On her blog, A Forest Door, Dver has challenged Polytheists to write about their religious practices for the month of September. The blog post https://forestdoor.wordpress.com/2016/09/01/are-you-up-for-the-challenge/ and the John Beckett’s post which is referenced, are both worth reading.
It has been months since I last wrote a blog post, let alone a series of blog posts, but I felt like this was the perfect prompt to get writing again, no matter how raw I might feel.
When I was still an infant, my parents sold their house in the suburbs and bought a farmhouse on several acres in a rural town. We had all the typical farm animals: cows, chickens, pigs, and plenty of feral cats. Our property boasted a large black walnut tree and a creek that divided the pasture for cattle from the fields where we grew hay for them. The fig tree that grew just inside the path from the barn to the pasture had branches that created the perfect hammock for me to sit.
I spent a lot of time alone, once I was old enough to play outside unsupervised. Only soon, I discovered that although there were no human children for me to play with, I had “invisible friends.” There were four invisible friends in particular with whom I was very close. Two were tall, thin, and seemed to me to be very much like my teenaged cousins. Two were short, small, and child-like; kind of like me.
The five of us spent hours and hours walking around the farm and playing together. We would chat about all kinds of things while climbing up into my fig tree to watch the cattle and goats. Sometimes they helped me feed the feral cats. Feeding the 20-35 cats who had been dumped near our house became my chore when my parents realized I was the only one who could get near them without getting clawed or hissed at.
Sometimes, they talked me into doing things which got me in trouble with my mother.
One time, my mother and I went out to the strawberry patch (which was as big as a suburban backyard) to pick berries. We put the ripe, red berries into an old Folger’s coffee can (she had a matching one on the stove for bacon drippings). Once the can was full, my mother and I walked back to the house. My mother must have been in the bathroom, or maybe doing laundry, because when she came back some 20 minutes later, half the can of berries was gone. My invisible friends convinced me that glutting myself on my favorite fruit was a great idea.
On another occasion, my mother was outside doing the evening chores: feeding the cattle, pigs, and my pony. There was a small, high counter in the corner of the tiny kitchen and dining room, below the rotary phone that hung on the wall. On this counter were a pad of paper and a large, dark green stein filled with pens, pencils and a very sharp pair of scissors. I was told that under no circumstances were I to touch those scissors. However, on this particular afternoon, my invisible friends talked me into pulling the forbidden scissors from the mug. Three of us walked into the bathroom, and after pulling up the stool my father had made for me so I could reach the sink, I proceeded to chop off my long, platinum blonde hair.
I got a spanking and was sent to my room to lie down on my plastic encased mattress; my sheets were still in the wash. I heard my mother on the phone with my father. Later, my poor mother tried to fix my awful hack job with a regrettable bowl cut.
A year or so later, my parents would divorce and sell the property. My invisible friends didn’t (or couldn’t) follow, and I never saw them again. In retrospect, they may have been Fair Folk, or land spirits; I’m not sure I will ever know. Spirits of the land, especially plant spirits, have always been very special to me. Now that I once again live in a house with a proper yard, it is much easier to maintain and nurture space for them to live in comfort. There are some dryads who live in the tall oaks behind our house that I’ve befriended. My husband’s favorite squirrels have large nests in those trees.