I went into the woods today

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

I wanted to share a few pictures of a beautiful magical forest close to my place here in Brittany.

The forest of Huelgoat is the vestige of the ancient forest that once covered inland Brittany. Huelgoat is a breton word  – huel=high and goat=forest – “the wood from above” Lots of mythical legends are born from this fascinating natural setting.

magical forest - foret d'Huelgoat

hairy rocks - foret d'Huelgoat

In this magical forest the rocks are very old,  with hair-like vegetation growing on top


shamanic mushroom foret d'Huelgoat

lots of shamanic mushrooms can be found here

mare aux sangliers - Foret d'Huelgoat

Springs and small streams are everywhere

la grotte d'Artus - King Arthur's grotto - foret d'Huelgoat

King Arthur himself visited this forest on a regular basis, here a cave named after him

la grotte d'Artus - foret d'Huelgoat

the tree on the rocks - foret d'Huelgoat

This oak is trying to split the rock which it grows upon

Do you see the gnome who’s trying to scare us away?

I really need to come and walk here more often, it’s such a peaceful place

The beauty of native plants

“To be native to a place we must learn to speak its language.”
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

wilde peen

one of the most beautiful flowers to look at and the most photogenic

wild carrot, bird’s nest, bishop’s lace, Queen Anne’s lace

yesterday's wild harvest - life at Urd ar Brunnr

On my walk yesterday I found: Queen Anne’s lace, still blooming, wild plum twigs with lichen, St. John’s wort flowering for a second time, Blackthorn berries. All are great dye materials

Cantharellus

These common roll-rim mushrooms grow in my garden (Paxilus involutus). I want to try and see if it’s a good dye mushroom, probably it will give some yellow.

harvesting alder inner bark - shades of lynx

End of summer is a good time to harvest barks, there are plenty of alder trees here and one or two branches will give me enough material to dye with.

The magic colour of the Alder inner bark:

When you cut an alder branch and remove the inner bark the wood is white first, but very quickly it turns to a bright reddish orange.
To the ancients, the Alder was particularly revered, for it appeared to bleed like humans.

I usually let the bark soak for many months before I use it as a dye (without modifiers: dark yellow on wool and rusty brown on cotton)

alder, aulne, els, erle, aliso
(Alnus glutinosa)

“Of course, it’s always been known (especially amongst the old-ones) that alder trees in the most primeval, remote and wild sites, have fairy or elf doors in their trunks just above the water line, and these are entrances into faere kingdoms, gateways into the Underworld.”
http://www.ecoenchantments.co.uk/myogham_alderpage.html

harvesting Amaranthus hopi red dye

The last of the dye plants in the garden are being harvested too, like these Amaranthus Hopi red dye

preparing fermented dyes

But I still have a lot of fermented plant juices waiting for some yarn to be dyed with, I will show the results of my last dyes of summer soon

Megalithic Brittany

l'allée couverte de Lesconill’Allée couverte de Lesconil

The covered walkway of Lesconil, commonly called ar-ty-horriquet in Breton (house of dwarves or elves), formerly known as ty-corriket is a tomb dating from the Neolithic. It is located at a place called “Lesconil” near the town of Poullan-sur-Mer, near Douarnenez in the Finistère department (Brittany).