The Great Black Forest of the Moon….
The Hoia Baciu Forest in Romania, is nothing short of BREATHTAKING! Who hasn’t heard of this place except for me, I have read article after article, blog after blog, watched a documentary and this forest has enchanted me with all of it’s local legends and scientific studies that have supported the Romanian peoples legends of the forest. I cannot stop thinking about it. A few months ago I watched a television show that did a documentary on the forest. I found myself in awe and have been having small anxieties about it after seeing the documentary. So much was revealed to me that was hitting home. I had to researched what I could a bit further and all of the stories I’ve read about the forest are consistent from what I was able to find on the web; which was a lot from Dr. Adrian Patrut. ( http://www.pflyceum.org/50.htmland) What excites me is that the information and data collected really seems to support the peoples stories of the enchanting forest. This forest has captured the attention of my very essence, because of the legends and the amazing similarity in the topography, vegetation, paranormal, and spirit activity that the forest is comprised of.
The topography and environment; oak trees more importantly red oak, heavy mists, a river, a lake, natural springs, and the most important a “circular” meadow where no trees will grow. The Paranormal and spiritual local legends of the people such as sickness, disappearances, laughter from women, orbs of light, and disc shaped UFO’s all have similar resemblance to a legend I was told from the time of my birth. Since the time of the documentary I have been excited, scared, eager, restless, and in denial. It just has always seemed impossible and mysterious to me. How could one of my most mysterious legends of my childhood have tangible bearing in this world? How could this possibly be real? This legend… so unreal, it’s real? I have wondered about the forest of this legend all of my life and to have possibly seen it on TV and to know that it might be a real place I could go to, to see it, hear it, touch it, and smell it has kept me up pacing the floor many a night. Even now I am wondering could this be the great black forest of the moon?
I first started this blog off by talking a little bit about me and my grandfather and grandmother my influences why I am feeling such a connection to some place I’ve never been at least not in this experience. But that has nothing to do with the connection to the legend and the connection to a tangible place in this world. I once thought the Schwarzwald in Deutschland was the place of the legend and I thought I was going to find my destiny there, but when I visited, there was nothing there that connected to the legend. The forest is beautiful and has it’s own mysterious essence for sure and other possible connections with legends I am aware of, but not the one of greatest mystery to me. The legend or legends are very lengthy and my family tells this legend in four different parts.
1-The Black Forest of the Moon Battle, 2-Sky’s Flight Song, 3-Sky and Ziibiininii, 4-Ziibiinininii Flight to the Moon
Seems the world has known about this mysterious forest except me and my family. My grandfather was a soldier in the Korean war and I now wonder if he knew of this place he traveled so much when he was in the army. He kept many things quiet as to not bring unwanted attention to the community and I feel he would’ve never told because he knew that I might leave and go there and…. maybe never come back. For a long time I started to wonder if this legend was a just fairy tale bedtime story, because I never found an earthly connection to the legend with the exception of a few things and maybe I just wasn’t looking hard enough.
So this is the legend translated and passed down through my family orally from elder to youth and as the chi-ayaa’aa (great ancient ones) would start them “this is the legend as it was told to me many years ago when I was a young boy or girl.”
The black forest battle of the Moon….
Many ages ago some of the Star people sick and dying came upon the moon in their travels looking for a new home. Skywoman greeted them and offered to help them. Sky took them to the black forest of the Moon and greeted the Deer people with gifts giving thanks for entering their home and using the plants. The Deer people showed the Star people how to gather the plants they needed and with the medicine they made, many of the Star people were healed. Sky offered the Star people a home and place to stay. Many of the Star people were ancient travelers and the young were too young to travel on their own so they stayed. Other Star people heard of the great healing and came to the Moon. Sky again helped, but there were some that were greedy and began to fight with those that lived on the Moon. The forest was her home and the Deer people were a peaceful people. Sky created many of the trees and plants out of her loneliness for companionship and the mist that covered the forest every morning were the drops of her ancient tears from the sea. For many years the Star people fought over the forest and many of the Deer people and Moon people as they were now called died. So Sky in an effort to save these peaceful people walked a path around the forest and sang the song of flight and as she sang Nagweaab (rainbow) could be seen in the mist. When Sky had finished her path the forest was gone and only a deep hole remainded. But this did not stop the fighting, this only angered the greedy Star people and they fought more fiercely. Many of the Moon people were dying, because they did not have the means and will to fight back any more. They defended the Deer people and their home and now they were gone. It was then that Sky gave her last light to help the Moon people and showered the sky with a blinding white light and gone forever she was. For many years after the battle, the Moon people grew strong and then one day a child was born who was more Spirit than Moon and because Sky was spoken of in their stories of the great black forest they knew her very well. Sky had returned.
