Hedge Druidry | Quests | Spirits

Finding the Horns of the Stag

September 22, 2013

I know – a stag’s horns are usually called antlers. I am choosing to use the term ‘stag’s horns’ because those are the words that came to me when I asked for this next quest. “Horn” seems to have more resonance with concepts such as drinking vessels and therefore “grails” too. It makes my work feel more Like a Grail Quest than a Stag Party. This evening’s work began when I was considering where I might go to try to run like a stag. How does a stag run? Unhindered. Freely. Instinctively.

The obvious choice for such a run was my nearest large forest – Delamere in Cheshire. It was a cooler evening. The nights have been drawing in, getting darker sooner, and the temperature dropping accordingly. Nevertheless, on my way back from a fitness session in Manchester I made myself drive back through Delamere Forest. The light was already low as I parked in a convenient lay-by – one that I had parked in many times before. I knew where I was heading and why. I was going to visit The Father of the Forest – the spirit of Delamere – to seek his blessing in my next endeavour which was to Seek the Stag.

Seeking the stag was the instruction I had been given as my quest this turn of the year’s wheel. It had recently been revealed in a vision to be related to discovering the feeling of running freely through the forest, uninhibited, undaunted by obstacles. In the low light of early twilight which was descending quickly this seemed like a true test in these conditions.

Delamere Forest lake at sunset
Delamere Forest lake at sunset

In my sports gear I blended well with the last of the forest trail runners. They were better prepared than I was having torches, and heading out of the forest instead of in. I knew that the Father wasn’t far away, however. Working from memory (when was the last time I had sought him out – a couple of years ago?) I went off the main trail and into the undergrowth. I couldn’t find the usual trail and instead ended up hopping over young sharp bramble tendrils as they tried to snare and slice my exposed limbs. At the point where I was brought to a standstill by one offending strand I made a verbal exclamation: “Hey – don’t you know I’m here to see the Father of the Forest? Let me pass!

As if in response to my demands I spied a clearer trail and moved across to walk on that. This was much easier and I didn’t get stuck or sliced up from that point on. I was still smarting from the original “defenders” work, however, to be too grateful for an easy passage at this point in proceedings. I made my way slowly down into the bowl of swampy ground where the newer growth had formed in a clearing. This was my starting point for this evening’s work.

Greeting an old friend

The first aspect of the preparation work was to pay my respects to the Father of the Forest. This entity is the most dominant, the most powerful energetic entity within the forest. As far as I can determine it is the “guiding force” which is in charge of the overall welfare of the forest’s varied life forms, but particularly (of course) the trees. It’s aura – or sphere of influence – you might suspect to cover the whole forest. Possibly this is the case under the ground, but above ground the aura is a bit smaller than that, although it’s still a huge dome-like structure covering an area equivalent to a circus tent.

At the moment the FOTF is involved in the regeneration of a small glade. Over the last couple of years I have seen this glad visibly change, rapidly morphing from a dark dank slime-ridden smelly swamp into a beautiful light-green carpet of vegetation and new trees. I approached with respect, noticing that there was a sort of third boundary as I reached the edges of the path and stepped in towards the new growth.

I gave greetings, lighting an incense stick to fill the air with wisps of “my scent”, as it were. It was merely a call-sign and nothing more. This year I have learned that the paraphernalia that one gathers around oneself doing this sort of work can be as much a hindrance as a help, and I have largely done without it. I paid my respects, got connected, then asked an impertinent question: “Would you assist me with my free run through the forest? Would you watch over me as I ran?

I waited for an answer. Then I felt some thoughts stirring. I should run the known trails used by mountain bikes due to the low light and bramble situation. Stay on the trails, was the advice. This was at odds with how I had imagined the run to be – totally free, with no course, no guidance. Now I was being told that I should run the thin bike trails for my own safety. OK – I would do that.

Run Like A Stag

I set off up the hill and along the narrow crowded track at what is technically termed “a fair lick”. I was still in a meditative state of mind, and I didn’t allow that to change. I wanted to keep that feeling, not come back to full conscious awareness. In the fading gloom I knew I wouldn’t be able to pick out all the obstacles, so why try? I ran, unhindered, without decision. In a few moments I was flying… leaping… dodging.. looking with a peripheral view rather than an assessing, focused, decision-making glare. The forest blurred and I began to smile. Now I felt the freedom – the body moving, the lungs and heart pumping loudly, the mind in a state of bliss, attuned and responsive in a deeply connected way. Like a stag.

Skiiiid!! I skidded to a halt suddenly and had to pull myself out of this reverie to assess the situation. Why had I stopped? I was enjoying that! I looked down and realised that the path came to an end in front of me! Looking around closely I could see that actually the path now dropped steeply down to my left, but the way was hidden behind a tree branch. I switched my dowsing senses back on – was this the way to go? YES. Right, then I would drop down the steep path and see whether I could resume my run when i got to the bottom. Now out of my stag-like way of proceeding I stumbled, slid and scratched my way down to the bottom of the path. Damn! Normal consciousness is SO LIMITED in these situations. No wonder athletes are always looking to get “in the zone“. That’s where they perform at their best. Unfettered by thought.

The Stag’s Horns

T my surprise I emerged into the light (such as it was). I found myself on a main paved trail. I wondered whether I had done enough running to find The Stag? It seemed like such a short burst, even though I felt that I was in the moment. I was just contemplating this, and scanning around for a sign or some assistance with that answer, even contemplating getting the dowsing rods out when I looked up for some reason.

Above me was an unusual branch formation. I scanned around – all the other tall pine trees had bare trunks, but the one I was standing beneath was different. It had a young green branch extruding from about ten feet up. The branch divided close to the base and sprouted into two main branches. The form looked exactly like a stag’s antlers!

Stag's horns in Delamere Forest
Stag’s horns in Delamere Forest

This was too much of a coincidence to be ignored. If there’s one thing I’ve learned then it is that such signs are very important. Had I been taken on this particular run JUST TO FIND THE HORNS, I wondered? I needed to know. I got out my dowsing rods.

  1. Had I really been brought to this spot just to be made aware of the tree? YES.
  2. Was the branch formation a sign that I had already got the Stag inside me? NO. Oh! More work to do then.
  3. Was there a tree spirit at this spot? NO.
  4. Was there some form of spirit here? YES.
  5. Was it Herne/Cernunnons/The Stag? YES.

The tree was a place where I could contact the stag energy form. I would need to raise my energy to the level I had just experienced in order to cross the hedge and meet with this energy form. In doing so, perhaps I would be able to get some of my questions answered about this latest quest. It seems as though I need to go back soon to find out more about The Stag. I was thinking that the feeling of running through the forest was the only thing I needed to discover. Seems like there is more to it than that. My next visit to the Stag’s Horns will hopefully reveal more.

Darkness finally fell with the rain following. I was glad that I was on a visible path at this point and that I didn’t have to pick my way back through the foliage and undergrowth to get back to the car. Inside the car I felt closed off from the elements, like a deer in a cage. It took a few moments to get my head back into the modern world, and then to drive back home. The warmth of the vehicle was comforting, but in a different way to what I had just experienced. I noticed the difference.

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