Yesterday I wandered without a plan, deeper and deeper into the tangled woods. The path twisted and turned through unfamiliar corners, while I was lost in the distraction of my thoughts. As the weak winter light began to fade, the dogs tugged urgently at my boots and coat and I awoke, as though from a dream, into a cloud of Raven calls. Above me the trees were closing in over my head, woven with hundreds of nests, and filled with a fearful number of black cloaked birds who all wanted their say.
The mix of harsh and melodic caws, swirled and tumbled like rushing water all around my head. Rising in ferver and pitch, and beating the air into wild currents, the wall of bird calls stopped me in my tracks as I was swept upwards in confusion towards their world. As I focused, one voice began to sound clearly among the many, and I followed its wise croak to the beak of origin. There watching and waiting was the Raven who guarded this tale. Black gloss and sharp eyed wisdom rolled into a Ravens form he caught my eye and my attention, until the only sound I could hear was his, and this is what he said…
Deep within the tangled woods lies a secret so bright that it’s kept wrapped in soft darkness. It rests safe from prying eyes and covetous greedy hands, within the very heart of this land. The only way in is through the tangled fingers of the trees, along an unwalked path which vanishes behind you even as your foot lifts from the earth with each step. There are no clues or markers along the way, for no one has walked your path before, and make no mistake, the trees and their dry boneless fingers will be your undoing. They will reach deep into your soul and unweave you, all the way back to the begining. And trust me I have seen it all, the begining and the end, as I sweep out across the earth each and every day. So go on, follow your heart if you dare, deep into this tangled mess you call life. Follow those last glimmers of fading daylight into the forests heart..
Well I had no choice really, as there was no path to be found in any direction, only a wild tangle of branches and a few dry leaves. The light of the day was dying, and the shadows were growing longer and deeper with each passing moment, and ahead of me, fading into the distance, was the voice of my Raven. So I stepped forwards, towards the light and the black glossy bird. My progress was slow, and quite uncomfortable, as sharp branches scraped and clawed through my hair and over my face. My feet stumbled and tripped on roots and tumbled limbs, sending me in wild uncontrolled staggers across the leaf strewn forest floor. I had to stoop lower and lower beneath the arms of the trees, and even the dogs were struggling to move forwards.
Finally out of breath, scratched and bleeding, I fell defeated to the ground. My hair so tangled in branches and twigs that I was now woven into the trees themselves and my coats tattered shredded cloth trailed like clootie offerings to the old gods. Covered in mud and leaves I surrendered to the tangled trees, with the dogs at my feet. The Ravens voice had died away to nothing, and the cooling dark air was now filled with the sound of wolves, sharing tales of the hunt and warm meals. Dispair and doubt gripped my heart, filling me with fear and hesitation. Why had I come here to this place of loss and darkness.Why had I not kept to the well trodden path where others could offer their guidance. Looking up I realised I was beneath a holly tree, it’s sharp spiked leaves clearly silhouetted in the bleeding light of the dying sun. Leaning back I felt the cold hard trunk at my back, and the glossy Ravens voice whispered the tales of the Holly into my ear, and I let him. Strength, persistence, and hard won wisdom, this is the tree of the Winter Cailleach who carries the earth and her bones through the heart of winter and into the rebirth of spring. The guardian of the powers of regeneration….and you lie at her doorstep.
Just when I felt most lost, and surely far from warmth and shelter, there ahead through the dark tangled branches was a beautiful castle. The light from a single window caught my eye and pulled me up from the earth, filled once more with hope and wonder. What adventures lay ahead within the old stone walls of the castle, but you will need to wait for another day to hear of them. For now walk beside me, renewed, if a little tattered by the year just passed, by the life just lived, and look forwards into the next tale of our wild and glorious life, which waits to be discovered if you dare…..
wonderful tangled tale! I would love to hear what happens in the castle. XOXO And Happy New Year!
Ravens certainly like to have their say don’t they Seonaid . What a great story tto read from the comfort of my sofa looking out on ragged branches and grey steely skies … Hope you’re having a lovely first brand new day of the year 🙂
A wonderful tale .. and imagination. Superb photos too! 😀
It’s been a wild and scratchy year, lots of places of despair and entangled confusions….so glad there’s still a castle of hope. Happy New Year, Seonaid!
Thanks Anette, a wild a scratchy year indeed…wonder what 2016 will bring ✨😆✨
And that raven did not spoil the wild and wonderful adventure by having quoth, ‘Nevermore’!
Haha….that really would have been a spoiler😆
A fabulous, wonderful post beautifully written and illustrated. Thanks very much.
My pleasure, I’m delighted to hear you enjoyed it. Thanks for letting me know. Ravens can lead us along some strange paths indeed!
What a wonderful atmosphere in these shots.
Thanks Fi, I was trying to get a dark fairytale feel, down in the woods among the ravens✨great to hear it worked💕
I also struggled through the dark wood yesterday. It was muddy and I kept slipping and pulling myself up again until eventually I found the light once more.
Wonderful writing Seonaid, on the journey we all take.
Delighted you enjoyed it Gilly, nothing like a bit of symbolism to get my mind moving again! That slippery mud can be treacherous, I hope you were wearing wellies yesterday!!
I am SO applauding your visualization of life. This year, especially now, I feel like I’m wandering through that scraggly web of bleak trees too. I have as yet to discover that gorgeous castle, but I’ll keep looking. Excellent post and pictures! Happy New Year!
Thanks as always Gwynn, delighted that my take on life’s paths resonated with you. I do love a good bit of symbolism😆Keep looking for that castle with its beckoning light….its out there somewhere among the tangled branches! Wishing you a wonderful 2016✨💕✨
Great imagery in this story and great flow. I always struggle to keep mine short like that but you did a wonderful job. Thanks for sharing.
Many thanks, and delighted you enjoyed my short tale….part two might follow soon😆I also struggle with keeping the word count down, writing haikus has really helped me condense my thinking over the past year.
May try that
I breathlessly followed you on your wild path through roots and branches, following the raven’s challenge. Your writing is magical, Seonaid. Yours is a gifted voice.
PS Will you pet your dogs from me?
I will certainly give the dogs a pat, and they’ll send you a happy wag of their tails back😊🐶
Many thanks for your kind praise, always so encouraging….delighted that you enjoyed the weavings✨💕✨
Magical tale into the woods, “dark and deep.” The images are mesmerizing.
Delighted to hear you enjoyed the visuals as well as the tale. The woods take on such a magical quality in the low soft midwinter light✨
Wonderful story! I had crows visit me just yesterday…or perhaps I was visiting them.
How magical…did the Raven bring you a tale😊
a mysterious wonderful trek…”…through the tangled fingers of the trees…” and…”into the forest’s heart…” Makes me long for a walk in the woods… and to find me a castle there… 🙂
It’s well worth it…if a little trying at times 🙂
Delighted you enjoyed my weavings Christiane….I do love a good tale!!
Thank’s for sharing your great feelings. Your pictures are splendid too… Happy and great new year