Skirting our way around Glastonbury, an old town which is has become a hippie Mecca, we wound our way through the tight Somerset lanes. A farmer who has turned several fields into a caravan park told us to head back and turn up hill.
We parked and following his directions, walked, turned and turned and found ourselves a hundred metres from his farmyard. And there they were. Not as majestic as the photos, not as easy to see surrounded as they were by high blackthorn hedges, but ancient. One was charred, the other sprouting healthy branches.
Wearing black bovver-boots, bright leggings beneath floral miniskirts and black hoodies, two women ignored us as they talked of the spirits inside the old oaks, debating which might be the female.
"The burnt one, she's more elegant."
"Yes, the other looks more twisted, rotten...."
"Undoubtably male. Man burnt her."
"Poor thing, she looks dead....."
"She has the goddess within. She will revive." The woman with the straight back announced. I noticed the way she stood, the calm authority in her voice, the manner in which the other addressed her; this, a self-proclaimed guru.
It was the male which burned, set alight by a woman placing a candle within its open, rotted centre. The farmer, astounded anyone could do such a silly thing, had confirmed this. And now I realised why he had made it difficult to get close to, or even stand in admiration of these old, old oaks.
He had said, "They are Gog and Magog, the remains of a long, long ceremonial avenue which reached right up to Glastonbury Tor. A hundred years ago a crazy farmer cut them all down for their wood. Over one thousand rings were counted in one of the three and a half metre diameter trunks."
And there we have the circle of mankind's madness. A daffy hippie recently killed an oak once worshipped, not burnt, by ancient Druids. She, out of some mad belief concocted no doubt by a writer such as the feminist guru who continued instructing her prodigy, had accidentally done her dastardly deed. And for nothing but profit, a farmer had rid Britain of one of its great heritage sites.
Without great men like John Muir, the same would have happened to hundreds of square miles of giant redwoods in California. Sadly, Europe has lost its oldest trees, but Britain fares better, a single park in London contains more 500 year old trees than the whole of France. Yet ignoring the treasures we have inherited from the past, we buy produce resulting from the rape our beloved Earth. Madagascar is all but ruined. The Amazon groans. Indonesia's virgin jungle is still being felled for palm oil; despite how much we adore them, orangoutangs are dying each day as we continue to buy biscuits and countless produce containing this cheap oil.
Sweet poison! Not to us, but to every living creature which once lived in the abundantly fertile landscape where palm oil now grows in hundreds of square miles of bare soil. This is worse than madness, it is evil. It is folly.
A poison lies within our hearts. We destroy for nothing. Our greed for quick nothings ensures our grandchildren will have little left to adore. We need to shift our belief system away from exploitation, away from fantasies, and follow John Muir in worshipping nature by looking, not interfering, and, understanding it. We must take its multiple magnificences as our temples.
Our very future depends on this. Are we blind?