Walking With Trees - Preface
I went to the woods
And became aware of myself
As I walked alone
I watched the untested parts of myself Awaken,
And heard my inner voice
Alive and true.
And I built a bridge across...
I welcomed the bright sureness of my instincts,
Followed the stirrings of my intuition,
Reached out with my heart to touch the trees around me,
I went to the woods and Time slipped... And in that moment
I was at One with all of the life around me.
I became aware of myself as part of this wonder...
And the trees seemed to stir, And welcomed me in...
Living my life close to the natural world is part of who I am, and more than once I have found myself standing at the edge of my conditioning to sense an awareness of something more... a sense of communion and communication between myself and the plants and the trees, and an absolute certainty of the interconnectedness and sentience of all life.
Trees are beautifully present, complex beings, deeply interconnected with the natural world around them, and the flow of the year’s seasonal cycles. They are totally intrinsic to present life on Earth. They store and utilise vast amounts of carbon from our atmosphere, and are the co-creators of our weather systems and climate. These great water-lovers draw up water from below the ground, and fill our air with the circulating waters of life, bringing many beneficial nutrients and minerals to the surface from deep within the Earth. They generate the oxygen-rich air that all of us air-breathing creatures need to breathe. We breathe with them and because of them. Their out-breath is our in-breath. They literally give us life.
I can honestly say I am in love with trees. They fill me with delight and awe in equal measure. I collect their leaves, blossom and fruit for my medicine cupboard and they gift me with layer upon layer of medicine for my soul. Being in their presence nurtures me, and the more sensitive and open I become to their sentience, the more levels of interaction and communication we exchange.
Trees create an interface, and can be experienced through all our senses. They help us to expand into parts of ourselves that lie at the edges of our consciousness. When I am walking with the trees beside me I feel complete. Their wild beauty opens my heart and can move me to profound joy, and sometimes to tears. When I stand with them I breathe more deeply and become more rooted, and more fully present in the here and now. They help me to slow down and to find my sense of inner stillness. This guides me to listen more closely to my intuition and the wild edges of my instinctive self. I am forever grateful for their blessed presence in my life.
My last book, Letting In the Wild Edges, was an exploration of wild gardening with the native plants in my town garden, unlocking my own wild edges and finding a more present and fluid relationship with the interconnected natural world around me. I have since moved house and now live surrounded by large trees. They are living, breathing, mighty beings, who are constantly moving and changing, expressing their life-force, spreading their seeds, and expanding their green world into mine. Their deep roots fill the very ground beneath me. Their intrinsic tree-wisdom permeates my consciousness. They have a big presence and I am learning to live with them and to respect them deeply.
Walking With Trees is a love-song to thirteen of my favourite native trees. (Native trees are those species who have been here since these British isles were created, after the ice melted at the end of the last Ice Age, ten thousand years ago.) I fondly call them ‘The Council of Thirteen’ and their kinship has been the most present for me over many years. They are my nearest and dearest, the ones I have learnt deeply from. You will have your own favourites, and I apologise for any of your great loves who aren’t here in these pages. Choosing which trees to include and which to leave out was a truly difficult task, as I love them all, but I wanted to keep this book as small as possible (not an easy task!) and portable enough to carry as a companion on your journey with the trees.
Walking With Trees is an urgent appeal to be part of the human- changes that the Earth so badly needs us to make, to step out of the confines and isolation of our conditioned constraints; to open new pathways and possibilities that will take us forward into a more Earth-aware future. As we celebrate, grow, plant and interact with the trees, we re-find our sense of unity with all of life on Earth. The trees teach us. We learn from them; grow and expand, regenerate and deepen, as their wisdom permeates through to our depths and helps change us from the inside.
As we open ourselves to the belief that everything is flowing in interconnected relationship with each other, our consciousness naturally expands, and we find that there is a lot more going on within us, and in the natural world around us, than we have been conditioned to believe. As we expand into our interconnectivity, we change, and our relationship with the Earth undergoes a dramatic shift as we realise that her wellbeing is our own wellbeing. We naturally become Earth allies and Earth protectors and live our lives in ways that help the Earth to restore her equilibrium – and this in turn helps us to restore our own.
