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wihaz [userpic]

Through the woods came walking...

November 8th, 2007 (02:14 am)

A close encounter with Jungian collective unconscious, from my visit to San Francisco in general, and the Golden Gate Park in particular.

(The photos were taken by me)

Don't laugh at me now, fellow hikers who have the time to make outings every weekend, or seasoned travelers who have seen far more of this country than I have to date (eleven states in as many years, not too shabby for me). Hungry as I may be for some "real" wilderness for a change, it is rather the internal condition that predisposes one to see what one sees, for experience and sight are purely subjective... What one experiences, then, (especially if this experience is moving and profound), is the result of certain internal forces that seek a way towards external expression of themselves, by bonding to the experience and infusing it with this internal and power... heretofore unknown, unheard of - and yet it was there all along, somewhere deep within.

My tongue hardly even turns to call that coastal territory a park: compared to some parks in the Midwest, the Golden Gate Park is a true forest by all measures. Its comparatively recent origin - it has been in existence for a little more than a century - does not detract from the natural and very organic sense of wonder... You just have to know the right spots, remote and desolate, satisfyingly far away from any hints of modernity, and such spots here are too many to count, thanks to the scope of this territory.

For all the areas in the world that are irrevocably lost to urbanization, it was very gratifying and humbling to experience the reverse... Man inviting the trees back, to reign along the coastline, and seceding territory to them to establish a micro-wilderness on their own terms. I say "on their own terms", because of all the parks I've seen so far in the states, this one appears to be the least interfered with; it is not the park authorities who are in control here, but the green world is left alone to set its own standards, and its human sustainers reverently comply... Less of a park, and more of a forest autonomy. It grows where it pleases. In the total sum of my walks on its territory, I have not even seen one hint of human garbage on the ground. A subliminal, almost involuntary response from the ages long gone: the unspoken terror of the trees...

The branch of tree lore in the folk oral tradition is as rich as any other. The landscapes of old were literally teeming with life - and not just the animals, who ran through the woods in much greater abundance than now, but the land-wights and huldra-folk and álfar, who infused their forest- and country-dwellings with a certain unmistakable presence and life force... But the trees are said to be the most ancient earth beings of all. Consider Ask and Embla, the proto-father and proto-mother of humanity. And consider Yggdrasil itself, the primordial gallows and branching gateways into mysteries that cannot be uttered...

The trunks are so akin to human bodies - the skin-like bark, the firm roots that dig down and protrude like veins and sinews, the lifeblood of sap. And when they die and decompose, the bare gnawed wood of their broken branches is exposed bone. At the very bottom of the almost involuntary forest reverence that engulfs any observer in such places, is it not the subconscious realization of this similarity, of the trees being the more primordial forms of human shapes?
As if there was a fragment of ourselves in them - the rawest and the most primal fragment that still deeply roots us to the primordial Ur-energies of the earth.

The towering tree trunk that has made such an impression on me in the "botanical garden" (more like a forest in its own right, with diverse trees free to grow alongside each other as they please) belonged to Sequoia, the species more famously known as Redwood. For all the scientific facts that have tried to dissipate the Heathen mentality in the past, it seems that they only affirm it now... My kind host and friend who offered me lodging for the duration of my entire stay told me how these Sequoia trees reproduce. Their cones can open up and release the seeds only under intense heat, the temperature that in their climate is unreachable by natural means. When it it time to reproduce, the tree draws lightning from the sky and conducts it through its trunk... A fire is sparked aflame, and the cones fall and open, releasing and planting the seeds. As the surrounding area burns down, the core of the tree trunk survives the fire and provides the necessary nutrients for the new seedlings to grow and thrive. I have heard of early settlers' attempts to prevent wild forest fires in the region a long time ago, but the end result was that there were fewer Sequoia trees growing there decades after than there were with fires... And they say that trees don't have a mind of their own. The tree's decisive relationship with lightning is enough to wake anybody up.

The great predominance of pine trees on this territory gave it a very Baltic feel, and the crisp aroma of pine needles was everywhere in the wind. The cones were sticking to the branches from all sides - branches often bare, skeletal, twiggy, and fragile for the lack of steady sunlight on the lower strata of plants, all due to the thick perennial greenery above. Suddenly, amidst these smells, these sounds, these strange and captivating dancing lights among the heaving branches - all in one great conglomeration of senses - I get a clear glimpse of the primeval Northern woods...

