There was a break in the towering clouds, and I had finished work early. I grabbed my camera and headed out on to the heath. About half and hour in, and the heavens opened again. I sheltered under some old oaks, their guardian presence peaceful and comforting. As the rain passed, a rainbow came out, shining bright across the heath. I came upon the deer, with the deer rut having now started and the stags proudly strutting their stuff. This is magic.
I leave for the UK soon. I decide to walk down in the valley, seeing if the old horse trails are still there, even though the horses are long gone. It’s a beautiful, sunny autumn day, the sun is hot and the breeze is cool. The milkweeds are releasing their seeds, the goldenrod drying in the sun. The leaves on the maple, birch, ash and poplar are changing into their autumn splendour. It’s utterly magical. The liminality of this time shines bright, and the veil between the worlds thins as we shift into another energy.
I walk slowly down into the valley. I say a blessing for the place, and touch the earth. I continue down through the trees out into the open space. I see a young woman with long blond hair down in the centre of the valley, and I smile. She’s walking slowly, just like I am, soaking it all in. Noticing the small things as well as the grandeur of the larger spirit of place. I say hello as we pass, she heading the way I came and I moving down towards the reeds, seeking the ridge where the horses used to shelter from the sun.
The paths are still there along the ridge, and where horses once keep the trail open it is now mountain bikers on the weekends. Regardless, I am glad that the trails are still there and that others are appreciating them, albeit in a slightly different way.
I walk along the ridge, the light shining through the pines and the birch trees with a soft, ethereal light. To either side of me the ground falls away sharply. This is a special place, a liminal place, which once only I and the horses knew. I walk up the hill along the ridge, and come out on top of the world. Well, my own little world from when I was growing up.
As a teenager, I would come out to this hilltop and sit, looking out over the forest and hills that I roamed, into the distance where the sun and moon rose over the mountain. I stood there and took it all in, and then saw the young woman once again, walking up along the trails that I used to walk, coming towards me from the other direction. It was like I was passing by my own self from thirty years ago. She sat down in the spot that I always used to sit, and gazed out over the mountains resplendent in hues of red, copper, orange and green. I had wanted to sit there and think, to become part of this land once again, but then I realised that my time here has come and gone. Now it is her time, and after her there will be others, roaming these hills in quiet solitude, discovering who they truly are and what matters most to them. Nature is always changing, and I must change with it.
I walk up to her and excuse my interruption. She smiles, and I ask if I can take her picture. I tell her that she reminds me of myself from thirty years ago, and she agrees with a grin. I know that grin. I take her picture, and thank her from the bottom of my heart. As I walk away down the path she walked in on, I silently bless her and the land and ask that future generations take good care of this very special place.
I am crying now, the tears releasing years of pent up energy and worry, of longing and hiraeth for this special place. But I know that it will be safe, that there are others who are seeing the beauty and who walk its paths in honour and in wonder. I know that the magic is still very much alive.
I wipe the tears and walk down the hillsides, back to the main path. I have come full circle, and met my own self in autumn’s light. The tides of time had shifted, and we came together for a reason. And I know that in autumn’s light, we count our blessings.
Well, I finally made it back to see my family for the first time in over 2.5 years (thanks to the pandemic). And I made in time for the beautiful autumn colours, the full moon and the equinox. I’m feeling truly blessed, and it’s an enormous reminder not to take the little things in life for granted. Right now, being in the forest and hills of my home where I grew up, I take comfort in the calls of the geese migrating south, the colours of the maples in their fiery glory, the laughter of family and the sense of being “home”. Blessings of the equinox to you all!
The air is cool, the sun is warm, the heather is out and the deer are starting to gather. Welcome the changing of the seasons!
Spent some time on the heath yesterday, which was lovely as I hadn’t been able to get out all week. And got some really nice shots of the white hind too! Prints of her will be made available on my website soon…
I saw her for the first time yesterday, and I didn’t have my camera. Today, I thought I’d go out and see if I could find her again. My instinct told me to go to my special place on the heath. And she was there The White Hind.
© Joanna van der Hoeven 2021
This week’s beautiful fog just screamed at me to get my camera and my butt out onto the heath. Here is the result 🙂
I’ve now got a new Druidry video series started up on my YouTube channel. I hope that you like it! We start with Samhain…
Have you ever had a pure moment? A moment when there is nothing to worry about, no future, no past, just this present moment, now?
These past two weeks, I’ve had many of the beautiful moments, out on the heath with the deer. Making the effort, despite the rain, the mud, the cold wind and mist that gets into your bones has paid off in an abundance of these moments. It takes a while, sometimes, for them to happen, as you walk and think and think and walk and lose yourself in your turbulent mind. But then you spot a deer, or the sunlight on a mushroom, or a leaf twirling on a spider’s strand, and suddenly it all stops. You stop. You are caught in the moment, where all thoughts have ceased and you are just held by the beauty of the present moment.
It’s important to have these moments. For they are the reset button of the soul. When I gaze into the eyes of a doe, or a stag, the world falls away and all that matters is right now, this very moment. My troubles are later put into perspective, when thought returns. My body pauses, utterly motionless, in an otherworldly rest. My soul opens, and a true connection is made with the world, without thought, without bias, without prejudice.
No matter where you are, you can have these moments. Watching the sun move across a wall, or the shadows of a tree branch in the moonlight. Standing in the night breeze, listening to the sounds in the darkness all around you. Smelling the scent of woodsmoke on a country road, or hearing the song of a robin in the bush next to you. Stop, and take this moment, a pure moment. Reset your soul. And gaze into the eyes of the universe.
This is just a glimpse into what I’ve seen these last two weeks. Magical.