söndag 23 juli 2017

Walking Bear

I have a friend, Karsten, who lives in Denmark but has a little house here in Sweden where he creates unusual flowerbeds in his big garden. He is a hobby gardener, a good photographer and writes a blog about all his strange plants with Latin names.

The day before yesterday he wrote to me on Skype and asked if I wanted to come and look at his ”Bear Ash” , as he called it, and maybe have a branch from it to make an Ash Talking Stick, which is a good idea as the Ash tree has an important mythological role being the Yggdrasil, the World Tree, which is an immense mythical tree that connects the nine worlds in Norse cosmology. The word probably means Odin´s horse.

The ash tree with the marks of the bear´s claws.
So yesterday I went over to him and he showed me the big marks that a bear had made on the tree. He said that the bear had made similar marks on many trees around his house and this is the way that the bear shows his territory and also shows how big he is (how high up he can make the marks). So now most of the tree had to be taken down because it was destroyed and the upper parts of it would die anyway.

But first we went down to the lake because he wanted to collect grit from the sand on the shore. He is using such grit for certain plants in his garden.

I parked the car on the side of the narrow gravel road and he took his empty bucket and walked down to the lake while I was still searching for my things in the car. When I was about to walk away I heard a loud and clear sound that was the same rythmic sound as that from a big, heavy person walking in a normal speed on sand or gravel. Crunch...crunch...crunch...crunch.... almost like the slow sound of a rattle.

I looked up and down on the road, but there was nobody. The sound was very clear and very loud so I thought that maybe it was my phone that had started to make noise. I picked it up but there was no sound from it. I looked on the road again and the sound was ”all around me”. I thought that there might be some other technical device in may bag, that had started to make noise, but just when I thought of serching for it in the bag the noise stopped!

I went down to the lake where I swam around for a while and I also took some photos of Karsten collecting his grit. I told him about the strange sound and he said that it was probably a ghost. 

”No!” I said, ”this was a strong, real and clear sound”, but he meant that people who have hallucinations usually say so!

Later in the evening, by a camp fire, he said that ”I have heard that the Red Indians really appreciate people who have hallucinations” and he continued to tease me (he likes to be provocative): ”Fantastic that you have such good hallucinations, I am impressed!” and then he laughed!

When the sun went down behind the trees we went up on the mountain and visited Bertil, an old ”forest man” and hunter, who ”knows everything” about the forest (except for the Latin names!) He and Karsten drank some whisky and after a while I told the story about the strange noise that I had heard by the lake. Bertil immediately said: ”That was a bear! That is the typical sound of a bear!” and then he added ”If you meet a bear you should make yourself as small as possible to show that you have no intention of fighting. And of course not try to run away from it!” 

We came back to Karsten´s garden at twilight (which is almost in the middle of the night in summer in Sweden) and I managed to take some tiny branches before I had to escape from the swarm of little gnats that surrounded my head. I think that a Talking Stick made from that tree could get the name Walking Bear.  But they are also to be associated with Yggdrasil which is excellent for a Nordic Talking Stick. The Bear reminds us of the strength of being grounded.

When I had written this I noticed that I had forgotten to take a photo of the ash, so I drove back to the garden. After a while Karsten said: "Hear! Did you hear? That is a raven! So now you have all your symbolism! Both Yggdrasil, a bear and a raven!" The raven is the bird that is together with Odin. He has two of them, Hugin and Munin.

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