The Return of the Woodswomen

Art by Rob Schouten

It was a sunny day in February and a blanket of snow enveloped the land. Looking up at blue skies, I felt free. I, woman, alone in the wild, belonging to no one and without any plans other than the simple joy of wandering the woods. The feeling was like a quivering pocket of stormwind in my chest – thrilling, and yet terrifying. What would the future bring? Where was I headed? I had no idea, but sometimes life has plans for you and you just have to let them happen. 
Suddenly I heard words whispering on the breeze. There was a time long ago when women could be seen in the woods… 
Bewildered, I turned around, trying to search for the source of the mysterious voice. The sleeping, snow-clad landscape peered back at me, giving no clues. Listening, the story continued of its own accord, and I continued to listen to the story of the woodswomen… you could find women mossy green and earthy brown, dark as the night and pale as the moon… It was like tuning in to a radio station. All I had to do was listen. And after the story was finished, I ran back home and wrote it all down. 
The story fell onto the pages before me like a magic dream brought to life. Was it real? I could hold the story in my hands and yet I could not explain where the story had come from. I certainly hadn’t made it up! I was just listening.
The story of the woodswomen told of a time long ago when women lived in the woods. They were women of great wisdom; strong and proud like great grandmother trees with roots flowing deep into the earth. The woodswomen were gifted storytellers, singers, weavers and healers. They knew much about the earth, the trees and all the wild animals. They knew about herbs and medicine, and the changing ways of the seasons, the sun and the moon. The people in the towns often went to the woods in search of the woodswomen’s services and they had great respect for the woodswomen’s knowledge, but in time, the townsfolk became blind to the ways of the wild. 
For a long time the woodswomen were forgotten and vast stretches of forest were massacred. Townsfolk destroyed the homes of the forestfolk in a blind and terrible rage, stomping down upon the little folk without any care, tearing down trees as though deaf to their screams. The woodswomen sang and called out to the townsfolk, to the wee babes who they had once held in their arms and sang songs to, the babes who had grown up and grown blind to the ways of the woods. The townsfolk would not listen. It was as if a strange sickness had turned the townsfolk blind, deaf and unfeeling. Horrified, the woodswomen and the forestfolk left, retreating deep into hidden sanctuaries and passageways of old, known only to those with their wild senses intact.
They say that if you go in the woods real quiet, and listen real closely, then you can still hear that weeping song of the woodswomen. And the story of the woodswomen says that their song is calling louder and stronger than ever before... the woodswomen are returning... 
And ever since that day in the woods, when I first heard the story of the woodswomen, I have been collecting stories and songs in all sorts of places. The waterfall has songs to sing if only you would listen. Stories can be found hanging in trees and flying in the autumn breeze. And wherever I go I find woodswomen and woodsmen returning to the woods. Women and men returning to their roots and awakening to the whispering songs of the earth. 
Who are the woodswomen?
Have you seen them in the woods?
Have you seen them in the city looking all out of place?
The woodswomen are home in the woods, the valleys, the mountains and all the wild places of Mother Earth. They are alive in you and me. They are present in your laughter, your singing in the shower, dancing in the rain, howling at the moon, bathing in the sunlight, running barefoot in the grass and wandering the woods. They are calling both women and men back to the wild.
The woodswomen are kin with wild woman, wild man, the wild one within. She, the whisper in your ear, pulling you that way, that way. She, the untamed spark hidden within you, waiting warm for the faintest breathe of life to release her into the world. She, master weaver of your most magical dreams, the ones you have kept safe and secret ever since you were child and wondered what if? 
The wild one has been constrained, clipped and tamed, shunned and burnt to ashes – but still she lives on and she rises from the ashes stronger, wiser and bolder than ever before. She is alive, do you hear? Even if you can’t remember the last time you heard her voice. Even if you can’t remember the songs she used to sing. She will wait and she will grow back again even in the driest of deserts. She lives on. 
The woodswomen and woodsmen are returning the woods and their songs are calling us back to Mother Earth. The woodsfolk are our ancient foremothers and forefathers. Come home, come home, come home!  – they call. 
Can you hear them? 
Will you listen?

Read the story of The Woodswomen here 


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