We have moved to close to the edge of the forest to remember how deep it really is. We no longer seek out those secret paths leading off to some adventure the way we used to. We cling to edge where it is safe. We tell ourselves there is no danger here, at the edge of the forest. But this has only dulled our senses. Men are no longer hairy and women have stopped running with wolves this close to the edge. Mankind has become so over domesticated and fallen into abject submission to a life of comfort without any contact with the primal world of the sensual that we crave a real response to something profound but we go looking for it in video games and movie theaters or worst of all drugs. In striving for contact we create false identities by which we present ourselves on face book, which is neither a book nor does it have a real face. It is an illusion, a figment, a phantasmagoria; just another ghost show projected into the air. Yet we friend people and count them as if counting blessings which were never bestowed much less earned.
Once upon a time, we lived deeper in the forest embraced by its mystery. We were more alert then, and in tune with the ebb and flow of the cosmos. Overhead the boughs of the tall trees interlaced into a spiders web of seasonal shelter while beneath our feet was a carpet of moss and lichen and beds of fern and mushroom. Death was all around us then, but so was life and we understood they meant the same thing, if not always the same end. Our dwellings met nature one on one, neither dominating nor surrendering to it. We were co-equals once upon a time.
We should follow the old paths from time to time and go back into the forest whence we came, traversing forgotten leys through enchanted glades and where light penetrates the darkness. Once in Costa Rica, while walking through the rainforest I learned this and was struck by its profundity. Ancient trees grow old and die and in their death they fall leaving behind a great scar. Where their sheltering limbs once reached skyward there is only a gap, ecologists call it a light gap and through that empty space light reaches the forest floor and warms the earth thereby generating the spark of life for seedlings. These are the children of the fallen ancient. I have seen the same gaps in all forests, from Appalachia to the Sequoias of California and so have been witness to the circle of life and death. One does not understand what that means and walk away without being changed. On the edges you don’t see any of this, which is rather sad.
There is wisdom to be found in the depths of the forest, and courage if we are willing to risk a little danger now and again and walk away from the edge. Fairytales call us to take this action. The hero and heroin begin at the margins of the forest seemingly safe. Only something happens and they hear a call. Thousands hear this and ignore it but they have no tale worthy of telling and so they are forgotten. But some listen and answer. These are the hero’s who undertake the journey back into the heart of the forest and are changed by it. So deep is their change that their stories are passed down across the ages changing those whom they encounter. That is the real meaning of magic.
You see, fairytales do exist and like the song fairytales do come true, it can happen to you if you’re…Well, if you just answer the call. If you do someday far away a child will make a demand of his mother or her father, or their grandmother perhaps, maybe THE most important demand of their lives; “Tell me a story”. And it will begin. Once upon a time there was a boy, or a girl whose name was… Well, what is your name? After all it is your story being told.