Trees of Cornwall

It’s no secret that I like trees.

Trees are considered sacred in many cultures. Tree worship, in one form or another, has been practiced almost universally by ancient peoples in every corner of the globe.

Trees have always had a special place in the hearts of the Celtic people, particularly oaks and oak groves, which formed part of their religious activities and philosophy. Even today, throughout Britain, people still touch wood to ward off misfortune; a relic of the days where guardian spirits were supposed to live in trees.  Touching the tree was both a mark of respect and plea for good fortune. The Cornish place name “Kelli” or grove, is still be found throughout the country, even though most of the tree-cover has now disappeared.  Other place-names, such as “Coos” (wood) as in Coosebean, Pencoose and other tree names “elaw” (elm) as in Treloan can be useful indicators.

Sacred trees often grew over sacred springs, water being equally important, and remnants of this belief are apparent at a number of wells such as St Keyne’s, where four different trees (oak, willow, ash and elder) grew magically out of the same root; and others where gnarled and ancient thorns grow about the well.  The trees were often decorated with offerings, still to be seen in some countries where Christian saints have taken over the guardianship of healing wells. So either ancient or new here is the start of an ongoing project about the sacred tree.

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