We’re deep into looking at trees these days, but we wanted to share this excerpt about a holy place in Bulgaria from the trees book we’re working on. Are there any such places where you live? Have your grandparents or other older people passed down stories of miraculous healing to you? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
The sacred site of Krustova Gora, Holy Trinity Cross Forest, in the Rhodope Mountains in southern Bulgaria, is a place of great spiritual significance and is well-known for its healing power. What gives it this ability is a piece of Christ’s cross, which stories say has been buried in Krustova Gora (Cross Mountain), at a location where the mountain forms the shape of a cross.
It’s interesting to note that the symbolism of the cross predates Christianity. In many ancient cultures, the cross has been viewed as portraying the tree of life, as well as being associated with the sun and fire. Among the ancient Thracians, the four directions of the cross have specific meanings. Although left has often been considered “sinister” in some cultures (and, in fact, the word sinister comes from a Latin word meaning “left), among the Thracians, that direction was the more sacred of the two.
Right and left to them represented the earthly and celestial realms, respectively. Rituals in which actions took place from right to left were ones that took the participant from a lower level of consciousness to a higher one. This was standard practice in blood sacrifice rituals and enabled a sick person to become filled with power.
North and south were also sacred directions among the Thracians. North was the direction associated with mankind and south for immortals and the souls of the blessed. Rituals that included right-to-left and north-to-south movements were an attempt to unify the earthly and heavenly realms with the goal of providing healing.
The holy relic at Krustova Gora is said to be one that Saint Helena gave to her son, Emperor Constantine. According to one story, this piece of the cross made its way to Kurstova Gora after a Russian tsar seized it from a Turkish sultan. Believing that the relic brought his troops and empire victories, the sultan sent his troops after the Russians. The latter had changed their route and arrived at Kurustova Gora and left the relic with the monastery. The monks living there buried the piece of the cross before they were killed during the subsequent invasion.
Church tradition states that Helena had gone in search of Christ’s tomb and discovered it in 326. She placed the cross in the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, but kept a piece of it. On September 13, 335, the church was consecrated. The next day, the cross was displayed outside the church, where a congregation of people could venerate it.
In honor of this event, on the eve of September 14, Holy Cross Day or Feast of the Cross (official name of Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Creating Cross) many pilgrims travel to Holy Trinity Cross Forest, praying for God’s blessings to cure their illnesses. They climb the mountain peak for a vigil that ends when the sun touches a metal cross that has been erected there. This time of year is associated with the arrival of autumn, when the sun begins its journey toward winter. In mythology, it is the day when day and night crisscross, being of equal duration, called the crossover of the sun.
If you’d like to learn more about the holiday, check out our previous post on the subject: Hope & Miracles.
If you’d like to hear more about trees, we’ll be launching our Magical Healing Trees Kickstarter campaign in early May. The campaign and our eventual webstore will be the only places you can get a digital copy of the book. Print copies will be available later this year on retailers, but you can get an early copy through our campaign, plus other cool stuff we’ll be offering. Click the link to our campaign above to follow it now, so you’ll be notified when it goes live.
Also, we’re part of the Storytellers Oracle Deck project. You can find out more about this and follow the other authors on our website: Storyteller’s Oracle Deck. We will be offering the “Wisdom” card as part of this project.