Inside the Forest of Enchantments:
When my suitcase and I slipped through the portal, into the Forest of Enchantments, we found ourselves in a glade and low and behold, there was a gingerbread house. Now I don’t know about you but I am too old a crone to fall for eating any of this house or going inside, uninvited. So I perched myself on the suitcase, who groaned and moaned a lot about my weight, and decided to wait till the occupant returned.
We waited and waited and waited some more. You could have literally blown me over with a feather when a witch came home after casting her power spells deep in the forest. She took one look at me and my suitcase and said “Hah! A refugee from planet earth”!
Now you have to understand, I have read the Baba Yaga story and I know to tread carefully when you meet people like this – especially when dusk is settling over the forest and you are sitting on a suitcase outside their house.
I figured that initially I would let my suitcase advise me about how best to introduce myself. Being a born comic the suitcase reminded me of the Gruen segment about ‘what would Putin do”? I gave the suitcase a withering look, but then a lightbulb flashed and I understood. I will whip out my deck and ask one of the Tarot cards to step up and offer some advice.
It was hard to keep my eyeballs in place when the Keeper of Visions, a shapeshifting wizard embodying ancient salmon wisdom responded. He understood my plight but only said “look below the surface” before vanishing again.
Challenging circumstances such as sitting on a strangers doorstep can be great teachers. It would be all too easy to make assumptions about this woman. There’s a whole complex world happening under surfaces, and if I am not wise I might not get a glimpse into what is on offer here. Perhaps if I scratch below the surface I will see more.
Before I could scratch my nose, let alone scratch the surface and gauge how this witch would react to my presence, the quiet mood of the forest shifted, subtly at first and then with increasing tension. It sounded like a goods train was approaching. The sound of the wind dancing in nearby treetops grew louder and louder and before I could blink the suitcase and I found ourselves being carried off by the Faery wind. As we swirled and flew across the treetops it reminded me of a hot air balloon ride I had in Cappadocia back in 2010. But my reverie was jolted as we landed by a seemingly abandoned home. I cannot deny that this was not the kind of virtual retreat I had in mind when I set out, and my suitcase was frantically rattling and shaking its wheels, eager to find a way to somewhere or someone more welcoming.
I was about to speak sternly and tell my suitcase to get a grip when it flew open and, with all the ceremony of a dramatic actor, produced a red cape and told me I needed to put it on now. My suitcase went on to wax lyrical and tell me the story of a young girl who, of her own volition, walked into a vast and fearsome forest wearing a crimson cloak to make herself visible.
I cannot deny that I was more than a little stunned by my suitcase’s capacity to draw on old fairy stories but complied and put on the cape. Moreover, I doubt that I need to tell you that I was beyond astonished when I realised that a great wolf had been watching us and that, given that I am seventy this year, I was now wearing a white dress and had clearly assumed the appearance of a young maiden.
The wolf came over, gently licked my hand and whispered that he would never betray my trust. I assured him that just as I have never tried to tame my beloved Finnish Lapphaunds, I would love him for his wild self and learn more about my wilder self.
My trip might have ended here and the magical wolf and I might have lived out our lives, together, but thanks to the witch who had actually orchestrated all of this, we both knew that my journey was just beginning. They might be easing lockdown in order to fire up the economy again, but the witch who I first met, the suitcase and I all knew we were not going back to the so called normal life in any hurry. I needed to keep moving on.
As I bid farewell to the wolf my suitcase drew my attention to the fact that a parliament of owls were zooming in towards us, giving a whole new meaning to the notion of ‘zooming’. It is well known, at least in some circles, that Owls do not carry trivial messages so we both jumped to attention. Things are certainly speeding up around here and I couldn’t help but wonder who has sent these tawny creatures.
Suitcase pokes me and shoves a crystal in my hand to gift the leader and show my gratitude. I do not recall packing crystals but decide that this is not the time to interrogate my suitcase about his sources. Clearly the suitcase is a quick thinker who knows about protocols in this part of the world.
The leader of the Owls accepts my gift and curtseys as if greeting a royal figure. He passes me a note from the Council of Animals inviting me to join their annual festivities in a nearby sacred glade. Suitcase and I look at one another in disbelief. “We would be honoured” I stutter touched that I am being welcomed to attend such a private ceremony.
Over the years I have been privileged to be in the audience and watch ceremonial dances in a number of countries but, after being isolated for so long nothing compares to sitting amid a gathering of forest folk watching the bears dance. It is a joyful experience and I am overwhelmed with emotion.
Suitcase observes tears welling and whips out a lace handkerchief for me but nothing can halt the flow of tears and my whole body convulses with emotion that I have so carefully controlled over recent months.
When I get home I will write a book about this place!
Seriously! When I get home again I really am going to have to write a book about being here in this Enchanted Forest. There I was, wiping tears away and gaining a modicum of self control when I became aware that a very odd fey spirit was sitting on my shoulder, rather noisily dithering, trying to decide whether to commit and connect with me.
“But what if ….? he muttered rather loudly. “What if you don’t hear me? Should I? What if I don’t say something and you make the wrong decision? Oh bother! I do hate making decisions.”
“What the ….” I stopped myself and refrained from finishing with a inappropriate expletive and looked to my suitcase for some advice. But suitcase wasn’t having any of it either. “All up to you” was all he said, as if he had not been actively involved in decision making since our arrival.
Clearly I am going to have to be decisive, make up my mind and commit to this adventure. So I promptly pulled out my iPhone, which still has wifi here and messaged another Tarot Traveller suggesting I publish her work. I do want to immerse myself in this world.
Suitcase and Indi spontaneously clapped and within moments all the Forest Folk were applauding loudly. “It really would be nice if something made sense for a change”