To Speak for the Trees
My Life's Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest
by Diana Beresford-Kroeger
Pub Date 05 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 12 Jan 2022
Diana Beresford-Kroeger—a world-recognized botanist and medical biochemist—has revolutionized our understanding of the natural world with her startling insights into the hidden life of trees. In this riveting memoir, she uncovers the roots of her discoveries in her extraordinary childhood in Ireland. Soon after, her brilliant mind bloomed into an illustrious scientific career that melds the intricacies of the natural world with the truths of traditional Celtic wisdom.
To Speak for the Trees uniquely blends the story of Beresford-Kroeger’s incredible life and her outstanding achievement as a scientist. It elegantly shows us how forests can not only heal us as people but can also help save the planet.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 10 members
Part memoir, part love letter to nature - this book was just right for me. It was smart, accessible, personal, and beautifully written. I’d love to read more by this author in this vein.
A moving tribute to the beauty, wonder and the important role trees contribute to our wellbeing and to our planet. Diana Beresford-Kroeger, a world-renowned medical biochemist and botanist shares her wisdom of trees in the scope of science and medicine as well as the ancient spiritual realm from her Celtic ancestors. This is Beresford-Kroeger's autobiography. It chronicles her life from being an orphan to living with her uncle and her upbringing from farmers and scholars in the Lisheens valley in County Cork, who took her under their wing and how she became the last ward under the Brehon Law. In the course of three summers, Beresford-Kroeger was taught the Celtic wisdom, which included the healing, laws of the trees, Brehon wisdom and the Ogham alphabet. The Celtic wisdom is rooted in nature and perceives trees and forests fundamental to human survival and spirituality. Through Beresford-Kroeger's upbringing, she felt like she could be the bridge between ancient knowledge and the modern scientific world. Due to several barriers in her career as a female scientist, she conducted self-guided research in biochemistry and medicinal use in trees from her own backyard laboratory. Through her extensive research and her anecdotal stories, it offers the significance of medicine trees provide, the connectivity in nature, and the essential role trees play in combating carbon problems. This is an essential read in our current state of climate crisis and how the trees can pave a path to a more sustainable future. Beresford-Kroeger beautifully and respectfully lends a voice for the trees and nature. Her optimism and her drive to save the planet is very hopeful and inspirational. Amidst her traumatic past experience, she uses her knowledge and her energy for positive change. That made her so much more remarkable and respectable. Her knowledge of the trees and the nature surrounding us was very informative and fascinating. The writing was factually scientific yet poetic. I enjoyed the anecdotes surrounding the significance of the trees and Beresford-Kroeger's moments of courage in protecting the truth and her search for near extinct sacred plants. The way she is attuned to nature is phenomenal. She presents us with insights into trees and our relationships to forests, but takes further steps by providing us with a resourceful detail of her global bioplan that would contribute to combating climate change. It is a step to healing and saving our planet. Her perseverance and optimism is a leading example that should awake us to finally take action to save our home. This extraordinary work definitely increased awareness of my surroundings, the connectivity and the appreciation and respect to nature and especially trees for providing so much for our wellbeing. Thank you to NetGalley and Timber Press for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
If you're looking for a beautifully written blend of botany, history, spirituality, and memoir, then this book is a perfect fit. Working from a Celtic druid frame of reference, Beresfor-Kroeger's stories touch on many themes: community healing, self-worth, feminine power and energy, ancestry, and environmental protection. Such a joy to read!
A mix of memoir, history, botanic and spirituality. A thought provoking, emotionally charged and engrossing book that made me think and reflect. I loved the style of writing and it was an excellent reading experience. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
Thank you NetGalley, Diane Beresford-Kroeger and Timber Press for the eARC in exchange for an honest review. I am a huge fan of the author, her work has touched me deeply and this book did not disappoint. I am always looking for deeper insight and connection to Celtic wisdom, so her sharing her insights while connected them to her Celtic roots made this a book I will return to often. The book is a memoir and so much more. I found myself reading and taking long pauses to allow it to settle in around me. Her insight into the life of trees changed the way I view the natural world. I wish this book were required reading in school, I am confident that if everyone read this book there would be a movement toward saving the trees and conservation. The author holds such a hopeful view of saving the trees, despite the havoc we wreak if each person planted six trees over six years, we would make the difference, we would halt the progress of global warming long enough to sort a true solution. My hope and prayer is that we can do this. I will be buying this book and gifting it to friends and family- I recommend it to everyone!
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this title. Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a delightful writer, and if anything, I wish this was longer! I felt like it ended abruptly after the section on the Celtic tree alphabet, and I also would have loved those sections to be longer as well. This book is more than a memoir, more than a non-fiction book on trees, more than a meditation on nature -- it's all of them combined into one delightful package! A must read for forest lovers.
