Monthly Columns

Beyond Belief: Trees

By the time you read this I will have had my first spot on British national radio. Specifically, the Beyond Belief radio show for BBC Radio 4. American readers, you may be able to get this online! The show was about the religious and spiritual significance of trees, from the perspective of different faiths. I was one of three experts recruited to debate and discuss the topic.

So, how did this come about? Well, I was lucky enough that one of my esteemed colleagues from the Pagan Federation pointed me in the direction of a particular post on Facebook. It was from the Arboricultural Association, a British organisation dedicated to caring for and managing amenity trees- those that are not used for timber, but which simply contribute towards the quality of life.

This particular Facebook post pointed to the producers of Beyond Belief, and they wanted to speak to people with a passion for trees and a knowledge on their religious significance. I immediately began typing out an email outlining my experience and interest. I received a call from a lovely man from their production team the next day, and I basically waffled at the poor soul for the next hour.

A couple of weeks later, I was driving to Manchester to the famous Media City to join two other experts for the panel. It was a bit surreal, and it probably goes without saying that I was incredibly nervous. I suffer from chronic anxiety anyway, so even getting in the car to go had been somewhat of a trial!

Upon arrival I met Rabbi Charley Baginsky of the Liberal Judaism Movement, and John Parker of the Arboricultural Association. Their views were absolutely fascinating. I learned a huge amount about how trees are important in other faiths, particularly within Judaism. I don’t want to spoil the show for you if you manage to get to listen to it, but there was so much more than the Tree of Life, although this was discussed too.

I certainly let the nerves get the better of me a couple of times. When discussing Ogham, I tried to dumb it down too much and ended up referring to them as runes (they’re not). I also very badly explained why the Hawthorn is a goddess tree. In contrast, I feel like I made some good points about how planting trees is the ultimate selfless act, although this was an expansion upon points made by my fellow panelists about how those who plant trees now may never see them fully grown, but they do it anyway.

I really hope you enjoy the show if you get to hear it. It was wonderful to learn how so many faiths, cultures and spiritualities all share the same love and reverence for trees and woods. Trees seem to be one thing that could really bring us together; faiths sharing common ground through the branches and roots of the forest.

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About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author and musician, as well as a freelance journalist. She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. Follow Mabh on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon