When your nearest hamlet is a mile away at Newton St Petrock, and your nearest town is another five to the metropolis of Holsworthy, you know you are about as deep as it’s possible to get in Devon.
When Jo Hayes and Nick Thompson moved there about a decade ago, all they had was half of a large, old cottage and a dry, treeless field. Today the area is coming to life under the banner of Wizewoods. Former RHS employees, Nick and Jo, have been gradually finding their feet in the land they have made their own. The open field has been encircled with a rich mixture of bushes and saplings – and all sorts of other intriguing features are starting to emerge.
Our visit started (on a very hot afternoon) with a tent-shaded introduction to the concept of Wizewoods. It is a way of life that works with the trees and their substance. Each tree has its aura and personality; each wood has its strength and utility. Nick and Jo run courses from time to time, concentrating on the value of the various trees and their part in the environmental tapestry. It is a way of life that is guided by the changing seasons, and by the study of the arboreal alphabet – the celtic ogham.
Our own part in this journey started with a leisurely stroll through the thickets that fill every corner of their land. We examined the auras of the various types of tree and of different trees of the same variety. We looked at how they react with one another and with the earth energies of which they are all a part. We studied how damage and disease would impact on the aura – and how that, in turn, could affect the energy matrix. Most of the Wizewoods trees are happy and healthy, as you would expect in such a caring environment, but there were enough examples of natural harm and microbial attack to prove a point. Working with tree energy in a dense copse is a good challenge for the dowser in examining the distinct, yet overlapping, auras of the individual trees. Not for them the squashed personal energy bodies of the human busy busload. Here, the trees find their own accommodation with their neighbours and adjust and adapt their energy footprints to suit.
At the far side of the Wizewoods field, Nick and Jo have constructed a three ring labyrinth around a repositioned old ash stump. With the aid of a few small rocks and the guidance of well-known celtic ceremonialist, Glennie Kindred, the turf-cut shape in the ground provides the facility to walk the pattern in quiet contemplation. Except that this particular labyrinth has a lively and uplifting feel, quite distinct from the usual meditational sensation at such a place. The feature was not located specifically with earth energies in mind, but it has certainly attracted its fair share. Perhaps the presence of an ancient line of consciousness, linking it with their house – and the remanence of a long lost trackway just off centre of the goal, might have led the builders to choose this particular spot.
Towards the middle of the field is a circle of willow. Providing welcome shade on a sunny day (and presumably shelter on a windier one) this is a place with a very different kind energy – a place of healing, of learning, of coming together. It has yet to find its true purpose, but the energy here is quite strong and again the line of consciousness may provide the link to its destiny.
Further round the field we encountered a ceremonial site, used with great sincerity by local druids and pagans. The prayer circle already seems deep in the forest, even though it is only a few metres from open ground. With symbolic ornaments and clouties dangling from the branches, it is clearly afforded much veneration by the regular users.
Our last port of call was to try to find the site of a former well, which is known to have existed somewhere near the cottages in historical times, but has vanished without trace. Like most ‘good-lifers’, Nick and Jo are keen to become self-sufficient, whenever they can. We discussed the various options for power generation - and finding their own source of water would be a welcome bonus. However, our dowsing only discovered that the former well had a very weak flow, was quite deep and that the quality of the water was questionable. We then altered the dowsing question to ask for the best place to site a new well. We were guided to a place directly beneath a willow shelterbelt in the vegetable garden, which seemed promising. But it, too, only had a slow flow and a quality of water that might be useable in an agricultural context, but not for domestic purposes without a lot of expensive cleaning and filtering.
As we returned to the tent for very welcome drinks and delicious cakes, the conversation turned to a real dowser’s conundrum. At some point the Wizewoods field had been the site of a bizarre event. A full size lorry had been buried there. We were pretty sure it wasn’t anything to do with Viking ship burials, but was it true, and if so, why? After much waving of rods and pendula, we came to the conclusion that the deceased vehicle had been the remnants of a steam lorry, built around 1910 and last used as a superannuated static steam engine during WWII. In the 1950’s, the rusted and useless hulk was of no value, not even as scrap, and had gradually been engulfed by the field in which it had spent its last years. Rather than waste time and effort dismantling it, a farmer had merely covered it with soil and left nature to do the rest. An odd tale with which to end a most enjoyable visit.
Many thanks indeed to Nick and Jo for hosting this field trip - and to all those who turned out to support the event on the day that Andy Murray became Wimbledon champion!
Some TDs have already taken part in one or more of the Wizewoods gatherings, but anyone wishing to know more about the work and events run by Nick and Jo can contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org. Their wonderfully peaceful and out-of-the way field is available for hire for low impact gatherings and events.
We wish them well with their endeavours and would like to return on another occasion to continue our conversation with them - and their trees.