Around the Cauldron · Bardic Writings · The Pagan Experience 2015

Leaving the Forest (the Myrddin)

[Inspired by my current study of Avalonian Witchcraft, this is a very short story written specifically for this week’s topic at The Pagan Experience: Earth – The word “earth” has multiple meanings. What does it mean to you? How do you use its definitions to support your work?]

Leaving the Forest (the Myrddin) ©

Stepping out of the forest was like being reborn. After years of leading a solitary life, studying the Old Religion and taking the tales to memory, I saw the sun without a border. Looking down over the valley and pastures, I had to squint. I forgot he was that bright when there was so much to reflect off.

Within the forest I had created a mud-brick home. It wasn’t lavish, but it was all I needed. The roof was thatched with assistance in the beginning, but after a few times repairing the wear and tear, one learns to be even more self sufficient.

It was strange keeping to one location for so long, but to learn the Old Religion I must learn about myself. I had pushed my limits living as a nomad, moving with the seasons. This was a new limit, the limit of locality.

I fell asleep each night hearing the heartbeat of the mother echo within my ears, and found my heart soon matched its rhythm. Morning came with the sound of birds, the rustle of leaves, and fresh morning dew.

I hunted for food, skinned their hides for leather, dried their flesh to store. Nothing went to waste. There were berries aplenty when you knew what was safe to eat, as the Mother provided each season.

The Mother is cyclical, and everything that dies is born again. The trees lost their leaves in autumn and shook like an old man in the winter, only to be reborn again in Spring. Your world adapts and revolves around the seasons, as they must when you stay in one place. Rather than moving with the salmon, you learn to be without.

The Mother teaches patience, as patience is one of the most important lessons to learn. In perfect balance, I learnt what the Mother could teach me, and taught myself what she would only allow me to glimpse at. The Mother cannot teach all. She offers the blissful gift of being, and from there you grow.

The earth is food and grain, leaf and flower, stag and bee. The earth provides just as she can take it away. Time means nothing, as everything happens in its own time. The seasons can be early or late, they do not care. We will adapt, humans and animal, flower and insect, fruit and grain.

"Merlin" by Julek Heller. Illustration, 1990
“Merlin” by Julek Heller. Illustration, 1990

A breeze rustles the leaves behind me and I come back to myself. In the distance I see fires, villages burning, people running and fleeing while men on horse back in plated armour scream and shout and kill. I turn back to my forest and take it all in, remembering the days of warmth staring at the sky through the leaves on the tall oaks and ash. I remember my home, it’s mud walls and the hide I skinned for my framed door.

Returning to the valley, I adjust my pack and walk out into the valley in the hopes that the lessons the Mother has taught me these two decades can help bring light on the bloodshed before me.

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