A Mortality of Trees …

I am not sure what is going on, but there is an event brewing in the world and heralded by violence against sacred trees.

This is the Ardbraccan cedar when it was still whole.

In Ireland, a 270 year old cedar in Ardbraccan and near to both Tara and Navan (that’s Emain Macha, lest you don’t know) mysteriously split in half. This was about where the Bile Tortain, one of the five sacred trees of Ireland, stood when it fell some thousand years ago. Like something straight out of a medieval Irish manuscript, two brothers were at prayer nearby when they heard three explosive cracks.

Their bursar Fr Ned Nealon said two brothers were praying in the chapel at 6.30am last Tuesday when they heard what sounded like three claps of thunder. He said Brother Conleth Tyrell saw what looked like a ball of fire and the sky turning red before he heard a large crash. On investigation, they found the cedar tree had split in two. Fr Nealon said it was not clear if it had been struck by lightning or a meteorite, but an astronomy group was interested enough to plan a visit to investigate. (The Irish Times)

It’s the kind of thing that the bards would write poems about. In fact, Laoiseach Mac an Bhaird composed just such a poem not six hundred years ago when one of these sacred trees was cut down:

Mo chean duitsi, a thulach thall,
fád thuisleadh ní subhach sionn;
damhna sgíthi do sgeach dhonn,
cleath chorr do-cíthe ós do chionn. (Bergin)

My salute to thee, O distant hill,
far the import, it is not a joyful thing;
your dark bush a thing of weariness
a jutting stump that weeps atop your crest.

Ok, so I’m taking liberties with my translation, but you get the idea. The event marked by this poem, however, seems to have more in common with the cutting of the Glastonbury thorn which occurred just last night. Now, I had never been to the Ardbraccan cedar,  but I prayed at the Glastonbury thorn in 1996 – a particularly bad year for me – the first (and as of right now only) time when I was there.

This is the Glastonbury Thorn prior to its cutting (the Mail Online).

That these two events should come back-to-back seems far more than coincidence. Neither does it seem like coincidence that the Ardbraccan Cedar is within earshot of the M3 as it passes between Ardbraccan itself and Navan. This is the very same M3 that passes just Southward to and nearly through Tara, just East of the sacred site. If I did not know better (and I don’t), I would say that someone is either targeting sacred trees or the depredations and disjunctions of the dominant post-industrial culture are finding voice spiritually in these events.

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