Presentation on theme: "The Mistletoe Myth of Lindow Man Druidic links to mistletoe (see recent posts) are often, these days, considered established as fact, despite very little."— Presentation transcript:
The Mistletoe Myth of Lindow Man Druidic links to mistletoe (see recent posts) are often, these days, considered established as fact, despite very little evidence. The Druids left no written records - and the only accounts we have are written by Romans (Pliny and Caesar) who may not have had direct knowledge, and who may also have had an interest in sensationalist propaganda about the natives of their conquered territories. Or maybe they wrote with absolute accuracy. We just don't know. So we don't really know that the Druids of northern Europe (France and Britain) worshipped mistletoe. And if they did we don't really know why, or what form that ion for Druidry. So that's all right then. But should the druid 'myth' trip over into science? If you've ever read accounts of Lindow Man, a 2000 year-old preserved bog body found in a Cheshire peat bog in 1984 you may recall that these state that he had mistletoe in his gut, and that this may indicate a ritual sacrifice by druids. The newspapers loved this story - and it's even mentioned on his interpretation panel at the British Museum. This states that there is evidence for a ritual death (which there is) and that "it may be no coincidence that shortly before his death he had a drink including mistletoe" and "Mistletoe was sacred to the Druids, and it is recorded that Druids carried out human sacrifices". Some reports (not at the BM),even suggest the mistletoe was the poison that killed him. The story tends to resurface every time Lindow Man goes 'on tour' in regional museums too.
Mistletoe Mistletoe is the common name for a group of hemi-parasitic plants in the order Santalales that grow attached to and within the branches of a tree or shrub. The name was first given to Viscum album (European Mistletoe, Santalaceae), the only species native in Great Britain and much of Europe. Later the name was fgiven to other related species, including Phoradendron serotinum (the Eastern Mistletoe of eastern North America, also Santalaceae). The largest family of Mistletoes, Loranthaceae, has 73 genera and over 900 species European mistletoe played a large role in Greek mythology, and is believed to be The Golden Bough of Aeneas, ancestor of the Romans. The Norse god Baldr was killed with mistletoe. In Romanian traditions, mistletoe (vâsc in Romanian) is considered a source of good fortune. William Shakespeare mentions it in Titus Andronicus, Act II, Scene I: "Overcome with moss and baleful mistletoe". Mistletoe is often used as a Christmas decoration. Viscum album is used in Europe and Phoradendron serotinum is used in North America. According to custom, the mistletoe must not touch the ground between its cutting and its removal as the last of Christmas greens at Candlemas; it may remain hanging through the year, often to preserve the house from lightning or fire, until it was replaced the following Christmas Eve. Mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens) is the state floral emblem for the State of Oklahoma.
Mistletoe its history, meaning and traditions Mistletoe Mistletoe is especially interesting botanically because it is a partial parasite (a "hemiparasite"). As a parasitic plant, it grows on the branches or trunk of a tree and actually sends out roots that penetrate into the tree and take up nutrients. But mistletoe is also capable for growing on its own; like other plants it can produce its own food by photosynthesis. Mistletoe, however, is more commonly found growing as a parasitic plant. There are two types of mistletoe. The mistletoe that is commonly used as a Christmas decoration (Phoradendron flavescens) is native to North America and grows as a parasite on trees in the west as also in those growing in a line down the east from New Jersey to Florida. The other type of mistletoe, Viscum album, is of European origin. The European mistletoe is a green shrub with small, yellow flowers and white, sticky berries which are considered poisonous. It commonly seen on apple but only rarely on oak trees. The rarer oak mistletoe was greatly venerated by the ancient Celts and Germans and used as a ceremonial plant by early Europeans. The Greeks and earlier peoples thought that it had mystical powers and down through the centuries it became associated with many folklore customs.