A Winter’s Tale… in Witch Wood

Winter’s darkest days. The Fox, hunted by men rendered small for her guile and left desperate by their outmanoeuvre, seeks her way to the ocean shore by which she might run free. Yet, her only path is through the forbidden forest of Witch Wood, of which the huntsmen horrify for its dark legends, so she might shake off the tyranny of Man’s reason, be and know her Nature own, and live as she was ordained.

Torches of rage blister behind her, the hounds are howling, the hunt is on, and she is running, fast as she can. But her scent guides her, to the ingress of the woodland, carpeted in Dried Leaves by the hand of Winter’s harsh cold, and flowers coated white by the snowflakes of the season saturnine.

First, her eyes adapt to the dark of the coppice ahead; then, upwards she looks, the stellar constellations shining so bright to urge her ahead, Black Stars and the dying ember of their lights discharging their final intent in the dusky sky above her, through millions of years and dark universes across. As if, for her.

Her paws tread softly on the charm of Winter Leafage wrapped in heather bouquets, nudging them for firm ground under this, her greatest run, until her poise is built for her race through the woods and through to the ocean she so loves. She must leave now, as the human despots set fire to the brush and the trees. And so, she runs, taking her chance through Witch Wood, her gallop and her soul at one within her decision to live - as she is, in all her beauty, and all her mindful whiles.

Her hastened trot carries her deep into the woods, losing well her persecutors, now increasingly muffled, distant echoes of their defeat ringing as archetypal human impotence, but no less threatening theretofore. She halts, briefly, to snuffle the strobili, her sensitive nose bearing knowledge from the conifer’s ovoid scales. Her intuitive knowledge of the seeds of life within the Pinecones serves to drive her forward, a benediction to her senses.

And then, she falls across the Mushrooms - and no ordinary mushrooms these. To the wonder in her gentle eyes and sensuous nose, it’s as if fields elysian stocked with them before her unfold, unchaining colours and perfumes unknown, even to her keen, trained senses. Proliferating, burgeoning, swelling, thriving... flourishing.

Thus stirred, she finds herself in a clearing, amid the shadows of the ancient trees, their wavering limbs in the wind now friendly and protective like watchful seers, no longer threateningly tenebrous against the pale moonlight. Almost as if by magic, the gusts and gales of the Winter winds endear the branches to withdraw, to reveal the Little Moon above shining down, knowingly, upon the Fox, and lighting her forest path ahead. As if commanding her onward to the ocean she so desires to run along. 

The Fox is caressed by passions unknown, even to herself and her elaborate lupine repertoire of knowing Nature far better than Man, her tormentor, ever could. She has come so far now, and her pursuers are so far behind now, utterly lost in Witch Wood, attempting to set it all ablaze, but Witch Wood is stubbornly dry. The wise old trees resist, and now regroup their branches as the gusts subside, obscuring malevolent vision entirely, and concealing the moon from illuminating the predations of man. The Fox can almost taste the freedom. As she follows the path revealed by the moonlight above to her alone, she is accosted by a fluster of lepidopteran visitors, night butterflies of the Moth order drawn to the fire, flame, and light now erupting from within her.

She is almost there. The Fox comes to an inlet fjord, wherein she looks, and sees her own vision within reflected back at her, in perfect clarity. She has a moment of anguish, as if she is seeing a Ghost, draped in lapidary doubt. But she is merely seeing herself, transforming through the spillways of her soul. And then, she understands. Before her in the ripples reflected, finally, is the woman resplendent that she is, arising before her from her own watery image.

Along the shore, with the Ocean showing calm and mercy in its eye at the grace of who treads alongside her, walks the most elegant woman in perfect serenity. A witch, perchance; certainly, the wild wind threatens to thieve her hat, which she must make effort onto hold, as the Devil in the deep blue sea billows wild with his love evident for her. The augury of her whole journey through Witch Wood already feels like a distant dream.

But in her newfound freedom through all she has witnessed, she cares not. She barely espies the legend being written of her by a distant shadow on the pier.

No longer hunted, she walks in beauty. 


(Tale written by G.W.L)