Summer trees and Druid wanderings

Sometimes the great British summer produces hot days. I’m one of the many people whose body is invariably startled by this. I find in hot weather that being under trees is really the only way of being comfortably outside in the daytime.

Walk through woodland on a scorching hot day, and you’ll be in balmy conditions with a little dampness in the atmosphere and pretty much no risk of sunburn. The bright light that can leave you squinting, and for the long term, more at risk of cataracts doesn’t reach through. Intense sunlight filtered through leaves becomes something gentle, joyful and habitable.

I can’t walk in direct sunlight for any significant time without a hat, and even with a hat, the risk of headaches and queasiness remains high. In woods, I can be out all day in high summer and this just isn’t a problem. I don’t dehydrate as quickly, I don’t feel uncomfortable in my own skin.

In the absence of trees to wander beneath, the shade of a tree in park or garden is always a blessed relief in the height of summer.

There are plenty of reasons to connect the idea of ancient Druidry with the idea of tree lore and tree wisdom. From the Roman reports of Druids meeting in sacred groves to possible etymologies relating the word Druid to names for oak, I am inclined to think of Druids as tree people. The simplest and most powerful tree lore for high summer is that to experience the sun filtered through leaves is kinder and safer than to be under its direct glare.

Many spiritual paths are keen to use light as a metaphor for goodness – ‘enlightenment’ when you think about it, is a word with light in it. At the same time we tend to associate darkness with evil, and these habits of thought are deeply ingrained in our culture. Trees do not offer us light, but gentle and friendly shade, with patterns of shifting light and darkness. Too much light will hurt you, blind you and burn you. Our bodies do not thrive when overexposed to sunlight. We benefit from places of ambiguous light, softer light, and cool shadow.



About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “Summer trees and Druid wanderings

  • Aurora J Stone

    I know exactly what you mean, Nimue. Just don’t do summer very well. It is an extremely extroverted season and I am not. I retreat to the shade of the two apple trees in our garden that cross enough for a band of shade most of the day, though it moves and I move with it. It is so much more comfortable. Sun light hurts my eyes, and as someone who suffered for years from migraines, that included hypersensitivity to light and sound, being able to be out with the trees is a delight for me.

  • Carol Lovekin

    Love this. I’m useless in heat & rarely walk in bright sunshine. Woodland is perfect for people like us. As for the dark as evil – stuff & nonsense! Anyone who understand the reality of earth-based magic recognises the positive dark & how it is our ally, not our enemy. xXx

  • bone&silver

    I used to live in Adelaide Australia: we once had 10 days straight heatwave of temps over 42 degrees- the sun & blinding light felt evil! We need the dappled kiss of trees 💚

    • Nimue Brown

      I think trees tend to make for much better human environments, it amazes me how many humans, especially city planners, don’t seem to grasp this, and I believe there are trees that can stand an Australian summer 🙂

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