Have you ever had one of those ‘something is going to happen’ moments?’ It’s the kind of feeling of ozone or ‘electric’ in the air as a distant storm approaches, a good but also slightly unnerving feel of anticipation, an impending unknown. I hope so, for then you can relate to how I felt last evening.
‘The greatest storms on our Earth break not in nature but in our minds!’ Mehmet Murat ildan
Last evening as I sat in the living room of my oh-so-cosy humble cottage – Tŷ Gwyn (meaning, the ‘white house) -in north Wales, I had read two chapters of a most interesting book, and that was enough, and as their was nothing on tv, I sat there, a little listlessly.
A ‘call’ to get some exercise or at least leave the confines of the cottage beckoned from deep within. The more I sat there, the more this feeling grew to become an almost tangle ennui, a fidget, an unmistakable itch that just wouldn’t go away until I moved.
Deep within a voice spoke, and as if it were a memory, I was seemingly going to expect three words of wisdom, or three encounters, or three somethings. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and I wasn’t even sure where that thought had originated.
And so I moved.
Sometimes you just have to face what is coming. Sometimes we have a choice; sometimes we don’t.
Tonight, I had a choice, but deep within my soul there was a good-unease, a ‘call’ that just would not go away, and so, as comfortable as I was, I wanted to put myself in the path of what was coming.
‘Uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life. Security is an insipid thing.’ William Congreve
Moving to the back door located in a small boot room, off the kitchen, I donned my outer gear, including my trusted wellington boots, and headed for the garden with a flashlight in hand. It was a cold, damp, and foggy out there, and the wind howled in the distance like a wailing bansidhe (pronounced ‘ban-shee’). It was about 10pm.
Walking down toward the bottom of the garden it grew darker, colder, more damp, and the fog grew thicker, freezing fog, causing visibility to drop from thirty feet to about ten feet. Just before the boundary of my garden the forest, wonderfully, encroaches, hiding a small rivulet. To me, this ‘watery companion’ is: Bach ac yn gyflym. <For more details from a previous article, see here>
Jumping over the rivulet, the forest become thicker, and technically I was now on the edge of Clackitt’s wood – my favourite local place an ancient and wild place, the haunt of yesteryear of Celts, Druids, Pagans and others, and latter-day ones, too; and a place full of mystery, full of ‘magick’.
I continued walking for many minutes, before spying the felled tree that always makes for a seat to ponder. I sat on it, and pondered. The fog was even thicker here, the temperature dropped, and my levels of expectancy rose. I had the feeling that I was supposed to just wait, and as I grew into that thought, so a calm and powerful peace came over me, a warm glow enveloping me, almost like being bathed in warm milk and honey. Tranquillity
Have you ever had that ‘remain-at-peace-whatever-happens’ feeling?
I waited, and waited , and waited, and it grew darker, colder, more damp, and the quietness of this ancient place was both comforting and unnerving. I waited, some more.
About an hour past when I heard footsteps in the distance coming my way. My heart rate quickened, until a dog appeared, and moments later its owner – a local farmer and friend appeared. here>
He is a ‘stout man’, ‘solid’ like a tree, but maybe carrying a few excess pounds (but, who isn’t?), semi-retired and with several sons who now do much of the farm work for him. <For more details from a previous article, see here>
He let out a muted grunt, presumably of surprise, as I shone the light on him, and then on me to allay his fears. Recognising each other, he came closer, and then sat beside me. We didn’t talk for a while, and later, only sporadically as we took in the solitude of the place. He is a man of few words.
‘You’re wrapped up warm, Tadhg. So much so it looks as though you’re going to be here all night’, the farmer-friend said, as he got up to leave. ‘I could well be’, I replied. My farmer-friend called his dog to heel, turned to me and said, ‘Wise, Tadhg. Ne’er cast a clout ’till May be out’, and he left as we said our respective goodbyes, and I was once more alone.
It occurred to me that we often dismiss old adages and wise sayings, and yet the ancients, the Celts, Druids and others knew things, especially about the seasons, that we often belittle or are unware of. Do you feel there is room for you (and myself included) to grow into this knowledge.
Was this the first encounter? Study and take to heart the wise words of the ancients!
My farmer-friends words echoed in my mind. He was right: ne’er cast a clout ’till May be out’. Stayed wrapped up warm until the May blossom comes about. How often had I recited that, but never really though it through. In the solitude of Clackitt’s wood I thought long on hard on that saying. Wise words indeed.
My thoughts were interrupted, by the sound of fast-paced footsteps coming my way, accompanied with a rhythmic, deep and fast breathing sound as though someone or something was running fast, and the sound was getting louder, so it was coming my way. Once again my heart quickened. So unexpected was this sound – which seemed frantic and distinctly ‘odd’ and out-of-place, that I instinctively found my right hand had grasped a branch that was on the forest floor – it was about three feet long, and a solid, and dense, about three inches thick, and heavy.