Sky’s flight song….
So it was Sky who brought the song of flight to the Moon people and showed them how to travel to the many different worlds (degrees, dimensions). Sky never forgot about the forest, she longed to be among the trees again, but she did not remember where it was. So for many years she sat on the moon and looked through bagonegiizhig (the hole in the sky). Then one day she saw some trees dancing to the sound of her songs and Sky ran to her sisters and asked them to come with her to the world of Akii. So they gathered in the waawiiye’wigamig (roundhouse – literal translation that roundhouse that sings, my grandfather would sing “waa we yea, waa we yea” ) and sang the song of flight. The roundhouse shook, rattled, and hummed as Nagweaab danced around the house and the sisters sang the song of flight louder and soon their house lifted up and went down Nagweaabs spine through the hole in the sky. When the roundhouse touched the Earth Sky’s eldest sister the wisest of the girls opened the door and slowly she walked out looking around for signs of danger. When all was well she waved at her sisters to come out. One by one they came out and marveled at the dark forest. The roundhouse and the light of Nagweaab had destroyed some of the trees where the roundhouse sat and Sky could feel their passing as soon as she stepped out of the roundhouse. Sky knew she had found the black forest and because of the trees that died she promised the other trees that nothing would ever grow in the circle again so that no one would ever need to die so needlessly when she visited. Sky and her sisters visited the forest without fear and no one, but the Deer people, the birds and other animals ever approached them. However one day Mitigomizh (Oak) a young man who lived deep in the woods with his mother and grandmother was out hunting one day and had gone further than he had ever gone. The day was hot and the trees were not a comfort from the heat so when he came upon a river he stopped to cool himself. Sky had been out walking among the trees through the bent and twisted arms; spirit walking so she didn’t harm them. The trees moved with her walk and she never had to touch the ground. Then suddenly they lifted her high up when she got close to the river. Sky heard something in the river below. She looked down and saw a man standing in the water splashing it over his head. She sat down on the arm of the tree and watched him as he drank from the river, caught some fish and finally fall asleep under the trees. Sky was amazed that this Ziibiininii (river man) was able to see and catch the rainbow fish with just his hands. Curious and uncertain why she was unafraid, Sky went down to him as he slept and admired his courage to be alone in the black forest. She watched over him until he woke and back up into the trees she went. When Mitigomizh woke he looked into the sky and saw it was dark and gathered his things and hurried home. When Sky returned to her sisters she said nothing of the man she saw on her walk in the forest. Sky and her sisters continued to return to the black forest, but for many months Sky did not see Ziibiininii again.
