Thursday, 25 December 2014

World Tree, Fly Agaric, Getting Pissed, Flying Reindeer, Santa Claus

Although most people see Christmas as a Christian holiday, most of the symbols and icons we associate with Christmas celebrations are actually derived from the shamanistic traditions of the tribal peoples of pre-Christian northern Europe.

The World Tree

Ancient peoples, including the Lapps of modern-day Finland, and the Koyak tribes of the central Russian steppes, believed in the idea of a World Tree. The World Tree was seen as a kind of cosmic axis onto which the planes of the universe are fixed. The roots of the World Tree stretch down into the underworld, its trunk is the "middle earth" of everyday existence, and its branches reach upwards into the heavenly realm.

The sacred mushroom of these people was the red and white Amanita muscaria, also known as "fly agaric." This mushroom commonly is seen in books of fairy tales and usually is associated with magic and fairies. It contains potent hallucinogenic compounds once used by ancient peoples for insight and transcendental experiences. Most of the major elements of the modern Christmas celebration, such as Santa Claus, Christmas trees, magical reindeer and the giving of gifts, are originally based upon the traditions surrounding the harvest and consumption of this most sacred mushroom.

Amanita muscaria grows only under certain types of trees, mostly firs and evergreens. The cap of the mushroom is the fruit of the larger mycelium beneath the soil which exists in a symbiotic relationship with the roots of the tree. To ancient people, this mushroom was literally "the fruit of the tree."

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Wild Horses of Newbury

During the infamous anti road building protests at Newbury, England in 1996-1997, Mark Carroll made a short film called 'The Wild Horses of Newbury'

A very moving short film of the moment when two wild horses intervene in the chopping down of two ancient oak trees to build a bypass, poetry by Mark Carroll.

'The Wild Horses of Newbury' was shot very early on a single morning in February.
The whole episode only lasted a few minutes.. nothing was staged.
The bypass security guards and police had circled two very old Oak trees and were preparing to chop them down, when two scruffy, seemingly wild horses appeared and began to interfere with the felling.