The story behind …

Root & Branch: British Magical Tree Lore by Melusine Draco

 Every book has a story behind the story of how it came to be written. It may be about a life-long passion, a personal journey, the need to share an experience or knowledge. It may have been fermenting in the brain for years, or sprung fully formed from a blinding epiphany.  Whether it be fact or fiction, sometimes the story behind the story is almost as interesting as the published book itself …

 Trees are an integral part of traditional British Old Craft and this illustrated title was originally published by ignotus press in 2002.  Unfortunately it went out of print when the press ceased publishing but has now been extended and expanded in its current version.  Favourably received by both the Forestry Commission and the National Trust, Root & Branch covers all aspects of the indigenous trees of the British Isles that our ancient ancestors would have known.

The idea was first formed due to the growing number of books on witchcraft that were including all manner of trees that were not native to these shores. It’s a fact that the majority of trees now growing in the British Isles are those introduced by man because of their practical use or purely for their beauty. The Romans brought the edible chestnut and walnut trees; in later years the Norway spruce, cedar of Lebanon, horse chestnut and sycamore became naturalised. And as beautiful as they are, they have no roots in traditional British Old Craft.

The indigenous trees dig deep into the beliefs, customs, superstitions, folk-medicine and folklore of our ancestors and, in order to keep these channel clear, the traditional witch should eschew the inclusion of any non-native species in their magical workings.  To help with the understanding of the trees, I included the natural history, country-crafts and folk-beliefs attached to each tree and shrubs, to the practical magical uses of its wood, fruit and leaves in order to return tree-lore to its rightful place within traditional witchcraft.

Throughout our long history, forests have been places of shelter, providing food for man and fodder for the animals; the wood for fuel (i.e. warmth and cooking) and for making weapons and other utensils. At the same time they have also been places of fear, where the temperamental Faere Folk, wood sprites and elementals lurked in the dappled shadows.

Even today, few places can rival an English oak wood in early summer for peace and beauty with its carpet of primroses and bluebells. Or the cathedral-like majesty of the autumn beech wood with the sun’s light filtering through the leaves. Or the brooding quiet of the ancient holly wood. Perhaps it is not surprising that our remote ancestors performed their acts of worship in forest clearings and woodland glades, for this is where they came face to face with ‘Nature’ – however they chose to see it.

Root & Branch: British Magical Tree Lore by Melusine Draco is published by Ignotus Press UK in e-book and paperback format and available from Amazon. ISBN: 978 1 78697 477 1 : 160 pages : £7.99

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