Sky and Ziibiininii…
One day Mitigomizh grandmother became sick and his mother sent him out to pick some plants to help her, but they did not help and his grandmother got worse. Mitigomizh mother told him that there was a place far beyond the river where the Deer people lived, they could help. So Mitigomizh went to find the Deer people. After four nights Mitigomizh came upon a meadow in the forest. He noticed foot prints like his own as well as deer tracks. Further in the meadow he saw the grass had been beat down in a round shape and many other foot prints of different sizes like his own. Mitigomizh decided he would stay for the night, believing the Deer people lived there.The next morning Mitigomizh was awakened by a rumbling and humming like the wings of nookaashii (hummingbird) but much louder in the sky and when he looked up he saw a shiny roundhouse with many different bright colors on top and the sides spinning round and round. Mitigomizh grabbed his things and ran to the forest and watched the roundhouse fall to the meadow. For a moment he back further into the forest, but then he saw a door open and a beautiful young girl walked out and then another and another 12 of them each more lovely than the last and it was the last that had his inside soaring. When Sky stepped out onto the meadow she knew Ziibiininii was near. Sky closed the door behind her and ran to her sisters to hide. Mitigomizh hid all day and watched the girls dance and sing songs until the sun began to fall. It was then that the girls returned to the shiny roundhouse and Mitigomizh watched as the roundhouse lit up with many different colors again and disappear through the hole in the sky. Again he spent the night in the meadow thinking these girls must be of the Deer people, but the next morning the roundhouse did not return so he gathered his things and went in search of the Deer people again. Mitigomizh crossed the meadow and when he reached the trees on the other side he was stopped abruptly at the edge by the sight of the largest deer he had ever seen. He blinked his eyes and when he looked again he saw the deer change in a flash of bright yellow lights. The deer changed and it looked much like him and the girls from the roundhouse. Mitigomizh was frightened and like a tree did not move as the man walked up to him. The trees began to shine and glow like the moon as the man walked up to Mitigomizh. When the Deer man got close enough he said, “Hello Mitigomizh I know why you are here. I can show you the plants your grandmother needs” and so the Deer man took him to the forest and showed him how to gather the plants. Mitigomizh still curious about the girls asked the Deer man about the girls. The Deer man told him they are the sisters of the moon and visit often. The Deer man took him back to the meadow and said you must hurry your grandmother is very sick. The Deer man changed back to his true form and offered his back to Mitigomizh and carried him swiftly home. The plants he was given by the Deer man healed his grandmother and when she was well enough he told her and his mother of the Deer man and the girls from the roundhouse that came from the sky. His grandmother and mother both looked at each other and recalled ancient stories of the Moon people and the black forest that the Deer people had told the Anishinaabeg. Days went by, Mitigomizh could not forget the girl from the moon and so he went to the meadow once again. When he reached the meadow he sat and waited and in four days the roundhouse returned. When the girls came out of the roundhouse Mitigomizh ran out into the open and waved at them. The eldest of the girls screamed and gathered her sisters together and fled back to the roundhouse. Sky the shyest of the sisters was happy to him. For many days Mitigomizh returned but the roundhouse did not and he wonder if it ever would. Then the Deer man approached him and asked him why he was so sad. Mitigomizh told the Deer man what happened and asked how he could get close enough to the girls to speak to them. The Deer man laughed, but took pity upon Mitigomizh, because he knew of his family and the tragedies they had overcome, the loss of his great warrior father and their people. So he showed Mitigomizh the song to change his form. The great black forest whispered and hummed the trees danced and glowed as he change his form to a tree. Many days passed and still the roundhouse did not return. Mitigomizh was about to give up, but then that morning he heard the rumbling and hum in the sky, quickly in the spot he stood not too far in the meadow, but beyond the edge of the trees so he stood alone he changed himself into a large oak tree to give shade to the girls while they rested. This would allow him to be close and listen to their songs, watch their dances, and maybe talk with them. When the roundhouse touched the ground and the door opened, the eldest sister again came out and looked around before the sisters joined her. They danced and sang all morning following the worn paths they had made during their visits and at midday one of the sisters said, “look let us sit under this tree and rest.” Sky already knew this was not one of her trees, but did not say a word as they gathered beneath its shade. The eldest sister then looked around and said to her sisters, “I do not remember this tree.” Sky shy as she was wanted to touch the tree, but dared not. She walked up to the tree and looked at it up and down wondering how Ziibiininii was able to do this, he was not from the Deer people. This made her smile and Mitigomizh seeing Sky so close and her smile made him lose his form and he began to change back to his true form. This frightened the girls and again they ran back to the roundhouse. Mitigomizh called to the Deer man again asking for his help. The Deer man laughed at him and asked him why he didn’t choose something they wouldn’t be afraid of, something they could hold. This gave Mitigomizh courage and he waited for many days again before the roundhouse returned. This time he changed into a spotted deer and waited for them to forget their fear