Trees and religions
Britain's stories, its myths, take place in forests. It has puzzled me for some time how desert religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism, born of the heat and blaze of the Middle East, took root in northen climates. Somehow the lack of trees made prophets suspect man had an extra special relationship with God. With trees around you, notions of man being extra special feel wanting. Instead you have a chance of feeling at one with other living things., with all aspects of creation.
The Buddha, of course, achieved enlightenment under a tree - but then he did not go on to found a religion as such. Buddhism has no god, promotes no sense of man being extra special, but leads to a sense of harmony with all creation, to an appreciation of our whole environment with ourselves as simply one part of a whole.
Living in London, we head for walks to Hampstead Heath and walk along an avenue of lime trees - immediately the air is fresher and cooler, life is happier. On the land in Santa Fe we have one especially sacred spot, a gove of ponderosa trees. My pilgrimage up Guadalupe Mountains, a revelatory time featured elsewhere on this site, found douglas firs to be crucial to the route. So many periods in my life I have found support from trees.
The Christian symbol, the cross, is a dead tree. America's rulers act in the name of Christianity, and seek to turn the remaining national forests into lumber.
Trees don't need religion. We need trees.
I took the picture im Summer 2006, two oaks in the circle of standing stones known as Long Meg and her Daughters, featured elsewhere on the site