Secrets of the Forests: Lives Within and Beyond the Trees with Alan Rayner, Kay Haw & Martin Bidartondo

Explore trees, fungi & the evolutionary flow of life!

Part of ‘The Re-Enchantment Series: Unlocking Magic & Inspiring Action’

Steiner House, 35 Park Rd, Marylebone, London NW1 6XT

Monday 5 November 2018, 18.30-21.00



8th October: Dreaming the Land & Native Spirituality, with Mac Macartney & Sharon Blackie

22nd October: Sound & Sacred Geometry, with Jill Purce & Angela Voss

5th November: Secrets of the Forests: Lives Within & Beyond the Trees, with Alan Rayner, Kay Haw & Martin Bidartondo

19th November: Quantum Physics & Holistic Science, with Hardin Tibbs & Philip Franses

3rd December: Consciousness: Re-Defining Our Parameters, with Rupert Sheldrake & David Luke


We’ve fallen out of love with the world. It’s clear from the way we treat it.

Every other Monday in central London from 8 October to 3 December 2018 we will be re-igniting curiosity as we explore aspects of daily life including consciousness, quantum physics, trees, holistic science, native spirituality, sacred geometry, storytelling and sound.

Mass mental illness and climate change are not inevitable. They are the result of certain narratives, behaviours and habits. Let’s shift perspectives, empower ourselves for change and co-create a future we want to be a part of.

With special thanks to Sharon Blackie and her 2018 publication The Enchanted Life: Unlocking the Magic of the Everyday.

To live an enchanted life is to pick up the pieces of our bruised and battered psyches, and to offer them the nourishment they long for. It is to be challenged, to be awakened, to be gripped and shaken to the core by the extraordinary which lies at the heart of the ordinary. Above all, to live an enchanted life is to fall in love with the world all over again.
— Sharon Blackie

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It is essential we work together to protect our natural environment, but this is not just for its own benefit. Humans have integral links to nature and there is increasing evidence to show the significant benefits it provides our physical and mental health and wellbeing. Trees and forests provide amazing, beautiful places that unwind and inspire tired bodies and minds. Learn about how we are connected to the natural world and discover some simple but effective ways to get involved in the conservation of the UK’s trees and woods.

KAY HAW witnessed first-hand the loss of nature from the UK as it was consistently bulldozed and marginalised when working as a land surveyor. Determined not to be a cog in the destructive machine of ‘progress’ and gaining a profound connection with the planet, she swapped sides and swore to help protect the natural world.

In her role with the Woodland Trust she strives to conserve, share knowledge, inspire and connect people more deeply to trees and woods. As editor of the Trust’s Wood Wise publication, she strives to bring expert contributors together to help convey the importance and wonder of various key conservation topics and share best practice.





Alan will explain how his studies of trees, fungi and their diverse ways of relating to one another in natural communities contributed his new understanding of creative evolutionary processes based on the receptive-responsive relationship between intangible space and energetic flux. He will discuss how this understanding can help us to appreciate our human place in the natural world and enable us to live in a more passionate, compassionate and sustainable way than we currently do.

ALAN RAYNER is an evolutionary ecologist, writer and artist. He was born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1950 and gained BA and PhD degrees at King’s College, Cambridge in 1972 and 1975. He was a Reader in Biological Sciences at the University of Bath from 1985 to 2011 and has published numerous papers and books, the latter including, most recently, 'The Origin of Life Patterns in the Natural Inclusion of Space in Flux’. He was President of the British Mycological Society in 1998 and President of Bath Natural History Society from 2012 - 2018. Since 2000, he has been pioneering awareness of 'natural inclusion', the co-creative evolutionary flow of all forms of life in receptive-responsive spatial and energetic relationship. This awareness enables us to understand ourselves and other life forms as dynamic expressions of our natural habitat, not independent subjects and objects. He has a special interest in helping people to become more aware of the diversity of wildlife in their local neighbourhood, and how this can help us to learn to live together in a more passionate, compassionate and sustainable way than we currently do.


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We are learning fast about the ancient and intimate links among living plants and fungi.  It turns out that most plants do not have roots, they have fungus-roots instead.  From the tiny first land plants, to today's huge forests, fungi have always been crucial facilitators.  Their essential networks are underground, so their study has been largely out of sight and out of mind.  However, we now know that these widespread fungal-plant interactions control nutrient and carbon cycles in our rapidly changing planet.  Come to learn about mutualism, cheating and pollution in the world of fungi and plants.

MARTIN BIDARTONDO has been a scientist for over 20 years, first at the University of California at Berkeley, and now at Imperial College London and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  He's interested in the ecology and evolution of interactions between fungi and plants and works on the ecology and evolution of mycorrhizas, one of the dominant symbioses of terrestrial ecosystems.

The systems that he has studied include arbuscular, ectomycorrhizal, monotropoid and orchid mycorrhizas, and mycorrhiza-like associations of bryophytes. Following his ground-breaking research on the evolutionary ecology of the diverse plants that cheat mycorrhizal mutualisms, his team has investigated: 1) the mycorrhizal ecology of heathlands first revealing the mechanisms of tree invasions and then uncovering nutritional links among vascular plants, fungi and non-vascular plants, 2) the environmental drivers of forest mycorrhizas at large scales, revealing the impacts of nitrogen pollution across European forests in collaboration with ICP Forests, and 3) the ecology and evolution of their newly discovered, yet ancient and globally-widespread, symbioses between lineages of plants and fungi.