The Glastonbury Oak


“My poetry was born between the hill and the river. It took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests…” – Pablo Neruda


I was inspired to write this piece about the Glastonbury Oak, a 500 year old oak tree which holds special meaning for me.


I am a tree.

I am completely what I am, beyond thoughts or words.

But we are not so different, you and I.

Our bodies tell our stories. The storms we have weathered, the seasons we have lived.

The ways in which we have learned to love.


Five hundred winters I have stood upon this earth.

I do not have legs to carry me, but I have traveled far.

I have welcomed the dawn as it greets me like a song each day, and born witness to the mystery and promise of each night as it falls.

I have listened to the music of the moon as she swells and wanes in the sky, and watched the clouds come and go, as all things do.

I have journeyed round the sun, feeling the breath of the earth rise and fall in me as the great, glittering wheel of the stars turns above me night after night in the vastness.

I have caught the gentle kiss of spring rain on my leaves, and danced in the light of the golden summer sun.


Like you, I have known joy.

The furred and feathered folk have tickled my wooden body with their footsteps: the red squirrels, the songbirds, the owls who nest about my crown. The tiny insects who forge whole worlds on a single branch. The four-legged bears, the badgers and the wolves who prowled in my shadows and slumbered peacefully in their dens among my roots; the worms – the sacred keepers of the soil; the mosses and the lichens who cloak my trunk and limbs; the bright flowers of the rising light and the mushroom people who visit as the nights draw in. All are my kin.

I have given them shade and shelter, food and clean air to breathe. It gave me joy to feel their quiet presence, their different forms, soft and light upon my body.

They are fewer now.

Some have not come for a very long time.


Once, my people ruled these lands. The spirits and the songs of the forest were many, the rivers flowed clean and clear. The magic was good and strong. The two-legged people knew that the land was not so different to them: a living being, deserving of respect and love.

Then they came with their machines, their saws. A shadow fell over the land. Much was lost. They come still; I hear the cries of my brothers and sisters and cousins both near and far away across the ocean. Your soul hears them too, though your ears do not.

But shadows, like clouds, come and go. The magic remains. It is the land, and the land is the magic. The trees and the streams and the stones remember this; they whisper its stories, and they are always there for those who listen, who want to remember. You, too, hold the wisdom and the medicine in your bones, sure as I stand upon this spot. For you, too, are sacred. You, too, are of the earth. She is waiting for you to come home.


I see the little people now, rushing about, always in such a hurry. I do not wonder where they are running to, or what they may be running from. I am just a tree. But like you, I am more than what I am. I am the earth erupting into love with itself; I am the sky gazing back upon itself in wonder.

But these are just words. You look tired, little one. Come, rest a while beneath my branches, where you need do ought but be.

There is time. Let us simply be alive together, for a short while, in the peace of this magnificent dance.



Autumn Equinox

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” – Arundhati Roy


The dawn comes later now. I rise to greet it, stepping outside the front door in my dressing gown.

My only company at this hour is the birds, kindling the morning light with their bright chatter; the soft, low, rhythmic coo of the wood pigeon, and the moon: a silver thumbnail ringed with purple and gold where the high cloud illuminates its halo. There is an earthy, metallic tang to the air which invites my lungs to expand. The cat pads up, purring wildly, paws soft and wet, coat smelling of damp earth. Poems drip from the mottled, fading bramble leaves like so many dewdrops.

Here at the night’s end, the world is still and cool, rippling with possibilities.

Morning comes. I go about the work of the day. My daughter. The school run. The housework, the laundry. I smudge the house and go to tidy the herb garden, clearing away the dead growth, tending the plants which envelop me in their soft fragrance as I pull and cut.

I harvest fennel, sage, lemonbalm and mint to use in herbal teas and baths.

I pluck the last of the tomatoes which I planted with my daughter in the spring, popping a few straight off the vine into my mouth, savouring the warmth and sweetness of the fruit.

I dead-head and gather the dry, talon-like seeds of the calendula to sow next year, and empty the kitchen peelings into the compost bin to be recycled into rich humus. It’s a joy to be creating my own organic, black soil for this tiny patch of land: reciprocating, in some small way, the gifts it offers me.

By the time I am finished, a still, golden light coats everything it touches in liquid silk. I smooth my fingers over the trunk of the baby ash tree and gaze up at the mother tree, which sways softly in the quickening breeze, bees and songbirds about her boughs, leaves making dappled patterns as though I am underwater, looking up at the surface of a lake.

