Monday 24 May 2021

Book Excerpt: A Spell in the Forest – Tongues in Trees

Here is an excerpt from A Spell in the Forest – Tongues in Trees by Roselle Angwin, due to be published by Moon Books in June. The book is part love-song to trees, forests and the Wildwood, part poetic guidebook to the botany, ecology, cultural history, properties, mythology, folklore and symbolism of trees, and part a deeper exploration of thirteen native sacred British tree species in relation to the mythic Celtic Ogham alphabet calendar. It offers a multi-layered contribution to the current awareness of the importance and significance of trees and the resurgence of interest in their place on our planet.

The Greenwood
Finally you open your eyes. The meadow’s tall grasses curtain you; beyond, the blue hills rise.

Emergent sun hazes their summits. You sit up. There ahead of you is the little path, and in the stone
wall a small wooden gate.

You stand. Below in the valley newly-arrived swallows and martins skim the mist from the morning
river. You stretch. The conversations of birds; the song of the water. Your hand lifts the old wooden
latch. You step through. You slip into the green of the woods as into a silk dress.

The path rises gently, sprinkled with light. It’s May and the land is alight with white blossom. The
wood swims with the scent of bluebells; the air is lilac with it. A thousand wild bees drone. You're
alone and it’s the first day.

In the green glade pass the ruins of the hermit’s chapel with its green dreams, the short walls
grassed and blackbird-capped; the spring bubbling and chattering.

Follow the path in and out of sunlight. Oaks and ashes season the woodland; first bursts of
honeysuckle; and look! – in the shade of this larch a host of goldcrests, a corona around your head.
Your feet firm on the good earth. Here there’s no need for shoes, you can shake out the creases in
which you hide; the truth is as it is, all around you, spread out.

The trees thin out, a little. In the undergrowth of campion, stitchwort, bramble there are rustles of
lives going about their daily cycles. A wren skitters out; a blue-tit. A very young vole, the length of
your top finger joint, scurries across the path, over your feet, unafraid. In the distance a
woodpecker knocks.

Soon, you will arrive. The green glade in the green day; summer still to come; and you are young,
you are now, you are always. The threshold waits; and its guardian; and question and response will
spring and be answered simultaneously, with no words. You pass through.

And there it is – waiting all your life for you, there before questions, before answers. You knew, and
forgot that you knew.

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