Thursday, 21 January 2010
The Druid Trees
About a mile or so from Glastonbury Tor, there are two huge, ancient oak trees known as Gog and Magog. They are reputed to be Druid trees of great antiquity -- perhaps as much as 1500 years of age. At one time, it is said, they were part of a great Druid Oak Grove where rituals and worship occurred. Now only they survive.
Well, technically only Magog survives (pictured above). Gnarled and scarred by lightning, the old tree nevertheless has an abundance of green leaves. Unfortunately, Gog just recently gave up the ghost and no longer produces any green foliage (pictured below). But both are nevertheless magnificent trees.
In British mythology, Gog and Magog were stern but brave and benevolent giants. They fought for honour, liberty and country. Together, they are the traditional guardians of the city of London. (Check out a fabulous post about them at The Violet Hour!) The Old Testament also mentions mythological beings named Gog and Magog, but they were different characters altogether -- much more frightening figures who were often mixed up with apocalyptic predictions.
We were able to visit the Druid trees because our guide, Mara Freeman, is an expert in Celtic and Druid lore and knew their exact location in the Glastonbury countryside. But it was admittedly a bit of an ordeal getting to the trees and back. Up hill, down dale, through farmer's fields, over farmer's stiles, dodging cow shit and sheep shit, braving slippery mud and trying (unsuccessfully) to avoid barbed wire, thorn hedges and stinging nettles. An adventure in and of itself!