Kelly Stone Educator, Comedian, Woman of the Woods
Experiences with Texas nature unlock fearless feminine form
I have ascended. Achievement unlocked. Clarissa Pinkola Estes would be proud. My transformation is complete: I am a Woman of the Woods. Me = folklore. I am legend. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Is this how Taylor Swift feels? The realization of this enlightenment and my new mythical status occurred when I caught myself, in the woods, frightening a young girl with tales of all the things that could kill her. At least, all the things that could kill her IN TEXAS.
The potentially lethal or dangerous aspects of walking in the woods in Texas do not remotely apply while enjoying nature in Portugal, and as the self-appointed sage in the woods, it became my duty to help her see how lucky she is to exist so freely.
It’s probably best that she didn’t understand English.
Black widows, brown recluses, yellow jackets, gators, chinches, scorpions, fire ants, mountain lions…just to name a few…and that ain’t even getting to the venomous snakes! Texas has all of those things, most of them certainly having crossed my path, and none of those deadly critters are in the woods in Europe’s California.
I cannot describe to you how liberating it is to walk through leaf-covered woodland pathways, stepping over piles of mossy rocks or various nooks and crannies of the forest without fear at all of almost dying.
This is probably why topless sunbathing is commonplace on the beaches in Europe. It’s just so carefree. What a lucky little girl. It was important to me that she learned that not all the woods in the world are this safe.
The “Woman of the Woods” archetype appears in a medley of forms throughout different cultures and mythologies, and she usually symbolizes a powerful and mysterious feminine presence associated with nature. She is untamed and unapologetically herself, living on her own terms beyond the constraints of civilization. Like Mother Nature, she is connected to the cycles of the seasons, the growth of plants, and the balance of ecosystems.
In some cultures, the Woman of the Woods is depicted as a trickster or shapeshifter, assuming different forms, playing pranks on unsuspecting travelers. She embodies the unpredictable and chaotic aspects of nature. Some myths and legends portray the Woman of the Woods as a seductive and alluring figure, luring men into the forest with her beauty, only to lead them to their doom. She represents the dangers and temptations of the wilderness, kinda like a mermaid.
In Greek mythology, nymphs are associated with forests, rivers, and mountains, so I might be a nymph, but in European folklore, she is a wise woman or a witch who possesses magical abilities and knowledge of natural herbal remedies while living in wooded seclusion, using her powers for both good and evil. Indigenous traditions celebrate female spirits or deities who watch over the wilderness and ensure its well-being, and contemporarily, the Woman of the Woods symbolizes wildness, freedom and rebellion against societal norms. And, um…hey, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me. (Love you, Taylor!)
A Woman of the Woods (i.e. me) embodies different roles and reputations, but she often represents the primal connection between humanity and the natural world, and I am happy to have achieved such status.
I encourage y’all to embrace your feral woodland selves and live authentically and fearlessly in the forest of life. I sincerely hope you embrace your “crazy,” but it’s still best to keep your eyes peeled, wear bug spray and throw on some ankle protectin’ boots. Just in case. Xoxo,
Kelly Stone is an educator, comedian, mother, and author who loves the heck outta the river. She welcomes e-letters at kellystone.org or firstname.lastname@example.org and adores handwritten notes and postcards via good ol’ snail mail.