before he walked out into the meadow. The girls were not afraid and walked up to him and ran their hands over his soft fur and sang songs to him all morning. Mitigomizh disguise was so complete that even Sky was unaware that it was him. So forgetting her shyness and because of her love for the Deer people she let the little deer crawl up on her lap and sang to it the lonely songs of the black forest. This touched Mitigomizh so deeply he could not bare to never see her or be without her again. So he quickly changed into his true form causing the girls to scream and run, but so did he and he picked up Sky and ran as fast as he could to the forest holding her in his arms and not looking back. Sky’s sisters cried and screamed at the man to bring her back, but he did not return. They waited until night fell and believing Sky was lost forever they returned to the Moon. Mitigomizh ran until he could breath no more and stopped to catch his breath and looked down at the most beautiful creature he had ever seen in his arms and to his surprise she was sleeping. When Mitigomizh returned home with her and told his mother and grandmother of what happened they told him of the Moon people and knew that this beautiful girl was one of them. They quickly made a soft bed for her and watched over her until she woke. When Sky woke she realized she was not back on the moon, but that she was still in the black forest. Then she saw the chi ayaa’aa enter the waakaa’igan (house). Mitigomizh grandmother walked up to Sky and offered her some water. Then Mitigomizh and his mother walked into the house. Sky sat up the moment she saw Ziibiininii and felt herself take flight. This frightened the women and Sky realized she had lost control of her spirit. Mitigomizh came and kneeled by her and asked if she was feeling better. Sky smiled and said, “Aayaa Ninde Ziibiininii (oh yes, my heart, river man).”
Ziibiininii flight to the moon…
So it was that Mitigomizh was called Ziibiininii and his family gave Sky the name Giizhigookwe (Skywoman) because she came from the sky, it is not known if Sky ever told them who she really was, but after many years of living with Ziibiininii and giving him a son Sky began to wonder of her family on the Moon. Many times they went to the meadow, but her sisters never returned. Sky and Ziibiininii then talked of the roundhouse and they talked of the forest and the battle. She told him of the Moon people and her family. She told him of the Deer people and their struggles to survive and live in peace; how they have moved from place to place always being hunted by those who would use them for evil purposes. Ziibiininii could still see the loneliness for her family in her eyes so one day he built her a roundhouse in the meadow out of the trees that were willing to help, the maple, the birch, the oak, the cedar and the Deer people offered their fur to bring happiness to Sky again. Ziibiininii painted it the colors of which he remembered seeing and this made Sky smile again and for a time she was happy, but the many visits to the meadow and the roundhouse only reminded her of family. She only wanted to tell them how happy she was and so that they could meet their grandson and show them how strong and courageous he was, much like his father and grandfather. Chi-eyaabe (great horned buck) Sky named him and taught him the songs of the black forest and the will of the river. Then one day while her and chi-eyaabe were sitting in the roundhouse Sky showed him the song of flight and not ever thinking the roundhouse would fly it did and up to the hole in the sky they went back to the Moon. When Sky and chi-eyaabe did not return from the meadow Ziibiininii went to the meadow and saw the roundhouse was gone and he knew Sky had returned to the Moon. Every day Ziibiininii went to the meadow, but Sky and chi-eyaabe did not return. On the Moon Sky and chi-eyaabe feasted and celebrated their return and chi-eyaabe was happy to finally meet his grandfather and grandmother. Many months past and neither Sky nor chi-eyaabe thought of Ziibiininii, but while playing with his new friends chi-eyaabe came across the roundhouse he had come in and he was reminded of his father. Chi-eyaabe ran to his mother and asked her when they would be leaving to go see his father. Sky got up from her place next to her family and took her son by the hand and went to the roundhouse. Sky could not hide her tears as they sang the flight song back to the world of Akii. Swiftly she ran to their home but when they reached their home Ziibiininii was nowhere to be found, their home was not livable the top was open and snow filled the inside and no fire had been lit for months. Sky then called to the trees looking for the Deer people and they whispered to her where their home was. Sky again grabbed her son’s hand and swiftly ran to the Deer people’s hidden home near the meadow and as she ran her tears fell and where her tears touched Akii little springs of water appeared and flow to this day. When Sky and her son reached the home of the Deer people the people took her to where she desired to go the most. There she found Ziibiininii much, much older and dying laying in a bed sleeping, she kneeled be side him with tears in her eyes. Ziibiininii woke feeling the presence of something familiar and seeing Sky unchanged and more beautiful than the first day he had seen her, sat up and touched her face and smiled. Sky overwhelmed with grief and sorrow for the years they lost leaned in and gave Ziibiininii a kiss and in a flash of the brightest red light Ziibiininii and Sky were gone. chi-eyaabe quickly ran to the meadow, but the roundhouse was gone. So it is believed Ziibiininii and Sky returned to the Moon to live out the rest of their days together. To this day the meadow will not bare trees, the springs still flow, the river still runs, and the ancient trees still whisper of ancient songs and bend and disguise the visits of the Moon people. My grandfather would say only those who posses the essence of the Deer people and Sky will know they are in the great black forest of the Moon.
