The World Tree in Socialist Cosmology (part I of IV)

On one of the much-circulated posters that Walter Crane made for the labour movements’ May Day celebrations we find a maypole. The wooden pole – throughout the history of scholarship linked with idea of a macrocosmic world tree at the centre of the world an thus with the microcosmic so-called warden tree ofNamnlöst.jpg courtyards – has in the poster been substituted for a Marianne character, the Juno of the French revolution. Singing and laughing, whirling around this anthropomorphic pole, common people adorns her with banners with political messages. In drawing this image of the ideal May Day – a celebration that may be perceived as the labour movement’s counterpart to the ancient religious new year rituals when the world was born anew – Crane was not only motivated by political utopianism but additionally by the at the time thriving interest in fashioning a so-called “religion of humanity”. In fact, among Crane’s friends and associates the merging of socialist utopianism with religiosity, as a rule inspired by Auguste Comte’s Religion de l’Humanité, otherwise know as Église positiviste, was so influential that socialism in itself could be perceived and conceptualised as a new religion with the virtuous, beautiful, knowledgeable, perfect and perfected human as a deity. As such she is the centre of the world and the axis of life.

Vårdträdet.jpg

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