The Love & Loss of Ancient Trees

I love summer! It gives me the opportunity to get outside more, to go camping, to explore and discover. I also usually make it to the odd festival or two. Festivals, luckily, are often sited in great locations with rolling hills, rich hedgerows and ancient trees peppering the landscape.

beautiful shady beech in camping area
beautiful shady beech in camping area

A few weekends ago I was at just such a festival, on an incredible site. Lakes and ancient trees punctuated rolling meadows. It was gorgeous, with lovely sunny weather to match. I had found an amazing huge beech to camp under and was grateful all weekend for the deep delicious cooling shade its generous branches offered me. In fact I spent much of the weekend admiring the great ancient trees, some of which were hundreds of years old with trunks that would have taken three four or more people with arms stretched fully to circle their great girth. I was sitting under one of these fabulous trees one evening when I dropped into a vision where these huge wise giants in the landscape were not solitary and isolated, with hundreds of meters between each, but where they were dominant. Where huge tree neighboured huge tree, shoulder to shoulder, across the rolling landscape. It was a strong vision, I felt like I had been transported to Sherwood Forest of old, with Robin Hood making camp not far away. My eyes welled with tears at the beauty of what once was. Once our land was full of ancient forest, strong, rich and green.

As I wiped the tears from my eyes the reality of our modern landscape hit me, that here on this private estate where large ancient trees still lived they were few and far between. What have we done? I thought as the sad sparseness of summer singed grass filled most of my view. I felt sad for the trees who once looked upon something so much more magnificent, I felt sad for the people, myself included, who had never known such strong and vibrant forest flourishing on this land.

After I had digested my realisation I went back to join the festival where between music and art, people were enjoying wild swimming in the lakes, running and foraging on the festival fringes. I enjoyed some music before walking back to my camp. I turned to look back at the stage where the band had now finished and saw very clearly what humankind have become in a land without a real day to day nature connection, without the mentorship of ancient trees to hold us and guide us. A sea of plastic lined the ground, highlighted in the bright beams shining out from the stage.

post festival sea of plastic
post festival sea of plastic

Where are we? What are we doing? If as a collective we can go and enjoy ourselves in the open air, sit in the warm summer sun and enjoy the cooling shade of trees, swim in soft silky smooth lake water, learn which plants we can safely forage for food and medicine and yet still treat the land as a waste dump…

We have some serious unlearning to do. We have some serious rewilding to do. I don’t know how to tackle the ignorance, how to stop people from feeling that it is ok to just throw their unwanted plastic on the ground. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you look at what we are up against, but if you do so it becomes easy to feel that there is no hope and to do nothing. I know that what I can do is change myself, and through my life and work do the best I can to touch those immediately around me.

I want a world where ancient trees grow shoulder to shoulder with ancient trees. Where we all breathe oxygen rich air in the green shade of towering trees, where we all acknowledge and respect Gaia, nature, and realise that we are forever entangled, there is no separation. What we do to “nature” we do to ourselves.

Time to go plant a few more plants, gather the fruits of the forest for my dinner, and plan some more workshops where I hope to inspire others to see the world the way that I do…

For a list of my upcoming workshops click here…

Wilderness festival UK Wild medicine walks with author Rachel Corby Rewild yourself becoming nature and the medicine garden, England UK
Ancient tree love 🙂
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