In the spring, when summer was almost come, the women and girls would get together and make garlands of the earliest flowers, and put them on and dance around the tree, and pour offerings of wine and clean water over its roots, and then hang the garlands on the tree’s boughs when they were done. I danced with them, hearing the tree sing its pleasure in return. It always began to bloom soon after the garlands were hung on it.
We had always done this. Then one year came a priest in his black robes who threw his holy water at us and burned foul-smelling in a metal pot, ranting and raving at us and calling us witches, demon lovers, daughters of evil, and what not else. My mother and the other women put themselves between him and the girls.
“Away with you!” one woman shouted. “You’re the evil one, seeing badness everywhere!”
“We do you no harm! You’ll still get your congregation and your money!” cried another.
“We have always done this,” said my mother. “The Marcouls have always known and permitted it.”
The priest chanted something in his holy language, and spat toward my mother. “Not for much longer,” he said, and took his holy water and his foul smoke away.
I crept out to the tree after dinner that night, to put my arms around it and whisper comforting words. “We will not let him harm you,” I said. “We will sing and dance for you and drench your roots just as we have always done.” I felt the tree quiver and embraced it more tightly.
–from chapter three of “Children of the Forest God”, the first two chapters of which can be found here