Yesterday I visited a woods I hadn’t been to in about 14 years.
In the 90s it was a really sacred place to me. I worked at an industrial estate just down the road (the industrial estate was in the countryside. One of those old planning agreements that hopefully wouldn’t get through these days). The 90s was a time of huge spiritual awakening for me. Every lunchtime I would take my Cocker Spaniel (and Arch Druid) for a walk through the woods. I knew almost every tree, I told them stories as I walked, I took my harp there and played to the Spirits of the Woods (and the occasional dog walker who just couldn’t believe they’d stumbled upon a harper in the woods. I probably could have busked there quite happily).
I took my mandolin and played as I walked. Sometimes I would sit by a tree to play and a song would appear, almost complete.
I did the work for my Ovate grade of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids by a huge Beech tree in that woods, and when I collected the staves for my Ogham set I collected all but 5 from that woods. I’m pretty sure that I could take you to every tree I cut a stave from even now.
I took my children there too. We walked through the woods to an old Hornbeam that seemed to stand like a portal to Faerie, and we would leave a little pile of silver sugar balls as an offering. You know, the kind that go on fairy cakes. It seemed appropriate. My boys
still remember that tree, but they remember it as being huge. We’ll all go back there one day and they’ll see it again – an old being, but not a large tree.
It was a magical time.
My company moved away so I said a sad farewell to those woods and I found new paths to follow. Then life changed completely as it sometimes does.
But over the past few weeks I’ve been reconnecting with some of these places from my past. Having an energetic puppy has given the opportunity to tread those older paths again. So yesterday we took a drive to those woods. I parked up in the same place I parked 17 years ago, got Oscar from the car and walked through the gate and into the woods.
It’s weird sometimes to go to places like this – places that meant so much. It’s as close to time travel as I think it’s possible to get because it felt the same as it did back then – it even smelled the same. As I walked I could see myself, my spaniel, my sons who were so young, playing amongst the trees. I said a fond hello to old friends. Trod old and familiar pathways. About 5 minutes into my walk I saw movement.
I stopped and peered through the branches as two Hinds darted out in front of me – a blessing for a man called Damh. Almost like the woods remembered my voice and was saying “hello again, haven’t seen you for a while”.
The magic was added to when Oscar discovered the pond… He is getting very fond of water.
I passed the old Oak where I’d sat all those years ago communing with the Fae, and the words of Oak Broom and Meadowsweet seemed to be whispered into my ears. I told the story on this blog quite some time ago, but to see my old friend and to remember that moment so vividly was wonderful. The bluebells were only just going over as we walked on and I saw the Faerie tree. It really isn’t big at all. We spoke a while. I told the tree where I’d been, what the last 12 years had brought. I think it heard me.
Crossing a bridge opened a wonderful view of the South Downs, then we arrived at a place where the path was so muddy and wet it was almost impassable. Well, Oscar didn’t seem phased by it as he rolled around, but I wasn’t wearing wellies, so we took a slow walk back.
There are other places me and Oscar will be going. Reconnecting with the Source. Re-membering. It’s the journey of this year for me.
There are puddles and ponds at a lot of those places too…