abriachan.gifWe gladly accepted the invitation to run a day of training for Abriachan Forest trust. The metasaga below is the example used on the day. Abriachan has far more to offer and we have left it in their capable hands to create their own metasaga trails through this wonderful piece of forest. Click on their badge on the left to see their website.

I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. Dr. Seuss, The Lorax



Bronze age house
The first stop of the metasaga was the Bronze Age House a replica of many houses or huts that dotted the landscape ofabriachan_043.jpg this area of the Highlands. This stop takes us back in time and reinforces the message that the forest has been home to working folk for centuries. You can see it is made from local materials. Stone, wood posts and reeds are used to reconstruct this replica. The interior picture shows how Hazel has been used to construct the walls. Hazel is widely used now and in the past in the forest.The Hazel was also traded with fishermen for making creels and baskets. Many a fine staff was made from the branches. We are too high up to grow Hazel here but the slopes around Loch Ness are ideal for growing Hazel. It is part of the ancient forest.
As this metasaga has a focus of literacy we are going to concentrate on the stories and myths of the ancient folk.Hazel has a very important place in Celtic folklore and is the celtic letter or ogham C or K. In gaelic the hazel is coll and is associated with wisdom and creativity.Here is the story of the salmon and the hazel nuts.
QuestionsHow many different jobs or roles do you have?101_0708.JPGWhat conditions do you need to grow?What period from your past would you like to replicate?Who do you know that is wise and how do they show it?In what way are you creative?

make a god's eye and hang it up on a tree, remember to use natural materials

Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.
- William Butler Yeats


The Ark - Large tree house1234369_40dff710.jpgThe large treehouse was designed by children so it was fitting that when we got there it was inhabited by a group of nursery children. They poured over it with cries of delight. The round design , that blended in to the landscape reminded us of the fairy knowe or Sidhean. There was no doubt that the story for this stop had to be of the fairy folk or "good neighbours". These stories would be handed down in an oral tradition in families and communities in the highlands .Many are common to areas across the land.Shared by travelers on a dark winter's night by the light of the fire.People protected themselves and their animals against the evil Sidhe.These mythical creatures had many powers. The Sidhe can take on many forms and often steal children. Here is a story to read about a stolen child.
We heard another story of the Sidhe under the ark.

QuestionsWhen do you feel like a child?101_0711.JPGWhat games , stories or songs do you remember from childhood?When does the child in you come out?What have you lost or had stolen?Who is the Sidhe in your group, the trouble makers?How do you protect yourself?

Play a game from your childhood.Read "The Gruffalo"

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” - Haida Indian Saying


The wee tree house
We made our way along raised wooden paths to the wee tree house. The paths make the whole area accessible to all. Everyone can go deep into the forest. The wee tree house is hidden away across a bridge. By the side of the stream are three frog musicians. We were told they like jazz but will play many tunes. The music of course is the burn running through the trees.
198979_10150094933652168_31395967167_5443988_754964_s.jpgSarah-Jane Summers has kindly given us access to her material. Here she is playing the fiddle accompanied by
Juhani Silvola on guitar.The clip is from the DVD, Highland Strathspeys For Fiddle, by Sarah-Jane Summers, Dell Daisy Records . The tune is Bodaich Bheag Abriachain
he tune was a song about how the Men of Abriachan would row across Loch Ness from Abriachan to Dores and go drinking at the Dores Inn!

101_0714.JPGThis tree house is a hide away somewhere to come on your own or with one other. A place to be , a nest to hide in.It is shaped like an up turned boat or a Norwegian stave church Climb the ladder and just enjoy the sounds of the forest, the burn, the birds. Be alone with your thoughts. This is the place to think.
Who would you share this space with?Would you share this space or would you rather be alone?What would you bring with you?What music would you hear the frog musicians play?Where is your space and time to think?Where can you be silent?
Take time to think , to really think. Capture your thoughts in some way.

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”

- Buddha

"But I'll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you'll come to understand that you're connected with everything." Alan Watts


The Dragonfly pondgolden-ringed_dragonfly_darren_bradley.jpg
A boy built a dam across a small stream one day and by accident created this space. Before the dam could be removed the dragonflies had moved in and inhabited the pond. Now from the platform you can watch them emerge from the swamp, dull grubs to climb high before transforming into these spectcular creatures.
An amazing carved bench fills one corner of the platform, a memorial to a local man.There in the carving was reference to the Massai and metasaga had once again gone full circle.

What dark place have you emerged from? How could you transform yourself?What would be carved on your bench?What have you created by accident?
"The forest has ears" - Massai proverb


The Hide
Our last stop was the hide, but is certainly not the last stop for Abriachan as there are many more trails to explore. As we looked out over LochDownloadedFile.jpeg Laide we could see the swans feeding in the water. These birds inhabit the folk legends of many countries, some say they bring our dreams. Here is a traditional Celtic story of the swan(eala) maiden.This gaelic song imitates the swan's callQuestionsIf you could change your appearance what would you do?What do you dream of?Who or what do you love?IMG_6737.JPG
There are many other birds in and around the loch and many predators too. There is no way we could be in this part of the world , beside a loch and not tell a Kelpie (uisge each) story. Time for another mythical creature who preys on humans.The Kelpie often takes on the form of a large black horse and lures people in to the loch. However if you can put a bridle on the Kelpie he will work for you and be as strong as 10 normal horses, but that is a dangerous game to play, for if he escapes he will take revenge.
WHo or what is a monster in your life?What are you frightened of?images.jpeg
What do you feel about revenge?
Who is the work horse that keeps going after everyone else?Where do you go to feel real warmth?What do you do for the ones you love?

Now ride the Kelpie trails around Abriachan. FInd out more about this amazing piece of woodland.

This metasaga had a focus of literacy but there are many ways in which you can use woodland and forest areas. Just go and explore.
198979_10150094933652168_31395967167_5443988_754964_s.jpgWe will leave you with a Shetland fiddle tune "Come Again Ye're Welcome "