There are parts of Sherbrooke Forest that have been wild and then owned and settled and then wild again. In one part of the forest, an old residence is like a ghost in the garden, all that's left of any kind of human dwelling are pathways, drystone walls and mysterious manmade pools or ponds. It is a strange place because you feel the land's history and the present all at once and even though we are allowed to enter, I still often whisper and walk very quietly in this land. All I know is that many, many years ago this garden ceased being private land and was given back to Sherbrooke Forest and the trees, the vines and the ferns have made quick work of welcoming it back to the wild.
Melbourne author, Leah Swann is not only a writer I respect and admire, she is one of my dearest and oldest friends. We met over 20 years ago when we shared a house in Scotland with, let's say, a very curious collection of people. At that time it was rare to meet another Australian living in Glasgow. A huge amount of our early conversations involved our fascination with sacred sites and ancestral mythology and nothing has really changed! As a writer, Leah is interested in creating ways to re-wild the spirit of women and men and at the heart of her trilogy for children and young adults, Irina the Wolf Queen, is a young female heroine who lives in a wild, intuitive and magical world inspired by the archetypal wisdom of fairytales.
As soon as I read Irina the Wolf Queen I saw it instantly as a film. Recently Leah had the opportunity to create a trailer, a visual welcoming into the imagined world of Ragnor where Irina and her wolves reside and she could think of no better place than Sherbrooke Forest. The young woman you see as Irina in the trailer and doing the amazing voice over is Leah's own daughter, Brigita - the inspiration for the character of Irina. I love this! I see this as active dreaming - to be literally creating the dream world of Irina in our present time. How amazing would it have been for our own mothers to have written a tale of magic and courage and then to have placed us as young women in the main role? And so Brigita is now walking and speaking in the dream of her mother and so this dreaming now belongs to both mother and daughter and the energy created is huge because underlying it all is a such a clear intention and collective dream for the sisterhood - to become the magical heroines of our own lives and to create our own mythology.
It was a such a magical experience to watch the filming of this dream in Sherbrooke Forest. As usual, I am always tuning into the animals to learn more about what's going on and I spent a lot of time watching the beautiful Apollo, Irina's 'white wolf'. To say that his owner was worried about Apollo would be an understatement. Apollo is very powerful and strong, loves to chase birds and is extremely hard to catch. But like most intelligent beings, he is highly intuitive and sensitive to his environment and when he stepped into the filming and felt the focus and intention of everyone involved, he became at ease and serene. Apollo was so calmed by the conscious focus of the dreamers that he actually fell asleep in the middle of that busy forest at Brigita's feet. I've seen this happen with our own dogs when they work with us. Even in stressful environments, the energy of creating with intention is powerfully calming. Perhaps this is a message for those of us who also feel sensitive in chaotic environments - keep your focus on the dream and what you are creating.
I believe there is a great need for stories like Irina for young women and men, if not only to create a balance with the strange message being broadcast through mainstream media to children but perhaps to even burst that bubble of pressure and illusion completely. Here's to the spirit of the wild wolf, to Irina the Wolf Queen and to the writers like Leah Swann who are creating dreams for us all to feel closer to magic and nature.
Sherbrooke Forest is a beautiful between place - between the tame and the wild. The last time Tony and I visited the garden where the filming took place we found deer tracks on the path. As we turned down a different pathway we heard the stag just ahead of us, we heard him snort and turn and disappear back into the trees.