Growing up in the semi-arid desert of South Texas, the only way I saw forests was in magazines or on television. Sure, there were small copses of mesquite trees, but no one in their right mind would rightly call these thickets a forest!
The first time I ever saw a real forest, I was in my early twenties. A friend and I took a road trip up into New Mexico in January. It was the first time I had seen either forest or any real amount of snow. Together, they were so beautiful I made him pull over, got out of the car, and stood there at the side of the road and just cried. (I didn’t know until then that it was true you could shed tears purely from seeing something beautiful.)
The next time I saw a real forest, I was about thirty. This time, my DH and I flew into Seattle to meet some friends. Together with them, we drove up to Vancouver to see other friends. On the way, both my DH and I gawked out the windows and kept repeating, “Look at the trees!” in voices filled with absolute awe. I’m sure our friends wanted to murder us by the time we got to Vancouver, but we just couldn’t get over the sight of those thick, luscious, unbelievable TALL, trees.
DH and I eventually moved to Vancouver, and I experienced forest after forest after forest there. Glades and hollows and hidden meadows and, of course, huge, enormous, TREES! From there, we moved to California, where I wandered amongst redwoods. Then we came here to Ontario, where the views of autumn are not to be believed.
So, as you might be able to tell, forests are very meaningful to me. Even when I was nominally Catholic, I always felt I could feel God in the forests.
Then I found Wicca. Or perhaps it found me.
My religion has grown to all of nature, but forests still hold a special place in me. I once upon a time thought I could feel God there. Now, I feel the God and especially the Goddess in those green and red and gold and crimson depths SO much more!
Whenever I picture Her, She is surrounded by the dark, dark green of deep, old-growth forest. There is often a stone seat near Her, or perhaps She is standing by a trickling brook, flowing over moss-covered rocks. A very few shafts of sunlight filter through the thick branches to reach the soft floor. She wears a flowing, gauzy gown in a shade of green fitting the season, or perhaps in a shade of bark-brown, and despite the darkness of the woods, She glows. Whenever I walk along a quiet wooded path, I feel Her presence so strongly I feel She is walking beside me.
(I think of Him in the forest, too, but then I think of brighter woods and game trails, and dark nights on those trails. I think of Him either surrounded by animals, or hunting them, depending on his mood. Or maybe He can do both at once.)
So, you see, it is no surprise to me that forests are sacred. Or that I am part of a religion in which they fit so well. Or that I knew this deep down inside long before I ever heard of that religion.)
The Goddess calls to Her own, after all.