A minute later the running, noisy steps stopped. Whoever it was, whatever it was, was now at the edge of the small clearing – I was sitting in the middle of, say a twenty foot clearing – but the deep, heavy, laboured breathing sound continued. Whoever it was stepped forward, turned to face me, and a forehead-flashlight shone in my direction. I aimed my torch back.
‘Ben?’, I said, rather hesitantly, but in a way as to not display any timidity. And, as this person stepped forward, I was relieved to see that it was indeed him – a good friend of mine was Ben. And here he was doing some kind of forest jogging.
‘Tadhg?, he replied, expressing some surprise, and using a couple of expletives peppered thought his sentence.
He, too, sat down beside me, on the felled tree, extended his hand for a handshake, and I responded in a similar fashion. One thing I should mention about Ben is that this young guy is super-fit, an immensely muscular man, a ‘gym-rat’, with great strength (witnessed by me as he works on a local farm), and he wrestles; and he could fell Superman, Batman, Tarzan and an assortment of superheroes, I do believe. Why, in his current running gear he even looked the part! <For more details from a previous article, see here>
And, to make me feel (even more) unfit, as I shook his hand, his hand was powerful, determined and huge compared to mine. If I had an out-of-control ego it would now be reeling from a bruising.
We talked, but not before he spied the branch that I was letting slip onto the forest floor, which he grabbed, perhaps knowing this was my impromptu ‘weapon’ when I didn’t know if he was a stranger or a forest wild beast.
Now I felt not just unfit but puny, as he put the middle of the branch against one of his brawny knees, as he sat, and grabbed either end of the branch with his hands, and pulled it towards him, with a huge amount of effort. With a deep, determined, prolonged grunt, a flexing of huge biceps, the branch broke into two, with a loud crack.
He laughed. I laughed for different reasons – remembering that after I had thrashed this guy at a game of chess, recently, he has invited me to ‘hit the mats’ and face him at his sport: wrestling! Friedrich Nietzsche once said that, ‘That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.’ but I don’t think Nietzsche was thinking of wrestling a brute of a man, like the one that sat next to me.
We talked some more, and then we said our goodbyes as he continued his keep-fit jogging regime he had talked about, but not before another almost-debilitating handshake from him.
He left. I was again alone. And my thoughts raced. What was the lesson here. I knew the answer.
It occurred to me that we can become so spiritually-mind, and/or so busy doing all manner of ‘good’ things, that we can neglect physical fitness, and I had. I need a regular fitness regime. The second encounter? Keep-fit encouragement: balance!
Okay, I wasn’t going to get as fit as Ben, and wouldn’t want to, otherwise he might think I was doing it in anticipation of accepting his wrestling challenge. I consider myself a tough guy – fairly tough guy, tough-ish – but I’m not foolish.
But, it is easy to ignore our own, personal, physical fitness and aim to be ‘super spiritual’. But, I see that imbalance as an error, and I now knew this encounter with ‘superman’ Ben was an encouragement to get fit and stay fit. But, does this apply to you? Do you have an appropriate and balanced fitness regime?
‘Second by second you lose the opportunity to become the person you want to be. Take charge of your life.’ Greg Plitt
My thoughts were then interrupted by a brilliant bright yellow-green light, visible some 200 feet away through dense forest.
The mysterious light had piqued my interest, and once again my heart rate quickened. I sat there watching it. It made no noise. It never seemed to move. After about fifteen minutes of sitting there, wondering what it could be and not drawing any logical conclusion, I got to my feet and slowly moved towards the direction of the light.
The air was colder than ever, the fog masked the exact location of the light until I got to within about fifty feet of it. At about forty feet from it – and the light source seemed about eight foot wide – it went out! No sound! No light. I stopped. After a few minutes I carried on walking, gauging my steps so that I’d have a rough idea of walking some forty feet. After forty feet, I stopped. I must have been right on top of the light source, and for the next few minutes looked around for evidence of what had caused the bright light – but I could see nothing untoward. A mystery.
As I stood there, and wondered: Maybe, it had been pure imagination, a product of a waking dream or something else. Maybe it had been a ‘will o the wisp’, gas emissions that hover over lakes in summer when the evenings and nights are warm and are ignited into a glow. But, there was no lake here, and it was cold, and there was no smell of methane. Maybe it was….? I had no idea, and yet even as that mystery ambled around my mind, I experienced a deep calm in that place. Extraordinary peace.
It occurred to me that sometimes we won’t know, and that life is going to be a mystery, and that we should enjoy that not-knowingness. A close encounter of the third kind? Revel in mystery!
I walked back to Tŷ Gwyn wondering what the light in Clackitt’s wood could have been. Any ideas?
Having removed my outer gear when I got home, I slumped onto the sofa, and recounted the three encounters and what they meant. I also considered the fact that had I been to lazy, too busy, or too spiritually-minded that I might never had left the cottage and ventured forth on a foul evening into Clackitt’s wood – that ancient and wild place, full of mystery, full of ‘magick’
What might we be missing in life? If you had three encounters today or tomorrow (and you might), what three things would they ‘say’ to you? What do you think?