Werifesteria: Into the Forest

Werifesteria is defined as the impulse to wander longingly in the forest in search of magic and mystery. Or so says a meme that arrived in my Facebook feed. Maybe you’ve gotten it, too. Discovering an interesting archaic word or a word in another language that accurately describes something previously undefined in English, but viscerally real, is almost as sweet as finding unexpected magic.

I have, however, learned to mistrust the authenticity of the intriguing vocabulary that appears on social media. Whether the word has an historical past or was recently made up by someone, if it pins down a true feeling or experience, I will tentatively adopt it. For a little while anyway. I searched the background on werifesteria and could not find anything to verify its legitimacy.

But, in any case, wandering longingly – and also lovingly – in the forest, searching for mystery and magic, is really one of my vocations. I guess that makes me a Werifesterian! Seeking mystery means allowing beauty, wonder and awe to arise. So stop and soften. Let the mind’s chatter recede, dissolving like mist; it’s of no use here. Attentively listen with your whole being, with all the senses, body wide open. Be at ease, unhurried, attuned and receptive to what is present. Wait patiently . . .

About the local forests:
In my last post, I wrote that I would be spending a month in the redwood forest at Vajrapani Institute on a solo retreat. This was not entirely correct. Yes, I was deep into the Santa Cruz Mountains, the home of coastal redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), whose range stretches from below Monterey to the Oregon border. But what I didn’t mention was that the forest varies widely throughout this area, depending on the soil, the sun, the water and its logging history.

My retreat cabin – named Tara after the female Tibetan Buddhist deity – was surrounded by mostly live oaks, not redwoods. Live oaks have small oval leaves that do not fall in winter.  Out my big window were successive layers of oak trees, reaching to the distant ridge covered in redwoods. Winter here is very green, both because most of the native trees keep their leaves or needles and because it rains a lot (except during drought!). Rains also create the thick emerald green mosses.

Redwoods are sometimes standing primarily with other redwoods but they are also found intermingling with madrone, Douglas fir, tanoak, Shreve oak and coast live oak, all happily living together in the rich diversity of the forest.

In some areas, coastal redwoods are seen mostly accompanied by madrones or oaks. Together they display an undeniable pairing of yin and yang. The yang redwoods are always tall, straight, determined to reach upward to the sun. While the yin oaks and madrones nearby, are fluid in shape. They dance and swerve, exploring all directions, leaning here and there with large branches turning at strange angles.

Below are a few views of the forest I wandered in. Can you find any magic and mystery in them? Are you a Werifesterian?

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