Field Trip Folk-Lore Observation Psychogeography

The wild wood


Beyond the Hawthorn


Beyond the hawthorn, lies the wild wood

“cuckoo, cuckoo”




over the threshold

forms and colours

of the Otherworld




… snake-eye stirs



jaw click, snout

and a slither

of tongues




threat or supplication?

paw or claw?

who  hears the cry

of the wild wood?




no-one here






the oracle

of the wood





… always the leaves


Invitation to the light


… always the light




Hawthorn bushes and the call of a cuckoo conjure up the tale of Thomas the Rhymer a thirteenth century Scottish mystic, wandering minstrel and poet. Folklore tells of how Rhymer meets the Faery Queen by a hawthorn bush from which a cuckoo is calling. The Queen takes Rhymer on a journey of forty days and forty nights to enter the faery underworld.  Some versions of the tale say Rhymer was in the underworld for a brief sojourn. Others say for seventy years, after becoming the Queen’s consort. Eventually, Rhymer returns to the mortal world where he finds he has been absent for seven years. The theme of travellers being waylaid by faery folk and taken to places where time passes faster or slower are common in Celtic mythology. The hawthorn is one of the most likely trees to be inhabited or protected by the faery folk.

The wild wood can be found amongst the terra incognita of farmland, old paths and hedgerows between the village of Pattiesmuir and Dunfermline, Fife.

Now playing: Bert Jansch – ‘The Tree Song’ from Birthday Blues.

By Murdo Eason - From Hill to Sea

murdo eason / walking / writing / between world & word

19 replies on “The wild wood”

Reblogged this on Subliminal Spaces and commented:
I love this blog fifepsychoheography and this post particularly gripped me with its magical images that capture the wonderfully liminal quality of nature and even tumble down buildings being reclaimed slowly by the earth and it’s vegetation. The poetry has also distilled the intensity of the atmosphere – I found it to be of much comfort and inspiration as I struggle with some current health problems and with an awful brain fog. Thank you fifepsychoheography, I look forward to more 🙂

Thanks so much for the generous comment Roberta. It is much appreciated and glad that you enjoy the blog. I hope that your current health problems resolve themselves positively. Best wishes.

Oh, I remember ‘Thomas the Rhymer’ from my Steeleye Span days.

Love the discovery of windows and doors in the middle of the forest, as well as the sculptures and structures built into trees and stone – trembling architecture merging with nature and slowly becoming overcome with life. Are they hidden entryways into hidden worlds, perhaps? Will they still be there the next day? In the blink of an eye?

Thanks Aubrey. Yes Steeleye Span! Funnily enough it was only after I’d finished the post that I added the Thomas the Rhymer note. I was vaguely aware of the story but came across it again when having a look at the significance of hawthorn in folklore. It struck me that the act of walking through an absorbing landscape like this does alter the perspective of time. It is easy to ‘lose’ a few hours. The other aspect is that the ‘wild wood’ is basically sandwiched in a few miles of landscape between a moderately sized Scottish town and a very busy arterial road. On the map, it has very few ‘distinguishing features’ yet it was like entering a hidden world with the old buildings appearing as remnants of lost worlds.

Liked this post so much I have come back to read it again. Lovely. and thanks for the link to Mandy Haggith Hawthorn lore page – we’re lucky enough to have a Midland Hawthorn in the garden – deep rich pink blossom, so I think it’s a Paul’s Scarlet.

Love the juxtaposition of images and poetry – just a hint of green menace here. Hawthorns, lining country lanes, at the edge of woodland, always seem to be at the threshold of a hidden world.

I love the theme of transformation. Psychogramarye, perhaps? Interesting that in Scott’s Lay of the Last Minstrel hawthorn is very much a species of the ‘good greenwood’ as well as open country. Isn’t the Eildon Tree thought to have been a hawthorn?

Thank you. I like the idea of Psychogramarye! I have seen references to the Eildon tree as a hawthorn and also noticed the mention of Thomas of Erceldoune in your latest post. Sounds like interesting research.

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