Hallowed Ground

by Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder


“Yews are the oldest living things in Britain, considered ancient only when they reach the age of nine hundred. Some are believed to be at least five thousand years old.”


“The roots of religious belief and the sacredness of nature were once closely entwined. Traces of this ancient relationship remain today: thousand-year-old yews grow in churchyards; the forest monks of Thailand have long followed the Buddha’s example of revering trees. In this essay, Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder profiles theologian Martin Palmer and his work to engage faith-based communities in recovering stories of love and care for local ecologies.”

“The yew, Taxus baccata of the family Taxaceae, is a conifer native to the United Kingdom. Growing up to twenty meters (sixty-six feet) tall, and sometimes taller, with peeling auburn bark and small, straight needles that grow in two dark-green rows, yews provide habitat for the goldcrest and other small birds. Every part of the yew is poisonous, with the exception of the bright-red, fleshy arils that encase the seeds, food for the blackbird and the mistle thrush. Yews are the oldest living things in Britain, considered ancient only when they reach the age of nine hundred. Some are believed to be at least five thousand years old. Yews carry an air of the secretive, and their age is notoriously difficult to determine because of their ability to withstand extraordinarily long periods of dormancy and then mysteriously decide that the time is right for new growth. Some of Britain’s oldest yews have witnessed Roman expeditions led by Julius Caesar, ancient Celtic ceremonies, Anglo-Saxon conquest, and the Black Death.”


“The National Geographic wrote that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is this high ‘for the first time in 55 years of measurement—and probably more than 3 million years of Earth history.’ The current concentration may be the highest in the last 20 million years.”


“At the beginning of each interglacial period as the ice receded from the land, vast numbers of trees spread north and performed a carbon sequestering service.  They also released water vapour which stimulated cloud cover that increased the albedo effectively taking the place, as far as reflectivity is concerned, of the miles and miles of ice that had melted. With that negative feedback firmly in place and the orbital forcing factors favouring cooling, the downward cycle of Gaia’s temperature was assured and triggered the end of the interglacial period.

Unfortunately for all, these natural feedback factors been destroyed by humans. Millions of trees over thousands of years have been chopped to build armadas and commercial shipping, other war implements, and shelter for humans as if the trees’ only function to serve the greed of humans.

“Apart from the profligate burning of fossil fuels and releasing the earth’s long-term carbon and energy storage depot that has taken millions of years to lay down, deforestation has been the main contributor to the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that has resulted in global warming.”  Sky McCain,  Unpublished

See:  http://www.earthenspirituality.com/global-warming/





“You take out sacred things at your peril,” Martin says. “You’re changing the map of where you live.”