Crystal woods — Jabeek forest‑triangle

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All journal-items with the title ‘Crystal woods’ form a whole and are part of a new project. During 2017 I expanded my research for nature and life-energy to seven woods in a range of 10 km around my living place. The Crystal-woods-journals. The Crystal woods story consists of photographs, maps and paintings. In Crystal woods — Introduction one can find global information about this project.

The experience of the sublime isn’t limited only to pristine landscapes, but is to be experienced everywhere on places where the exchange between the seen and the unseen is more concentrated, and the streaming of life-energy is more perceptible. There one can feel a tingling sensation, a spiralling pulse or flow, a sense of heaviness or lightness, or a deeper silence. One feels taken in and wants to stay longer.

Sketch triangle Jabeek forest, December 2017
Triangle Jabeek forest, tempera on claybord 50x70 cm, December 2017

Suestra

The first painting I make on the Crystal-woods — theme ia a map of the places in the ‘Jabeekerbos’ that attracted my attention the most, by the shape of the trees, the atmosphere, and the life-energetic quality.

Before I plan to make a painting of a specific location that has attracted me, I visit the place several times. The forest called ’Jabeek forest’ is such a location. I learned to know the wooded hillside, located on the northern slope of the ‘Roode Beek’ valley, in 1996. Since then new paths have been made and old ones disappeared, so in 2017 I had to return several times with my sketchbook before I had an overview upon all parts of the forest and its paths. Then I went to look for the spots that form the triangle of female, life-energy. The black place (‘zwart/black’ on the ground plan) I already found in 1996, when I made a ring of branches on the edge of an old man made cavity in which the black place is accentuated by an oak that shows a torsion. I also made a heap of stones on a head of another hill. I called these places ‘Suestra Hill 1 and 2’ according to the celtic watername ’Suestra’ and made some painting of these locations. ’Nantosuelta’ was the name of a celtic goddess, meaning ’she of the winding river’, stream or valley. But she was presented as a fire deity, presenting nature, earth and fertility.

Circle of branches and stones on ’Suestra Hill 1’, 1996
Healing place, 75x75 cm, March 2000
Suestra Hill 2, 70x50 cm, 1996

The other two angular points of the triangle I locate in November 2017 together with the help of my partner Lidy. The red place is on a nearby hill inside the fence of an animal park. February 2017 I walked several times to the ‘Jabeek forest’ and noticed that the forest at the foot of the hill was completely flooded.

Alder forest at the foot of the hill with the red place, December 2017

Potholes in a landscape of the dead

In the ‘Jabeek forest’ I find more than thirty potholes and ten small hills on places of power. In some cases it has to do with potholes from the second World War or traces of very old economic activities, but others probably are used for rituals concerning fertility ceremonies or spiritual activities in the landscape of the dead. The association between the life-energetic qualities of these locations and the potholes probably isn’t so strange after all. Nearby wells and trees on places of power one can experience the exchange between the locale landscape and the unmentionable dimensions. It were the ‘churches’ of pre-christian, prehistorical cultures. And I guess that the most simple way to keep a place apart from its surrounding without disturbing the natural sanctuary is by digging a hole. Every time again I’m surprised when I feel attracted by a place (of power) and subsequently find some potholes and trees with remarkable sharp curved or winding branches.

Another way to connect with the story of a place

Finding a stone a tool or a stone that has been given as a present or offering to the genius loci always is another surprising way to connect with the story of a place. In the month I started the Crystal-wood project I found a polishing stone, a hammer stone in the mud of the renewed river bed where the ‘Roode Beek’ flows at the foot of the ‘Jabeek forest’, and a pounder stone next to a pothole on Suestra Hill 2. Near the hollow with the black place I find a crescent shaped polishing stone (you can see it on the painting with the map). In the the ‘Jabeek forest’ and the adjacent ’Gangelterheide’ have been found traces of two Iron age settlements, one at the westside of the wildpark and the other some hundred meters north at the edge of the forest. Some years ago I found some fragments of polishing stones and scraper flint stones.

Two polishing stones, a pounder stone and a gift stone that I found along the ‘Roode Beek’ and on Suestra Hill 1 and 2
Polishing stones, scrapers and fragments of smudge stones that I found on the Iron-age location at the north edge of the Jabeek forest