Book Review: “To Speak for the Trees”

Book Review: “To Speak for the Trees: My Life’s Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest” by Diana Beresford-Kroeger (Published by Penguin Random House, Hardcover, $32.00, ISBN 978-0-7352-7507-2)

If you are a tree fan, then Diana Beresford-Kroeger is likely not a name new to your bookshelf! Diana is a world-renowned medical biochemist and botanist. She is the author of six books and has been the feature of a very successful documentary on the subject of her expertise – trees – “The Call of the Forest”.  I had the recent opportunity to review her latest book (release September 24th, 2019) and then to interview her for my Possibility Podcast.*

To Speak for the Trees” is really Diana’s autobiography, infused with pieces of her deep wisdom of the spirit and medicine of trees. Diana’s life story is both very traumatic and beautifully remarkable. So incredible is her journey that much of this book reads more like a piece of fiction. As a spiritually minded person, as I read I repeatedly experienced spine-tingling sensations as the extreme circumstances of her early life seem to point to the high destiny that she was to fulfill. Indeed, in this book, Diana explains that her destiny to bring her wisdom from Ireland to the people across the ocean was foretold when she was a young teen by one of her Irish ancestors.

As a self-proclaimed “renegade scientist” Diana has been conducting self-guided research on the biochemical properties and medicinal applications of trees (and other plants) from her backyard living laboratory for most of her career. Her knowledge of trees is equally rich in both the more conventional  scope of science and medicine as well as in the ancient wisdom of her Celtic ancestors. The incredibly rich experiences of her Celtic schooling are provided in this book, and offer a glimpse in to a world that is shared by indigenous cultures across the globe – one of learning from, and growing with, the land.

The book is not an encyclopedia of Diana’s knowledge of trees, but rather it presents anecdotal stories that offers insights into the significant medicine that trees have to offer, their sacred natures, and the role of trees in combating our carbon problem. What this book also offers is inspiration for anyone that wants to stand up for what they know is right!  Diana is a powerful woman, with a lot of fire, and I believe that any reader will delight in her acts of truth and courage. From expelling a high-ranking Bishop from her greenhouse laboratory when she was conducting experiments to hanging by straps from a helicopter as she scanned the Texan ground for a near-extinct sacred tree, the stories of her inextinguishable passion for her calling, and her fierce protection of her own truths, are truly inspirational!

“To Speak for the Trees” offers two more clear gifts worth mentioning. The first are the details of Diana’s simple “Global Bioplan” for climate change, backed up by the resources she offers through .  Her bioplan really does show a way forward, and the hope that she still has that we can still take action in the time that we have left, soothed my spirit and furthered me to investigate how I can further my own personal bioplan. The second is an extensive chapter dedicated to describing the ancient Celtic Alphabet of Trees. Known as the Ogham alphabet, each letter of the alphabet is linked to a different tree, and Diana’s description of the letter, and the tree, offer a beautiful insight into how the Celts wove together trees, language, people and places.

Given the challenge of our climate crisis, and the role that trees play in our biosphere, this book is a very timely, and very important read, if we are to continue to progress on the path to a more sustainable future.

*My interview with Diana is available on iTunes, YouTube  or my Podcast page )



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We respectfully acknowledge that Kingston Integrated Healthcare is situated on ancestral Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Territory. Since time immemorial they have cared for these lands and waters, and we are grateful. We recognize that a healthy environment is essential to the wellbeing of all people and all life.

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