Sometimes I think that as people become more aware of the ancient landscape and the ebb and flow of natures pulse the more common sense flees their mind. Instead of honouring nature by inflicting as little of our modern presence as possible upon the native fauna and flora they feel it necessary to threaten it’s existence and damage the wonder they have travelled to see.
Glastonbury is somewhere that often feels the brunt of this spiritual stupidity. As well the events described by The Cunning Man the Glastonbury Thorn has been subject to not only malicious vandalism but thoughtlessness. After the oiriginal Thorn was destroyed the replacement brought from Kew Gardens was vandalised by ignorant and hateful individuals who attempted to destroy it. But in addition it was also damaged by visitors when they removed new shoots. Not only that but objects were placed inside the tree, beer poured into its root system and ribbon tied around its growing limbs. All of this threatened the Thorn and disgust echoed throughout the Pagan and Christian communities.
The Holy Thorn is one high profile victim of thoughtlessness but there are many other examples. Ancient churches are defaced, stone and earthern monuments are dug into so that modern ‘offerings’ can be made, plastics and metals are left in place where animal and plant life can ge damaged. Every New Year I see a round of shares on Facebook warning of the dangers of Chinese lanterns to night flight birds.
Where did the thought go? At what point does it become a good idea to bind plasticated ribbon to a living, growing tree in order to help it grow? How do we honour the memories of the ancients of the land by polluting and destroying the monuments they built? How do these acts reflect upon a religion and community that claims to honour thr land snf its people past snd present?
If you are planning to visit a particularly revered place or even a place in nature you personally revere I implore you to think before you set off.
In you intend to burn candles be sure to gather up any remains of wax and dispose of them correctly. If you want to leave an offering make a cake or biscuits, something that the local wildlife can consume after you’ve gone. For liquid offerings leave water or a little milk (nothing pleases the geni loci more than a little bread, milk and honey in my experience). Our ancient ancestors left no trace of their passing let alone key indicators of what their religious practices were and I believe when we go out into nature we should be the same. Our churches and altars are the ancient forests and stones and we should treat them as the hallowed ground that they are.