Previous month:
May 2015
Next month:
July 2015

June 2015

Finding the way to the green

Chagford in the hills

From Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape by Jay Griffiths:

"Every generation of children instinctively nests itself in nature, no matter matter how tiny a scrap of it they Tree Nymph by Virigina Leecan grasp. In a tale of one city child, the poet Audre Lord remembers picking tufts of grass which crept up through the paving stones in New York City and giving them as bouquets to her mother. It is a tale of two necessities. The grass must grow, no matter the concrete suppressing it. The child must find her way to the green, no matter the edifice which would crush it.

"The Maori word for placenta is the same word for land, so at birth the placenta is buried, put back in the mothering earth. A Hindu baby may receive the sun-showing rite surya-darsana when, with conch shells ringing to the skies, the child is introduced to the sun. A newborn child of the Tonga people 'meets' the moon, dipped in the ocean of Kosi Bay in KwaZulu-Natal. Among some of the tribes of India, the qualities of different aspects of nature are invoked to bless the child, so he or she may have the characteristics of earth, sky and wind, of birds and animals, right down to the earthworm. Nothing is unbelonging to the child.

Tilly in the buttercup field

Drawings by Virginia Lee

" 'My oldest memories have the flavor of earth,' wrote Frederico García Lorca. In the traditions of the Australian deserts, even from its time in the womb, the baby is catscradled in kinship with the world. Born into a sandy hollow, it is cleaned with sand and 'smoked' by fire, and everything -- insects, birds, plants, and animals -- is named to the child, who is told not only what everything is called but also the relationship between the child and each creature. Story and song weave the child into the subtle world of the Dreaming, the nested knowledge of how the child belongs.

Tilly as a puppy

"The threads which tie the child to the land include its conception site and the significant places of the Dreaming inherited through its parents. Introduced to creatures and land features as to relations, the child is folded into the land, wrapped into country, and the stories press on the child's mind like the making of felt -- soft and often -- storytelling until the feeling of the story of the country is impressed into the landscape of the child's mind.

"That the juggernaut of ants belongs to a child, belligerently following its own trail. That the twitch of an animal's tail is part of a child's own tale or storyline, once and now again. That on the papery bark of a tree may be written the songline of a child's name. That the prickles of a thornbush may have dynamic relevance to conscience. That a damp hollow by the riverbank is not an occasional place to visit but a permanent part of who you are. This is the beginning of belonging, the beginning of love.

"In the art and myth of Indigenous Australia, the Ancestors seeded the country with its children, so the shimmering, pouring, circling, wheeling, spinning land is lit up with them, cartwheeling into life....

Moor Maiden by Virginia Lee

Buttercup Girl

Chestnut Nuptials by Virginia Lee

"The human heart's love for nature cannot ultimately be concreted over. Like Audre Lord's tufts of grass, The Bird Keeper by Virgina Leeit will crack apart paving stones to grasp the sun. Children know they are made of the same stuff as the grass, as Walt Whitman describes nature creating the child who becomes what he sees:

There was a child went forth every day
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became...
The early lilacs became part of this child...
And the song of the phoebe-bird...

In Australia, people may talk of the child's conception site as the origin of their selfhood and their picture of themselves. As Whitman wrote of the child becoming aspects of the land, so in Northern Queensland a Kunjen elder describes the conception site as 'the home place for your image.' Land can make someone who they are, giving them fragments of themselves."

The Listener by Virginia Lee

And yet, Griffiths warns:

"consumer societies are stealing children away from their kith, their family of nature, in a steady alienation. This is not about some luxury, a hobby, a bit of playtime in the garden. This is about the longest, deepest necessity of the human spirit to know itself in nature, and about the homesickness children feel, whose genesis is so obvious but so little examined. Writer on Native American spirituality Linda Hogan describes the term susto as a sickness of soul caused by disconnection from nature and cured by 'the great without.'"

