The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #134188   Message #3050790
Posted By: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
11-Dec-10 - 03:40 AM
Thread Name: Folklore: Glastonbury thorn destroyed
Subject: RE: Folklore: Glastonbury thorn destroyed
One one hand you have the old songs & singers, on the other the increasingly academic gloss of a revival which stands in stark and bitter social constrast to the natural context of a music which is now lost to us. These things operate at a significant remove, but whilst the revival might touch upon a certain lingering potency, it also engenders a religious orthodoxy which ensures Folk Music enjoy the cultural status it no doubt deserves - i.e. cranky middle-class boffins re-enacting the songs of a long vanished rural / urban working-class once serving long vanished industries or else writing songs about them and their various hardships. In other words forever singing about how good the old one was with the worthy zeal that they are somehow preserving something or else carrying on tradition which is, I think, a far greater matter of faith than transubstantiation. For me it's been very necessary to a) focus on the old songs & singers to the exclusion of the various aesthetic and theological conceits of the Revival (as far as this is possible of course because by no means do I see it as being all bad or else I wouldn't bother at all) and b) to see the the old songs & singers as part of the very human tradition of Popular Music as a whole, which is still with us and still thriving, of course.

Just my opinion, although once-bitten I remain twice-shy of saying such things on a forum on which heretics are routinely excommunicated and persecuted thereafter.

Whatever the case, the Glastonbury Thorn, like The Gower Wassail, is a corporeal part of my cultural landscape and time was my old Xtian Somerset friends would send me blossoms at the Winter Solstice - from the tree by the church in the high-street rather the one recently chopped down; and several Pagan ones too for whom the tree is doubly sacred much as Mid-Winter is doubly sacred. But that sacredness, for me, is always human - it is our capacity to believe and wonder, to seek within myth and legend for a meaning that touches us far deeper than any objective truth ever could. My problem with religion, as with folk, is when zealots insist (on pain of eternal damnation) that it is objectively true, thus killing it stone dead in the living human waters through which it once swam.