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Thread: Wildwood

  1. #1

    Wildwood

    Ok! So this seems to be a favorite for many. I know it was an immediate favorite. So I figured it needed its own thread! So much to interpret!

    I see it as a spiritual journey and transformation through the woods.


    Lyrics:

    Wildwood
    poppies
    Wildwood
    touch me

    behind the birches whirl
    the bongo boys in their summoning
    the sound seeds now
    in the fingers of the eastern breeze
    where sleepless wait
    for her ascent from the perilous pit
    she said "the only way to change our fate
    is to make it rain"

    Wildwood
    poppies
    Wildwood
    touch me

    past the Alders and the Oaks
    through the Willow Grove snakes Ivy's gift
    which taught you can't escape anguish
    but how to live with it
    then reports from the robins
    form in you an inner radiance
    it's as if they fused with a spirit you knew
    who's come back again

    Wildwood
    poppies
    Wildwood
    touch me

    off the pilgrim's path
    with the talisman he placed in my hands
    with its magic mapped from winter's past
    it leads the way

    after 3 long months endured with her absent
    over dragon lines we walked the current
    a labyrinth
    with little green corn shoots
    now in abundance
    as the forest celebrates
    she says "make it rain
    Wildwood
    poppies
    Wildwood
    touch me
    touch me again"


    Soooooo many layers to this one. Such rich imagery and references to mythology.

    Starting with poppies, which have been long associated with sleep. A pain reliever (opium, morphine), this could be a reference to relieving her own pain, her mother's, the world's. There's more pain and strife in the world now than there has been in ages, so it'd be nice for everyone to get ahold of some poppies. However, they're also associated with eternal sleep/death. So maybe that would be the answer to our pain. A morbid theme, but a very real one. In classical mythology, their significance goes beyond that, as they are associated with resurrection, which, in this case, could be a nice parallel to the Death Midwife in Mary's Eyes.

    So the first verse.

    The mentions of trees (Birch, Alder, Oak, Willow, and—not a tree but bear with me—Ivy) I am sure are a reference to the Celtic Ogham Tree calendar (in which different trees were associated with different months, and in which they also served as an alphabet—which is what Battle of Trees is all about, really). (Don't know about the bongo boys.) So we have the Birch tree first, a tree that, ecologically speaking, is a pioneer species, usually associated with secondary successions (colonizing an already established ecosystem—ha!), which ties really well into the whole native invader theme, as they can pose a threat to heathland if not controlled by periodic burning. This would make the line "the only way to change our fate is to make it rain" make sense: we need an ecological balance (something Earth is severely lacking) to thrive, to douse that fire that is destroying our land. (I'm also assuming that the female entity who says this could be taken as Mother Mary, as they are "awaiting her ascent" (Mary's Assumption) or, because Mary is considered a mother figure to everyone, Mother Earth. Her ascent would then be back from the pit we've thrown her into.) There's also mention of "the sleepless" who are waiting. With the mention of poppies, the sleepless in this case would be people who are in pain or suffering, awaiting the poppy to ease their troubles.

    (As an aside, birch trees are also associated with the land of the dead in Gaelic folklore, as well as with death, fairies (!), and resurrection. So again, recurring themes of death and life after death.)

    In the second verse, there's the Alder, which can, from an ecological standpoint, help successfully restore soil through its rapid input of organic matter and nitrogen. In the Ogham calendar, this tree is associated with protection, and nurturing. The Oak comes in with great wisdom. It was believed that more spiritually inclined Celts could access the ethereal realm through Oak doors, so there are many references to crossing the threshold or lifting the veil to another realm, be it an afterlife or a land of Fae of some sort. Additionally, the Celtic word for "druid" (the Celtic holders of knowledge, the teachers, and spiritual leaders) literally means "oak-knower." So yeah. Wisdom. The Willow was closely associated with imagination and intuition.

    So she has acquired protection and wisdom, and then through a "grove" of intuition comes to find the Ivy. Due to its ability to grow where other plants can't and for its evergreen foliage, in the Ogham calendar, Ivy is associated with strength, determination, resilience. So Ivy comes and teaches her how to survive through adversity.