The May Queen by Virginia Lee

Young Tilly

I'm interested in the ways that fantasy literature and mythic arts can address modernity's epidemic of susto, leading us back to the natural world in imagination, and in reality. Indeed, it's my belief that art-forms like ours, deep-rooted in myth, folklore, and archetypal symbology, are uniquely suited to do so. I'll be quoting more passages from Kith in the week ahead, as well as adding my own thoughts on the subject; and I invite you all to contribute to the discussion in the Comments below.

The art in this post is by my friend and neighbor Virginia Lee. To see more of her wonderful, whimsical, exquisitely beautiful paintings, drawings, and sculptures, please visit Virginia's website, mythic arts blog, and Etsy shop.

Buttercup field

Buttercup fieldThe pictures of Tilly as a puppy are from 2009; the others were taken in fields bright with buttercups this morning.


Picking Nettles

Spring is the time to harvest nettles...

Nettle path at the bottom of Nattadon Hill.Parts of this post were first published in May 2012, with additional text and photos added.

In the fairy tale of "The Wild Swans" by Hans Christian Andersen, the heroine's brothers have been turned into swans by their evil stepmother. A kindly fairy instructs her to gather nettles in a ''The Wild Swans- Picking Nettles by Moonlight'' by Nadezhda Illarionovagraveyard by night, spin their fibers into a prickly green yarn, and then knit the yarn into a coat for each swan brother in order to break the spell -- all of which she must do without speaking a word or her brothers will die. The nettles sting and blister her hands, but she plucks and cards, spins and knits, until the nettle coats are almost done -- running out of time before she can finish the sleeve on the very last coat. She flings the coats onto her swan-brothers and they transform back into young men -- except for the youngest, with the incomplete coat, who is left with a wing in the place of one arm. (And there begins a whole other tale.)

This was one of my favorite stories as a child, for I too had brothers in harm's way, and I too was a silent sister who worked as best I could to keep them safe, and sometimes succeded, and sometimes failed, as the plot of our lives unfolded. The story confirmed that courage can be as painful as knitting coats from nettles, but that goodness can still win out in the end. Spells can broken, and gentle, loving persistence can be the strongest magic of them all.

''The Wild Swans'' by Susan Jeffers and Yvonne Gilbert

Wild Swans by Susan Jeffers

I grew up with the story, but not with Urtica dioica: "common nettles" or "stinging nettles." I imagined them as dark, thorny, and witchy-looking -- and although they're actually green and ordinary, growing thickly in fields and hedges here in Devon, nettles emerge nonetheless from the loam of old stories and glow with a fairy glamour. It is a plant that heralds the return of spring, a tonic of vitamins and minerals; and also a plant redolent of swans and spells, of love and loss and loyalty, of ancient powers skillfully knotted into the most traditional of women's arts: carding, spinning, knitting, and sewing.

Urtica dioica: the common nettle or stinging nettle, native to  Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America

Nettle Coat by Alice Maher

According to the Anglo-Saxon "Nine Herbs Charm," recorded in the 10th century, stiðe (nettles) were used as a protection against "elf-shot" (mysterious pains in humans or livestock caused by the arrows of the elvin folk) and"flying venom" (believed at the time to be one of the four primary causes of illness). In Norse myth, nettles are associated with Thor, the god of Thunder; and with Loki, the trickster god, whose magical fishing net is made from them. In Celtic lore, thick stands of nettles indicate that there are fairy dwellings close by, and the sting of the nettle protects against fairy mischief, black magic, and other forms of sorcery.

Nettles with ferns, flowers, and dog.

Harvesting nettles.

Nettles once rivaled flax and hemp (and later, cotton) as a staple fiber for thread and yarn, used to make everything from heavy sailcloth to fine table linen up to the 17th/18th centuries. Other fibers proved more economical as the making of cloth became more mechanized, but in some areas (such as the highlands of Scotland) nettle cloth is still made to this day. "In Scotland, I have eaten nettles," said the 18th century poet Thomas Campbell, "I have slept in nettle sheets, and I have dined off a nettle tablecloth. The young and tender nettle is an excellent potherb. The stalks of the old nettle are as good as flax for making cloth. I have heard my mother say that she thought nettle cloth more durable than any other linen."

Nettles among the wildflowers.

Nettles, stitchwort, and campion.

