The Sacrifice of A Tree

As Kemetics, Erin and I don’t really have a holiday around this time of the year.  There’s the modern holiday of The Establishment of the Celestial Cow (aka Moomas), which is on December 25th and commemorates the day that Ra road into the sky on the back of Hathor to save humanity from Sekhmet, whom He sent to Earth to destroy humanity when they decided to rise against Him.  The holiday itself was relatively unimportant, but then again so is Christmas from a theological stand point (not a commericalistic standpoint) since Christmas is just the birth of Jesus and not his sacrifice, death, and resurrection, which is celebrated at Easter.  Then, there’s the night before Moomas, which is All Jackal’s Eve, a modern-mythology holiday where Wepwawet and Yinepu deliver gifts to children who have been living within ma’at for the past year.

The Ancient’s religion was based around the rise and fall of the Nile.  Without the great floods, the people would starve, so everything revolved around that.  Today, the Nile is controlled by dams, and the flooding of the Nile really has no baring on whether or not I eat.  What does have a baring on my ability to eat here in the southeastern United States is the seasons and the amount of sunlight and rain this country gets.  As such, I try to observe what Wiccan and “wiccanate” pagans call the “quarter holidays” or the changing of the seasons.

Depending on your faith background, Yule can take on a lot of different meanings.  For me, it’s a celebration for the returning of the Sun to provide us with food for the coming year.  It’s a day where we can celebrate the disappearing darkness and renew our hope for our future.  Erin and I have our traditional “Yule Tree,” which, for us, stands more as a testament or sacrifice to the Gods.  We decorate it, and care for it, as a symbol of devotion.  It’s like the old cathedrals that were built as a way to glorify the Christian God, but in smaller-tree form.  Before the Church took over the tree and turned it into a “Christmas Tree,” ancient pagans would decorate the tree as a “Tree of Life” where the lights (often times, candles) would symbolize the moon, sun, and stars.  In no way can anyone tell me that a tree has anything to do with the birth of Jesus.  Sorry.

This year, Erin and I are splitting holidays for the firs time: we spent Thanksgiving with my family, and we will go to Michigan to spend Christmas with her family.  We celebrate Christmas with her family because her family is very much Christian (minus her sister), and it’s respectful to celebrate the holiday of those in whose home you are dwelling.  You wouldn’t walk into a Mosque and start praising Jesus (or maybe you would, but I’d call you an asshole), so I don’t plan on going into her mother’s home, where they are Christian, and celebrate my Pagan holiday.  Instead, Erin and I will celebrate our holiday early with the two of us, and then drive to Michigan to celebrate with her family for the week, before coming home and celebrating with my family after the fact.

IMG_7781Even though we’ll be gone for a week around “the major holiday season,” we still wanted to get our tree.  And this year we started up our new family tradition of cutting down our own tree.  We traveled an hour to a tree farm simply to cut down a tree and come back.  Seems simple, right?  Well, the entire experience turned into something a definitely, definitely did not expect it to.

When we got there, I told the man in charge that this was our first time visiting.  He asked me what we were IMG_7782looking for, and I responded with, “A seven-foot-tall fat one.”  He pointed us in the direction of the back of his fields and said, “If you go out there, I have some white pines that have gotten away from me.”

We started walking out through the fields, up and down the aisles.  Erin carried the saw, and I carried my gloves.  Each tree we passed, I would think some sort of critical remark about it: too short, too tall, to skinny, not filled out enough, the branches are all funky.

There were several types of trees out there, including some pre-cute Frazier firs, which apparently don’t grow well in our dry, hot, humid areas.  He directed us towards the white pines, but the thin branches made me think that they wouldn’t hold ornaments well, and the needles would fall all over everything.  The other types of trees out there all hurt me when I touched their branches (they’d prick me or something).

IMG_7784 IMG_7785We passed tree after tree after tree, and I was starting to feel overwhelmed, and then, as we were looking at a tree that was much, much too big, Erin said, “You know, this whole field to of trees… each one of them is screaming, ‘don’t pick me! don’t pick me!”

