The day is warm. Sun pushes through deciduous leaves, turning the forest a brilliant green. Not much water in the stream; it still sings, but in lower decibels. Chirping, cawing, drumming and trilling of birds accompanies my footsteps along the path deeper into the Wildwood.
I’m searching for the perfect spot for a Grove, a place to come and meditate, write, pray or just bathe in the healing energy of the forest. Perhaps Aranya or Cernunnos will meet me here.
Sun spills into a clearing where forest that has recently been logged. Fortunately, the loggers left some old, Mother trees. Unfortunately, what they left behind looks like a battlefield. I know the debris will provide the nutrition for the next generation of trees. Still, I wish they had just let the forest take care of itself. Maybe this destruction can teach me something about the cycle of life if I look close enough and see it with an open mind.
The light moves, rays pointing in one direction only to fly over to another part of the forest. A bright beam lands on a clump of Maple saplings whose small leaves reach hopefully to the sky. These babies rest at the stump of a fallen family member, dry and cracked but already sprouting mossy patches and revealing crevices where fungi root themselves.
I pick my way carefully to a lichen-caped boulder, a good place to sit a while. I close my eyes and focus on the spot where my feet connect with the earth. With my inner eye, I imagine the world below the dirt and shredded branches, with its neural network of mycelium wrapping around the roots of trees, sending messages, warnings and communications to the roots of all the other trees and plants growing here. This cottony web of fungi keeps the forest in balance, even when it’s under attack.
I see thousands of insects, mites, worms and species I’ve never heard of or seen moving among the root systems. No doubt, each has a specific job in this ‘wood-wide web’. Each seems to know its place in this underworld.
Humming fills my mind, a sound that spreads throughout this underworld. Constant conversation with purpose but also with hymn-like holiness. The trees do speak to each other! I hear it!
I look deeper, under the root system between rocks, large and small, to where rivulets of water flow like blood through capillaries. Following the rivulets, I realize they connect to larger veins of water which flow from deeper, underground streams.
Sun on my face reminds me that I can’t stay in this underworld forever and I allow my light body to remember itself in time and place. With a deep breath, I return to the here and now.
A startling, raucous sound grabs my attention. A Raven! Another gronking voice answers the first. Then a third from a different direction. Back and forth they speak to each other, coming closer and closer to where I sit.
Black bodies stab through the trees and come together in a flurry of feathers, perching, one on an old Oak and the other two high in the top of a pine. Loud, agitatedgronking ensues. Either they are having a disagreement or they know I am in their forest and are not happy.
A voice within reminds me there is a third option. They could be speaking to me. I am reminded of the Raven goddess, The Morrigan, a goddess of three sisters- Morrigu, a goddess of battle, war and death; Macha, the sovereign queen of the land and Babh, the goddess of prophecy.
I have felt her intense energy before. I’ve been drawn to Ravens and Crows for a long time and often see them in the woods. In fact, on my last hike here, one flew to a nearby tree and when I left in my car, it flew down in front of me and stood on the side of the road, watching me slowly drive by. Very odd behavior for a Raven. But not for a goddess.
This experience of being surrounded by Ravens was different. Intense. Intentional. I try to control my breathing and open my mind to what might be going on, but I don’t feel a particular message coming through. Maybe this is just a case of a Raven (or three) being a Raven.
I pick up my walking stick and head back toward the trailhead, back through the green light of the tall trees. It might be best to leave these Corvids (or goddess) to their own business. I hear them at my back, still chattering urgently. Tones that do not diminish the further away from them I get. I realize they are following me! Seriously?
I look back and see them sail through the trees and perch on three trees along the stream. I keep walking. They continue gronking and are still flying behind me. I feel no danger but it is a little disconcerting to have Ravens following you.
I pause again, but whether my emotions or awe is getting in the way, I receive no personal message. I did, thankfully, have enough presence of mind to thank them for the experience.
Finally, the Ravens fly off and I discover I am at my car. A sign posts the name of this trail, given it by some governmental agency guy in cahoots with the town conservation commission. It is a mundane and totally unacceptable name for such an enchanting forest! A forest with mystical green light and goddess Ravens needs a more magical name. Morrigan’s Forest rises in my mind. And so it shall be to this sojourner forever more.
Post Script- The following week, I had a second encounter with three Ravens in a place I have always called, the Darkwood. At that point, I knew the Ravens (probably The Morrigan) were bringing a message. In a meditation, I met with the Great Queen herself and she strongly advised me to write this experience and think about shifting the way I’m writing these story blogs. Thus, this subtle shift of perspective. I always listen to this goddess when she speaks.