I went back. I climbed the mountain, I walked through the tall grass. I breathed hard and filled my lungs with forest air and birdsong. I sat under the trees and dug my toes into wet clay. I danced, and I tranced, and I drummed by the fire. I took us deeper, deeper, away from this place. I guided us down into the earth, to the Ancestors Cave. I died and was reborn. I lived. I felt life return to my flesh, I felt vibrant and whole. I felt my feet take step after step down the path to which I've been called.

Return, the Spirits whispered. Return, croaked the bullfrogs in the night. Return, sang the birds by the pond. Return, said the fire dancing high. Return, cried the bowdrill in my hands. Return, said the wind in the trees. Return, called the Ancestors in the moonlight.

I walked in this world and the Otherworld, always walking the line between waking and dreaming, riding the hedge day in and day out. I fell asleep to the moon and woke to the sun, I danced with the Spirits and sang with the Village, raising energy with the others for hours, filling the land with our love and our offerings. I slept by the fire with friends curled against me, the fire at our heads and the darkness at our feet and the safety of our bodies at our backs and dreamed bullfrog dreams. I Returned.

Then with hearts heavy and arms letting go, we packed up our camps and we parted ways. And as I drove away I could feel a cloud descending, a heaviness settle back over my bones, a weariness return to my heart. And though my mind had found peace from the anger and worry that was my day-to-day, I could now feel it gradually returning with the fatigue and the weight of being surrounded by everything man-made and not of this earth. Five days spent in direct communion with the land, the energy coming up through my feet night and day giving me life restored, now disconnected and replaced with the constant, grating hum of electricity.

So I sit, with one thought in my mind. Return. Return to the mountains and the forests. Return to the land, let it hold me. Return to the river and stones older than time. Find a place to call home, a place to build our home from the mud of the earth, a place to be free and wild and a place to heal-- a place to bring others home again, to live again. To Return.

Je suis une femme de la forêt.

I am a forest woman.

All Photos & Text Copyright FemmedelaForet / Aileen "Juniper Wren" Peterson 2017

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