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Silver Wind
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PostSubject: Maypole   Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:19 pm

The maypole is thought to be a continuation of ancient tree worship that was practised by our Heathen ancestors. Tree worship and veneration was known to exist amongst the ancient Anglo-Saxons. Found in an ancient law forbidding Heathen practices in England we read:


"We teach that every priest shall extinguish heathendom, and forbid wilweorthunga (fountain worship), and licwiglunga (incantations of the dead), and hwata (omens), and galdra (magic), and man worship, and the abominations that men exercise in various sorts of witchcraft, and in frithspottum, and with elms and other trees, and with stones, and with many phantoms."


It is clear from the above law that when Christianity first gained a foot hold in England, the missionaries were working hard to forbid any form of worship, including that of trees. But deeply entrenched traditions dont die easy, even when traditions evolve and no longer resemble to a large extent their original meaning and tradition. Today maypoles are danced around every year throughout the whole country, but one big difference that separates the maypoles of today and yesterday is their size. Today's maypoles may only be a matter of 20 to 30 feet high, whereas in days gone by some maypoles reached as high as 134 feet, others were 100 feet and in the appropriately named Paganhill there was one that stood 94 feet high. Many of the very tall maypoles were permanent fixtures in their area, left to stand throughout the year due to their vast size and height. But sadly many of these maypoles were cut down and destroyed by Puritans, but many still stand today as strong as they ever did. Other maypoles were erected each year, and just as dancing and frolicking around the maypole was a custom, the erecting of a maypole and it's procession through the streets too was a maypole custom in itself. A long lasting custom is to finely decorate the maypole in greenery and flowers and to hang ribbons from the May garlands that were fixed to the top of the maypole. If the maypole is of an ancient origin, then it is likely to be of an Anglo-Saxon or wider Germanic root. This is due to the abundance of maypoles and references to maypoles in literature throughout England. Whereas such evidence for maypoles in Celtic cultural strongholds, such as Wales and Scotland, are very rare.

http://www.homestead.com/englishheathenism/folkcustoms.html

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