Nettle path by an old stone wall.

"Nettles have numerous virtues," writes Margaret Baker in Discovering the Folklore of Plants. "Nettle oil preceded paraffin; the juice curdled milk and helped to make Cheshire cheese; nettle juice seals leaky barrels; nettles drive frogs from beehives and flies from larders; nettle compost encourages ailing plants; and fruits packed in nettle leaves retain their bloom and freshness.

"Mixing medicine and magic, a healer could cure fever by pulling up a nettle by its roots while speaking the patient's name and those of his parents. Roman soldiers in damp Britain found that rheumatic joints responded to a beating with nettles. Tyroleans threw nettles on the fire to avert thunderstorms, and gathered nettle before sunrise to protect their cattle from evil spirits."

Nettle tips for soup, tonic, and tea.

The medicinal value of nettles is confirmed by Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal in their useful book Hedgerow Medicine:

"Nettle was the Anglo-Saxon sacred herb wergula, and in medieval times nettle beer was drunk for rheumatism. Nettle's high vitamin C content made it a valuable spring tonic for our ancestors after a winter of living on grain and salted meat, with hardly any green vegetables. Nettle soup and porridge were popular spring tonic purifiers, but a pasta or pesto from the leaves is a worthily nutritious modern alternative. Nettle soup is described by one modern writer as 'Springtime herbalism at one of its finest moments.' This soup is the Scottish kail. Tibetans believe that their sage and poet Milarepa (AD 1052-1135) lived solely on nettle soup for many years until he himself turned green: a literal green man.

"Nettles enhance natural immunity, helping protect us from infections. Nettle tea drunk often at the start of a feverish illness is beneficial. Nettles have long been considered a blood tonic and are a wonderful treatment for anaemia, as they are high in both iron and chlorophyll. The iron in nettles is very easily absorbed and assimilated. What cooks will tell you is that two minutes of boiling nettle leaves will neutralize both the silica 'syringes' of the stinging cells and the histamine or formic acid-like solution that is so painful."

Nettle basket.

Evening sunlight through the kitchen window.

Nattadon Nettle Soup

Melt some butter in the bottom of the soup pot, add a chopped onion or two, and cook slowly until softened.

Add a litre or so of vegetable or chicken stock, with salt, pepper, and any herbs you fancy.

Add 2 large potatoes (chopped), a large carrot (chopped), and simmer until almost soft. If you like your soup thick, use more potatoes.

Preparing nettle soup.

Throw in several large handfuls of fresh nettle tops, and simmer gently for another 10 minutes.

Add some cream (to taste), and a pinch of nutmeg.

Purée with a blender, and serve.

Nettle soup.

If you happen to have some truffle oil in your pantry, a light sprinkling on the soup tastes terrific.

And here are two more good nettle recipes: nettle pancakes and wild nettle bread.

Courtyard

Courtyard

Nettles, folk tales around the world agree, have long been associated with women's domestic magic: with inner strength and fortitude, with healing and also self-healing, with protection and also self-protection, with the ability to "enrich the soil" wherever we have been planted. Nettle magic is steeped in dualities: both fierce and soft, painful and restorative, common as weeds and priceless as jewels. Potent. Tenacious. Humble and often overlooked. Resilient.

Soup is served.

And pretty tasty too.

Tilly guards the nettle crop.The illustrations for "The Wild Swans" above are by Nadezhda Illarionova, Susan Jeffers, & Yvonne Gilbert. The Nettle Coat is by Alice Maher. Related posts: "Swan's Wing," "Swan Maidens and Crane Wives," "When Stories Take Flight: The Folklore of Birds," and "The Folklore of Food."


Tunes for a Monday Morning

Study for ''The Legend of Briar Rose'' by Sir Edward Burne-Jones

Today, music from three wonderful women in the American bluegrass/Celtic/roots music scene: Crooked Still's Aoife O'Donovan on guitar and vocals, Nickel Creek's Sara Watkins on fiddle and vocals, and Sarah Jarosz on guitar, banjo, and vocals. They are from Boston, California, and Texas respectively.

