In 2001 my retreat and haven from the heat and stress of a city was 3 hours south of New York on the east coast of the United States. There on sacred ground in the Alleghenies Mountains, set aside in perpetuity as a Sanctuary for Nature… and Her People, was the lasting home for Earth Based Spirituality, a home for Ceremony, Ritual and Celebration.
It was here that I sought shade on summers hottest days, by the river. With acceptance, I was called forward, and seduced by Her soft delicate leaves and branches, She greeted me, and I entered Her majesty there in the forest, surrounded by Her earthy protective canopy I skipped a breath in Her enchanting grove. Then like slowly moving back in time, I felt Her energy surround me, strong, determined, solar energy, yet with the gentleness of the moon. The heady balance was as tangible as the seasons, my nostrils filled by the woody calming scent of the Eastern Hemlock a sacred beautiful tree. One that had reached out and called me home to my inner forest. She towered proudly over all other trees as the gatekeeper of the faerie realm.
For she is the elven home, and in the darkness of night, no tree matches Hers, for the activity of the fae, dancing on the branches, what sights are beheld, a very different magick not seen here in our great southern land.
The hemlock tree flourishes, as do we if we are grounded in the richest of soils, our roots planted deeply in the shadows of the mysteries, illuminating the darkness, trancing the quiet, and continuing our unfoldment to the light.
The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinuviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her raiment glimmering.
There Beren came from mountains cold,
And lost he wandered under leaves,
And where the Elven-river rolled
He walked alone and sorrowing.
He peered between the hemlock-leaves
And saw in wonder flowers of gold
Upon her mantle and her sleeves,
And her hair like shadow following.
Enchantment healed his weary feet
That over hills were doomed to roam;
And forth he hastened, strong and fleet,
And grasped at moonbeams glistening.
Through woven woods in Elvenhome
She lightly fled on dancing feet,
And left him lonely still to roam
In the silent forest listening.
He heard there oft the flying sound
Of feet as light as linden-leaves,
Or music welling underground,
In hidden hollows quavering.
Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves,
And one by one with sighing sound
Whispering fell the beechen leaves
In the wintry woodland wavering.
He sought her ever, wandering far
Where leaves of years were thickly strewn,
By light of moon and ray of star
In frosty heavens shivering.
Her mantle glinted in the moon,
As on a hill-top high and far
She danced, and at her feet was strewn
A mist of silver quivering.
When winter passed, she came again,
And her song released the sudden spring,
Like rising lark, and falling rain,
And melting water-bubbling.
He saw the elven-flowers spring
About her feet, and healed again
He longed by her to dance and sing
Upon the grass untroubling.
Again she fled, but swift he came,
He called her by her elvish name;
And there she halted listening.
One moment stood she, and a spell,
His voice laid on her: Beren came,
And doom fell on Tinuviel
That in his arms lay glistening.
As Beren looked into her eyes
Within the shadows of her hair,
The trembling starlight of the skies
He saw there mirrored shimmering.
Tinuviel the elven-fair
Immortal maiden elven-wise,
About him cast her shadowy hair
And arms like silver glimmering.
Long was the way that fate them bore
O’er stony mountains cold and grey
Through halls of iron and darkling door
And woods of nightshade morrowless.
The Sundering Seas between them lay,
And yet at last they met once more,
And long ago they passed away
In the forest singing sorrowless.
This poem above is written by J.R.R. Tolkien and is titled “Tinuviel” though fiction, there is much truth between the lines as there are between the leaves, spend the evening with Her, be rewarded be wiser.
Photos and text copyright Astarte Earthwise 2020
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