Oh sweet, gentle Lord of the Forest
Come, be here now.
I have followed your trail and found your tracks in the woods;
You leave hearts where ever your step and I want to walk the path of compassion too.
Let me walk by your side, caress your strong back, your soft fur.
Let me breathe in your wildness, nose to muzzle, and feel your breath upon me.
Let me listen to your heart, your blood, your vitality, pumping through your veins.
Let me gaze into those soulful eyes and join with your spirit.
Oh sweet, wild lord let me touch you and know the world.
Come, be here now.
© 2014, Arianna Alexsandra Collins
Not only am I soon-to-be published author of Hearken to Avalon, I am also a published writer and poet. The newest project I agreed to take on was to write a bi-monthly nature-focused article, “Into the Outside” for my town’s paper, The Ashfield News. Below is the article, “Invoking the Stag King” which appeared in the November 2014 edition.
Last November, when I was walking up the dirt road, I came across a small herd of deer; one buck with five doe. Now, I knew my neighbor was out hunting up yonder and the herd was heading his way. It was hard to know what to wish for. I do love the taste of venison and could only hope my neighbor might share. Yet I also love coming across my deer neighbors and getting a glimpse of their woodland ways. Who to root for; predator or prey? All I could do was wish the tribe well on their journey. I called after the stag, “I hope you got lucky last night.” The large buck turned his head, as if to say, “Why, yes, I did.” At least that meant he sired next spring’s fawn even if he didn’t make it through the winter. He walked the trajectory of the hunter, but I heard no shots that day. In fact, I saw my Hart later that season, sans rack, as I wandered somewhat aimlessly through the forest, in search of nothing in particular. I called to him, “So, I see you made it.” He raised his head, peering at me. There was a look that passed between us. I wish I could say it was an intimate moment but I am sure he was assessing if I was dangerous. I chuckled softly, saying, “I’m mostly harmless.” I doubt he got the reference. He eyed me moment more before slowly vanishing into the Eastern Hemlock greenery. I counted my blessings that at least my deer neighbor didn’t perceive me as a threat and merely walked off instead of high tailing it through the underbrush.
I decided to backtrack the stag’s trail to see where he had been; to see what signs this wild one left behind; a enfolding story of his morning. I, of course, found scat; still warm, where he had “done his business.” I found where he had pawed at the frozen duff in search of autumn’s acorns. And I spied where he had cut the new growth, leaving frayed edges, telling the tale that it was a being with only bottom teeth that nipped the bud. I sniffed. Mmm, Yellow Birch. I broke off a twig and chewed on it, as both Yellow and Black Birches have that distinctive “wintergreen” taste. I pondered the limited taste sensations that the deer and I shared.
Though I love chewing on birch, being a human, it does me no good to swallow it as I do not have four stomachs, like the deer, to digest it. Eastern Hemlock needles are quite fine – as long as I steep them as a tea, (great source of Vitamin C) but no, I wouldn’t be stripping the outer bark and eating that. Somehow that just doesn’t seem appealing to the human palate. And acorns, no matter how plentiful, I just can’t get into the taste. No matter of soaking or rinsing inspires me to make flour out of them, never mind roasting them, and forget eating them raw – too bitter with tannins. Well, the Stag would receive no competition from me on the forest floor…not until spring anyway. Then we might both be vying for the violets.
It felt good to see him that day; to know we shared the world; like one of those neighbors you wave to but never find the time to converse with; just knowing he’s out there brings comfort.
“Into the Outside” is a feature bi-monthly article by Ashfield resident and writer, Arianna Alexsandra Collins, which focuses on explorations of forest and field in Ashfield. Arianna has a background in natural science and natural history.
So why the Hart?
How else can I live, when everywhere I look I see the symbol of love. It is the Beauty Trail.
Ah, but it is also the path of death and resurrection, for the Stag King is the Lord of Death and Resurrection. He is cyclical. He is the mythological Sacrificial King. He lives. He dies for the good of his people. His bones, his antlers, fodder for the next generation. And he is reborn again and again. So to follow this path means you must be willing to lose it all. And you very well may. But as your heart breaks, it opens. And as long as you can keep your heart open, more love will pour in.
This is Hearken to Avalon!