Pagans still: Wishing tree overburdened

Pagans still: Wishing tree overburdened

That old saw “You can take the man out of the bog but you can’t take the bog out of the man” is a truism of Irish life, maybe of all cultures.

It is a reminder that no matter how we change, or advance if you prefer, our life, our future is just an extension of our past and every now and then something, some event reminds us of how very close our distant past actually is.

Visitors to the Hill of Tara, one of the country’s most inspiring windows to our ancient past, have been asked to stop hanging strips of cloth or hammering coins into a “wishing-tree” as one recently became so overburdened with wish tokens that it toppled over.

Supplicants belive the tree is a conduit to a force that might grant their wishes. This practice, which must stretch back to pagan times, is hardly what might be expected in a country that hosts cutting edge industries.

It, however, shows the power of cultural osmosis and the grip tradition can exert despite the accelerating secularisation of our world. You can take the man away from paganism but you can’t take paganism away from the man.

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