Saturday, December 12, 2009

The People beyond the Garden Gate

Though mostly skeptical of reported sightings of the Little People, I have had some personal encounters – wide awake and dreaming in the animate world of nature – that have quelled my inner naysayer. Here’s a brief account of one such episode, when I stepped through a garden gate beyond the rambling roses at Hawkwood College in Gloucestershire, into the greenwood:

I walk by the redwood - a newcomer to this English landscape, and a link to a place of my heart - above the cow pastures, and past an ancient sycamore that leans over a softly bubbling spring. I am drawn to a path that leads up to the kitchen garden on a rise behind the stone manor house. The far end of the garden is aglow with pink and peachy roses, rambling and climbing over trellises, forming a bower.
   Beyond the roses is a gate in the high, old brick wall that separates the garden from the woods beyond. In the arch is a weathered gray door, secured by a simple wooden latch. The woods are bottle green, dark as an inkpot above the top of the door. I open the gate and step through, onto a trail part covered by ground ivy.
   As I walk the path, a breeze picks up, and soon the woods are alive with whispers. The stir is most active beneath and around me, where the wind does not reach. I have the vivid sense of small creatures running and hiding. I am amazed by the thought that they are trying to hide from me. I can't see them, not yet. But I sense them quite distinctly. They are Little Ones.
   There's no need to be afraid, I tell them. I'm not going to hurt you.
   For a moment, the woods seem very still.
   Then a small country voice says, from among the roots of a tree, We thought you were one of the Lords.
   Oh, I don't think so. Who are the Lords? Do you mean the Normans? Or the Courts of the Fairies?
   Sshhhh. We don't talk about Them.
   This leaves me quite uncertain about the identity of the Lords they fear.
   Wait, they tell me. We'll get the Centaur.
   It seems that this creature is the Big Man in the society of the Little Ones. I am tremendously excited by the prospect of meeting a centaur. When he gallops up, I am amazed. He is certainly a Big Man, in this company, with a massive torso, a curling black beard, two stumpy horns - and a phallus like a club. But he is about six inches in length, from his chin to his tail. And his body below the waist is that of a billy goat, not a horse, although he does indeed stand on four legs rather than two.
-----The Goat-man tries to act bold in front of the Little Ones, but is plainly terrified. From his perspective, I am a giant, and of entirely unknown intentions.
-----I can see the whole company more distinctly now. The Little Ones are the size of elm leaves. I have no wish to disturb their society, or make their centaur lose face. I bid them good day, and follow the track deeper into the woods.
-----It does not surprise me that when I stroke the smooth bark of a beech, the tree responds. I absorb a deep knowing from within the beech, and have the impression of a feminine figure whose eyes are leaf-green, without pupil or irises. She instructs me on natural remedies for various bodily complaints; when I check them out later, they work brilliantly.

This is an excerpt from the travel journal I kept while leading a five-day summer adventure in “Reclaiming the Ancient Dreamways” at Hawkwood College in Gloucestershire, at the invitation of Celtic scholar and shaman Caitlin Matthews.


Barbara Butler McCoy said...

On one of our visits to Atlanta, before we moved here, I sat in the car while my husband checked into the hotel. I watched the wind stir through the trees edging the lot and I started a bit when I realized that some of the leaves appeared to have formed a face, a face that watched me intently and with kindness. I watched back and said, "Hello." I t felt nice, and I was especially impressed that this had happened in a decidedly urban area - not a forest or preserve. Anyway, thank you for sharing this;-)

Worldbridger said...

That is absolutely lovely! I attended several workshops at Hawkwood in the 80s, with Gareth Knight. Never saw any little people though ... thanks for the insight.

Wanda Burch said...

I haven't seen any little people but have felt their presence.

When I was attending school in Oxford, I spent a day traipsing about and listening to Oxford stories with an English professor, Jan Farquharson. As we walked down a set of stone steps, I shivered just seconds before he pointed to a tiny green gateway which framed a tiny deep green door. The tiny entrance - for whom, I'm not sure - inspired one of the stories of Alice's adventures. I had no problem visualizing what would not have been much of a leap of the imagination to spinning stories through that little gate.

Nancy said...

I love imagining your Little People, especially the centaur. Last night for the first time ever I dreamed of a cow, actually 2 of them. They were as massive as buildings, protecting the section of the road where I was walking like bookend guardians. Then I encountered a tiny hedgehog, just an inch or so long, who upon seeing me immediately rolled over, wanting me to rub his belly.

So for anyone who wants to see Little People (or animals), I'd suggest you have an intention to meet them in your dreams!

Blackbird said...

Oh, so fine a visit with the Forest Folk! Perhaps the landowners of the region have been inhospitable to them
in times past, hence the fearful Lords
of which they speak. I have been studying the powerful Mathews' book, The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom, this fall and perhaps its time for the wisdom of the Hidden Ones to bless us once again.

Nicola said...

I have just a handful of very precious experiences where the fairy folk have actually manifested into daytime vision. One was of a miniature lion like creature with lizard hindquarters and wings,; in all just 2cm in size. The miniature lion/lizard looked me in the eye whilst it's serpent like tail twisted and thrashed against the sheets of my bed. This fairy creature travelled with the wings of a moth attracted by my bedside lamp.
Thankyou Robert for this beautiful magic Cotwold vision of fairy folk.

Robert Moss said...

