaller at Christmas, and do not produce"haws" or berries, like the spring flowers do. Also, trees planted from the seeds of the Tree do not carry that double bloom characteristic of the original, and they will only bloom once at spring. However, if the shoots or clippings from the original are grafted or rooted, they DO retain the ability to bloom in the winter and the spring.
It has been cut down, and replanted from shoots and roots of the original tree a number of times, most notably in the English Civil War by Roundheads led by Cromwell in the fight against the crown. Always it has been sustained from the original, replanted and nurtured back to full growth. Experts have verified that the tree - known as the Crategus Monogyna Bi Flora - originated from the Middle East, which is rather fascinating! The current incarnation of the Glastonbury Thorn tree grows on Wearyhill in Sommerset and you can see the great Glastonbury Tor from it's side.
Many people bring offerings, ribbons, and prayers to the site of the Tree, and hang them on the protective fence around the trunk of the tree.

Every winter a 1oo year old tradition takes place - a sprig of thorns is taken from the Tree and sent to the Queen to be used at the table as a holy decoration on Christmas day. Last night, on December the 8th, the Mayor took the clipping and sent it off to the Palace. This morning on December the 9th the people of Sommerset rose to find the Holy Thorn Tree almost destroyed - its branches cut from it and thrown on the ground and left there.

Many wept and all were stunned at the blatant destruction. There are rumors of town rivalries and ugliness as the basis of the vandalism, but no one has been caught or accused of the act. People have gathered to weep and mourn the destruction of the sacred tree, and some are gleaning tenderly branches from the scattered limbs - maybe in hopes that a new shoot might be grafted and encouraged from the remains.

Such a mindless act of wanton destruction is almost more than I can comprehend. I do not understand why someone or someones would do such a thing, and desecrate what is surely a Holy Shrine, made so by the prayers and customs and the very Earth it grew in. All I could think of was the song sung by Loreena McKennit - "Bonny Portmore. I wish to offer that song here now as a lament for the loss of the Holy Tree of Glastonbury.

It must be pointed out that however desperately horrifying this vandalism it, and how gut wrenching it is to see, the trunk still stands is possible that it will respond as though it was deeply pruned and grow back fuller and richer in time than it was...

And if not, there are shoots and small trees growing in Britain that spring from cuttings of the Tree. It can be replanted, still stemming from the original roots, and the flowers will blossom still then, twice a year - at Winter Solstice and at Ostara, or Christmas and Easter.