Above: Aoife and Sarah perform the traditional ballad "Some Tyrant" at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Colorado in 2014.

Below: Aoife, Sara, and Sarah record a cover of John Hiatt's "Crossing Muddy Waters" earlier this year.

Sleeping Beauty

Above: Aoife, Sara, and Sarah perform Nina Simone's "Be My Husband," 2015.

Below: Aoife performs her beautiful song "Briar Rose," inspired both by the fairy tale and Anne Sexton's dark poem of that title. (A trigger warning here for abuse issues.) She's backed up by Austin Nevins on guitar and Jacob Silver on double bass, filmed in Hillsborough, North Carolina, 2013.

Sleeping Beauty

The paintings and drawings today are studies for the "Briar Rose" panels by Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898).

Sleeping Beauty


The blessings of the trees

Cloughties

In the comments under Tuesday's post, novelist Stuart Hill asked a question about the oak tree in the first photograph -- and for those who don't always go back to read the comments, I'll begin this post by repeating the discussion between me, Stuart and fellow-author Jane Yolen:

Stuart: Do I spy a piece of red cloth tied to the tree? A wonderfully Pagan practice of course. If it is an example of a Pagan act, it's so nice to know that the original religion of these isles is still being followed in Chagford.

Jane: Red cloth tied to tree -- pagan? Tell more, Stuart.

Stuart: Cloth (of any colour) tied to trees is an ancient tradition throughout the UK and Ireland. The cloth is a sort of physical representation of a prayer or wish in which the help of Nature Spirits and Deities is asked for. Often the prayer is related to health issues and also fertility, but help for any sort of problem, ambition or need can be sought. Sometimes coin offerings are also made, and the tree in question may stand near a well or spring, though not always. The species of the tree can sometimes be important (particularly hawthorn and oak) though again many species have been associated with the practice. Actually, I think that the West Country where Terri lives, may be one of the places where the tradition continues quite strongly. And I think there may be similar practices throughout the world; perhaps some of the Myth and Moor community could tell us?

Me: The tree in that picture is one of two trees on the hill behind our house known locally as the fairy trees. (An elderly neighbor of mine, back when I lived in Weaver's Cottage, told me the tale. She was both a staunch church goer and a firm believer in fairies.) This is the "female" tree; the "male" tree is not in the photo, although it is close by. The trees stands on two wildflower-covered humped mounds in the interstitial space between the woods and the open hill, and I photograph them only rarely, when I feel I have their "permission."  ... Colored ties (called clouties) appear on these trees from time to time, and little offerings on the mounds below them: flowers, pins, and sometimes beans, which folklore tells us is a food beloved by fairies. At the moment, there's also a green cloutie tied beside the red one. Well spotted, Stuart!

Cloughties

The practice of tying clouties to sacred trees or fairy trees was once common across the British Isles and Brittany, and continues to this day in certain sacred spots, often close by wells or springs known for their healing properties. (You can read more about healing wells in a previous post:"Water, wild and sacred.") Called clouties or cloughties here in Devon and Cornwall, clooties in Scotland and the north of England, and clotties in Ireland, the term derives from local words for rags or strips of cloth.

Fairy Oak during bluebell season, Devon

Clouties are sometimes left as gestures of acknowledgement and respect for the spirits of the land, and sometimes as prayers requesting general blessings or specific aid from those same spirits. At healing wells, clouties may be left as prayers for recovery from afflictions of the body or mind: the cloth is first dipped in the water, pressed against the troubled part of the body (if the sufferer is present), and tied to the tree. The cloth then "takes up" the illness and carries it harmlessly back to wind and earth as the cloughtie slowly weathers over time and disintegrates. Other offerings common to such places are bent pins, flowers, coins, food (usually beans, honeycomb, apples, berries, or freshly baked bread), wine (in a wooden bowl or poured onto the earth), and bread soaked in ale or cider (a custom related to British and Germanic wassailing traditions).

