Wilderness Magic

by Kenneth Johnson

There is a wonderful passage in one of the old epics of King Arthur. It says whenever the knights began their quest for the grail; they plunged straight into the wilderness where the woods are thickest.

Clever knights. They knew where to find the magic.

But then perhaps they were not so clever. After all, don't most of our European fairy tales begin in much the same way? The tree spirit, the elvish helper, the old Witch, or the magic fountain - all are discovered when the heroine or hero of the story wanders away from the well-ordered village, the peaceful town, the easy and well-marked path, and enters the wilderness. Perhaps it was simply common knowledge back then that the primal chaos of trees, rocks, and water was the most potent magical energy source available.

In many, if not most, magical and folk traditions, the world is the body of the Earth Mother herself. It is no wonder, then, that the trees who constitute her beautiful hair and the rocks which constitute her strong bones are the source of so much magic. Whoever we may be, of whatever cultural origin, all our ancestors were tribal at one time or another, and hence they all lived close to the magic. Wherever we now live, wilderness is generally not that far away - perhaps in the closest state park or forest area. And there are many ways you can touch the magic of the wilderness for yourself.

First, like most traditional peoples the world over, pre-Christian Europeans seem to have believed that the center of Shamanic power lay in our midsection – between the lower diaphragm and the middle belly. Once you are in the woods, focus your attention on this spot on your body. Don't worry too much about its exact location; it's a little different for everyone. Your body will find it for you if you simply focus on seeking a primal source of internal energy. Keep your awareness there, as if it is the actual center of your being.

Once you have done this, you will find that the paths of energy in the Earth itself just seem to pull you along. When you're really focused, you will be aware of zones of power in the Earth. When you've found such a place of power, there are a number of things you can do.

First, you can work with the rocks. Most rocks, whether tiny stones or great boulders, have a "soft spot" somewhere which allows you to enter into them in the spirit. Use your intuition, eyes, and sense of touch to find that spot. Then, meditatively, go inside. Many people report seeing visions of long ago - the very past of the Earth itself. The whole record of Mother Earth's experience is stored inside her bones the rocks.

If there is a stream or a lake, you have a wonderful place to get rid of some of your emotional baggage. In European folk songs, sad lovers are always sitting by the banks of a lake or river. Why? Because it is believed that water purifies our sexual selves and washes away negativity. Give your sorrows to the water, and meditatively feel them slip away from you forever.

If there are plenty of trees, you may be able to locate one that "likes" you. I'm not joking. Place your back against a tree so it can feel your aura. If it likes you, you will know. Then you can become one with the tree. Feel its essence go into your center of power. Then open your eyes. If you are lucky, you will be able to see the world through the tree's eyes. Believe me, when this works it's better than any psychedelic.

Finally, you can simply dance. That's right. There's no particular reason to sit still in a place of power. You might as well just dance, moving to your own inner music and the music of the Sun and the wind. The rocks and trees will enjoy it.

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