About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."

2014/12/26

Healing Leaves

Do you have the Tree of Life at home? That one with magical fruit and healing leaves? Many people do on Christmas, only they don’t know it. These are in fact the deepest mythical origins of our tradition of decorated Christmas trees!
     Actually the Reformation and the early Protestants were responsible for this custom. Some scattered evidence of the Christmas trees predates the Reformation, yet the strongest impulse for the widespread and strong popularity of Christmas trees came from the protestant regions around the Rhine River in the 16th century. They decorated Christmas trees and sang about it in a beautiful Christmas Carol.


Lo, how a rose e'er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung,
Of Jesse's lineage coming,
By faithful prophets sung.
It came a floweret bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.
    Isaiah ‘twas foretold it,
    The rose I have in mind, 
    With Mary we behold it,
    The virgin mother kind.
    To show God’s love aright
    She bore for us a Savior,
    When half spent was the night.

 

Perhaps unrecognizably, this old hymn reflects the origins of the Christmas trees. Behind the hymn’s lyrics is a famous biblical prophecy from the book Isaiah (11:1):
    A branch shall grow from the stump of Jesse,
    and a shoot from this root shall bear fruit.

And Isaiah on his part is masterfully recasting an ancient mythic image of paradisal tree of life. A tree or trees which bear fruits twelve times a year and its leaves have healing powers as we hear about them from Ezechiel 47:12 or Revelation 22:1ff. Clearly ancient Middle Eastern prophecies did not envision any pine trees (our Christmas standard), but what could the reformation Germans do? In their home, pine trees were the only green trees at this season so they hang on it apples and later oranges or chocolate treats (now glass balls and other decorations) to stand for fruits and pretended that pine needles were those healing leaves. Before all this, ancient mythical imagery got almost completely forgotten and only unreflected customs remain.
      Come this Sunday to search for other trees of life and different faith traditions with trees of magical healing leaves.

 


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