A Spell in the Forest

Poet Roselle Angwin has a deep love for forests and trees. This work is both a beautiful love letter to these and a great resource book for anyone interested in learning more about our forest kin. A Spell in the Forest: Tongues in Trees is complimentary to a course run by the author of the same name but also works perfectly well on its own as a coursebook, with many great observations and suggestions on deepening our understanding of our “Other-than-human” cohabitors on this planet.

Following a largely Druidic and Celtic framework, the author uses the Ogham system of writing and the Ogham calendar based on Robert Grave’s seminal work, The White Goddess, as a basis to examine 13 trees that are commonly found in Northern Europe and North America. Starting with the birch (on the 24th of December) and ending with the mysterious yew tree (23rd December,) each chapter combines the time of year with the characteristics and history of each tree, along with practical uses and symbolism. Interwoven with all this information are Angwin’s enchanting poems, various titbits of folklore, Celtic/Nordic mythology and other literary gems she has found during her extensive research. I was extremely impressed that Roselle Angwin was unafraid to change elements from Graves’s original Ogham calendar that she felt were in need of updating, (specifically by including apple, a vitally important tree in Western culture and one that is deservedly included in Angwin’s final 13 trees.)

Angwin guides the reader into the practical aspect of working with trees and forests, including suggestions for visiting a particular tree at certain times of the year, what to take along, and how to clarify the reader’s own understanding. I especially enjoyed the Tree Meditations specific for each tree and the sobering significance of reciprocity (i.e., giving back to the environment we love,) – how we must become activists to protect our precious natural world for future generations.

I would like to wholeheartedly recommend A Spell in The Forest. It is a methodic and accomplished piece of work that will appeal to any and everyone who enjoys a walk in the woods and has a love for the ‘Other-than-human!’

Book Details: Roselle Angwin. A Spell in the Forest: Book One Tongues in Trees. Moon Books (25 Jun. 2021). ISBN: 9781789046304

Review Details: A Spell in the Forest: Book One Tongues in Trees was reviewed by Thea Prothero for for Indie Shaman magazine and this review was published in Issue 50.

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