Recently, a number of my clients have been dreaming about being in a wild wood. In many of these dreams, there was a sense of encroachment and threat, with the forest being clear felled by anonymous figures.
Often when we dream of forests, we are exploring areas of ourselves that may be unknown to us and unseen by others. In waking life, the traditional response to encountering the unknown in a forest is to cut the forest down to try and make the unknown known.
Until relatively recently, Britain used to be covered in broadleaved forest from south to north. Year by year, it was removed to deny sanctuary to wild creatures and those who lived beyond the law. Now there are only a few square miles of ancient woodland left and those once familiar sanctuaries are gone.
Like our dream forests, our unknown and unseen places are often a sanctuary for us in our waking lives. They are places where we can be private and intimate, where we can rest and recover, where we can relax and sleep.
Our private lives are now being whittled down, year by year, by our increasingly intrusive surveillance society. Through initiatives like ID cards, numberplate recognition, web trackers like Phorm, our natural cover is being stripped away, and we are becoming open to scrutiny and judgement 24 hours a day.
These intruders may be the anonymous figures that my dreamers are experiencing in their dreams. A forest cannot be known and controlled by cutting it down, and every new CCTV camera is another ancient tree felled. Sometimes you have to become a forest dweller, embracing and accepting the unknown, and exploring it and being inspired by it.
We need the unknown as well as the known, in the same way that we need shade as well as light, and the possible as well as the actual. Somewhere within us all is a wildwood, where unseen by others, we can truly be ourselves.