On the day I moved to Glastonbury, I was walking up Chilkwell Street towards the Tor and, to my left, I could see, out of the corner of my eye, two evergreen trees that were completely and totally head-over-heels in love with each other.
It stopped me dead in my tracks. I was rooted to the spot for a good long time as the love energy that was palpable between them sent me almost weak at the knees.
As I stood there, I was given to understand that these were two spirits who incarnated lifetime after lifetime after lifetime, in different forms, in order to be with each other, eternally. Ever since, I have based my stories about Gwyddion and Arianrhod on that experience, which I will never forget.
Eventually, after a few years, those two trees were removed by builders as they extended the nearby houses. Nowadays, I visit another small grove of trees whenever I need help, and to make requests. I also ask them to show me if my wish has been granted, and they invariably give me a sign later that day, often when I’m least expecting it.
So to me now, this is a perfectly normal pursuit, talking to trees. But it wasn’t always that way.
Before moving to Glastonbury, I had been just like everybody else where I lived in a small commuter town in Kent, too busy rushing for the train in the morning to even notice the glorious oaks and the capaciously-spreading branches of the lime trees that lined the avenues to the station. Or, on my return at dusk, I was too exhausted to look up and appreciate the extraordinary beauty of the huge red Sun slowly bidding goodnight as it slid slowly into the white chalk downs.
I was under extraordinary pressure at the time, the sort typical for a journalist. The stress was sometimes off the charts – going into dangerous situations and then having to meet impossible deadlines in noisy, smoke-filled newsrooms. So I had been using the coping mechanism of wearing virtual horse blinders.
However, once I started training in shamanism in 1996, those guards to my vision began to drop away. The doors of perception opened and, almost over-night, I started to see spirits everywhere.
The trees lining the avenues now began to appear as kindly and courtly old gentlemen who had much to teach me – if only if I could find the time to stop and listen.
So, I gradually began to learn to slow down and engage with them – although only when no-one else could see me on this busy thoroughfare. But I remember once putting my hand on the trunk of one of the oak trees and asking it to heal me of some deep seated pain I hadn’t yet managed to process. Within seconds, it pulled it up through my torso and along my arm into its trunk… and it was gone!
One day, on my weary toil back up the hill at the end of a long working day, I raised my eyes to the North Downs and realised that they looked like a sleeping giant. Soon after that, the Sun began to play with me, in a game of peek-a-boo, and the clouds would form themselves into animals and other shapes. Of course, I’m talking about a known effect that scientists have labelled “simulacra” or “pareidolea”. I’m sure you’ve experienced it too. But I had been blind to this way of seeing until the spirits opened up my ‘third eye’ or pineal gland.
Ever after that, the curvaceous, chalky downs became my spiritual mother, who had been feeding me from birth with the white, milky water She had so lovingly filtered through her underground caverns.
In other words, I began to relate to Nature as a Being, alive and buzzing with an interdimensional life-force. And this must have been a sign I was ready for the next stage, and the next place.
A few days before the removal men arrived to convey me and my furniture to Glastonbury, I looked out of my window to find that all the trees were waving me goodbye. I was so moved that I cried. Of course, a pure rationalist would say it was just a very windy day… but I was no longer purely a rationalist and had no intention of becoming one ever again.
[The photo is called Faces in Tree Bark and it’s by Joanne Wells.]