A branch quivers and dances in a sudden flurry of wind, its leaves glimmering and trembling ever faster. Then a quick, unhesitating thing happens: the leaf, or the tree, or perhaps both, just lets go.

The leaf spirals to the ground in a fluttering motion not unrecognisable as joy.

It just lets go.

Welcome autumn!








“Sometimes… here, in this world, in this life, there are fragments of paradise.” – Ben Okri


After a rainy May and June during which I was away a lot, the garden has grown verdant and jungle-like. Now that the sun is out at last, I’m content to sit among the overgrown disorder of it all, listening to the bees. I wrote this poem out there yesterday.


Green and lush, untended and anarchic,

Bindweed and dandelions push for space

Where jasmine, bergamot and chamomile’s

Intoxicating scents release on touch


Long fingertips of fern unfurl to languid summer sun

Beneath a canopy of ash and elder


Campanula cascading over faded walls

Thousands of five-pointed, purple stars

Alive with humming bees from dawn til dusk


Feathered, soft, all shades and shapes of green,

The smell of warm, damp earth as I, to blackbird’s song,

Water the tomatoes in the evening light


A bramble flower suspended on a single spider’s thread

A sliver of new moon in sunset sky

The cat asleep beside the lemon balm


This is where I go

To breathe






“Plant a garden. It’s good for the health of the earth and it’s good for the health of the people. A garden is a nursery for nurturing connection, the soil of cultivation of practical reverence. And its power goes far beyond the garden gate – once you develop a relationship with a little patch of earth, it becomes a seed itself.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass  (photography by Caroline Arber)


Spring comes late to my garden.

North-facing, paved over, with high walls on three sides, it sits in a puddle of shade all winter long. There are no sweeping vistas or sweet-smelling grasses on which to walk barefoot. The only plants that thrive there are hardy woodland flowers, ferns and bulbs in a jumble of muddy pots.

But I love it. It’s my sanctuary, and my little patch of the outside world. It’s where I go to plant seeds with my daughter in spring and watch them grow. It’s where we go, wrapped up in warm towels, after a bath to look up at the moon. It’s where we – if we’re lucky and the slugs don’t get there first – eat warm red tomatoes straight off the vine in summer and pick blackberries from the heavy boughs which overhang the wall in early autumn. It’s a habitat for birds and insects, a space for my daughter to play and of course, a miniature kingdom for my cat.

Right now, bright sprays of hazy blue forget-me-nots are appearing in places I don’t recall planting any seeds. The tulips and alliums are poised and ready to burst open into May. Delicate white blossom snows down from the tree over the wall and the elder and the ash grow above it all, side by side, like a pair of wily old ladies who’ve decorated themselves with young, budding, green leaves, ready for the big party. The herb garden is sweetly fragrant after the spring rain and plentiful enough to start harvesting for cooking again.

Everything is on the up.

Even so, it always takes my body a while to shrug off the last of winter. Even as Beltane approaches, I often still want to be curled up with a book under a duvet for another few weeks.

So, now that the ground is drying and the dawn coming earlier, one of the first things I do every day, without fail, is go outside.

As I empty the kitchen peelings and cuttings into the compost bin and top up the bird feeders, I breathe in the dewy dawn air and glimpse the sunrise over the neighbouring allotments.

I take a moment to notice the ferns unfurling and the birdsong and the mist and the soft colours of the morning sky, full of mystery and promise.

If only for a moment, I close my eyes, pause, and reset.

It reminds me to be grateful for the day.

The Goddess Tree


“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ~ Rachel Carson, Author of Silent Spring

The year we moved into our home, an ash seed pod or ‘key’ fluttered down from the tree over the wall and took root in a crack in the concrete floor of our yard.

A year later, I noticed the sapling struggling, so I propped it up against a milk pail. It almost reaches the second floor of our house now.

The young tree’s silvery bark and soot-black, pointed buds – each of them imprinted with an embryonic copy of the branch they one day dream of becoming – somehow remind me of the limbs and hooves of a fawn. I feel that this makes sense, somehow, since deer and ash grew up together, evolving from the same forests.

Known as the Goddess Tree, the cosmic Tree of Life in Norse mythology and the Druidic World Tree, spanning the universe with its roots deep in the earth, the ash tree stands for strength, connection and rootedness in wisdom. Indeed, the creation myths of many ancient world cultures display a belief that the essence of humankind itself originated from the ash tree.

