“Things happened in the following order: first forests, then huts, then villages, cities and finally knowledgeable bodies.
“Giambattista Vico, The New Science, 1725
Forests seem mysterious since they are determined by laws that are more ancient than those of our civilization, laws that human beings cannot avoid and that limit our territory to the edge of the woods. In saying this, I am referring to the book Forests: The Shadow of Civilization by Robert Harrison. When the pioneers who lived in forests went to town, they spoke of going “outside”. This means that there is a clear distinction between the forest and what surrounds it. However, despite the fears and legends that are associated with it, the forest can also provide a protective environment, a place where we can let go and reconnect with ourselves again, like a wild animal. David Thoreau celebrates this need to withdraw in his book Walden. “I wanted to live intentionally facing only the basic facts of existence, discovering what I could learn from them, so that I wouldn’t feel on my death bed that I hadn’t really lived at all.” This statement reveals the ambiguity of our relationship with forests. After having left behind us the state of harmonious communion with nature, we try to reconnect with it as if there was still a link, a trace from the past that beckons us. While fleeing to the forest allows us to escape from society and its laws, it also provides a mystical and primitive experience. “The song of the forest expresses neither misery, nor triumph. It is a prayer, and like all prayers, it just expresses a relationship. And in this case, it couldn’t be more profound.” Rémy, L’arborescence. Forests are often associated with rituals. Mankind has always felt the need to venerate idols, and the forest, as a place that is conducive to religious ceremonies and damnation, offers an ideal setting. In his study “The Mycenaean Tree and Pillar Cult“ Arthur Evans, reconstructs the rituals through which the soul forces of a tree were transferred to a pillar. The forest is both the temple of living pillars and a scene of horror, an enchanted space and a place of damnation.