It is one thing to believe that the natural world is sacred and there are indeed nature spirits and deities of all kinds present in the world around us. It is quite another to actually meet them in person!
As a child I knew instinctively that everything in the world, the Universe was alive, endowed with spirit and interconnected. How could it be otherwise? But I had never actually seen a woodland sprite, a pixie, or met a fairy or a Goddess up close. So when I went to the woods in the north of the country for a little healing retreat, I was in for a surprise. Two, in fact!
My mother and I rented an ordinary little cottage in an ordinary holiday camp in Drenthe. We had rented a similar cottage there before a little down the path, and though it was nice and modern, there was nothing special about it. This time when we walked in the door, we both felt it. This house was different.
It felt as if it welcomed us, as if it opened warm, loving arms and embraced us. The energy was so strong. We were dumbfound. Could it be the energy of the people who stayed there before had been so good that we still felt it in the room? But it was everywhere in the house, it was strong and it didn’t fade.
As we were unloading our luggage, walking to and fro carrying bags with cooking utensils, crochet and knitting supplies, books, laptops and clothes, I reached out with my senses to get an answer to my question: ”What is it about this place that makes it feel so welcoming?”
The answer came into my mind as if from somewhere else: ”This is sacred ground.”
Well, I certainly hadn’t expected that!
When we were done moving in with all the stuff two creative ladies can bring on a holiday, we sat down and talked about it. We both agreed: it felt as if our feet actually sank into the floor, as if we were sitting much lower in the ground than we actually were, and as if there was a warm, loving female presence in colours of gold and orange that welcomed us and embraced us. As if she belonged to the ground beneath us, not the house that was built on it. Inadvertently, my mother kept referring to her as ”the Queen”, and maybe in a sense, that’s what she was. A Woodland Queen. But to me, her energy felt like that of a Deity. A Goddess.
As I had come to the woods for healing, that night when my mother was busy with her knitting (Shetland lace, very intricate and attention-consuming!) I sat down alone at the table and stilled my mind. I closed my eyes and relaxed, and stepped out of my space to meet the Goddess.
She was standing between the trees and looked surprisingly young: a full-figured woman made of warm light, with golden red hair that rippled down her shoulders in thick rivulets or braids. She welcomed me like a beloved relative. I told her how honoured I was by her presence, how grateful I was she was there for us. My heart just poured out with love and gratitude. I hardly dared ask her for healing, it was already such an amazing gift to have her presence in the house. But eventually, I did.
She told me to lie down on the moss. As I did so, I could sense my body disintegrating, dying, melting into the mossy earth like a decaying corpse. But I was not afraid at all. It felt natural, safe, and necessary. I needed to die and be reborn. I was safe in the never ending cycle of life and rebirth, safe in the arms of the Goddess. My head was opened up, and all the tangled cobwebs of thought that had plagued me were carried off by mice until my head was nice and clear again. There was a mole, blindly digging around in the space where my heart was, and I let it go to do its digging in the earth instead of my feelings.
The Goddess bade me rise, and as I stood before her, she cracked an egg above the crown off my head. Little tadpoles poured down through my hair as if they were swimming. I asked the Goddess to clarify my process for me, and saw a young shoot come out off the earth and unfurl, and grow into a beautiful Sunflower. I was ready to be reborn into my new state of being, as my new Self!
I thanked the Goddess and returned to my seat at the table.
I was so grateful for this beautiful gift of healing. But I was most grateful for the presence of the Goddess, who allowed me to feel that the Earth is indeed sacred, alive and conscious, and that death to a spirit inhabiting a human body is truly nothing to be afraid of.
That night, as I was in the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth, I had the sense there was someone in the bathroom, looking at me curiously. I got an impression of a slender young man dressed in leaf-green and gold. I had no idea who he was, though he did not feel like a human presence. I did not know the Woods had another surprise in store for us.
The next day we decided to go for a walk in the woods. We chose a path that woudl take us along meadows and trees, past a dolmen and back through the woods and heather. In earlier years, when I visited the area I was always very excited about visiting dolmens, the ancient neolitic grave sites. But as we visited some dolmens the years before where I felt nothing out of the ordinary, no special energy, I had become, I suppose, a little blasé about them. So when at first we couldn’t even find the dolmen, we joked about it. The dolmen must be a hobbit-dolmen. The good folks of the Forestry department who made the map hadn’t promised us it would be human size, had they?
Finally, after many turns in the path, we saw it. It was big. It was one of the biggest and most beautiful I had ever seen.
Suddenly whispering and walking slowly and gently, we approached it. It was as if we crossed a magical boundary. The little hairs on my entire body stood on end and I had chills all over. We had entered another world.
There, walking carefully around the stones, entering the gateway to the Other world the people of the Bronze Age had built, we felt them. My mother could actually see them as orbs of energy, standing beside us or sitting on the stones. One came standing beside me to my right: a slender man, with a face much narrower than a human face, wearing a crown of leaves. My elven visitor of the night before? We were surrounded by them, as if they closed in on us in their friendly curiosity. As if we had party-crashed a gathering of elves. And they welcomed us in their midst.
They did not seem to originate from the standing stones of the ancestors. Again, they seemed to belong to the earth. As if they lived in the little hill the dolmen had been built on.
I had tears in my eyes as I realised: they are truly here. They are truly among us. The gods and goddesses of the ancient world, the elves and fairies and woodland sprites. You don’t have to do anything special to be able to meet them. You only have to be open to sense their energy!