The movement towards caring for our unique and astoundingly beautiful Earth grows every day, and this gives me hope for the future. I know that I am just one of many people making this journey, and I align myself, my kinship and my heart with all the people who love the Earth as I do, who are redefining themselves as one of many interconnected complex intelligent life-forms sharing the Earth’s resources; who are filled with a deep desire to help the Earth restore and heal the damage we have done. Each one of us has our own strengths and parts to play as we collectively do what we can to bring about intelligent compassionate change. Together, our many actions, both overt and subtle, are creating the great transformation of our time.
Trees are our wise teachers and our steadfast allies in these changing times, as we learn to walk this new path of co-operation and co-creation with all of life. In Walking With Trees, I invite you to dive in and deepen your roots, to arrive in the world of trees with a benevolence that creates more benevolence, a willingness for enchantment, and an openness to rediscover a sense of wonder for this precious gift of life.
With Love and Blessings as we walk with the trees...
Glennie Kindred 2018
Reviews and Testimonials
"Walking with Trees is a rich compendium of arboreal wisdom, ancient and modern, spiritual and practical from a wise and compassionate teacher of Earth wisdom. Glennie Kindred’s gentle, power-full words and images move us deeper into ourselves and deeper into the world, to the place of no separation. This is where we need to be at this time.
" - Lucy H. Pearce, Womancraft author of Medicine Woman; Burning Woman; Full Circle Health and Moon Time.
"This book is both a love affair made visible and the deepest bow of respect and reverence to the standing ones who grace our lives. To read this is to receive a direct transmission of Glennie’s soul, threaded through with a depth of knowledge and fascination that captivates and educates. Astonishing." - Clare Dubois, Founder of Tree Sisters. TreeSisters.org
"Once again, Glennie has delivered! Having read virtually all of her output over the years, the word which springs to mind to link them all is ‘quality’. The thoroughness of her approach to her chosen subject is very apparent. This time around her focus dwells upon our relationship with thirteen of the principal British native trees, from alder to yew. Very artfully, she surrounds her subject, by covering aspects of habitat, folklore and medicinal qualities, plus a practical guide to their growth. Whilst doing so she discusses such related topics as the doctrine of signatures, the ogham alphabet and where these trees fit into the wheel of the year. This is truly ‘a love song to the trees’, and Glennie contributes not only the prose, but also the illustrations and poems, all in her inimitable and beautiful style. The design of the book is aesthetically pleasing, and I am sure readers will treasure it. I cannot recommend it highly enough." - Ark Redwood, Author of ‘The Art of Mindful Gardening’
"I love this book. Walking with Trees is a portal into the world of some of nature’s most sublime sentinels. Dip in and be bathed by trees and their wisdom.
" - Polly Higgins, lawyer and ecocide law expert
"Glennie has real authority in this subject. She has earned it over years of working with deep integrity, a profound heart based intelligence by quietly, safely guiding thousands of people in how they can make very real connections with the intelligences of Nature and the vitality of the cycles. She nudges us to weave ourselves back into our birthright and true selves and is greatly revered in the consistency of her accuracy.
" - Suzi Martineau, Founder of Tree Conference UK
''Glennie Kindred ndred has always been such an abundant and finely-honed wordsmith, reaching into the alchemical infusion of nature, seasons, sacred land and ancient craft to beautifully envision their interface with our human lives and understanding. Glennie's knowledge is profound, her sharing is always generous, and her vision for environmental integrity is an urgent and essential call for a more fiercely protective guardianship of our planet, and the trees on which our existence, health and spiritual well-being depend.
