WEEK SEVEN there is something wonderful about sitting out in the dusk at this time of year. After Valentine’s Day, there is always a palpable change in the air. The snow is slowly melting and patches of ground can be felt under foot again and a few birds have banded together to produce a proto dawn-chorus with the thrush taking centre stage, repeating his performance at dusk; marking the turning of the day, as his endlessly repeating phrases die slowly away and are replaced a few minutes later by owls hooting to each other in the middle of the wood. Blackbirds flap and fluster as they move to their beds, always making such a racket as they go, I turn to strain my eyes through the thickets just in case their flapping bedtime alarm disturbs a fox or deer that has been sleeping there during the day. Nothing. Stillness descends.
This is the time I relish, when all the busyness of the day wanes and the dusk, which seems to last forever at this time of year, waxes into night. Even though it is still a little too cold to sit for long, the days have been warmer this week and this warmth manages to hold off the freezing air rising from the snow just long enough to sit for half an hour or so before the cold chivvies me home again.
Because the snow is still thick on the ground, when the moon rises, a different kind of light illuminates the scene. Moonlight casts a strange kind of eeriness over everything when there is white on the ground and it transfixes me – I become entranced with silver. I wonder what it will seem like to a badger foraging later on tonight, when the moon is at her zenith and her light is clear and bright, no longer enclosed within the trees, he will see the surroundings as broad as daylight but with this melancholy tinge.
This is the time when it is hard to identify anything and everyday things take on strange forms. Sitting on the exposed root of a huge pine and suddenly the thought enters my head that it may suddenly start to snake its way towards me, every leaf rustle and twig crack and an image of a huge animal moving up behind me comes into my head and branches criss-crossing their silhouettes make strange birds sitting in the trees watching me. I love this time of night for the tricks it can play and for the muddying of the veils; for the snapshot I get into the otherworld.
And seeing into this otherworld, the dusk shows me how I truly am during the day. It shows me how certain I want to be of my surroundings, how I label everything around me with such ease and confidence, how I try not to allow uncertainty to creep in at any time. I am so concerned with trying to know and understand the world around me that it is often hard to let uncertain things come forward to live and breathe – I blot out the in-between-things with great gusto in order to be in control of my waking life. I believe many of us are the same. Like the gradual slipping into dreamtime however, the dusk gives me an opportunity to become unsure and let the things that have a life of their own come into view. Sometimes, it is only possible to see these borderland things from the corner of my eyes – by using my peripheral vision and relaxing into a different way of seeing; starting to use not only my physical sight, but also my imagination to look. I shift from a creature of the day, with my honed and focused vision into another kind of creature who uses all my senses to see.
The dusk shows me how to do this like a trickster fox moving around in the undergrowth, evading my vision and my understanding, restoring my wild imagination once again, making me feel like I have mystical and magical senses.
I think it is essential that we spend some time in places of transition; it is important to sense things in a different way sometimes, to evade the certainty of daylight where everything is solid and real and to be tricked out of our normal waking mode of awareness into a more intuitive and holistic consciousness; this is the time when our intuition is allowed to come into play again. We move in and out of this place as we fall asleep every night and wake up every morning, as our dreams mix with our waking reality and the edges become blurred. For me, this also happens at dusk in the woods as I slip into another life inhabited by fantastical creatures and twining tree roots. It takes all I can muster to stir myself and start to make the trip back home, my bones starting to ache from the cold. I seem to float along, part of this otherworld like a ghost or transparent being, crunching in the snow, watching the silver twinkling of its surface as I move. I am not yet willing to be a part of the real world again. Walking back to the house, seeing the lights blazing in the windows and the movement that is taking place inside, I have an overwhelming desire to turn around and return to the woods, to lie down in the snow and sleep.
The house lights accost me with their stark brilliance as I open the door and move inside, the noises seem to hurt my ears, nothing is subtle, nothing moves of its own accord, nothing is as magical as the woods at dusk.
I am an interspecies empath exploring human and animal understanding and connection. Come with me on a journey around the circle of the year, I am walking the land detailing my encounters out in the forest through animal tracking, bird language and nature awareness, with deeper musings on what it means to live authentically, in true connection and with sacred devotion to all life. My tracks will be published here on this blog every week, alternatively, you can receive them directly to your inbox in a series of Full-Moon Missives: