Whilst walking through Tehidy Woods in Cornwall, my partner and I turned a corner to come face to face with a Man of the Trees. He was 9 feet tall, hunched over. He had horns on his head and a long beard and a mane for hair. He looked like a cross between a tree, man and a stag. His body was made up of the fallen branches of an oak tree. However as we walked a step closer he disappeared, and then I stepped back and he reappeared. His form was not just made up of the branches but the shadows which they cast. If we had not stopped at that exact moment we would not have seen him. We both looked at each other in amazement we felt like we had been blessed by the wild man of the forest.
The Ents were sentient, humanoid beings created at the request of Yavanna to protect the trees. Ents were tall creatures like humanoid trees with very thick skin resembling tree bark. They resembled the trees that they shepherded. An individual Ent more or less resembled the specific species of tree that they typically guarded or honoured, to the point of the personality one might expect from that tree.
The Ent and the Ent Wife
When spring unfolds the beechen-leaf and sap is in the bough,
When light is on the wild-wood stream, and wind is on the brow,
When stride is long, and breath is deep, and keen the mountain air,
Come back to me! Come back to me, and say my land is fair!
When Spring is come to garth and field, and corn is in the blade,
When blossom like a shining snow is on the orchard laid,
When sun and shower upon the earth with fragrance fill the air,
I’ll linger here, and will not come, because my land is fair!
When Summer lies upon the world, and in a noon of gold
Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold,
When woodland halls are green and cool, and wind is in the West,
Come back to me! Come back to me, and say my land is best!
When Summer warms the hanging fruit and burns the berry brown;
When straw is gold, and ear is white, and harvest comes to town;
When honey spills, and apple swells, though wind be in the West,
I’ll linger here beneath the Sun, because my land is best!
When Winter comes, the winter wild that hill and wood shall slay;
When trees shall fall and starless night devour the sunless day;
When wind is in the deadly East, then in the bitter rain
I’ll look for thee, and call to thee; I’ll come to thee again!
When Winter comes, and singing ends; when darkness falls at last;
When broken is the barren bough, and light and labour past;
I’ll look for thee, and wait for thee, until we meet again:
Together we will take the road beneath the bitter rain!
Together we will take the road that leads into the West,
And far away will find a land where both our hearts may rest.
Not all tree spirits are positive, there are those who simply do not want you in their woods. I lived down the road from a privately owned woods in Lelant, Cornwall, which I had never visited. I thought people were not allowed in because it was privately owned, as I had never seen anyone there walking their dog. After some enquiry to the locals I discovered that the owner did not mind if people walked there, so I decided to walk my dog. It was a beautiful wood and I was puzzled as to why no one walked there. On my second visit I found out why. The whole time I was walking around the woods I felt watched but not in a good way. By the end of a twenty minute walk I had got myself into such a jumpy state, I left running to my car. Even though my intuition was telling me not to go to the woods, there was some other part of me that was lulled there. Again the feeling of being watched, but this time out of the corner of my eye I could see the person watching me. They showed themselves as a short old woman in a raincoat and a skirt. I would see her looking at me from behind a tree, but the moment I tried to look at her head on, she would flash from one tree to another and be gone. At first I thought to myself that maybe she was a ghost. I tried to ignore her and enjoy my walk, however I must confess the fear was rising in my body. Once again I hurried back to my car and I was relieved to leave the woods.
You could call me stubborn, or simply foolish, but the lure to the woods was strong and once again I returned. Once again the feeling of being watched, but this time instead of an old grandmother, I was beginning to see this being in its real true form. It looked like it was made of a black shadow, and it was in the shape of a humanoid body. It had very long arms and legs and it seem to scurry rather than walk. The moment I saw it out of the corner of my eye, it would flash from one tree to another and then be gone. I tracked it jump from one tree to another, over ten of them, before it disappeared from my view.
I did not return to the woods for a few weeks, however one day when it was pouring with rain, I thought to myself that I would go into the woods, as it would be the most sheltered place to walk my dog, and no matter what this thing was in the woods, I was not going to let it put me off. My dog and I walked into the woods and for some unknown reason I decided I would take a different path. My dog ran up ahead of me, and then all of a sudden she started shaking herself and prancing around. I had no idea why she was behaving in this way. But as I walked on I discovered why, she had disturbed a wasp’s nest, and she was being stung. She was not the only one, as I was now standing directly on top of the nest, and the wasps went up my trouser legs and stung me several times. Suffice to say Blazey (my dog), and I were terrified and ran from the woods. As I was just about to pass through the entrance to the woods, I heard a clear and distinct voice in my head say “get out of my Woods, do not return, because next time I will truly harm your dog”. Then in my head it flashed several images of my dog lying dead on the ground.
I did not return to the woods for several more weeks, however I could not get this being out of my head, I wanted to make friends with it I wanted to walk in the woods. So I built up the courage and I returned to the woods but this time I returned alone, I was not going to put Blazey in harm’s way. I took honey in a jar as I was going to give this a gift to this being. As I walked into the woods I suddenly felt this extreme feeling of dread. Straight away I could see the being jumping from one tree to another, and as he jumped a great flash of energy would go off. Each time this flash of energy occurred I jumped in my body and my heart rate began to rise. Flash, flash, flash, the being jumped from tree to tree, and then all of a sudden the being walked through me. It nearly stopped my heart I’ve never been so scared in all my life. I could almost hear it laughing. However I took a deep breath and I puffed out my chest and I said in a very loud voice, that I was there to make friends with him and that I meant it no harm and no matter what it tried to do to me, I was not going to leave the woods until we had resolved this.
I then began to sing an Elvin song that had been taught to me by the Elves of Belerion. As I sang the song I walked from tree to tree and I allowed some of the honey to dribble in beautiful patterns down the tree trunks. I could feel this being getting angrier and angrier, but I was not going to be put off I continued on my mission. Is had been a grey and dismal day, but as I completed my round of dribbling honey on the trees, the Sun came from behind the cloud, and it lit up the honey and the whole place look magical indeed. I could feel the trees responding to my gift, and I could also feel how the trees were communicating with this being. As I came to the last dribbles of the honey in the jar, I distinctly felt this being release and let go of its negativity, and as I did the sun came out once again from behind the cloud and lit up the entire wood in a golden light.
I promised this being that I would not harm anything in the woods, if it would allow me to walk there with my dog, and that as a gift in return I would collect and remove any litter that I came across. The being challenged me and told me that there was some litter that it wanted removed and until I did this it could not agree to my contract. It then led me deep into the woods making me walk in places where there were no paths, where the brambles were sharp and thick. Eventually we arrived at a pile of brambles and in the centre was a tyre. The being insisted that if I was going to keep my contract true that I would remove this tyre and take it home. I took the tyre from the pile of brambles ripping my hands to shreds, and then spent twenty minutes rolling what turned out to be the tyre of a tractor through the woods. The being followed me the whole way until I got back to my car. He told me that I was now welcome in his woods, and also my dog. I have since been back to this wood several times, in fact it is somewhere I often walk, but I have not felt the being since or felt any malice whatsoever. Sometimes I get the feeling I am being watched, and I imagine that it is this being but I cannot be sure. Suffice to say the woods is now a beautiful and pleasant place to visit.
Huldra (or called Tallemaja in Swedish) is a troll-like woman living in the woods. She is fair and beautiful, but wild and has a long cow-tail which she hides behind her back upon meeting a human. It is said that Adam and Eve had many children, and that one day, when Eve was giving her children a bath, God came to visit. Eve had not finished bathing all of her children, and so hid those who were still dirty. God asked: “Are there not more children?” and when Eve said no, God said: “Then let all that is hidden, remain hidden,” and the hidden children became De Underjordiske (the ones living underground), lost souls who live under the surface of the earth, calling for someone to be with them, usually human passers-by. Huldra was one of them, but she somehow remained above the ground. She is a flirtatious, young girl who is neither good nor evil.