Jung wrote that sensory memory is a very peculiar thing. Every sensory experience that is moving/significant enough to resonate within, actually carries with it a sting of earlier subjective feelings that you experienced in the similar situation before. It happens instantaneously, before the conscious mind fully registers what's going on - but the sensory association is already there, lending your present experience an even greater power. Sometimes you remember what it was that just floated before your eyes, and sometimes you don't... Maybe it never even happened to you before in your life, and yet there comes a sudden moment of clarity when you can glimpse through the rich interwoven tapestry spun by the Norns, into history's deluge of intertwined experiences and fates of those that came long before you - but who came from the same source and from the same earth as you, eating the same bread and drinking the same water as you - and with that deepest and barely audible aspect of yourself you can see what they saw, and feel what they felt, as if it was you who experienced it before the dawn of time, not them... as if you and them are one.

Those are the barely registrable stirrings of the collective unconscious that Jung referred to, of the Folk-soul itself.
The ancestral memory is stored within each person, and even though one weren't there, there are things that can still trigger that memory inside. Archetypes, timeless signs of the truths and powers that never lose their meaning, stirring under the surface and ready to awake in every generation.

What can possibly be in common between San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and the Russian northwest where I grew up?

And still, North is North... it is true that even here there are woods that have been left untouched, and their primordial power can still be felt. It is more of an internal condition, I reckon: once aware of that power, you can see and feel it in any northern climate... In well-nigh any climate, period, were you but to sense an unexpected northern wind, carrying with it a sudden micro-recollection of das Wilde Jagd, of the swinging gallows-brahcnes of Ygg...
A glimpse of Hyperborea.


Nobody really pays much heed to the forest's ground whereon they tread, but it is covered in needles, and only scant patches of needle-thin forest grass - the only grass that can grow in these semi-dark areas, where the trees partially blot out the sun... The fallen dry branches are scattered about like bones, gnawed white and sometimes to the marrow, from hunger. Everything falls where it wants to fall, and it stays there until it rots. Some decaying tree trunks still partially protruding from the ground, others laying where they fell, softened damp wood cracking and splintering, harboring a sleeping array of insects that will swarm if disturbed - which will likely never happen, given the wilderness and desolation of this location. You can see those fallen tree rib-cages in some of the photos...
And the heap of sticks and cones over a fallen trunk overgrown by grass (my hands trembled as I photographed it, and I know just why) - it must have been there for years and years, just as it fell, with no one to meddle with it. Nobody would dare to... What radiated from this space as I approached is too intense for my words even now as I look back to the experience. The Stead of rune-might...

I have found a trail whereon I came upon several places that reminded me of the Russian wilderness. The effect was intensified by the sinking sun, whose slowly dimming rays lingered in the tall branches - the trees stood immersed in these golden flames for a timeless eternity, it seemed, until the heavenly ambers caught in their leaves began to fade, and the shadows crept ominously from the ground up as the solar disc disappeared beyond the wooded horizon. A certain breeze was blowing all this time, yet I paid no attention to it until this very instant: with sunlight vanishing, the breeze grew noticeably colder, and the brief forest clearing was transformed into a very different scene altogether...

The more my vision was obscured by thickening twilight, the more I could hear the strange little forest sounds that go unnoticed by day... The rustling of the leaves, under such circumstances, lose all of their poetic lyricism and fade instead into a raspy whisper, hushed and hollow, in broken choruses here and there.
I could hear a pine cone drop somewhere not too far, the wind twisting the already drying stem of the pod just barely out of shape to fall under its own weight...
...and the strewn pine needles on the ground muffling its clunky landing.

The field before me was suddenly expanding, opening up...
Everything was breathing, everything was alive.

And everything was awake.

With creeping darkness comes an involuntary sharpening of the senses - a preservation instinct overtakes my day consciousness, and I can feel myself pulsing with that raw, primal energy of the earth... as if those centuries, the last millennium, did not exist... did not separate me from That which came before. As I breathe in this new sensory, shamanic hyper-awareness, I realize that the umbilical cord has never been cut after all.

wihaz [userpic]


October 20th, 2007 (02:06 am)

Comment below with your reason to be added.

wihaz [userpic]


September 12th, 2006 (07:31 pm)
listening to: Steve McDonald - Sons of Somerled

Сумерки. Ливень.
Отблески огня на мокром асфальте... я еду по раскаленному до бела лезвию.

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