Cloughties by Madron Well, Cornwall

Although at its root the tying of clouties is a quiet, private act of communion between human beings and the local spirits of the land, in some spots the practice is so well known that it has almost become a tourist attraction -- causing friction between some of the locals who tend such sites (which have often been Christianized) and the tourists, pilgrims, and pagans who fill sacred sites with objects that others see as "litter." Aside from these well known places, however, the holy or magical trees of the West Country are honored in ways so quiet and unobtrusive (and respectful of nonbelievers) that you need sharp eyes to even notice that the cloutie practice has been carried unbroken right up to modern times.

Sanscreed Well, Cornwall

Clotties by St. Brigid's Well, Kildare, Ireland

This is not a practice unique to Europe's pagan and Celtic Christian traditions, of course. Trees are considered sacred in many ancient cultures around the world, and offerings left in or below specials trees (called Holy Trees, Prayer Trees, Wishing Trees, Peace Trees, etc.) can be found in many lands, representing many different beliefs and religions. Here are just a few them (identified in the picture captions; run your cursor over the images to see them):

A hopea odorata tree wih offerings to a Nany Ta-khian (a female tree spirit) in Thailand

The Wishing Tree shrine near the Tin Hau Temple

Kagyu Samyé Ling Monastery

In a number of Native American traditions, "prayer ties" are created in a ritual manner and left in particular sacred spots, or else in places made sacred by a personal or community ceremony. These are generally made of strips of colored cloth, either red (representing the Red Road of indigenous spirituality) or the four colors of the four directions (the exact colors varying from tribe to tribe), with a pinch of tobacco or sacred herbs knotted in the cloth. 

The cottonwood trees at the center of Sundance ceremonies are often wrapped and hung with prayer ties -- sometimes many hundreds of them, each one knotted with individual prayers and blessings. I've attended many Sundances in my time, which are profoundly beautiful and powerful,  but I won't include a photograph of a prayer-wrapped Sundance tree in this post, for taking pictures at such ceremonies is generally considered disrespectful. Instead, here's a simple photograph of a string of prayers left anonymously in the wild:

Native American Prayer Ties on Hat Mountain, South Dakota

A custom related to the tying of clouties is the driving of coins into the bark of a tree for luck or increased fertility -- usually a fallen oak, ash, or sycamore, rather than a living tree. Such trees are found not only in the British Isles but also in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and East Asia. In South America, tiny silver milagros (in the shape of afflicted body parts) can be found pinned or tied to special trees, along with offerings of coins, paper money, and cigarettes beneath. Coins are also commonly thrown into holy wells and springs beside cloughtie trees -- a practice that comes down to us in the form of wishing wells and throwing pennies into a fountain for luck.

The Wish Tree by St. Fintan's Well

A Wish Tree in the English Lake District

A Wish Tree in Teesdale, England

Trees have been revered since the dawn of time -- both in green, wet lands like the British Isles and in dry, hot lands where their presence is rare and precious. The folkloric customs expressing this reverence were practiced for centuries before being discouraged, even demonized, by the Abrahamic religions -- or else quietly adopted when those practices could not be entirely suppressed. Here in England's West Country, pagan sacred sites were re-dedicated to Christian saints, "well dressing" and other such rites were folded into A Green Man carving in a church at King's Nympton, Devonseasonal church celebrations, and the wild Green Men of Celtic lore were turned into church carvings representing the resurrection of Christ instead of the seasonal rebirth of nature. Today, when a love of trees is considered ecological or Romantic rather than Satanic, Christians and pagans alike can enjoy the old woodland customs of Britain's folk heritage.

"For me," wrote the German poet and novelist Herman Hesse, "trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone....In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow. "

Newcrosswishtree2

"A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening," Hesse continues. "If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother. So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”

That is happiness indeed.

The Spiers Wish Tree in Beith, Scotland

Tree spirit, sapling child, and bunny girl

Images: The pictures are identified in the captions. (Run your cursor over the images to see them.)
Credits: The local "fairy tree" was photographed by me, and the others are Wiki Commons photographs except the following: the North American prayer ties are from Tangible View, St. Brigid's Well from A Trip to Ireland, and the Green Man carving from The Company of Green Men. The painting (one of mine) is of a tree spirit, sapling child, and story-loving bunny girl. The Herman Hesse quote comes from Trees: Reflections and Poems by Hesse.
Related posts: "Water, sacred and wild," "Wild folklore," "Stories are Medicine: healing tales in myth, folklore and mythic arts,"  "Homemade ceremonies," and "The Language of the Earth."


