Rachel over at Velveteen Rabbi posted a Shabbat poem that included this lovely bit of imagery:
…to a boat
lazily drifting on the glassy surface
of my heart’s own pond
And then Terri Windling put up a right-up-my-alley collection of quotes about forests… All of which started me thinking about my own mental/spiritual landscape – a landscape built both of sense experiences of the places I have lived, and of mental impressions from the books I have read that were important enough to mold the way I see the world. Much of this world is still unmapped and unknown, and must of necessity forever remain so – but some areas I have come to know quite well.
First and foremost, there are a lot of trees… my inner world has been clearly hacked out of the great mythic forests that once covered all of Europe. There are dangers, dark and deep in those woods, to be sure… but the outer edges are zoned for recreation, including the Merry Greenwood; and buffering that space from the dark heart of the forest are the hermit-haunted forests of Romance, where the dangers are real but intended for the education of the soul (which will be needed if one is to survive the journey through the interior).
In the exact center of my forest, is a low treeless hill that came to me during my Wiccan period as part of what turned out to be a shared visualization. In that hill is a cave, with an ancient staircase leading down to an underground chamber where mystical rites are performed, and a tunnel leads on and down from there – where it leads I cannot say, I am not yet ready to go that far.
Along the southerly edge of this great wood (populated with the local flora of my NC Piedmont home, naturally) is the pastoral, bucolic and almost entirely English landscape where most of the people would live if there was anyone here but me. Romantic follies dot rolling hills in the distance, and a sort of mixed Tudor and Edwardian style predominates.
Away to the northwest the forest sweeps up to near the edge of a sheer and high sea-cliff (if you picture the Cliffs of Insanity you won’t be far off); perched at the edge of this precipice is a tall stone tower where the wizard lives (this area also comes from the shared visualization mentioned above). In the cliff are more caves, and hawks nest there.
Mostly, though, it’s about the trees.