Recently, to begin celebrating Litha a bit early, I went to the forest for a much needed break from day-to-day stresses and life. I know I am fortunate to live in Western North Carolina, where the land itself feels magical, but forests have always had a special meaning in my life. When I say to my friends, “I am going to the forest”, they know the subtext is also the John Muir quote: “And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul…”
Different landscapes can affect people in different ways. I know sea witches, mountain witches, and desert witches. But the forest? It is a special place indeed.
Connection: The second I find myself in a grove, I look up. To see trees towering over me is both awe-inspiring and reassuring. I love to sit next to a tree and feel the connection to the land, and the serenity.
Grounding: Ah, the joys of grounding in the forest! Slip off the shoes, and sink those feet deep into the mossy ground. Nothing grounds me more quickly than the forest floor, and it’s a connection I cherish. It also applies to wading in creeks, on spiky, stony paths, and grass-filled vistas. It’s an immediate connection that feels beyond the usual quick grounding methods I resort to at home. It goes deep, deep into the ground, so much so that I feel part of the entire vista around me. It envelops the senses, provides focus, and clears out all the “gunk” I’ve accumulated from regular life.
Exploring: There is a feast for the senses in the forest. The smells, the sights, the sounds. Nothing like the earthy aroma, the sounds of wildlife, and and the beauty of the flora and fauna. It is a never-ending quest for myself to be able to identify trees and plants, and it’s a lifelong journey I love. I may never know all I need to know about trees and greenery, and I am perfectly content with that.Solitude: Even with other people, there is opportunity to be alone, and to just “be” in the woods. Added bonus? No wifi, so you can read to your heart’s content, stare at the changing landscape or gaze into a fire (if you are lucky enough to sit around a fire, please do so. Fire scrying is fascinating).
Land spirits: Even with my fanciful spirit, there is a healthy skepticism within me that can dismiss something like land spirits or fairies. But no more. I have seen glimpses of the land spirits with my own eyes, and hold that experience tightly to myself like a delicious secret. Honor them with offerings (which honestly, I failed to do this time, but promised to make up for it on my next visit, They understood). Connect with whatever land spirits around, because they are out there. Honor them with respect, and they may treat you with a few glimpses. Besides, it’s always good to have land spirits on your side, don’t you think?
Magic: If you can time your visit with the full or new moon can make your experience even more magical. Ritual takes on more meaning with the not-quite-silent woods, the glow of candlelight is even more beautiful, and the very air feels more reverent. Whisper your intentions into the woods, and see what happens. Divination can also take on new meaning, so bring your cards or pendulum, and see what appears for you.
Foraging: Be respectful of the land, and take only what has already fallen. That’s my motto anyway. I like to pick up a stone from the rushing waters, a small branch on the ground for my altar, and a wildflower here and there to press into a book as a reminder. No doubt experienced foragers can ascertain the wealth of the forest much more than I can, for which I express my awe and admiration. If that’s of interest to you, take a class, and meet professional foragers. It’s on my to-do list for one day…
Energy: Feel the energy of the forest, for nature is both outside of us and within us. The forest can connect us to that. The second you hug a tree, feel the bark under your fingertips, or a silky leaf or the smoothness of a river or creek stone, you are connecting with the earth. And in the chaos of the whirling days that are upon all of us, it is a reminder of what’s important and central to our being.