The Enigmatic Lady Of The Woods
As well as meeting for pub moots and online moots, this summer we have been regularly getting together for a walk through the countryside usually to a place of interest such as Sittingbourne Wooden Henge or more recently to The Lady Of The Woods Statue at Otterden and of course we usually find a nice pub for a refreshing beverage or two.
|An Idyllic Country Scene|
The lovely Jenny from Pagan Federation Disabilities team asked me if I would do a sort of audio blog about our latest escapade as part of the Pagan Federation Lammas Online Festival…so here it is! I had to wait a bit to publish this but luckily you don't get to hear my dulcet tones....
So this is the story of our quest to find The Lady of The Woods.
A few weekends ago our intrepid band of heroes and heroines, met at a lovely old Pub - The Harrow, high above Lenham on the North Downs and yet again put their slightly misplaced trust in my sense of direction…. I have a bit of a track record of getting lost as we know but hey, no one is perfect no hormonal ducks were present - if you discount myself and Maria.
Sensibly, this time I had done a quick recce, as parking near the site is scarce and I managed to find a couple of lay-bys near to where we were headed to save a ¾ of a mile hike there and then back on a very hot day.
Shading our cars under the cool leafy canopy of trees, we bravely sallied forth, armed only with water, a google map print out of the area and Dougal the dog.
Stopping briefly to gaze at the cornflower blue skies, dotted with fluffy white clouds and swaying fields of golden corn, we passed some slightly alarmed sheep who decided we were scary looking Pagans and fled as we headed up a somewhat uneven and rocky track way.
Looking for an elusive path on the right, we kept strolling along, the hedgerows a butterfly filled riot of springy cow parsley, pale dog roses, sunny dandelions and bobbing daisies. Several times we puzzled and swore over the map, changing direction and path, searching for this elusive Lady.
Dougal the dog was by now looking at us as if we were all quite mad.
Finally just when we were ready to admit defeat traipsing along a less travelled path , someone peered through a gap in the trees and excitedly shouted ‘She’s Here!’
Stepping out of the heat of the sun into the cool dark sanctuary of the wood was heavenly.
|The Lady Of The Woods|
There she was, the enigmatic Lady of the Woods.
An 8 feet tall oak carving of a woman, faceless, serenely still, her abundant swollen belly rounded with child, hands folded in prayer or offering, maybe even a plea.
Silently we stared up at her, the woods curiously silent and watchful. Her blank inscrutable face, guarding her secrets.
Who was she? Who had lovingly carved her smooth curves from the Oak tree that had once stood there? What did she represent?
Local folklore offers several theories – an epitaph to lost love crafted by a returning soldier during the Second World War or fashioned by a Polish airman stationed nearby, missing his far away wife and unborn child.
Or perhaps more mundanely a carpentry student who stumbled on this remote fallen oak tree in the 70’s and honed his remarkable skills in peaceful seclusion, leaving her to be an unexpected joy to passing walkers and hikers.
Whoever created her and for what reason, she is simply beautiful. Graceful, mysterious and unmistakably tender. Goddess, Mother, Saint, Madonna, Magdalene or someone’s lost love. Someone different to us all.
|A Beautifully Scented Smudgestick|
We lit a homemade smudge stick, blessing the woodland and earth around her, taking time to be thankful for the beauty and abundance that surrounded her, contemplating all the things that she may have stood for and had a few silent moments with our thoughts before leaving her an offering a small posy of herbs and flowers from my garden.
Rosemary for remembrance, Hyssop for purification, Jasmine for purity and grace and Lemon Balm for love, along with a feather that we had gleaned on our short but hot and dusty pilgrimage.
|A Small Offering|
Heading back to the pub, we all reflected on the quiet stillness of the wood, proposed theories about who she was and why she was there.
A silent, enigmatic and elusive Goddess in her woodland home, a simple reminder of the circle of life, the transience of life – death and of rebirth, symbolic of the mysteries we yearn to understand and witness. Many, many things to different people.
For us she was a beautiful mysterious epitome of a much-awaited harvest, of love and birth, of abundance and life.
I Hope You Had a Blessed Lammas