—Phil Rickman, The Remains of an Altar
I was a child who loved fairytales, stories where the landscape itself was magical.
I was also a literal child.
So in my woodland wanderings, I always kept my eyes open for the door in the tree. A real door in a real tree, with a stairway leading down into a world of magic.
I was disappointed every time I did not find them. Maybe they existed in the lands of my ancestors, where the tales were written. But this land has different tales, different magics...different doors.
Now I know that what I really sought was wonder. Magic and doors in trees seem to me now as metaphors for wonder.
Maybe "magic" is no more and no less than the earthly wonders that surround us...the songs the world sings to us all the time.
Maybe the landscape is alive and loves us. Maybe the land feels us loving it, and nurtures us with rain and sun and food and endless beauty in a great ouroboros, a Gaian feedback loop.
Maybe the door in the tree is whatever it is that opens our beings to wonder.
I think we're encouraged to embrace wonders in a book or a film, but to dismiss them, or even the possibility of them, when they are there right under our noses. We embrace a dualism that separates the magical and the mundane. We decide wonders aren't there, thus rendering them invisible to us. That is how powerful our minds and beliefs are...we can actually render reality invisible and our eyes will simply skip over what we've decided doesn't exist.
But how reborn we feel when we drop the intervening screens or beliefs or depression or whatever else has separated us from our birthright of wonder. Immense relief to find that we have not lost it forever as we feared, that the magic hasn't gone out of the world. It's been there all along, it is there every day, still. Do you feel that?
That there really is a door in the tree, and we possess the key that unlocks it.
Yesterday, my door in the tree was my first spring robin, pouring out his mating song in the morning sun from atop an evergreen tree.
What opens the door to wonder for you?
"…we are situated in the land in much the same way that characters are situated in a story…along with the other animals, the stones, the trees, and the clouds, we ourselves are characters within a huge story that is visibly unfolding all around us, participants within the vast imagination, or Dreaming, of the world."
—David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous
Photos of stick dwelling taken on the Mississippi River bluffs, November 2013. To see another stick dwelling I came upon on another Samhain, go here.