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2 rooty spell

Once upon a time, words began to vanish from the language of children. They disappeared so quietly that at first almost no one noticed – fading away like water on stone. The words were those that children used to name the natural world around them: heron, otter, raven – gone! Fern, heather, kingfisher, ivy, newt, . . . all of them gone! The words were becoming lost: no longer vivid in children's voices, no longer alive in their stories.

You hold in your hands a set of spells for conjuring back these lost words. To release these charms you will need to seek out, find and speak them out loud back into the world and only then will they become stitched back into our hearts, mouths and minds eyes.
Type 'The Lost Words' in the keyword box below.
Chapter one

To Conjure more Spells

With your foot prints and breath, we will conjure back these lost words right into the landscape. Through the old magic of being spoken out loud they will flutter and unfold into our bright dreams once again. To dance amongst the pillows and brows of tiny heads and be sweetly sung back into the world once more.
Bend my withies into a wreaths, make a den, basket or hurdle fence and 'Willow' is the keyword spell you'll come to at length.
Chapter two


Willow, when the wind blows so your branches billow,
O will you whisper while we listen so we learn what
words your long leaves loosen?
If you whisper when the wind blows so your branches
billow, willow, we will listen for a day, a week, a year,
till we know what willows say, what willows speak.
Lean in, listeners, come below our leaves and wait until
the wind blows so our branches billow, listen for a year,
a week, a day, but you will never hear what willows speak,
what willows say.
Chapter three

Long You Linger

Long you linger, listeners, hard you press your ears against
our bark, but you will never sense our sap, and you will
never speak in leaves, or put down roots into the rot –
for we are willow and you are not.
Chapter four

Open Up Your Heartwood

Open up your heartwood to us will you, willow, show
your deep within, your rough without, your waterbrushing
bough, your shoot, your grain, your knot?
We will never whisper to you, listeners, nor speak, nor shout,
and even if you learn to utter alder, elder, poplar, aspen,
you will never know a word of willow – for we are willow
and you are not.

Before you move on, say the word 'willow' into the wind to spell the word back into being.
Into the mighty Oak I'll grow, perhaps it was jay or the squirrel did sow, me into the earth where l set my seed for I'm destined to become the mightiest of all English trees.

The keyword spell you'll need is 'Acorn'.
Chapter five


As flake is to blizzard, as
Curve is to sphere, as knot is to net, as
One is to many, as coin is to money, as
bird is to flock, as
Rock is to mountain, as drop is to fountain, as
spring is to river, as glint is to glitter, as
Near is to far, as wind is to weather, as
feather is to flight, as light is to star, as
kindness is to good, so acorn is to wood.
Chapter six

The Spelling

Before you move on, say the word 'acorn' into the wind to spell the word back into being.
Chapter seven


A thicket of thorns for the flittering Wren, and sweet black fruits at summers end. 'Bramble' is the next keyword.
Chapter eight


Bramble is on the march again,
Rolling and arching along the hedges,
into parks on the city edges.
Chapter nine

All Streets Are

All streets are suddenly thick with briar:
cars snarled fast, business over.
Moths have come in their millions,
drawn to the thorns. The air flutters.
Bramble has reached each house now,
looped it in wire. People lock doors,
close shutters.
Chapter ten

Little Shoots Steal

Little shoots steal through keyholes,
to leave – in quiet halls,
Empty stairwells – bowls of bright
blackberries where the light falls.

Before you move on, say the word 'bramble' into the wind to spell the word back into being.
Of all the paths around these grounds The Horse Chestnut will be trickiest to find, with the green punky hats of their spiky shells, hiding the wooden heart of this 'conker' spell.
Chapter eleven


Cabinet-maker, could you craft me a conker?
Oil its wood, burnish its veneer, set it glowing
from within?
Never. Not a chance. No hope at all.
Chapter twelve

King Then

King, then, could you command me a conker?
Compel its green spikes to grow, its white plush
to thicken? Impossible. Impractical. Inconceivable.
Engineer, surely you could design me a conker?
Refine its form, mill its curves and edges?
Manufacture me that magic casket?
Unfeasible. Unworkable. Unimaginable.
Chapter thirteen

Realize This

Realize this (said the Cabinet-maker, the King and
the Engineer together), conker cannot be made,
however you ask it, whatever word or tool you use,
regardless of decree. Only one thing can conjure
conker – and that thing is tree.

Before you move on, say the word 'conker' into the wind to spell the word back into being.
Waxy leaves deep and dark, permitted only as ground cover in this park. With tendrils thin into crevice and crack, up, behind, between and back.

So walk and wander down the path, take a stroll, smile and laugh, and see if you can spot this simple vine, for 'ivy' is the keyword spell for you to find.
Chapter fourteen


I am ivy, a real high-flyer.
Via bark and stone I scale tree and spire.
You call me ground-cover; I say sky-wire.
Chapter fifteen

The Spelling

Say the word 'ivy' into the wind to spell the word back into being.
Chapter sixteen

Thank you

Thank you for walking these Spell Walks.
Chapter seventeen


Thankyou for spelling these words back into the landscape.

Thanks to The Compton Verney Gallery for commissioning these digital trails.

The Lost Words is published by Hamish Hamilton in the UK October 2017 - ISBN ref 978-0241253588

All images remain copyright of Jackie Morris and lost word spells by Robert Macfarlane with additional words by Christopher Jelley and Storywalks©