Woodland, whichever bit of it you happen to be in, is a magical place. This week I have been to Idsworth and the very ancient Markwells Wood. I went with a seasoned traveller of that strange place who led me through the yew, beech and pine to places which were so far off the beaten track that I arrived feeling like I had crossed into another dimension. What magic took place amid those trees is private, but it took a whole chunk of sorcery for me to get there in the first place.
I used to be a confident walker, but injuries and falls during my youth made me cautious for many years to take any step that might lead to another mishap. There’s nothing quite like a dislocated knee to discourage bold leaps across crags or even a walk down a gentle slope. All told, the walk through Markwells was about four miles of flinty, chalky and uneven woodland floor and brambly paths. Following on from a lot of private magical work, and some help from a splendid physiotherapist, I am beginning to make strides – pretty grand ones – into new territory. The ground I’m covering both physically and spiritually is very much the Fool’s energy. I am no longer afraid and instead trust my body to hold me up and take me where I need to go. There is a splendid fearlessness which goes with this card that appears to belong to the start of the deck, but in truth belongs everywhere and nowhere. Nowhere is off limits for the Fool.
Markwells Wood is so very clearly its own entity and so my stepping between the trees and across the strewn rocks could be seen as taking rather a liberty. In fact, with the Fool as your guide or perhaps inhabiting you, the very idea that anyone could own the land or the woods or the river strikes one as ludicrous. The Fool walks lightly across the ground, with a holy hope that he will be held and supported and welcomed by the spirits of place whose earth he treads on. The Fool believes that he won’t so much as turn his ankle even on the rockiest of surfaces.
Incidentally, it occurs to me that there is a conversation to be had about how the Fool might speak the words of Psalm 91 (echoed in Matthew 4 where Satan tempts Christ):
For he will command his angels, concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
But that, as they say, is probably another story!