I had heard via the BBC news web site that there was an ancient oak tree that had been split by the sharp cold spell we have had recently in the UK. being a “tree friendly” sort of bloke I was a bit distressed by this, and so decided that I should go and visit it – if only to stroke it and say “Bad luck, old chap!“. From the article it would seem as though some local tree preservation types had made predictions of its impending demise, and this made the visit seem more necessary than mere curiosity.
Before the weekend of the 13th/14th Feb I did some dowsing to see what was awaiting me.
- Was the split oak irreparably damaged? – YES.
- Would it die from this damage – YES.
- Was it going to die in the next few days? – NO.
- Would it take a few weeks to die – LONGER.
- Was the energy associated with the tree still present? – YES.
- Would that energy die off with the tree? – SOONER.
- Am I able to capture some or all of that energy? – YES, using the Ash Staff.
- Would the spirit of the tree be around for long? – ONLY DAYS.
Of course I am re-interpeting the results for you. Each of the questions had to be posed such that only a YES 0r NO response could result from it, but the outcome I have re-expressed to demonstrate my line of thinking. Only days left before the energy associated with the tree began to dissipate or leave, eh? Better get there soon!
Off I jolly-well trotted in my ‘new’ old car (the trusty old Peugeot is now in the hands of a trusted friend). I was heading for Pontfadog, a village on the outskirts of Chirk town. Chirk is a lovely historic town that I’ve visited before on my motorcycle. It’s the kind of place that keeps history alive, and the place seems to have a special quality about it. It has a lovely castle with large grounds on its edge, and despite having a factory nearby it feels quaint and timeless.
As I drove to Pontfadog I kept getting diverted off the main road. Ooops, I missed the turn-off (despite having SatNav guiding me!). Oh dear, this road is being diverted because of roadworks! Oh, a police car is blocking that road! Another closed road diversion a few miles later. And so it went on and on until I ended up on a tiny back road into Pontfadog village, a road which had those sinuous qualities that one associates with ancient roads that used to be trackways, possibly following male earth energy paths. At various points along this diversion I would encounter a bird of prey sat on a gate-post, or low in a tree, watching me as I passed. This is now becoming a common sign that I am on a special journey, and so I acknowledged each occurrence. It doesn’t do to get your rational brain involved in trying to work this out – just ride with it and take it for what you apprehend it to be!
The Pontfadog Oak
The village of Pontfadog has a relatively new car park next to the bridge over the river than runs alongside the main road. You can’t miss it if you go there. A short walk away is the hub of village activity (well, on a Sunday in Rugby season anyway) – the Swan Inn. What an absolute delight that place is! The landlord was incredibly helpful, and knew his ales from his elbow too. Refreshment had to be quaffed before continuing. Good job I did too because the route up from the back of the inn to the Pontfadog Oak is steep! Ten minutes later I was walking along a path leading to a farm on the Pontfadog hillside that was reputed to contain the oak. Indeed it did, and the farmhouse owners were only too pleased to direct anyone to it.
According to the accompanying plaque at the base of this ancient oak tree:-
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has designated The Pontfadog Oak one of the Great British Trees.”
That’s nice of her. So did one of her predecessors, apparently:
“In Pontfadog lives the oldest oak tree in Britain which was spared when King Henry II had his men cut down the Ceiriog Woods in 1165. Fortunately the woods recovered, as they have done since being permanently covered in dust from the quarrying of the 19th century.” (source: www.ceiriog.co.uk)
I noticed that although the tree was hollow inside, it wasn’t split, so I went back to the people in the farmhouse garden to ask about it. Was this the tree that had split and had been reported about? Oh, no, came the response – that was another ancient tree in the valley. Surely I passed it along the road coming into the village? Well, I might have done, but I suspect my little “detour” had made me miss it. How peculiar! Was I “meant” to visit this tree first? Why?
I had the urge to leave my ash staff alongside the tree. I pretended I was doing this as a measure for my photographs, but actually I wanted to allow the staff to absorb any energies from this mighty tree. I walked its girth, photographed it, and generally stood admiring it until some parents arrived with a troupe of children. Looking like the Von Trappe’s I decided that I should head off to the ‘correct’ tree that I had come to see in the first place!
The Crogen Oak
I had no trouble locating the split tree I had intended to visit. It was just behind a wall on the ‘main’ road into the village, about 200 yards before the Trout Fishery and Shop place. Indeed it stood in marshy boggy ground next to a brackish stream and I began to see how the water could have been responsible for making the tree split.
The Crogen Oak – “The Oak at the Gate of the Dead” (or more likely ‘The Oak at The Pass of the Graves’) is so-called because of its association with the Battle of Crogen. One of the trees that witnessed that battle and was spared from being felled was this oak tree, which became the guardian of the dead slain in its presence (is my re-telling of the myth). It has certainly witnessed many things, being estimated to be around 1500 years old.
The tree was certainly attracting a great deal of interest. Whilst I was there two couples with dogs, the parents with the troupe of kids, and various other families with awe-inspired wild-eyes kids were crawling all over the oak, quite literally. I tried to connect to the tree but it was far to noisy and the tree was too old for me to do so successfully in those circumstances. Instead I contented myself with the feeling that I could place the ash staff in its heart. The dowsing rods confirmed this for me. If I left it there then something magickal would happen (if I intended it). Which I did!
I thought I should probably put some crystals around the tree to focus the energy. Or light some incense too, perhaps? I asked the rods about the crystals. NO. Oh! What about incense? Hmmm. A quite inconclusive answer. I decided to try anyway and got some prepared for lighting, but then couldn’t find my new windproof lighter that I had just recently filled with gas. What? How?…never mind. Abandon ship! I asked the dowsing rods if I needed them anyway – NO. Why hadn’t I just asked that to start with?
I circled the tree three times clockwise to charge up the staff, for some reason tuoching the tree all the way around as I passed under its split bough and low-hanging branches. As I walked around, thinking about the staff taking on the energies of the tree, I noticed some lovely white snowdrops pushing their way through the tangle of dry grass stalks that matted the surrounding land. How delightful – signs of Spring appearing – I felt much better already.
Finally, I reclaimed my staff and walked up the nearby hillside to see what was round about. I passed more old oak trees and realised that this area was rife with ancient shrubbery and arboriality. I asked the rods one final question – had the ash staff absorbed anything from the tree? YES. Good.
I drove home and later got the rods out again to find out more about what the staff had taken on board. After a good number of questions had been batted away I came across the answer: the staff now had a name! It had been given a name by the energy of that old dying oak tree! How wonderful. I set about finding the name, and soon had it. Things are already getting more interesting this year.