O Forest God, may I be held in your memory.
May my true name, unknown to me, be woven
into your song. May I always be welcome
in your woods. May there always be a place
for me in your dance. May I find my way
to your secret dwelling in times of need.
May I be safe beneath the shadow of
your antlers. May I be guided by your voice
and your song. May I count tree and
vine and mushroom among my allies.
May the dove and the fox, the rabbit
and the wolf, the hawk and the deer
be my coven. May I never forget them
or you. May I remember that the earth
lives always in your dream as it was
meant to be, and may you dream that dream
for us until we are ready to dream it, too,
and make it real before our waking eyes.
Every day that I think of you, lord,
a tree grows in my heart. Every time
that I smile at the thought of you,
a clump of mushrooms fruits in the rain.
Every time that I pass a tree on the street
or mushrooms in a row beneath a bush,
I think of you and a bird builds its nest
in a place where no one can touch it,
where it will be safe. Each day the bird
lays one perfect egg, delicately speckled
like its feathers, and each egg is a name
for you that I turn over in my pocket
like a smooth stone. The coolness and
smoothness of the stone in my hand is
the touch of your hand, and the flash
of its colors the glance of your eyes,
when I come into the forest seeking you
and find you waiting, smiling, thinking of me.
Lord of the Animals
Friend of foxes
Him of many names
Most ancient god
Haunter of dreams
Older than civilization
Master of the wild
Man, beast, and god
Dancer in the great dance
Singer of the primal song
One who watches and waits
Guardian of the wood
Spirit of place
Shelter for the homeless
Silence of peace
Hail to you, lord
Bless me, Forest God
There are bones beneath the floor of the forest.
There are bones unburied, scraped clean by hungry teeth,
the predator and then the scavenger. There is blood shed,
soaked into the complex earth. Scat gets buried, but
the carcases of the dead lie in the underbrush. Flowers
push up through the fine bones of dead birds, pushing
aside the dry feathers. There are levels and layers of
death underneath all that life, the green leaf and
the sparkling stream, the white mushroom and
the red berry, death and dirt and decay. There is
no comfort in the silence of life reduced to rotting meat.
Bones make flutes, the god tells me. Sinews make
strings. Branches stretch strings into harp and lyre,
not just bow and arrow. Dead flesh becomes meat,
mushroom adds flavor. The forest remembers,
layers and levels of memory, the dead, the unborn,
the worlds that were and will be overlapping
one another. Come, sit here, says the Forest God.
Sit with me and sing of what is mourned.
I would go and make a greenwood marriage–
find a lover and lie down under the leaves.
The Forest God blesses all couples and more
than couples who choose to join in his domain.
Man with woman or man with man, woman
with woman or three or four, as long as
there is free will, there is freedom to love
and live under his protection. And there is
solace also for the heart that desires solitude,
to be away from humankind, to speak only
with the trees and hear the stream running,
the birds calling. There is room for love
and aloneness beneath the green roof of the forest,
within the compass of the Forest God, and
my heart dreams of both blessings, to be
found resting in the god’s embrace.
O Forest God,
my head is empty,
my heart is heavy,
my hands are weak.
Sometimes I come to you
with nothing but my need
no gift to give
no credit but your kindness.
It is enough, you say.
The universe existed
before you; it will continue
after you. My forest is
a place of refuge. Rest.
He is a light in the darkest part of the forest.
He is a listening ear for those who have been silent.
He is shelter from severest weather.
He is the shepherd of those who are lost.
He is the hunter of those who hunt.
He is the judge of those who kill.
He takes from those who take heedlessly.
He gives back whatever is given.
O Forest God, be my shepherd and my shelter.
May I never take heedlessly or give wrongly.
May my heart and soul be as pure as
the uncut tree, the untamed beast, the untasted spring.
Let me not forget you, Forest God.
Let me not forget the scent of your skin and your pelt.
Let me not forget the taste of your mouth.
Let me not forget the feel of your fur under my hands,
your hands spread across my back, the warmth
of your body. Let me not forget the reality of this.
Let me not forget how you loved me, loved us,
we strange human creatures who came walking on two legs.
If we destroy ourselves, if our love and our art count for nothing,
let me at least not forget that I was human and you loved me.
Let me not forget that you, immortal deity, will remember.
You will remember the names of those who loved you
and the story of the two-legged animals who danced with you,
Learning how to be human, learning how to be gods.
If the world ends, he will still be here.
Gods are hard to kill, and he is one of the oldest.
He will still roam the forest that sometimes
sheds its leaves into this world, but has its roots
in another. He will still shepherd the wild things,
the fox and the wolf, the rabbit and the deer.
In the silence of a world without human voices,
he will remember how we sang. He likes to hear us
singing. His birds taught us our first songs.
But the Forest God would be much happier if we don’t
destroy the world, if we listen to the song he is still singing,
accompanied by bird and beast and leaf, the song that
rocked our cradle in the earliest of our memories,
a song about gods and humans, animals and plants,
mushrooms and mysteries dancing all together,
the angels dancing, too, and the faeries, and
our ancestors, and our children, and all the stars
and planets, all of us in the eternal spiral dance
that will still go on, only poorer for our absence,
if we try to destroy the world and destroy ourselves.
Let the healing come from the forest.
Let the healing come from the shade of trees.
Let the healing come from the shafts of sunlight
interwoven with shadows.
Let the healing come from decay underfoot.
Let the healing come from the tracks and the scat
of small animals. Let it come from the nests of birds.
Let the healing come from the moss and the lichen,
from the ivy and the fungus, from the spring and the stream.
Let the healing come from the Forest God.
Let it come from the touch of his fingers.
Let it come from the song of his voice.
Let it come from the shadow of his antlers.
Let it come from his hoofprints in the earth.
Let it come from his embrace, from the clasp
of his hand in the dance. Let it come from
the ancient father. Let the healing come to us.
From him to us, from us to one another,
from each to all, from all people to the world,
let the healing come, let the healing come,
from the forest let the healing come.
The Forest God prowls through my dreams,
sometimes a deer, sometimes a man. He haunts
our Western Civilization, showing up unwanted,
like the raccoon in the trash can, the coyote
in the back yard, the deer and the rabbits eating
the garden. He prowls through my dreams
and I turn over, remembering a time when
I was wild, a time before time, a life before
this one. When the towers fall, when the streets
are empty, when the cars no longer run,
when the rich are eating their money, he will
roam the land again, still as wild as ever,
calling to all of us to go feral and join him.
The Forest God raises his antlers, carries them
proudly on his head. His long hair curls uncut,
his beard sprouts mushrooms and flowers.
His manly arms are bare, his chest covered only
with swirls of hair, his nipples and his navel
on view. From hips to feet he is cervine, animal,
a beast with a tail, his phallus hidden in a sheath,
his feet cloven hooves that print the earth deep
and sharp. Yet in all of this he is one being,
the Forest God, far-seeing and of long memory,
and utterly without shame. Shame is foreign
to him, as to all gods and wild creatures; he is
gentle but never tame, and those who come
to him he undresses with deft and merciless
fingers, stripping their shame and cleansing
them that they may be as wild as he.