Advent Calendar 8th December 2012


Offering Tree at Swallowhead Springs


Twisted trees have for a long time been revered as sacred, with magickal powers - wizards are often depicted with twisted wands, made from contorted branches. Offerings used to be made to trees, especially those growing at holy wells or springs. Celts seeking a cure for their ailments would hang relics and sacrifices from the branches, as the tree spirits were honoured by the presence of sacred objects.

The Swallowhead springs join the river Kennet, they rise to the south of Silbury. The origin of the name 'Swallowhead' comes from the old German 'swal' meaning 'swell' or 'whirlpool'.
Centuries ago, it was traditional for locals to visit the sacred spring of the district and feast with cakes, fruit and sugar mixed with fresh water from the Swallowhead Spring. They would make offerings to the twisted tree that bathed its roots in the sacred spring - wool, string, ribbons and rags would be tied to the outstretched branches. Today this custom remains and the tree is regularly adorned with paper, baubles and ribbons.

We perform a similar ritual when we bring a pine tree into our homes this month and adorn it with ornaments, sweets and tinsel - it brings the season's goodwill and happiness physically into our homes.
Swallowhead sacred spring

Offering tree at Swallowhead Spring
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- enjoy opening our online advent calendar every day until Dec 24th Advent calendar
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