" - Carolyn Hillyer, author, musician, artist. seventhwavemusic.co.uk
"Whether you already walk with trees or not, in both cases this exceptional, insightful, wise and exquisitely illustrated book is an essential guide for your journeys. Moreover, it is not only a guide but a companion too. It contains Glennie Kindred’s unique wealth of wisdom; deeply accumulated from a lifetime of experiencing the lives of trees in all their shapes, forms and throughout the seasons. To read and absorb this beautiful work of prose, poetry and art is to know that walking with trees in future will be like nothing experienced before - it will be so much, much more." - Paul Greenwood, co-founder member of the Ancient Yew Group: ancient-yew.org
''I've always found Glennie’s work to be both authentic and inspirational, and her latest book 'Walking with Trees' is no exception. Within it, she generously shares a lifetime's insights, providing the reader with many practical suggestions to connect with, and learn from, our native trees. With plenty of Glennie’s delightful drawings, this really is a book I can wholeheartedly recommend.
" - Claire Hattersley, Garden Manager, Weleda (UK) Ltd
Glennie’s profound connection to nature is evident in this wonderfully poetic journey through both the seen and unseen lives of our native trees. A unique blend of our own indigenous wisdom with modern practical applications, this is truly an insightful offering to help us delve into the conscious, intelligent and healing world of trees. A new favourite on my bookshelf!" - Emma Farrell, co-founder Plant Consciousness, The Shamanic Lands & wisdomhub.tv
I love this book, which is imbued with Glennie's deep love of trees, and illustrated with her own beautiful & magical drawings. I really like the practical recipes and information, as well as the exercises for connecting with trees and appreciating them as fellow sentient beings who share this earth with us. Highly recommended!
" - Julie Bruton-Seal, herbalist and author, co-author of 'Hedgerow Medicine' hedgerowmedicine.com
"Glennie’s book reminded me of our deep, timeless connection. Through her sharing I felt the deep connection of our ancestors continuing through these beautiful beings (the trees) and that my steps and how I work with the trees will impact and add to this continued timeless human connection. The book left me with feelings of deep reverence but also equally empowered within this co-creative relationship we all have with the trees. I feel grounded, realistic and positive about my continued efforts as an ‘earth warrior’ and inspired to keep taking small steps.
" - Dee Dade, teacher of wild herbcraft and plant spirit connection
"I love the way that this exquisitely illustrated book encourages us to take our meditation practice outside and in to the natural world. Glennie skilfully shows us how through contemplation we can form healing, nourishing, and inspiring relationships with trees. Along the way we also gain the wisdom and insight to recognise what actions we need to take to protect and defend the magnificent trees around us. Glennie Kindred is a seer, a shaman, and a wise woman; this makes her the perfect guide on our journey in to the beautiful and uplifting world of trees." - Jilly Shipway, author of 'Yoga Through the Year'
"Connecting with trees always means connecting with our own roots, with our deepest heart and ancient soul where we rejoice – and weep – with every creature in the biosphere. The age of total war against Nature will soon be over, so let us begin to walk the new paths of co-operation and co-creation with all of life. And since trees always have been humankind's spiritual mentors and guardians, Walking With Trees is a precious tool, from a woman who has been close to the Standing Ones all her life." - Fred Hageneder, author of 'The Meaning of Trees', and 'Yew: A History'
By immersing in Glennie’s Tree World, through her wisdom and experience you can learn to dance, play and listen to the trees themselves. Not only a massively important piece of work for eco activism, but a practical guide to it as well. This is a wonderful guide for identifying trees and understanding their myth and medicine. Thank you Glennie." - Seed Sistas, Fiona Heckels and Karen Lawton, authors of 'The Sensory Herbal Handbook' sensorysolutions.co.uk
"Reading this book makes me want to grab my coat and disappear into the woods and wander the tree lined lanes this very moment. From watching the Spring Equinox sunrise through Alder to embarking on an ancient Yew pilgrimage, Glennie has taken me to a new level of inspiration to deepen my relationship with trees. Packed with fascinating information spanning from natural history to folklore, medicines to meditation, this rich resource is a must for every tree lover and earth warrior’s bookshelf. If there was ever just one book to read about trees then it is this one. Glennies passion and experience oozes out on every page, and there is enough wisdom and inspiration here to keep me going for a lifetime. I will be returning to this much needed resource again and again as an essential guide to drawing on the deep wisdom and healing power of trees." - Nicola Smalley, co-founder of The Way of the Buzzard
"This is no ordinary tree guide, Walking With Trees is paradigm shifting, stretching our relationship with trees in many directions. There is a fascinating depth and scope of information and insights shared. It is personal and global, factual and spiritual, intuitive and ecological, practical and mysterious. Reading this I have the desire to reach the levels of connection that Glennie has, and the commitment to take the time to walk the landscape with new vision, and follow the clear guidelines given.
