Meeting a juniper in a Scottish winter storm
When you start a life story, it is difficult to identify the ‘right beginning'.’ In this series of short stories I want to focus on homecoming through nature connections. I decided to start dramatically, with a big storm in February 2020. With hail and winds that pin your face down to the barren landscape you’re walking! I am not the first one whose story about homecoming starts with a storm. Dorothy of Oz' story also started with her house being swept away by a big storm.
I wondered what Doroty was thinking as she wandered across the wide plains of Kansas. What was there before the storm came? Did she see the storm coming in all its colours, smells and sounds from afar? The energy crackled in the air. The chaos, darkness? Did she know then that a new story was in the making?
It was in the middle of February 2020. I was sitting nervously in the metro of a Japanese city, on my way to the airport. Every time someone was sneezing or coughing, my whole body tightened. Wuhan was already in lockdown. There were rumours that Japan could be the next COVID-19-epicenter. It has not been called a pandemic yet. I was nervous. The journey to Europe took a long time. I just wanted to be home on the continent I knew best. During the last flight, from London to Inverness, we flew through a storm.
In the Scottish Highlands, I met the Cailleagh. In many ways. Through the work of Sharon Blackie, I would learn afterwards about her, a divine hag, associated especially with storms and winter. This Celtic queen of winter is a mythological creature of the Scottish Highlands, land of rock and arctic conditions. The dark mythical principle from which all life arises, which nourishes all living things, and to which it returns, was represented by the Celts as an eternal cauldron. She continually stirs this cosmic cauldron so that everything arises and perishes again and again in an endless composting process. Perhaps that is why many western nature women, like me, were drawn to the stories of this land. I was looking for some medicine in that dark period, and had hoped to find that cauldron in Scotland.
The hag treated me and other participants who participated in a hiking course to a big storm, with winds reaching almost 100 km per hour. I got pinned to the crest of the hill by the fierce wind. I panicked, fearing I would fly away. The guide returned and guided me over this wind hole. Clearing of the west,' I heard later. Everything that had been uprooted had to go.
The next day, the guide took us into the valleys. Lots of uprooted trees between bunches of ferns and melting snow. The guide showed us a juniper. I picked a few twigs for tea. Later, I returned to the region in Belgium where I was born - and learned that there used to be a lot of junipers, but they had to make place for the mining industry and its needed pine trees. Projects try to reintroduce her, but without success. I did not know then, when I had a first date with a fallen juniper in Scotland, how much I shared with her story about the region that I had left.
© Ein_serieller_Rooter 2021-08-10
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