Now you tell me does that not bare close resemblance to the Hoia Baciu forest. I am in such denial though. How could this forest of legends be on another continent? It is this part that has me perplexed. But the facts are there, the recent legends hold true, there is evidence that supports it, light orbs of different colors, yellow, red, and white. Heavy mists that seem to come from nowhere, spirits among the trees, disc shaped objects in the sky, people disappearing forever. Was the old man Hoia Baciu taken back to the Moon? Did the Moon people need sheep? I know that sounds funny, but did they? The little girl disappearing for many years and coming back the same age as she left, but never the same again. Until I actually go there myself I will never truly know.
(The top image is the resent “modernized” lodge made to the specifications of my grandfather. My family and the community it serves use it during the winter months. The bottom image is the original made out of young tree saplings, oak,cedar, maple and balsam and used in the spring, summer and fall. Try to imagine it covered in Balsam and Cedar; it is a sight to see.)
One of our most sacred of ceremonial lodges is built in the image of the waawiiye’wigamig, our Mide ceremonies are held with in it and hold to the legend, some of the songs that are believe to be of that time are still sung. “Maagwe bimose’ya (while I was out walking something happened…. This is a song my great great great grandfather brought back to the lodge and only our family sings it, because it is considered a “family” song, but it is speaking of Sky and Ziibiininiii out walking and finding each other) How could this be true? If one could see the spirit path walked of me pacing my bedroom floor at night thinking about the trees, the springs, the river, and the meadow, and the Deer people one would think I’m nuts. Then again maybe I am, maybe I’m just a strange girl that has yet to mature into a woman even though by age I should be.
There are many other legends that have occurred in this forest, the origin of the little boy drum, the legend of the underwater panthers, the origin of the deer clan, who many believe don’t exists. But the legends I grew up hearing tell me they do in some of us. There are many connections to the Deer clan I have personally come across in my life but one I have often wondered about is Vlad Tepes. I have always been fond of him, strange yes he makes me smile when I think of him. I always thought he might be of the Deer clan spirit, because of his legend and dreams I’ve had of him, yes I have dreamed of Vlad Tepes. I’m not talking of the slandering stories told by the merchants who opposed his ideas of how to guide his people, but the ones of his shapeshifting into different forms, wolf, deer, mist, human. Could he be a descendant of the Deer clan. The Deer people were peaceful, but when moved to battle were some of the fiercest warriors and unpredictable, because they could change their form. They carried spears made from the shedding of their horns and yes impaled their enemies. Their eyes are said to light with the darkest of reds, blood red as my grandfather would say. They did not like liars, cheats or any evil spirited people and did what they could to maintain purity of the spirit. Vlad Tepes was this and much more to the Romanian people and to me. I was fortunate enough to have had a friend in college who was from Romania and he told me local legends of Vlad Tepes, but never once mentioned the forest, which I found odd after seeing the documentary. He was more of a “city” boy I guess when I think about it. But yes Vlad Tepes maybe of Deer clan spirit. The Deer people were hunted and tortured for their “secrets” and over time their numbers grew so low they had relations with the Anishinaabeg and towards the end of their time they were the most feared so much so they were called maajii’maanidoog “devils”, but that is another legend that deserves it’s own telling.
Further reading on Hoia Baciu Forest:
However there is much, much more if you just type in Hoia Baciu Forest.