Walking With Trees invites us to step outside of our usual ways of thinking and into the immense world of trees. It is a call for us to go deeper, expand our consciousness, awareness and eco-literacy, to let go of conditioning, to think and act like ecological beings ourselves. We are given ways to use their tremendous wisdom for how we approach our own lives and our care for Earth.
Glennie has invited us into in an extraordinary relationship with the vast intelligence of these ecological and spiritual beings. Walking with trees is beautiful, poetic and wise. Glennie successfully brings outer landscapes into connection with our inner landscapes. Walking with trees is rooted in love, respect and awe for trees and all of life." - Looby Macnamara, Permaculture teacher and designer,
author of 'People and Permaculture' and '7 Ways to Think Differently
Indie Shaman - by Thea Prothero - October 2019
This is the 12th book authored by renowned environmental campaigner, teacher of Earth wisdom and co-creator of the Earth Pathways Diary, Glennie Kindred. Walking with Trees takes the reader on a deeply connective and powerful journey with 13 of the most common native trees from Britain and Europe.
This is no simple or ordinary tree guide but is instead a wonderful glimpse into the world of the tree and how we, as people, can learn to relate to these majestic beings. Every chapter describes each tree’s individual qualities, history, healing properties, the enchanting myths and legends surrounding them and ideas of how to make remedies, such as tinctures and elixirs. Glennie relates each tree to a point on the eight wheel year and shares many heart-warming, insightful personal stories. I was completely captivated by her ancient yew pilgrimage and the poem inspired by the mysterious blackthorn. Included are many recipes and craft ideas, such as creating a ceremonial holly arrow and Ogham staves. I was even motivated to make some beech leaf gin after reading Glennie’s recipe which I am looking forward to sampling later this year. No doubt more experiments will follow as the year continues. As a bonus, Glennie’s delightful and detailed illustrations add further depth to the profoundly intrinsic richness of this work.
If the reader is seeking a book to both enjoy and to strengthen their understanding of trees, then this is it. Glennie’s ability to inspire joy and wonder for the earth makes this book almost shine with the love and the creative enthusiasm that she poured into it, motivating anyone who picks it up to go out and hug a tree! An imperative in this day and age with humanities’ continued disconnection from nature and the destructive effect this has on our environment. Now is the time to reconnect with the earth and this is the book to begin with.
One of the most important books on trees, inspiring us to embrace nature and intensify our relationship. I love this book and know that the reader will probably fall in love with every tree they encounter after reading it!
Awen Magazine - by Roselle Angwin - October 2019
Recently there has been an upsurge of interest in trees. Some of this arises from research done by Suzanne Simard that gives us a picture of what is now known as the Wood Wide Web; and building on this is the amazing book by Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees. There are now a great number of tree books around (of which some of the most inspiring and comprehensive are the three in a series by Fred Hageneder).
Japan has recently dedicated the equivalent of millions of pounds to the study and promotion of Shinrin-Yoku, forest-bathing, as a therapeutic aid to humans.
I myself have been leading a course called ‘Tongues in Trees’ for about five years now. In its most recent incarnation it’s a year–long online course, beginning at the winter solstice 2018, rooted in the Celtic tree ogham alphabet/calendar.
What joy, then, a few months into delivering this course, to receive a review copy of Glennie Kindred’s newest and most comprehensive tree book to date.
