To varying degrees we are all aware of the world around us. However over time we have distanced ourselves from the natural world and during the process we have lost contact with the knowledge which is hidden deep within it. In the past our lives depended on this knowledge and it has been made clear to me that it is required for the very future of our planet.
Five years ago little did I know when I embarked on a dowsing course with the late Hamish Miller how this hidden knowledge would start to be revealed to me. My wife, Geraldine, persuaded me to go on the course. I must admit I was a bit sceptical about it but soon found that I had an ability to dowse natural objects and discover their hidden stories. I have always had an affinity with the natural world. Growing up in the weald of Sussex trees were my places of adventure and dreams as well as important landmarks on my journeys. During the course it became clear that trees were the direction that my future dowsing would take. This was confirmed a month later when I was on holiday in southern Brittany. While staying in the family farmhouse I would get up early and walk to an ancient woodland with a stream running through it. Normally I would get back to the house for a late breakfast but on the third visit it seems I did not return until the early afternoon. Understandably the family were concerned that I had not returned and when I did turn up it looked as if I was on drugs. The rest of the holiday was a blur and it took me a while to work out what had happened to me. I became so attuned to the wood that I became the wood. My life has not been the same since.
To be able to communicate with trees is a unique experience. In the past when our landscapes were woods and forests there would have been others like me who could talk to the trees. Now we tend to see trees as a resource for our own needs or as a hindrance that needs to be removed. Our very existence is dependant on the trees around us. As they are living beings we need to treat them with respect and learn to live and work alongside them.
When I meet with a tree I first greet it by placing my left hand on the trunk. There is often a frisson on this contact as the energy within the tree comes into contact with me. In powerful trees the energy flows through my body and we become one.
The first question I ask the tree is ‘How is it’. The majority of trees are fine but others do have problems and the conversation moves on to finding what these are. For example; A veteran oak has smaller trees and plants growing in its under-storey which it wants removed or another tree may want to be coppiced or pollarded to extend its life.
I next check its energy field. A tree which has little human contact tends to have a field confined to the edges of its canopy. This energy field is best described as a bubble that surrounds the tree going above and below it. These energy fields can be circular or elliptical and in some cases they even follow boundaries. The measure I use for calculating the energy field of a tree is from its trunk to the edge of its canopy.
I tested out how we can increase the energy of trees through an installation I set up in a wood a few months after my experience in Brittany. As part of an arts event I created way markers, using coppiced hazel, which led visitors into a wood. The wood was a conifer plantation which still retained the old banked hedges and hedgerow trees. The path I created led to two large beech trees which were surrounded by the conifers. Understandably the energy fields of these trees were very confined but over a two week period the visitors increased them dramatically. I regularly marked the increases and by the end of the fortnight the energy fields of the beeches had trebled and were still spreading out into the wood. It seems we can increase the energy of trees but it is only maintained by the creatures who have regular contact with the tree. In return we are rewarded through improved well-being by spending time with them.
As well as our ability to increase the energy of trees there are natural means. At the end of one of the mayan calendars in 2012 there was the normal press blather about apocalypse and the end of the world. What happened was a massive increase in natural energies. During the Winter Solstice I went out to check the energy of the trees. In the morning nothing had happened but in the afternoon the energy fields of the trees and plants had doubled. That winter was very bad but we had incredible growth in and crops from the plants. There was another doubling of energy at the Winter Solstice in 2013 and there will be another this year. These increases are to help the natural world cope with the changes that are on the way due to climate change and to strengthen those with a close contact with the earth so they can show our way forward.
Through continuous practice my dowsing skills have become stronger and more has been revealed by the trees. In 2011 I was asked to dowse a woodland full of veteran oaks. To celebrate the end of the Neroche landscape regeneration project it was decided to hold a conference exploring the future of our woodlands and wildlife. My role was to ask the wood if it was happy to host the Woodland Edge conference. Once it confirmed it was happy and where we could put the fire pits I asked one of the veteran oaks its age. To my surprise it gave it! I could not believe that it was 1076 years old. I checked the other veterans and they were giving me incredible ages. For a while I did have a sense of disbelief but by dowsing trees which had a recorded history it became clear that these ages were correct. It can be a long process running through dates with trees but now estimating their ages I have starting points which save time. The oldest tree that I found is a small, hollow oak which is still alive at three years short of being 2000 years old. It stands on the St Michael Line that Hamish Miller revealed and the dragon line that I have recently found.
It was a wonderful experience having a conference in the wood and the trees revealed how powerful they are. One of the oaks, aged 1054 years old, had made it clear to me that it was not happy with the ash and blackthorn growing under its canopy. I arranged for some of our conservation volunteers to remove it and the oak’s energy was released flooding the wood. As the volunteers had some more time available I got them to clear the saplings, brambles, etc from around a small but powerful oak aged 679 years old. During the night the young woman organising the conference was drawn down into the wood and told by the oak alongside the cleared small oak to remove all the brambles and ivy around its trunk. In the morning we checked her hands. There was not a scratch on them. We gave her some gloves and tools so she could finish clearing around the tree. She did not realise how powerful this experience was and that she will always have a strong connection with trees.
Two years ago I worked on a project based on the crafts and skills of the Blackdown Hills. I explored the craft of dowsing but rather than follow the normal approaches I looked at the journeys creatures made through our orchard. I created an installation and artworks based around the set journeys that badgers, voles, bumble and social bees made across the space. While waiting for visitors I started to search for other energy lines and suddenly came across a massive energy line that passed through our orchard and garden. At the time it was a shock as in total the line was 3 miles wide and it was clear that it travelled across the Blackdown Hills. I carried out some research but it was clear that the main task the trees had set me was finding as many means as possible to reconnect with them.
It is not an easy task I have been set and my hope was that during this year’s holiday in Brittany I would find the way forward. The holiday included the fifth anniversary of my experience in the ancient woodland. What would happen this time? Before venturing out I was given a mobile phone and strict instructions to be back by a certain time. In my walks to the wood leading up to the day I had an inkling that something was going to happen. On the day I had no ‘out of body’ experience but I had a revelation. As I stood next to the stream I suddenly realised that I was standing on the same energy line that ran through our orchard on the Blackdown Hills. This energy line is a dragon line that follows water through the landscape. It is clear that my work with trees led me to find it as there are powerful trees along its route. I returned from holiday with an unexpected approach to how I can get us to reconnect to trees