The Goddess Diana: the Tree, the Forest, the Grove

redwood_9I have, for many years, been bothered with my inability to fully connect with the descriptions and definitions of the Goddess Diana of Italian lore. Being of the Italian Strega lineage I felt that of course, it should come automatically to me. But the truth is, until we have a direct experience with something, we often do not fully connect. We can read all the books we want but if we do not feel it in our bodies, it does not make sense. That is the way it is for me anyway.

I knew Diana as the oak tree. That I could understand intellectually because my work is completely intertwined and connected to the trees, many of them oaks. But she seemed “bigger” than one tree. I have always had trouble seeing the Goddess in the form of a human woman with human traits and characteristics, so the statues in museums left me cold. For me the Goddess is not anthropomorphized as a human woman. The Goddess is a feeling, a knowing, a power and, most profound— a container, beyond human form or conception.

But then I was prescribed a ritual where I was told to go and connect a grove that I work with often on a local mountain in California to the grove of my lineage in Italy. I was told to do this because I was about to initiate my own niece into the Strega lineage. This was big  for me. I had initiated many people but never someone from my own family, my own lineage. Since the Strega lineage is completely family held and focused, this was a big deal. I had been working for almost 15 years to recover the family lineage and here I was finally taking another step in that direction. A big step. Someone in the family, a generation below me had stepped up, done the work and said yes.

Meet that incredible person here

The ramifications of this were bigger than I knew, as I am currently learning. Only with that initiation was the lineage truly restored to my family. What I had been doing before was the work of recovery. Recovering something and bringing it back to life, I was being taught, are two separate things. I had been working at the recovery for so long, I assumed it was returned but the lineage was only returned when I passed it on to my niece. To be alive, a thing must be passed on, replicated, reproduced. We know this is the scientific definition of life: the ability to replicate itself. Now I know it is true for lineages too. To be alive, a lineage must be passed on to another living human and that is how it stays alive and becomes stronger, more resilient and diverse. Family (blood) medicine lineages are alive and want to live, and must be viewed and understood as such.

I went to a bay grove I work in regularly on a mountain that is my friend. A couple of my colleagues came with me. I was to drum and call in the boschetto (grove) of my lineage in Italy to reawaken it and reactivate it now with the return of the lineage to my family.

oak treeAs I drummed, I was indeed transported to the forest, a forest of old. It felt pre-Middle Ages, a beautiful grove of oak trees with autumn leaves on the ground. It had the colors of autumn inside it: rust, orange, yellow. And it felt like a container. I was inside a grove in a forest of old as were many elemental beings, animals—some fantastical, centaurs, unicorns— women of the lineage and “Robin Hood-like” men.

This was a sacred space within which they came to do ritual and be with the wild. I saw the “brigand” camps of the Middle Ages and understood how, later, they fled there for safety. Encampments grew in these places and they became outlaws.

Then I felt what I had never felt before. The presence of Diana as that which was holding the container of this grove. It was a deep felt presence of the Goddess as container, not an image of a female woman with bow and arrows and wolf hounds but a felt presence which whispered her own name “Diana, Goddess of Wild Forests and Animals”. The presence of her around and inside and everywhere was palpable, thick and fecund. I had never felt that before in a forest grove. They went there to honor her and commune with her indeed.

She protects the wild and those who go to the wild and the wild within us. She was holding this space. I was within her womb, a forest womb, a grove.

There was a soft golden light and the walls of this container were sound and firm. I felt held and loved and at peace. A magical sphere of grace inside the womb of the Goddess Diana. Grove of the lineage indeed.

Blessed be.

~Theresa C. Dintino

©Theresa C. Dintino 2019