Early morning in the greenwood

Woodland 1

Woodland 2

"To enter a wood," wrote English naturalist Roger Deakin, "is to pass into a different world in which we ourselves are transformed. It is no accident that in the comedies of Shakespeare, people go into the greenwood to grow, learn and change. It is where you travel to find yourself, often, paradoxically, by getting lost. Merlin sends the future King Arthur as a boy into the greenwood to fend for himself in The Sword and the Stone. There, he falls asleep and dreams himself, like a chameleon, into the lives of the animals and trees.

Woodland 3

"In As You Like It, the banished Duke Senior goes to live in the Forest of Arden like Robin Hood, and in A Midsummer Night's Dream the magical metamorphosis of the lovers takes place in a wood 'outside Athens' that is quite obviously an English wood, full of the faeries and Robin Goodfellows of our folklore.

Woodland 4

"Pinned on my study wall is a still from Truffaut's L'Enfant Sauvage. It shows Victor, the feral boy, clambering through the tangle of branches of the dense deciduous woods of the Aveyron. The film remains one of my touchstones for thinking about our relations with the natural world: a reminder that we are not so far away as we would like to think from our cousins the gibbons, who swing like angels through the forest canopy, at such headlong speed that they almost fly like the tropical birds they envy and emulate in the music of their marriage-songs at dawn in the tree-tops....

Woodland 5

"The Chinese count wood as the fifth element, and Jung considers trees an archetype. Nothing can compete with these larger-than-life organisms for signalling the changes in the natural world. They are our barometers of the weather and of the changing seasons. We tell the time of year by them. Trees have the capacity to rise to the heavens and connect us to the sky, to endure, to renew, to bear fruit, and to burn and warm us through the winter. I know of nothing quite as elemental as the log fire glowing in my hearth, nothing that excites the imagination and the passions quite as much as its flames. To Keats, the gentle cracklings of the fire were whisperings of the household gods 'that keep / A gentle reminder o'er fraternal souls.'

"Most of the world still cooks on wood fires, and the vast majority of the world's wood is used as firewood. In so far as 'Western' people have forgotten how to lay a wood fire, or its fossil equivalent in coal, they have lost touch with nature. Aldous Huxley wrote of D.H. Lawrence that 'He could cook, he could sew, he could darn a stocking and milk a cow, he was an efficient woodcutter and a good hand at embroidery, fires always burned when he had laid them and a floor after he had scrubbed it was thoroughly clean.' As it burns, wood releases the energies of the earth, water and sunshine that grew it. Each species expresses its character in its distinctive habits of combustion. Willow burns as it grows, very fast, spitting like a firecracker. Oak glows reliably, hard and long. A wood fire in the hearth is a little household sun.

Woodland 6

Woodland 7

Woodland 8

"When Auden wrote, 'A culture is no better than its woods,' he knew that, having carelessly lost more of their woods than any other country in Europe, the British take a correspondingly greater interest in what trees and woods they still have left. Woods, like water, have been suppressed by motorways and the modern world, and have come to look like the subconscious of the landscape. They have become the guardians of our dreams of greenwood liberty, of our wildwood, feral, childhood selves, of Richmal Crompton's Just William and his outlaws. They hold the merriness of Merry England, of yew longbows, of Robin Hood and his outlaw band. But they are also repositories of the ancient stories, of Icelandic myths of Ygdrasil the Tree of Life, Robert Graves's 'The Battle of the Trees' and the myths of Sir James Frazer's Golden Bough. The enemies of the woods are always enemies of culture and humanity."

Woodland 9

 The passage above is Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees by Roger Deakin (1943-2006), which I highly recommend. The poem (?) ... story (?) ... chant (?) tucked into the picture captions is mine, as is Tree Caps, the drawing below.

Woodland 10

''Tree Caps'' by Terri Windling

Wildwood by Roger Deakin