Somewhere, long ago in the dreamtime, we grew up together.

And yet today, ash is threatened with extinction. Hundreds of lichen, fungi and insects depend on ash for survival; it is a vital part of our ecosystem. Without it, we also suffer an immense spiritual loss.

Jane Gifford writes in ‘The Wisdom of Trees‘:

The ash is a key to healing the loneliness of the human spirit out of touch with its origins. It can provide a sense of being grounded and of belonging… so that we can better appreciate the many ways in which positive thought and action today can create a brighter tomorrow.”

The ancient cultures believed that the wisdom of ash teaches us that unity and harmony with the natural world is our heritage and our birthright. The Goddess Tree speaks of connection and belonging – our kinship with the great family of all things – and stimulates our soul-psyches into a kind of remembrance which bears great relevance today.

When we heed the magic of ash, we sense that our innately human strengths of compassion, courage, innovation, creativity and cooperation empower us all to affect great change. Despite a narrative of fear which seeks to convince us that we are separate, lost, and helpless, we may remember who we really are, and recognise our own power.

The future may look uncertain – but there is hope. Respected ecologist George Peterken says: “There is genetic diversity in ash… I would expect them to evolve their way round the fungus.”  Perhaps we, too, will evolve our way round this intense and challenging time.

As for my baby ash tree, for now I shall love it, water it and grow flowers up around it in the hope of brighter days ahead. For as long as I can, I will let its buds live out their dream of someday becoming branches, leaves outstretched, dancing in the bright summer sun.

Rewild Yourself

“May you live every day of your life.” – Jonathan Swift


There are places in you

Where thousands of bright, tiny flowers

Open each morning to the sun

In meadows as vast as the sky.


An ancient alchemy courses through your bones.

It speaks in feathers and stones and

precious metals and the footprints of mandalas

left by the stories we tell with our lives.

Rewild yourself.

Until green tendrils sprout from your fingernails

And lichen swathes your eyebrows.

Rewild yourself.

Until your roots spread and uncoil and

Writhe down through soil and rock.

Rewild yourself.

Rise up into your magnificence and

Take your place among the constellations.

Rewild yourself.

The Earth is her own medicine.

Be yours.


“Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species.” ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Sometimes the chaos, noise and haste of the human world make me long for the solace and wild spirit of nature.

I long to sleep out beneath a wheel of stars in the enchanted desert night; to walk in a verdant forest where wild creatures roam.

I hunger for real darkness, for wilderness, for lost horizons, and for the mystery, wisdom, perspective, freedom and beauty that only the natural world offers.

I long to…

“… come into the peace of wild things.” ~ Wendell Berry

I have recently been inspired by movements such as Rewilding Britain, and TreeSisters.

These collectives, and many more like them, are working to re-establish wild spaces in nature, planting trees, re-introducing indigenous species, restoring broken ecological relationships, repairing the Great Self to wholeness.

Some call this the Great Work of our times.

“Rewilding offers hope. It offers the hope of recovery, of the enhancement of wonder and enchantment and delight in world that often seems crushingly bleak… It offers us a chance to replace our silent spring with a raucous summer.”

~ George Monbiot, A Manifesto for Rewilding the World

We can all outwardly play our part in this positive story by striving towards a more harmonious, integral relationship with the natural world. But rewilding is a process which begins inside.

Rewilding is a spiritual attendance to the interconnectedness of all life, which transcends separation and fragmented notions of us/them and humanity/nature.

Desert, forest, mountain, grassland and ocean — the archetypal wildlands or Soulscapes of Mary Reynold Thompson’s deeply insightful book on spiritual ecology Reclaiming the Wild Soul — are places within all of us.

Through slowing down, listening, opening, surrendering, connecting, being and asking what really matters, we can access these places in deep and profound ways, giving rise to great journeys of the soul and enabling bold leaps of creativity, compassion and courage.

“Spend time out of doors, praise the earth, love the wild migrations of your own imagination, and be grateful for every leaf you meet. In this way, you will inevitably become part of the great rewilding of our world.”

~ Mary Reynolds Thompson

In doing this, we may reclaim the wild through our own psyches. We may become wildflowers in the wasteland. We may come fully into our power, and realize our potential to be the medicine the world needs.

Put simply, what we do to the planet, we do to ourselves, and vice versa.

“Let the great rewilding of the world begin with you. Let yourself be absorbed into something larger and less tame than your isolated self.” ~ Lorraine Anderson



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