Thanks to all for your enthusiasm and imagination, and the sightings that are being shared on this thread. Wanda, I can absoluetly imagine stepping through that green door into a world of wonders. Interestingly, in a memorable passage insisting on the need to reclaim the "wonder-child", H.G.Wells also wrote about a green door - and the need to step through it before your sight is so atrophied by the requirements of the workaday world that you can no longer see the magic behind it.

Though I believe, with Blake, thatg imagination is the great "faculty of soul" and generates its own order of reality, my encounters through the Hawkwood gate required no conscious effort of imagination and took me utterly by surprise. The just-s0-ness was the most remarkable thing, and instantly silenced the hardened, grown-up disbeliever in me.

Helen Adams said...

I really enjoy the presence of the fairy folk and little people, especially during Spring when you can almost see their tiny fingers unfurling tight buds and encouraging flowers to bloom. So it was delightful to read of your encounter with them at Hawkwood. How touching and wonderful.

Patricia said...

This is just magical. I'm not sure what I enjoyed the most. "The woods are bottle green, dark as an inkpot above the top of the door." Feels inviting. I think that I have experienced dreaming into and feeling little people in a garden. But I didn't get to see them. Who would they be afraid of? Now that makes me want to go looking for stories. Are there people who would capture these little people to use their powers/skills? I have just recently purchased a Celtic Ogam book from Catlin Mathews. Is there any other works from her or someone else that might be good to read to understand Celtic Lore? I looked at the Tarot she did. Learning the tarot while learning celtic lore sounds fun. I love how you described the stirring away from the wind and stroking the smooth bark of the beech, absorbing a deep knowing. I hope in a few years to get better at understand with detail the deep knowing from trees.
I just got back from church where the preacher spoke of how one should trust the change that may take place when God calls. It made me giggle that I was just given the ok to be a pagan dreamer/celtic explorer.

Robert Moss said...

Dear Helen, I smiled at your lovely evocation of little fingers unfurling buds in spring. I have watched hummingbirds do that, gently peeling back the petals of a hyacinth to drink from the heart of the flower.

Robert Moss said...

Hi Patty - I've found pleasure and profit in everything published by Caitlin and John Matthew. If I had to single out just one of their books it would probably be "The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom". Don't be put off by the title; this is no plodding reference book but a lively collection of essays and naratives by authors who know their stuff through experiential work as well as dedicated study.

While we are on this track, you'll probably want at some point to dip into Evans-Wentz's marvellous early work "The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries." Yes,this is tyhe same Evans-Wentz who went on to give us the first accessible version of the Tibetan Book of the Dead in English. As a young man, he roamed Scotland and Ireland, Wales and Brittany, gathering stories and traditions of the Celts from the old ones. Great stuff.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story! While walking through a small bird sanctuary yesterday, the boardwalk I was on passed under the roots of a large strangler fig tree. I remembered your story and looked up into the canopy and then down to the roots in the quiet I imagined the wee folk behind the enormous root curtain hiding from me. I tickled some of the ends of the trees roots (beard) and giggled with them. Thank you for keeping my imagination alive! And to top it off...I felt someone watching me and looked up into a branch where someone had placed a large stuffed animal - a gorilla! I laughed and thought of Nicola's posting (either here or on the forum) where she dreamed of gorillas and flamingos... lol

Karen Kay said...

And what a delightful, extraordinary and mulchy summer adventure your workshop at Hawkwood was ! Thanks Robert and everyone who came.

In my own encounters with the fair folk, it usually goes like this - I find that grown up disbeliever has sprung up - sometimes overnight - that suprises me - it is not my true nature - and once that goes - I feel a little sadness how it obscures the delight that exists usually - and then -there they are as natural as can be- up to now in the imaginal world . The local Oxford fair hedgehogish folk were very suprised and delighted when I first fell soot-laden into their fireplace beneath the weeping willow tree- 'Well !' they exclaimed in unison 'noone has been to visit these parts for many a year' and I understood that they missed this sorely and loved the contact and connection with we who take the time visit these places. ( and they missed the parties and merrie making!)

Sweet and sooty dreams

Robert Moss said...

Hi Karen - Thanks for sharing in the Hawkwood magic, and for your delightful account of those hedgehoggish little folk around Oxford.

Margie, I was tickled by your report. Can't he;p wondering whether trees that play host to strangler figs are "tickled" at the beginning of the relationship :-)

Lou Hagood said...

Thanks, Robert, I am reminded of the film, "Pan's Labrynth", a beautiful but troubling account.


Dear Robert,
How beautiful! I am reminded of a trip I made this past fall to Carnac, France along the southern Bretagne coast of the Atlantique. Here lie 6,000 year old Megalithic Alignments, amazing! There are hundreds of menhirs and dolemmens, it has been said that this was a place visited often by Merlin.
While walking the deep green edge of the forest, near one megalith which is called, 'The Manio Giant' which is away from the more popular tourist path ... I had a very strong sense of 'Farey Presence', there in that deep wood I felt them to be the eternal guardians of that magical place! I was also given a message; 'The Megalithic Alignments are aligned with the map in the sky, the stars!'
I am still holding this energy!
May the Green Light of Faery ...
Light your way; Robert
Love, Karen

Dreaming Mama said...

Love it!!!!!!

Epona said...

I see what I refer to as "black cats" while driving down the road along the edges of the wood in the corner of my eye. I often wonder who they are.