It is the way he looks at me: a mix of precautious distance, invitation, and assessment. These three concepts swirl in me as a response to his gaze, and I am suddenly standing in the depth of my being, looking at the mirror of myself, and asking three questions:
One: am I safe to walk with?
Have I learned enough so I can walk my own self on this path with protection, and with the certitude that my choices and decisions will come from a place of truth? Can I be my own guide, my own trusted companion?
Trust is a traveling concept. I have given it to people who have hurt me, I have been blind with it, and too exclusive, I have preferred at times to trust others rather than myself, and it has often been too tightly entangled with the need for recognition - a necessary alliance for one’s development, but not a sustainable one.
So I must ask myself now, on this first morning of the first day: am I safe to walk with?
Two: the invitation. It is warm and soft, with clear dented edges like the velvet leaf of a young nettle. The invitation has come from a long way, from long ago when women knew the ways and when there was less distance between the feral and the domestic. Less distance, less difference, less divergence.
To be invited to go to the woods.
To be invited to know the woods.
To be invited to be the woods.
It is a cautious request, a call that bears the weight of change, of a new language that is in reality not new at all, but has been forgotten.
Can I invite myself with the clearest of intention even if I do not know the destination?
And the third question is: what am I made of? What is engraved in the inside of my bones, in the thin lines of what pulses through my lineage? When I know what I am made of, I know what I am made for.
The air becomes so crisp and clear, it feels like I am breathing the stars. I stand there within myself, I stand with strong legs and solid bones, with a soft breath and gentle fur like the stag who is looking at me, and we are both standing under the pine tree.
I stand, and this is what I see with the eyes from inside of myself: speckles of ember forming lines along my bones, creating ancient words and sounds of oceanic depth. I see a circle of stones as a birthplace, and the shadow of long wings casted on the mossy ground. I see skin shedding at every cycle, no fear to become new again, and a meandering river with constantly moving water. I see that river flowing up the mountain, not in defiance of gravity but in alliance with all the unseen possibilities of the living world, a proof that constricting our minds narrows not only our living but also the construction of this world, and annihilates the gifts of nature.
The stag’s breathing feels warm on my skin, I am not sure which one of us has approached the other, but I can now smell him. It awakes me, pulls threads from the deep sleep. His smell and warmth are like a whisper that I faintly hear from far away. The pine tree starts to do something, but I have no word for it: a vibration that is silent, a movement that is perceptible but not visible, felt in the depth of the embers of my bones.
I place the palm of my right hand on the tree trunk, where the resin blood forms a white line toward the ground. The smell swirls in me and I do not know anymore if I am growing toward what is above or toward what is below. The whisper coming from the stag grows louder, feels closer. He does not move but seems to make the slightest sway, a rhythmic movement that follows his breath: the cold air from the forest coming inside his body, smelling of pine and early morning freshness, and then coming out of his body like a warm gentle blessing on my right shoulder.
The hum and vibration from the pine tree has entered the ground and spread in every direction, like a call to what surrounds us. Then it comes back , carrying words from other times and other places, holding dreams from the ancestral realms and spells for remembering. It comes back like a dense and rich fluid, and it enters straight in my body from the soles of my feet.
I become a container of ancestral amniotic fluid.
One of the lowest branches moves gently in the dawn of this new day, and I reach toward it, plucking a pine needle: it is deep green, with a flexible rigidity and the smell of time that goes slowly. I take the needle in between my fingers and prick my left index with it.
The whisper becomes louder and louder, the vibration grows thicker, clearer, it is now a gelatinous stream of tiny crystals and gold speckles that inundates my cells.
Do not prick your finger to go to sleep, but to awaken what has been sleeping for too long.
Instead of a drop of blood coming out of my finger, it is a drop of life that enters me. I lean against the stag’s neck, its rough fur against my face and I whisper: I am here.
I am floating inside myself, my bones surrounded by golden fluid, smelling of pine and rich dark soil, it feels deliciously dark even if I feel rays of ethereal light beaming from every direction.
I have no form anymore, no defined shape, I know the language of the circle of stones and I understand the silence of trees. I am so old, weightless in the amniotic fluid of life itself. I am re-arranged, created again.
Above my head I feel the stag’s antlers and I can see lifetimes of wearing these extensions toward the skies, a mark of belonging with the forest.
Wearing the woods above my head.
Wearing the woods below my feet
Wearing the woods within my bones.
On the first morning of the first day,
I am reborn,
Knowing what I am made of,
And knowing what I am made for.
- Father of Pentacles card from The Wild Unknown tarot deck, by Kim Krans.
:: Exploration ::
All stories link to our own golden threads, a source of understanding, insights, comprehension, and a portal to our own Mundus Imaginalis (world of the imaginary). Take some time to sit with the story, let it unravel within you, feed it space and time.
Feel free to travel with one or all the exploratory questions below, or follow your own path if one appears clearly. You could work with this exploration as a guiding lantern for the month ahead, take it to your journal, creations, walks, dreams...
Where are you in this story? What image, smell, taste, sensation has a particular resonance for you - stay there, do not try to interpret or make it something else, just observe your own presence in that place.
How do you relate to the three questions and concepts brought by the Stag?
1) How are you your own guide, and trusted companion?
2) Can you (happily) invite yourself with clear intention, even if you do not know the destination?
3) What are you made of, at this precise point in your life?
What does the amniotic fluid of life look like to you? Where and how do you connect with it? What nourishes your rebirth, your re-arrangement?
Possibilities: a connection with a specific place in nature or with something from the natural world, a ritual bath (include candles, music, salts, flowers, incense, singing, darkness...), visualization of yourself in amniotic fluid, meditating or falling asleep with water sounds (river, ocean).
The amniotic fluid in which the fetus develops in the mother's womb is an element that facilitates exchange. It carries nutrients and water to the growing baby, it is linked to kidney function and GI (gastrointestinal) tract and gut bacteria, and thus the health nd balance of our immune system. It is also a protective environment.
For a specific amount of days (I like to work with threes: three days, six, or nine) drink a healthy drink (water, rain water, tea, juice, soup, flower essence or tincture...) once a day with the intention of being nourished on all levels - physically, emotionally, spiritually.
Think of the amniotic fluid and what it brings to a new life, create an intention around what you need right now: protection, support, nourishment, growth, hydration, fluidity, immune support.
I like to dedicate a glass or container specifically for this practice, it does not have to be new or special, but for the length of your ritual it will not be used for any other purpose.
What makes an action a ritual is the intention and commitment we bring to it, and how we integrate it in our lives as a portal to a different dimension of who we are. This is what makes the sacred different from the mundane.