In the small hours of 8 December 2010, the Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury was cut down by somebody wielding a chain saw. Was it an act of mindless vandalism, or something more significant, asks Jolyon Jenkins.
According to legend, the thorn tree sprung from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus's great-uncle, when he stuck it in the Somerset soil after voyaging to England in the 1st Century AD.
Whether or not the story is true, Glastonbury became an important early Christian centre, the site of an abbey founded in the 7th Century but closed down by Henry VIII.
Nowadays, though, it's not the Christians who are conspicuous in Glastonbury but the pagans who have flocked there.
"It's the heart chakra of the world," says Georgina Sirett-Armstrong-Smith, who is a priestess of Avalon at the local Goddess Temple. Others see strange forms and figures in the local landscape - a swan, a dragon, a pregnant woman.
Apart from witches and goddess worshippers, there are fairy followers, astrologers, shamans, alchemists, geomancers, druids, spiritualists and every possible variety of alternative healer.
So there are two mysteries of the holy thorn. One is who cut it down, and why? The other is why it seems to mean so much not just to Christians, but to pagans worldwide.
Is that not 3 reasons?
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