It was the ancient Italic and Celtic peoples who knew that the denizens of the forest were living beings with body, soul and mind, and they cultivated the spirits of the woods with respect and a certain degree of fear. Walking in the woods at eve you hear strange sounds in the branches, whining of the winds, and if you take the trouble to stand still and look carefully, you will see bodies in the branches and faces in the bark.
Perhaps these faces are projections of our own minds. Leonardo said long ago that if you looked at an old stone wall long enough, you would see arms and legs and battle scenes of men fighting, and some might feel this is all a trick of the mind.
On the other hand there are more mysteries in the world than we can possibly suspect, and once we lift away the mist which clouds perception, we are open to view what is really there.
Druid XIV Smirking Goodbye
The Greeks knew that masks were a liberating device which permitted the inner voice to come out unfettered by a "face" as such. A hundred years ago Europe discovered the African masks and merged mask-faces into the new directions in painting and sculpture. So is it any surprise that trees, in their bark and branches, grow masks as external representations of the spirit within, that they knew all along things which we are now finding out for ourselves?
Lesson in Patience
This remarkable piece of wood carving was done by two living beings, first the tree which over years grew the wood, and second by a woodpecker who diligently in a few weeks carved out the negative space, for his own grubby purposes. I had no hand in this other than cutting the piece off from the log, and bringing it home to put on my desk as a reminder. We all feel at some time that what we are about is too much for us, that patience has worn itself out at last. Then I examine this little two ounce master-carver's fine piece of work, and go back to my work slightly ashamed. This piece puts things back in a proper perspective.