Root & Branch: British Magical Tree Lore was always a best-seller as far as the old ignotus press was concerned, even finding favour with the Forestry Commission and the National Trust. The compilation was a labour of love and even more so when a revised and expanded edition was re-released in 2016 …
It is perhaps surprising to learn that only thirty-five species of tree are indigenous to the British Isles. The following are common native trees that the natural witch should be able to recognise and utilise for magical purposes, although strictly speaking the blackthorn, ivy, spindle, heather, gorse and elder are classed as shrubs, their place as sacred or magical trees cannot be ignored. And so their addition brings the number up to forty of the most common that would have been familiar to the indigenous people of these islands. Neither should we ignore the parasitic mistletoe, and the ‘vine’ whose presence is more complex since it is listed separately from ivy in the Ogham tree alphabet – but it brings our total of magical native ‘trees’ to forty-two.
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.
What is hard to understand is the modern trend for many pagan practices to ignore our native trees and include introduced species into their tree-lore, despite the fact that they profess to be following the beliefs of the indigenous people of ancient Britain. This is, of course, understandable in the case of the rare strawberry tree, for example, which can now only be found growing naturally in Ireland – but where is the alder and the beech? Why is ellen-wood often listed among the nine sacred woods suitable for the Beltaine-Fire when any seasoned countryman would tell you that it can never be burned without some risk to hearth and home?
So come and walk with us awhile … take my hand, child, and I will take you safely through the Wild Wood.
Root & Branch by Melusine Draco is published by Ignotus Press UK and available direct from the printer at a reduced price https://www.feedaread.com/books/Root-and-Branch-British-Magical-Tree-Lore-9781786974471.aspx and in e-book format from Kindle-Amazon.