Dryads and Oreads were the nymphs of trees, groves, woodlands and mountain forests. They were the spirits of the oaks and pines, poplar and ash, apple and laurel. For those known as Hamadryades, a tree was born with her birth to which her life was tied. While the tree flourished, so did its resident nymph, but when it died she passed away. The Meliai were nymphs of the ash-trees. They were born when Gaia was impregnated by the blood of the castrated Uranus, the Sky. They were wed by the men of the Silver Age, in the time before the first woman was created and from them mankind was descended. They were the wives of the Silver Race of Man and mothers of the Bronze, the third generation of mankind. They nursed their sons on the honey-sap (Greek meli) of the ash, and armed them with spears crafted from the wood of their trees (Greek melia). The Bronze were an overly warlike race who incurred the wrath of Zeus and were destroyed in the floods of the Great Deluge. The Meliai were the honey-nymph nurses of the god Zeus, Ida and Adrasteia. The manna (meli) of the ash and the honey (meli) of bees were both thought to be ambrosial foods rained down from the stars of heaven.
“Then the son [Kronos (Cronus)] from his ambush stretched forth his left hand and in his right took the great long sickle with jagged teeth, and swiftly lopped off his own father’s [Ouranos’ (Uranus’)] members and cast them away to fall behind him. And not vainly did they fall from his hand; for all the bloody drops that gushed forth Gaia (Gaea, the Earth) received, and as the seasons moved round she bare the strong Erinyes (Furies) and the great Gigantes (Giants) with gleaming armour and the Nymphai (Nymphs) whom they call Meliai (Meliae) all over the boundless earth.”
http://www.kristinfineart.com/my-storybook-sketches/ – “ The Ancient Tree Nymphs – These creatures differ slightly from their cousins the Wood Nymphs. They can uproot and re root when and wherever they please. This enables them to stay in one area for a great many years before uprooting to another location. Also unlike the Wood Nymphs, these beings are known to be extremely solitary and a bit of a nuisance to the forests that they inhabit. This is all because where ever they decide to root, they absorb most of the nutrients and water supply that that part of the earth provides. They will then move onto the next bit of oasis leaving the other helpless trees and plant life condemned to the fight for the scarce remains of his leftovers. When there is but one healthy tree amongst many lifeless trees, you can be sure that you are in the presence of a Tree Nymph.
The Female Wood Nymph – Extremely scarce and impeccably camouflaged, they will only be seen when so desired to be. Their extreme cunning abilities give them their infinite reputation of mischievously leading wondering travellers in circles unaware for days before finally allowing them to reach their destination. The older the nymphs, male or female, the greater their branch-like-crown matures and grows from their head. Eventually as they age, the females become permanently rooted to the ground and begin what is known as “The Great Bloom”. Dropping little seedlings from their branches they will then give birth to the next group of forest wood nymphs. These creatures are known to live thousands of years before this great phenomenon occurs and once they have successfully reproduced they will then go into a deep sleep, living as just a common tree until the end of their existence. You can be sure that most of the grandest trees we have today are the remains of the sleeping wood nymphs.
The Male Wood Nymph – Male Wood Nymphs are a lot less mischievous and mysterious than their female counterparts. They are mainly rulers and keepers of the forests they inhabit. Wise and extremely valued by their wisdom, many desperate men who knew of the Male Wood Nymphs existence would seek them out for their secrets and council about anything unknown. However, these creatures being very partial to their own kind and the reputation they held did not give up their secrets and knowledge freely, instead they required knowledge for knowledge and if they were unsatisfied by the information exchanged, let’s just say kindness and mercy were definitely not their trade.”