At that point, I started to actually feel bad about what we were doing.  We were about to take the life of a living creature who, even though Erin was probably joking, didn’t want to die today.  Or, at the very least, didn’t want to have its life shortened dramatically.

At that point, we passed a stump of a freshly cut tree, and bubbling up from the stump was sap, and it looked like the tree was oozing clear blood.  When I mentioned it, Erin said, “Don’t say that because then I’ll really feel bad.”

It was then that I took a deep breath and sent out a private message to all the trees in the field: Hello, my name is Kel, and my fiance and I are looking for a tree to stand as tribute and as a sacrifice and as a testimony to the Greatness of the Gods.  We will only take the tree that is willing to go with us, and we respect and appreciate the sacrifice of your life on our behalf, and we promise that in your death and sacrifice, you will be glorified and stand shining before the Gods.

And then I looked out around the field, and saw… a bunch of very silent trees.  I’m not sure what I was expecting: a tree to jump out at me and say, “Over IMG_7786 IMG_7788 Photo Nov 30, 12 37 48 PMhere! I’ll go with you!”  We walked to the other side of the field, found nothing, and then walked back.

At one point, we found a tree.  It was the right height, the right size, the right everything… except that it didn’t want to go with us.

I said, “Maybe, but let’s keep looking.”  And we left the tree.  I think it might have been happy about that.

Eventually, we walked all the way to the edge of the field and started to circle back around.  That’s when I felt it: the twinge I get when I should look somewhere I’m not looking, so I stop and start looking around wildly.  I see a tree, in the distance, and it looks perfect and it wants me to come towards it.  I walk straight up to it, but when I’m right next to it I realize that I’ve miscalculated, and this is not the tree.

I turn around, and there… about twenty feet away… is an eight-foot fat white pine tree with a slightly funky top to it.  And it’s calling to me.  I know that tree is calling to me.  I can feel it.  I walk up to it, touch it, walk around it, look it up and down, and I know: this is the tree.  It’s scared and a little nervous, but it wants to come with us.  It’s not really sure what the future holds, but it trusts us and our promise.  He made me sad, too.  The thought of cutting such a young pine, who was willing to sacrifice himself for our benefit and for the benefit of the Gods, made me sad.  I wanted to tell him no, and when Erin suggested the tree next to him, I considered it.  We even walked off and looked at others, I touched all of the trees I came near, and none of them lit me up like the young white pine behind me.

I kept turning back and looking at him, and Erin finally said, “That’s the tree, isn’t it?  You keep looking back.”

IMG_7791 IMG_7794 IMG_7795I bit my lip.  Yes, this was the tree.  But it’s so sad… we’re taking his life, and it’s so sad… but he wants to come with us, he trusts us and our promise, but it’s still… so. very. very. sad.

I went back and forth, but eventually, I said, “Yes, this is the tree.”  Erin got down to cut him, I put my hand on him, silently told him thank you, reminded him of the promise, and told him to stay brave.  And then Erin started sawing until he fell into my hands that were there to catch him.  We carefully carried him back up, paid, had him shaken, wrapped and mounted before we brought him home.  Erin immediately put him in water until we could get him in a stand and started to decorate.  We haven’t finished the decoration process, but I know this is the perfect tree, and the tree knew it was perfect too.

I doubt that Erin knows the extent to which I put into this tree, but I know she senses the perfection of the fit.  Once we got him up and opened in the window at the house, she mentioned how perfect he looked, even without any lights or decorations, and once we got the lights on him, she couldn’t stop exclaiming how beautiful he was.

And then tonight, just now before she went up to bed, she said, “He’s so beautiful, and I can’t wait to decorate him more tomorrow.”  The fact that she even knows to call him “He,” which is what I felt I should say when I saw him at the farm, tells me that the tree was speaking to her too.  He’s such a beautiful tree, and I’ll definitely post more of the pictures tomorrow once we have him fully decorated.

 

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Posted on November 30, 2014, in Belief, Faith, Kemetic, Modern Mythology, Pagan Blog Project, Pagan Point-Of-View, Paganism, Religion, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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