Mousehold Woods through a Druid’s Eyes

It’s a Friday afternoon, coming up to four o’clock….just thought I’d record my thoughts for once while I’m drift around the woods…..it’s a rainy a day and I’ve decided to take my dog for a walk in Mousehold Heath.

There’s definitely a special feeling I get when I see the tree tops gather on the horizon as I approach the woods from the Romany Road direction. With my back to the domestic roads and houses, and the woods spreading along the crest behind all the urban bricks and mortar, I feel a sense of opening up, like I’ve got all the room in the world, that I can just stretch out and be safe. It’s calm in the woods today. It feels fairly empty. Sometimes it’s a hive of activity, full of bustling woodland life, teeming with people, but today it’s not. The rain trickles through the trees and the birds are talking to each other.

There’s a major crossroads upon my route that calls my attention. As it is a crossroads I have started leaving offerings to Hecate (Hellenic Goddess of Witches & Crossroads)- things like interesting shaped stones, incense, berries, and feathers. I’ve been finding quite a few feathers lately, and today I have found part of a bird’s egg and two big wood-pigeon feathers which I leave amongst the small pile of previous offerings. A small pile of stones and feathers is accumulating at the corner of the crossroads now!

As I walk I notice changes in accordance to the shift in the season, seeing beginnings of wilted and yellow leaves dotted around, with the trees sagging and sighing, looking tired and ready to welcome their sleep during the coming winter. Small, green acorns are falling on the ground preparing to feed the hibernating animals who are hiding away sleeping through this rainy September day. Only the birds are about, chatting and calling to each other in musical caws and tweets and coos. There’s blackberries that are ripening in small patches along this side of the woods too. I make a mental note to put some bird feed balls out in my garden and to bring some into the woods with during late Autumn walks in the future.

I feel really strong sensations with the natural connections. It’s like the part in that ’90s children’s animated film ‘Fern Gully- The Last Rainforsest’ where all the trees are linked to one another, all connected, a network that spreads throughout the woods. I can’t say that I physically see this web of Earth energy as it’s not literally in front of my eyes, but I can see it in my head and I can certainly feel it, underneath the surface of the Earth, pulsing steadily.

I also sense where paths of energy directions change as I feel the reminiscent energies of those who have walked along the paths before me- children running, people walking their dog, families, couples, individual explorers, cyclists, passers by. And layers of time energy, an awareness of the landscape’s uses over history.

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As I come to a particular stretch of the woods, I keep an eye out for the White Lady- a protecting presence of pure white light that sometimes shows herself. I believe this is the path where I usually “see” her, although she can be felt watching over the whole forest, seen briefly between the trees. She is not showing herself today because there’s people around.

I come to a tree- an oak, I think (I’ve made a vow to make an effort to get to know the trees, flowers, and fauna of the woods!)- that I sometimes leave incense and feathers and stones at. Last time I saw it, someone else had out shop-bought bird seed in the tree nook and, this time I see the empty sunflower seed and peanuts shells and the tiniest of feathers. There’s one or two scorch marks on the base of the tree and there’s a dark sticky sap oozing out of the trunk. Interestingly, it would seem other people seem to be drawn to this particular tree, too.

There’s a diversion in my usual route that I’ve started taking in the last 3/4 weeks. What caught my eye initially was how pretty it was- fully of twisty trees and exposed roots that look like a staircase.

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I follow this path around and it feels like it used to be a working pathway- possibly a route the chalk miners would use- an old line of energy which leads to a crater-ish looking clearing. Nature is healing this area that has been penetrated by man; there’s several scorched tree stumps where the local council have been “working” on culturing areas of the woods back to its original heath state. Now Nature is creating what will become a natural rainwater pond, which won’t reach the size of the main body of water (the Vinegar Pond), but none the less will have its own frogs and small water birds.

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In what I suspect is an old mining entrance is what looks like a badger den or a fox hole. The smaller rabbit hole beside it is unused, its tunnel covered in cobwebs. There are no droppings or bones or tracks or bedding materials around the larger hole, but it looks like it is still inhabitable by something.

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I cross the sudden bare space of the football area, where two black crows hop across the worm-ridden ground. I walk over the site of the ancient chapel of St William (more about that in another blog post!) and cross over into the half of the woods that I personally think of as the “Faery part of the woods”. Although the tiny elemental energies can be felt throughout the woods, its these parts I can sense their playful spirits at their strongest. Here fairy doors within trees grow abundantly, and there are many naturally growing circles. Many children build dens around this area, too, evidence of dens and forts dotted around- perhaps the young ones are drawn to the playful energies here, or maybe this is why the Fae like this part of the woods?

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The dog and I come full circle, completing our usual route of the woods, a circuit that takes us about an hour to casually amble. As I head out of the woods and back home, I leave the natural turf and my feet hit the tarred surfaces the roads and pavements. Smelling the dinners people are cooking on the way home makes my tummy grumble- hunger, a very grounding sensation!

When I get home I am greeted with a waft of beautiful incense and my boyfriend playing the Xbox, smiling a greeting and asking how our walk was. I have a drink of squash, really enjoying the sensation of the cold liquid trickling down my throat rehydrating me, and then I proceed to make vegetarian risotto for dinner thinking of the nourishment of the meal I am creating and the colours of the vegetables I prepare. The herbs growing on my windowsill are still too young to be used for cooking yet.

As the early September evening creeps in, I watch the skies darken from my kitchen window- I love the Autumn season.