‘To Speak for the Trees: My Life's Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest’ by Diana Beresford-Kroeger Timber Press, 2021 ISBN: 978-1643261324 Reviewed by Marian Van Eyk McCain The ancient knowledge of the Druids and the Brehon Laws, kept safe, refined and handed down from one generation to the next for millennia, was on the verge of being lost. Instead, it was given to me, an understanding of the healing powers of plants and the sacred nature of the natural world that remains the greatest gift I have ever received. Any of us brought up and educated in this modern era ruled by rationality and science might feel somewhat surprised to learn that these words were written, not by some New Age pop-prophet but by one of the most highly qualified and experienced botanists and medical biochemists alive in the world today. In this utterly fascinating autobiographical book, which is also a treasure trove of information abut trees and plants and the crucial importance of forests, Diana Beresford-Kroeger tells the story of how she, the orphaned child of an Irish mother and an English father was entrusted with the sacred legacy of ancient, Celtic knowledge about the natural world that would otherwise have disappeared forever when her last elderly Irish relative died. It is an extraordinary story. But the most amazing thing about the story – and the one which I found the most interesting and exciting – is that not only did the author learn and fully absorb an incredible amount of ancient, traditional knowledge about the healing powers of a huge range of plants she later, as a scientist, made it part of her life’s work to research, understand and explain precisely the scientific, biochemical facts underlying every single one of those old herbal prescriptions. It was a wonderful marriage of science and sacred wisdom that is very rarely found in our culture. The book contains a number of examples of this sort of cross-validation. My two favourites are not about herbal medicine as such but about our human interactions with trees. Firstly, we know that any time we walk into a forest we start feeling good – so much so that the Japanese recommend ‘forest bathing’. We now know that trees give off a certain chemical that has a beneficial effect on the human nervous system. Secondly, the Celts believed in the sentience of trees and that some people could feel it in the form of a certain energy or sound that their bodies picked up when around trees. They even had a special word for this in Gaelic. Science has recently discovered a sound frequency called ‘infrasound.’ These are sounds pitched below the range of human hearing, which travel great distances by means of long, loping waves. They are produced by large animals, such as elephants, and by volcanoes. And these waves have been measured as they emanate from large trees. Trees figure hugely in the book, for they have figured hugely in this author’s life. One day when she was fifteen, while cutting turf with her uncle in a bog, they uncovered a large chunk of ‘bog oak’—a long-preserved fragment of what had once been an oak tree, back in the days when that land was covered with forest. When her uncle explained what it was, she wept for all that lost forest. Many years later, as an adult living in Canada, another stage of her life’s work became focused on reforestation and the book contains some inspiring anecdotes about the rediscovery and regeneration of rare trees. The forest is far more than a source of timber. It is our medicine cabinet. It is our lungs. It is the regulatory system for our climate and our oceans. It is the mantle of our planet. It is the health and wellbeing of our children and grandchildren. It is our sacred home. It is our salvation. The second and final part of the book, which Beresford-Kroeger describes as the second main gift arising from her unique history plus her scientific training, is her own extensive annotation of the ancient Ogham script, the first alphabet of Europe, in which every letter is named for a tree or an important companion of trees. Overall, I found this to be a truly remarkable and wonderfully informative book.
“Never waste a minute. The most precious thing you have is your time. Our lives are narrowed by birth and death and in-between lies everything you set yourself to achieve.” TO SPEAK FOR THE TREES Thank you, NetGalley, Diana Beresford-Kroeger, and Timber Press for the opportunity to read this book! It was released on October 5th, 2021. To Speak For The Trees by Diana Beresford-Kroeger is such a unique book. It is part-memoir, part-environmental nonfiction, part-spiritual nonfiction. The author takes us through her life and the trauma that led to her love of trees, the study of Celtic Wisdom, and a mission to save the Earth. Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a botanist and biochemist. She was orphaned at a young age but not before her mother convinced Diana of her insignificance. It would take the love and encouragement of the O’Donoghue family to help her realize her worth and intelligence. She will be taught in the Celtic ways in Brehon Law. She will learn the importance of healing, the law of trees, and the Ogham alphabet. “The truth was right there, so simple a child could grasp it. Trees were responsible for the most basic necessity of life, the air we breathe. Forests were being cut down across the globe at breathtaking rates-quite literally breathtaking. In destroying them we were destroying our own life-support system. Cutting down the trees was a suicidal act.” TO SPEAK FOR THE TREES This book is inspirational but also heartbreaking. During the English occupation, The English destroyed all the Irish forests for the naval ships. A devastating blow that still is affecting Ireland to this day. Readers will feel the author’s heartbreak. She provides statistics about the global deforestation rates and how that is impacting Climate Change. But she also provides hope. If everyone planted a single tree it could have positive effects on Climate Change. But my absolute favorite part is her praise for the Indigenous Cultures around the world, particularly in North America. The Celtic peoples and Indigenous peoples shared many philosophies regarding nature and protecting it. “The Indigenous peoples of North America are owed a huge debt. Theirs is a magical continent, an talamh an oige-the land of youth.” TO SPEAK FOR THE TREES Overall, a beautiful book and I can’t wait to watch this author’s documentaries! I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.