Once upon a time in the northern plains of Germany, there was an enormous lake surrounded by cool swampland that bordered a forest. The forest surrounding the swampland shut out all the sunlight. Few ever visited this place, but hundreds of creatures inhabited it. They were beautiful and gentle, and when the moon rose and cast a silver light over the forest, these creatures came to life and began to dance. The dancers were wood nymphs who lived in the trees during the day. For decades, these light, lovely beings enjoyed one another’s company, celebrating the beauty of this land. At night, they danced and sang, worshipping the sun and the moon.
As time passed, people began to appear. Soon those people began to chop down the trees, and the nightly gatherings became sad events. The nymphs wept over the loss of their hiding places. It wasn’t long before they learned a new kaiser had taken over the land. His army was building a town on the banks of the lake, and he had instructed the troops to drain the swamp and cut down all the trees, which would transform this wild, beautiful place. The woods grew more and more bare, and the circle of dancers grew smaller, until one day an old warrior received permission from the kaiser to finish clearing the land.
The warrior went to work, cutting down more and more trees. He tilled the soil and stripped everything bare until only three trees remained standing. The warrior was proud of himself. He had worked as hard as he knew how. The day was growing late, and when he looked at those last three trees — the tallest, thickest trees of all — he suddenly felt tired. “I think I’ll just rest here for a while before I tackle these,” he said, and he wrapped himself in a thick blanket and curled up beside a fire. A moment later, he fell fast asleep. When the warrior woke, he was amazed to see the moon was shining down on him and the sky dense with dazzling stars. He sat up and suddenly, beneath the thickest, tallest maple tree, he saw three beautiful maidens. Their eyes were filled with tears as they held each other, weeping.
The warrior rubbed his eyes. He was sure he was dreaming. “Our time has come,” one of the maidens wept. “Soon this man will cut down all our sisters.” “The nymphs of the lake will look for us, but we will all be gone,” the second maiden sighed. “My sad sisters,” said the third, “we must never let our sisters of the lake be harmed. We are the last of our kind. When we’re gone, our line will be extinct, but that is how it must be.” When the first maiden heard this, she let out a wail so long and loud, the warrior knew he was not dreaming. He leaned closer to hear her words. “I wish that we nymphs might live on, and if I could appear in person before this warrior, I would beg him to bless us with life.”
The second maiden shook her head. “We are visible to men only at night. By day they see only the trees we inhabit.” The warrior could not believe his ears, but he was beginning to understand what he was seeing and hearing. “Forgive me,” he said, standing and stepping closer to the maidens, “did I hear you correctly, or am I dreaming? Are you the wood nymphs?” The moment the maidens heard his voice, they vanished back inside their trees. The warrior just stood there. Now he saw only the morning mist drifting up from the grass. “I must have dreamed you,” he sighed, but a moment later he heard their voices, as clear as day, coming from the trees. “You are not dreaming,” the maidens said. “You have seen the last of the wood nymphs from these mountains. But if you protect us and spare these trees, we will be ever grateful and we will not be lost.”
The sun began to rise over the top of the mountains, and the voices grew silent. The warrior heard their last sighs beneath the whoosh of morning wind. For a while he simply stood there, staring at those tall, stately trees. His heart began to break, and looking around, he saw all that he had destroyed in this place. He imagined the wood nymphs who were lost, and he decided he would spend the rest of his life defending these trees. And so he did. On his deathbed, he said to his sons, “Never sell this land, and never cut down those trees.”
For a time, his sons listened, and the fields near those trees thrived. At night, when no one was looking, the maidens danced in the moonlight. They remained ever hopeful that their forest would be resurrected and their friends would return. But as the sons grew older, they knew they couldn’t take care of the land forever. They reluctantly decided to sell it. They eagerly told the new landowner the story of the wood nymphs, how they lit up the night with the dancing and their laughter. They cautioned him never to fell those last trees, for it would be the end of the wood nymphs.
Sadly, the new owner believed this was just a fable. He cut down those remaining trees, and the wood nymphs disappeared, never to dance in the moonlight again.
NB * This is an ongoing project , these are the first chapters more to come
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