My Marriage and the Rag Tree

Trees have always been worshiped worldwide; they represent growth, decay, and rebirth. 

My marriage has been in rags; in need of rebirth. 

Soaking a scrap of clothing in a holy well to sanctify it, then tying it as an offering to a sacred tree is an ancient Celtic tradition still alive in Ireland. The fabric is meaningful -  it symbolizes a desire or dream.

As the fabric disintegrates and disappears over time, it is believed that a problem will disappear or an aspiration will be fulfilled. The custom is performed by pagans and Christians alike. Some leave offerings to saints, others to ancient gods or nature spirits.

The tradition of rag trees is particularly strong among Irish Travellers, who still maintain ancient customs largely dead in the modern world. Travellers also have a very strong attachment to Holy Wells, visiting a series of them each year on their travels.

Sometimes a tree is so loaded with tokens that the tree withers and dies. Although the original object of devotion has died, people continue to hang rags from fences or walls where the tree once stood. This is a good metaphor for my marriage.

We attached too many burdens to the object of our affection. Oblivious, we continued to tie more on until it was crippled. And yet somehow... as the last tie disintegrated, as I was finally letting go of my need to cling to this marriage...miraculous rebirth.

I'm not sure about God, or holy anything, but I believe in rebirth. And I believe in my marriage - again. Thank you Richard for your beautiful offering. When we arrive in Ireland, we will visit a rag tree together, and we will add a ribbon of our own - not in hope of resurrection but in gratitude for the one we are currently experiencing. 

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams
- Yeats



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