I spent Thanksgiving with dear friends in sunny California. A welcome respite from soggy Seattle. Friday after the feast, I met their friends about whom I have heard many fabulous stories, and it was good to put names with faces after all this time. It was also good to sit with more artists, even ones I had just met, and feel such an unspoken kinship.
Beyond the dead end of their street, a sign at the entrance of a narrow boardwalk says “Welcome to The Elvin Forest”. Of course, there was a picture of a small, open-handed Elf with pointy ears and shoes. I felt a familiar tug in the center of my palms, a sensation I have come to understand that alerts me to the proximity of a numinous experience. I had been told about the Faery Oaks that lived in this forest, some for at least a hundred years, and I was excited to meet them.
The boardwalk turned this way and that at a slight decline toward the water, and at times it felt as if I was walking through a labyrinth, unable to see where I had been or where I was going next. Which did much to confirm the presence of the Fae for me; who doesn’t know that their realm is one in which time runs differently and disorientation is the lay of the land?
A cool breeze blew through the tunnels the boardwalk created and as I walked, I kept searching the vegetation that grew on either side for oak leaves. Artemesia, some kind of sagebrushy kind of shrub and even poison oak, but not an oak leaf was to be found. I did see some of the most amazing spider webs; dimensional, like gossamer cubes with odd angles shimmering in the sunlight. They made me stop and stare. I wanted to see what kind of spiders had spun these into being but none were to be found. Maybe they only come out at night.
Around one corner, the boardwalk stopped and the banister on either side joined together to form a barricade. And beyond it, there they were. A grove of the Faery oaks! Their tops formed an umbrella above their long and winding, low growing limbs, some of which barely skimmed the soft looking forest floor, beckoning as a comfy sofa. How clever of the Faeries to grow them without leaves mortals would recognize as oak!
I couldn’t help myself! I climbed through what was intended to keep me out, drawn beyond my capacity to resist. The light inside was truly otherworldly. The air was easy to breathe. Spanish moss hung everywhere softening the already curved lines of the flora. I could sense the sentience of the old oaks. I could feel the presence of magick throbbing like my joyous heart. It was all soft green and dove grey above a carpet of faded yellow, sweet smelling leaves.
Then, that weird way of spying fleeting things out of the corner of your eyes began to happen, where no matter how quickly you turn to look, there is nothing to see. The itch in my palms threw currents to my shoulder blades, right where my wings used to be. I knew I was among Them. I felt I had come home. I didn’t need to close my eyes to pray to the Fae. I sat perfectly still, feeling tiny and grand, and softening my gaze, prayed with my smile. Thanksgiving, indeed.
My friends back on the boardwalk wanted to move on. Tearing myself out of the grove felt physically painful. Achy like. With a pang of sorrow. And a side of dizzy.
The triumphant destination of the boardwalk was a vista of the estuary that snakes through the mud flats toward Morro Bay. Where the late afternoon sun sparkles on the mirror of the water. Where hawks circle silently, the edges of their wings like the graceful hands of ballerinas. Where, off in the distance, long legged birds peck at the damp and delicious earth.
But I knew the triumphant vista was one that can’t be seen with our determinate eyes. It was back in a thunderously silent grove, thick with magick, and luminous from an invisible moon.