Kindred is the motherlode, or ‘hub tree’, of tree lore in the UK, and many people will know her several lovely, originally hand-made and -stitched, pamphlets, as well as books, on trees, plants, our relationship to the natural world, and earth wisdom more generally, all beautifully illustrated with her own drawings.
This new book is also graced with her images, which have the blended skills of loving observation and the accuracy that comes with close looking in tandem with magical insight and sensitivity. (You can buy the book, and prints, on Kindred’s website)
There is not a lot that Kindred doesn’t know about trees. From this book, it’s also clear that the vast proportion of her knowledge is from her own depth of experience and communication with the tree realm. She doesn’t study them; rather she ‘builds a bridge’ to enter tree consciousness and brings back some of their gifts. ‘[M]ore than once I have found myself standing at the edge of my conditioning,’ she states in the Preface, ‘to sense an awareness of something more … a sense of communion and communication between myself and the plants and the trees, and an absolute certainty of the interconnectedness and sentience of all life.’
Walking with Trees describes what Kindred calls the ‘Council of Thirteen’: like myself, she goes with a 13-consonant Celtic ogham alphabet based on 13 native trees. (There is much disagreement about the number of ogham trees and some disagreement about their corresponding feadha, or letter-symbols.) She and I take slightly different perspectives in that one of her 13 is the beech tree, which is a later arrival on British shores (still several thousand years ago, of course), and is not associated with the Celtic uplands where one finds the other native trees, or with their mythology. However, I don’t disagree with her choice, and it’s true that, along with the small-leaved lime and the elm, beech marks an absence in the 13-month tree calendar that Robert Graves proposes and which resonates for so many of us.
Kindred’s book is ‘an urgent appeal to be part of the human changes that the Earth so badly needs us to make … The trees teach us. We learn from them; grow and expand, regenerate and deepen, as their wisdom permeates through to our depths and helps change us from the inside.’
I’m very much in tune with her perspective, especially at a time of global deforestation, and with the introduction of 5G ‘requiring’ that vast numbers of trees that are ‘in the way’ of receiving signals be felled.
My own tree course is an attempt to focus awareness on trees – in and of themselves, but also as utterly essential components in providing oxygen, keeping the hydrological cycle going, preventing soil erosion, offering habitat, shelter and foods for many millions of species of flora and fauna, offering medicines and foods to humans, and effecting positive changes to our immune systems.
They also act as mediators on a psychic level. By introducing people to the experience of being with individual tree species and trees, I hope to shift participants’ perspectives from the anthropocentric to the ecocentric via, in this case, the arbocentric.
Then, as we heal ourselves, so we heal our relationship with the other-than-human.
To learn to cherish, I believe, in anything other than the abstract, we need to know that which we wish to cherish; we need to be familiar with its ways; we need to learn to understand and love it. It would be very clear that Kindred has a deep love of and relationship with trees even if she didn’t declare it: ‘I can honestly say I’m in love with trees. They fill me with delight and awe in equal measure. I collect their leaves, blossom and fruit for my medicine cupboard and they gift me with layer upon layer of medicine for my soul. Being in their presence nurtures me, and the more sensitive and open I become to their sentience, the more levels of interaction and communication we exchange.’
The book is carefully constructed. Kindred divides each tree chapter into the characteristics, legends and folklore, and gifts as Part 1 for each species (and including information on growing the tree, plus food, medicines, and crafts associated with it); Part 2 focuses on both the wider picture of that tree in its environment, both physical and more subtle/energetic, and also inner-world correspondences, and the tree’s place in the Wheel of the Year. She includes notes on her own personal relationship with each tree. And each has several of Kindred’s relevant delicate drawings.
This is a book you’d be proud to have on your shelves – as inspiration, for information, as a thing of beauty.
Roselle Angwin is partway through writing a second book on trees and tree lore herself, partly inspired by spending some of each year in a magical Brittany forest associated with the Brocéliande of the Grail legends, which forms the subject of a preceding (as yet unpublished) book, and partly inspired by her Tongues in Trees teaching work.