Wednesday, June 19, 2013


North Facade of Chartres from the net

This is a poor thing, but it’s been trying to get my attention for awhile, come what may. So here it is

Chartres Cathedral stands on an ancient sacred site about sixty miles away from Paris. Long before the cathedral was built there was a great grove of trees. Many of them ancient oaks. It was known as the Great Grove of the Carnutes, a tribe of the ancient Gallic Celts. According to some histories, this was premier grove of the Druids of Gaul. Some time between the conquests of Gaul by Juliius I came, I saw, I conquered, Caesar and the reign of Tiberius in the early first century the grove was destroyed. Burned to the ground, and the land sown with salt as part of the suppression of the society of the Druids.

Oddly enough the Romans have a reputation of religious tolerance. At least as long as the gods of the conquered resembled their own man made gods of stone and marble. The Druids, however had no resemblance to anything the Romans understood. They did not worship nature, they worshipped in and within nature. If you look at Celtic art it’s full of circles and ovals intertwining, weaving with nary a straight line in sight. Perhaps the Romans, in love with stone and straight lines didn’t understand. Perhaps they didn’t even want to. Not when Gaul sat ripe for conquest and the plunder that would bring to finance Caesars, political ambitions back in Rome.

So now, instead of the living, whispering trees, the birdsong, the dappled sunlight, the songs of the earth and the cycle of the seasons in the Great Grove there are several tons of stone and stained glass sitting on that plateau. It is very beautiful, it really is. A triumph of the art of medieval engineers and glassmakers. But, if it’s all the same to everybody, I’d rather sit at base of those long lost trees. As I’ve said before I’ve never felt inside four walls what I’ve felt outside them

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