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Creating The Tree Whisper Oracle

Updated: Apr 12, 2021

I'll be a lion if you be a bear!

Lets play a while and call it magic.

I remember my very first taste of the woodland. I was a tiny slip of a girl, no more than four years old and my parents took me for a walk deep into the bowels of a wild place. I remember running ahead on an equally tiny wisp of a path that seemed to fit me perfectly, clearly the woodland knew I was coming. Tiny arms brushed against soft things and scratchy things, and big bushy things. "Don't go too far" my mother's voice drifted growing faint, her sweetness joined the delights of natures chorus, but I kept running. In the brevity of my innocence I was lost to my parents, the woodland turned my skin feral and I shifted shape for the first time. Two legs became four, curved claws adorned tiny fingers and toes and soft fur swallowed tidy golden strands. I was the wildest animal that lived in those woods. I left the path of the two leggeds, dashed deep beneath the bracken and disappeared into a rustle of leaves. Frantic reverberating echoes of a mother and father desperately vaulted over conifer sky ladders. I didn't make a sound. Only emerging some time later when they crossed my den with the biggest roar I could muster. They never took me back to the woodland. But something inside me had changed, my kin skins had returned to me and as often as I could I would find my way back to my wooded home. For the following 36 years the woodland and the wild places were the altar upon which I created play.

I remember being not much taller, nestled sitting in amongst the tall grasses of the woodland edge, always concealed always waiting for the seasons to offer me age and freedom. Looking for faeries was my main job, a very serious and important job. Later in time, hot summer days were filled with building dens and exploring the river. In gangs we would descend into the woodland, little savages, camouflaged we would stealthily sift through the underwood hunting down each other and taking prisoners. A little older still and I became the woodland ranger offering adventure tours for my younger cousins, A typical excursion included vanishing into the woods for the whole day, usually involving some dangerous situation we would conceal from our parents until decades later when we had all survived into adulthood. For years I walked and wandered, observer and explorer, growing older as youth gave way to motherhood and harsh experiences wore on me like old shoes. Yet all those years, unconscious magics were growing inside me, infusing my spirit with the purest of natures essences. Revealing a beautiful imagination, integrative of the elemental forces I fully immersed myself in each day. I would talk to the trees, share my thoughts and feelings and unconsciously synchronise my body with the body of the earth . My relationship with the trees evolved into a clearly defined depth of reciprocal communications which opened for me the doorway into the otherworld.

Take a walk with me, it is 2019 and we are in a woodland in Fort Augustus, I call this woodland the land of the giants, colossal trees seem to reach the starts themselves and giant ferns swallow miniaturized humans and beasts of all kinds. This place stirs a remembrance of the very first taste of of my own woodland all those years ago. I have a sudden knowing that I must take photographs. I spent the following months taking hundreds of snapshots. I have never called my self a photographer, although taking photos has been my life long hobby and my sweetest joy. I am a snapper through and through. Something about the raw and unrefined beauty that can only be captured in the magic of a single spontaneous moment. A moment of inspiration with the power to reveal whispers of magic that may otherwise remain elusive. Night came early in those cold months. Diminishing in low light I sank deeper into my sofa, Toby my old dog curled in the nook of my legs. I contemplated my photographs, holding them in curious regard. In this moment I heard the first voice of the trees, "turn me this way". I let instinct guide me, weaving the way of ancient familial bonds, I was remembering my soul kin, and there they were, I found the Tree Spirits once again.

I continued to spend time in the woodlands and wild places, alone and with company, often my mum, also a tree person, would walk with me. Toby always by my side, or not far off usually in some foreign bush introducing himself to the locals. Often I would hear the whispering trees, encouraging me on. Wandering was usually intuitive and guided by instinct, listening to the gentle call of the tree spirits as they guided me to their roots. I often found myself held within a reverent stillness before the grandest of giants, gazing into their elegant branches, canvases gracefully morphing before me, revealing to my imagination parts of faces, expressions, personalities and intentions. Their primordial presence saturated the air, "We are your oracle" they breathed. In time I knew that I was creating the Tree Whisper Oracle and that it was no longer solely for myself. That they, wanted to lift their energetic roots, climb out of the earth and walk.

Originally the Tree Whisper Oracle was a personal project, the oracle deck to be my own and shared only with a handful of friends. However, encouraged by a growth in popularity I continued to print small batches for those who would seek out the tree spirits and who's wild ears listened softly for the faintest of tree whispers. I used a simple mirroring effect to reflect the photographic images. Finding the symmetry within the bark's ridges and furrows, scales and plates, seeking that harmony which would offer a pathway for the tree spirits to be seen. Branches became powerful limbs and twigs transformed into curious facial features. Elaborate cloaks and sweeping veils morphed through leaves, lichens and mosses. Seen once again became the tree spirits, the elementals and hidden animals spirits of the woodlands and wild places, revealed from between the folds of light. Tidal in nature and inexpressible were my feelings, the beauty of the the tree spirits took my breath away.

The little slip of a girl finally found her faeries.

So lets play a while and call it magic.

Yours in the heart of the woodlands,

Mags Black.

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