Ancient Oak, Toxic Tsunami

On June 5th, 754CE St. Boniface was murdered by thieves who claimed their act was just. They murdered Boniface and his retinue as divine revenge for Boniface’s desecration of a sacred pagan site of worship.

In 723CE, Boniface, then a Christian missionary named Winifred, chopped down a Donnar-Oak (Thunder Oak). The massive and ancient oak trees found throughout northern continental Europe were considered sacred to Thor, the god of thunder and the protector of the common people. While chiefs and petty nobles worshiped Odin, his son Thor, a strong god who slays frost (winter) giants, brings fertile rains, and also happens to be the god of metal work, was the champion of slaves, peasants, and the common people in general.

St. Boniface’s official church narrative claims he was converting savages. He gathered the people around the oak and claimed that if he could hack it down without being struck down by a lightning bolt that the warriors had to convert to Christianity. He hacked the tree down and ordered the villagers to construct a church from its wood. Another instance of Christian cannibalism.

However, geopolitically there was a larger motive for his mission to the barbarians of Germany. Boniface had the protection and funding of Charles Martel, the Frankish ruler of what would one day become France. He was attempting to unify Gaul and gain recognition and blessings, not to mention cash, from Rome. Martel’s power-grab destroyed paganism and primitive communist tribes, and in their wake–and over their corpses–he spread Feudalism.

Boniface’s real mission among the pagans was an attempt to civilize them. Martel’s missionary sought extension of his benefactor’s power over his kingdom’s northeastern border. He later made the converted chieftains his margraves, semi-autonomous allies who in return for supplying him with resources and soldiers gained titles, his protection, and his backing in fights against neighboring tribes. Martel was facing an invasion from an opposing civilization on his opposite border in the form of the Umayyad Caliphate. He wanted security and a source of fresh troops from the pagan barbarian hinterlands of so-called Europe so he and his Christian leviathan could prevail over the Islamic leviathan which had recently crossed over the Pyrenees.

It is ironic that Boniface made a bet that he could desecrate Thor’s sacred oak tree without being struck down by the god, only to die later in life at the hands of a band of pagan highway robbers claiming revenge for their desecrated site. Some legends even claim it was the elderly druids of the felled Thunder Oak who had finally tracked down the saint to seek their revenge.

While the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Boniface, let us lovers of nature and haters of Leviathan instead celebrate the brigands who sought revenge for their lovely tree upon him.

Speaking of Leviathan and the Thunder god, it was Thor who subdued the great sea serpent Jormundgandr. The serpent who encircles the world and holds its own tail in its mouth (an ouroboros) is said to dribble blood and poison from its mouth. In the final days of the current age it will release its tail and will rise once more from the seas to fight with Thor. Thor will strike a killing blow but the serpent will fatally poison him and in its dying throes drown the world in poison.

Perhaps we should heed the warning and slay Leviathan before it poisons us all. Or perhaps better to evade its toxic desolation and the cleansing fires of Surtr (Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time comes to mind) and hide among the trees like Lif and Lifthrasir (life and life’s lover) and emerge when the fertile new age dawns after Ragnarok has passed and all the gods and leviathans are dead.

Anyways, let us defend the trees wherever they are (I find joy in how many sacred cryptoforests I have stumbled upon in the heart of urban civilization), no matter how majestic or humble their size, in whatever time we have left. We have little time before global climate change spreads deserts to the last sacred groves and ruins the ability of megafauna, including humans, to thrive without major technological intervention and dystopian geoengineering.

Let us become barbarians again, slayers of the Bonifaces of the modern age.

May the Yggdrasil’s roots undermine the skyscrapers, pyramids, and ziggurats.

With howls like Fenrir’s we will sunder the chains and bring dionysian riots to every hamlet, village, town, city, and megalopolis.

Let the great bacchanal potlach in which civilization is destroyed begin!

Vesuvio Urales

Vesuvio Urales lives in and haunts the coves, overgrown farms, crumbling textiles factories, and forests of eastern Massachusetts.

3 thoughts on “Ancient Oak, Toxic Tsunami

  1. Hmmmm…. I’m with you on the trees. My research into the historical record suggests that he was simply murdered by a bunch of thieves who mistook his chests full of church service materials for wealth, murdered him and his retinue, and, in disgust, spread the bibles and other material around the crime scene and left to find better prey. That, of course, is recorded by church officials, so your version may be the better one, but it might just be that they were thieves and not particularly attentive to trees, even if they were against colonization.


  2. How interesting… thanks for sharing this story which I’d never heard before. It reminds me a little of the Greek tale of Ersikhton who chopped down a tree in Demeter’s grove and was punished by her with insatiable hunger that drove him to exhaust all his riches then finally to eat his own flesh. Yes, for our desecration of our sacred land there will always be consequences and they might not be the expected ones…


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