Smoke hissed and bled into the air, it was dark and the rain clouds covered the stars. Massive, swaying evergreens stood comfortably spaced for miles around, careful to leave room for one another’s roots and branches to unfurl. If the rain picks up I’ll have to take cover beneath one- it isn’t safe to continue without a torch in these wood. And if I allow this one to become very wet I’ll have to wait a day for it to dry before I may continue.
A second large drop hit and the flame sputtered more dramatically, as if to emphasize my realization. Very well, here I am meant to rest. A large, blue Mother Spruce some paces ahead whispered my name, called me to her soft and sheltered bed. I blew out the torch and climbed into her lowest branches, drawing my legs beneath my cloak.
My eyes closed, with Mother Spruce supporting my head and coaxing me to dream. I felt her mighty, tender heart guide the energy of my mind, and she fashioned for herself a body mimicking mine. She approached with her arms open in greeting, steps as mesmerizing as the movements of her boughs in wind.
“My child, how do you seek?” All I could fathom was the reverence of her ethereal form, dancing like smoke, the grace in her voice like sunshine itself. She took my hand and led me to a forest far from where she held creature and I alike safely through the storm.
Men dripped sweat, their burly arms hard at work cutting down and apart every tree within sight, to be carted away. I felt the sorrow that screamed its soft and heavy tones hanging in the air, the confusion that called out against the senseless and selfish act. I felt no anger, no hate. The men cleared away the years upon years it had taken to build in a week’s time, taking the land for themselves who see not the sacredness of fertile soil.
She wiped the streams of tears down my cheek and led me again to another forest. This one was ablaze and self destructing, catalysed when lightning had struck a standing corpse. Animals evacuated past us as we walked further into the inferno. Here there was no sorrow, there was a peculiar sort of celebration, of hurry but no rush. The air tasted how it had when I said farewell to my hometown, melancholic and hopeful all at once. I found no tears, but rather a small smile of trust.
Her elysian gaze acknowledged mine and at once I felt what she had meant, recognized the wisdom she desired to bestow upon me- my smile widened. I knelt and kissed her feet. She hummed and stroked my hair, holding me to her chest in the harmonic space between spirit and body.
Dawn awoke neatly, igniting the fire behind my heart as the ritual prescribed. The ground on which my feet reunited with my journey was welcoming. I touched my head to the roots of Mother Spruce, and thanked her with all of my heart before continuing onwards.