In Glastonbury Forest, the priest who communicates with the trees

reportage“Forest advocates” (4/6). In southwest England, Penny Billington enshrines the traditional rituals and legends associated with trees to which she is enshrined respect and appreciation.

Near an old English monastery in ruins stands, for more than a thousand years, a yew. Sacred tree among the Celts, today it is a protected species in the UK. Majestic, majestic, its trunk is so thick that a sudden crack splits it from top to bottom. Its branches look like multiple arms twisted, ready to capture the first wayfarer. We approach, and then we jump: a faint noise comes from the tree. Slowly extracting himself from the cavity of giant conifers, a man appears sleepy. The scene makes the English priestess Penny Billington smile: “Ah yes, it is not uncommon to fall asleep in the trees here! Many of us have a very physical relationship with the surrounding nature.”

Benny Billington at Comp Hill Wood, June 10, 2022.

Here is Glastonbury, a small town in southwest England famous for its music festival, which has been gathering a huge crowd since 1970. Returning hippies wander the Central Street shops selling incense, gems, magical objects or esoteric books. “Glastonbury is sacred. When I first came here in the early seventies, I was immediately drawn to the mysterious power that emanates from the city.”And the He remembers the priest, the big black hat and glasses, the walking stick in his hand.

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In this city in the county of Somerset, different religions and spiritualities intersect, from Christianity to paganism, including Kurdish and occultism. Dion Fortune, author of occultism, named the city “English Jerusalem”. For many, Glastonbury above all embodies Avalon, the mythical Celtic island where legendary King Arthur is said to rest, not far from the millennium yew. Perched on a hill that dominates the city, the mysterious Tower of Tours nurtures local legends; At the foot of this medieval monument, great priestly ceremonies are held throughout the year. Officially recognized as a religion since 2010 in the UK, this spiritual movement, close to nature, is currently experiencing a resurgence in Europe.

The forest was a place of life and contemplation where priests practiced meditation, ceremonies, and ceremonies. With their strong association with the botanical world, they were precursors” – Benny Billington, Priestess

Fifteen years ago, when she ended her career as an English teacher, Benny Billington logically moved to Glastonbury with her family. “Free and available, I could invest myself in my search for spirituality, and so I went through the three stages of the priest’s path, the poet’s path, the oval and finally the priest”explains the person who has since developed a strong and sensitive relationship with trees.

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