Encounter   2 comments

[Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9]

Crying for vision, I step into the forest.  Early twilight cloaks me, and mist cloaks everything else.  A shiver stalks my spine. I feel something tread nearby with feet heavy as horses’ hooves, yet subtle and delicate as cloud.  How it can be both I don’t know.  Something breathes on my neck, though when I spin around I know nothing will show.  Yet.  I know I can freak myself out — I’ve done it lots of times.  This is different.  It is not fear, at least not fear as I know it.  Instead it comes as joy and awe mixed, like the charge of touching the bark of a towering redwood a thousand years old, or the first glimpse of a landscape wholly remade by a night’s snow — beauty unlooked for, encounter with something awake and vital and ancient that I’m paying attention to at last.

How to explain it?  Almost anyone listening would think I’m crazy, when all I can do is say “Look!  Don’t you see them?!” as they dance and stalk and whirl themselves all around us both.  And all the other person can do is shake his head at me, totally ignoring them as they gaze at him and size him up — perplexed, annoyed, amused, indifferent — depending on their natures.  I shrug and turn back to them, watching, listening, enjoying and returning their welcome.

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Updated 23 April 2015

2 responses to “Encounter

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  1. I came home after walking in the forest early this morning, and having breakfast over a fire, to read this Post. Very inspiring.
    I have visited England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland- all my ancestors come from there. Loved the stone circles and the ancient landscape that speaks to one so clearly.
    I am from Australia- and am finding ways to connect the Druid path to this ancient Australian landscape, so diverse from Britain and Ireland. Not so difficult really, as Nature speaks a universal language.
    Anyway, wanted to say thanks for the Post.

    • Jen, thanks for your comment. I agree that the sense of being removed from our ancestral lands can feel like a challenge or obstacle, but like you say, nature speaks in a way we can hear wherever we are. Walking the land opens up the channels of communication wonderfully, and we can dispense with a lot — not all, but a lot — of what we thought were problems of distance or displacement from “home.”

      And given how we’re all “genetic mongrels” anyway, we may well have at least a few ancestors from almost everywhere on the planet. For me that makes any landscape partly, possibly, potentially “home.” And when we add in ancestors of spirit as well as ancestors of blood — all our teachers and mentors and contributors to who we are today — we each have a mighty lineage to draw on, to commune with, to ask for help and companionship on the way. When I read the old poems like “Song of Amergin,” I recollect I too have been a “stag of seven tines,” an Aborigine, a Siberian oak, a Native American, a Celt, a leaping salmon, an African, an Asian … I’m not talking “reincarnation: yes or no?” but kinship. We’re all of one blood. Not just in a Romantic way, but literally. So much of our work is recollection, regathering, calling willing ancestors home to our hearts and hearths, making space for them, making time. More and more I see that as needful work in my life, anyway. Thanks for pondering these things, too. — ADW

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