    Her journey through the forest is then made even more special with a visit from the robins. Robins! Robins come in with several messages for our narratot. In myth, American Robins and European Robins are similar in that they both got their red breast from landing on someone's wounds. A Native American man and a boy in the case of the American Robin, and Jesus in the case of the European robin. According to legend, a robin came to Jesus as he was dying on the cross to sing to him and comfort him through his pain, and it was Jesus' blood that gave robins their red breast. Robins are also associated with the coming of Spring. All of this would then mean that she is receiving messages of hope, life, comfort, and resilience from flora and fauna, from Mother Nature herself—effectively giving her an inner radiance, fusing her with a spirit she always had, a spirit she had kept locked away for some time now. (In my head, and completely unrelated to the actual interpretation, this comes as a nice throwback to "you were wild—where are you now?" But that's me )

    The pilgrim's path I suppose could be the fact that her road trip was very much about getting lost, not taking the traditional routes. The talisman perhaps something of Poppa's to guide her as she searched for her lineage, her songlines, herself.

    The mention of winter's past ties in nicely with the messages of a hope for spring the robin has given her. The 3 months also ties in with this and now we have the Persephone myth she so loves. It was set that Persephone would spend three months of the year in the Underworld. Winter. Demeter, her mother, mourns.

    Then the dragon and labyrinth.... yeah... I get lost in that one haha. Aptly, I suppose.

    But after those three months, Persephone returns. Little green corn shoots start to pop up (the Corn Mother!); the forest rejoices. The rain has come, all is well again, Mother Nature has healed herself, just as our narrator has through her.

    And OBVIOUSLY these are all my own interpretations.

    Also!

    It ends with

    "Wildwood
    poppies
    Wildwood
    touch me
    touch me again"

    So she's asking the poppies to touch her TWICE now.

    The first to ease her pain through sleep, and then the second to bring her back to life. The cycles of nature, the cycles of life. Life. Death. Pain. Joy. Defeat. Survival.



    I hope I didn't bore anyone, and I may change my mind about half of this the moment I hit "submit" but I love the song, love the lyrics, love the fact that there's so much to be interpreted (not just here but on so many other tracks).

    In many ways, I feel like this is the album I've been waiting for Tori to make; witchy themes, nature, paganism, environmentalism, spirituality, science (Sagan!)... all of it is right up my alley.

    Needless to say I am very happy with the album.
    Last edited by jacob's room; 09-08-2017 at 04:47 PM. Reason: perfectionism is a bitch.

  2. #2
    impeccable armadillo May H's Avatar
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    Thank you for starting a thread about this song! It's my current favourite from the new album. I even like it better than Reindeer King, which I didn't expect would happen!

    I agree that the "she" mentioned in the song is Persephone coming from the underworld in spring, and maybe also in a broader context Nature or Mother Earth healing herself from harm done by humans, a vision of a happy ending on the album after "Up the Creek".

    Wikipedia tells me that dragon lines is another name for ley lines - that would also explain the pilgrim's path and the labyrinth. She is going on a pilgrimage to ancient sacred places along a labyrinth of ley lines.

    I love the "Battle of Trees" parallel you spotted!
    Black Diamond finally confessed

  3. #3
    Senior Member bkork's Avatar
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    Thank you for your analysis! I still cannot get over the fact that this track even exists. I love it so much.

  4. #4
    Just realized what song this song reminds me of. Firefall's "Just Remember I Love You."

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Poppies as defeated soldiers, no? Reindeer King and this are the best tracks for me. It's perfect - or nearly so; a little variation towards the end or an additional bridge wouldn't have hurt. But I'm happy to have it as it is.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by May H View Post
    Wikipedia tells me that dragon lines is another name for ley lines - that would also explain the pilgrim's path and the labyrinth. She is going on a pilgrimage to ancient sacred places along a labyrinth of ley lines.
    Well that makes perfect sense, thanks! Ha. I didn't even think of googling it for some reason.

    I also just thought that there may be a thread connecting Cloud Riders to this one.

    "carved a stave against the grain
    at the nine doors to gain
    the secrets of Trees
    once I could hear them singing
    from the other side"

    She could hear the Trees, but had lost that connection somehow. By the time we get to Wildwood, she has been reconnected to them.

  7. #7
    Senior Member hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacob's room View Post
    the bongo boys in their summoning
    the sound seeds now
    in the fingers of the eastern breeze
    This might be a reference to Euros, the Greek God of the east wind. He is also closely tied to the initiation of autumn, but mostly associated with his power to bring rain. If this is a legit point of departure (who knows in the end), the bongo boys are summoning the powers of Euros to bring on that much-needed ecological balance.

    However, I also found this definition to "bongo boys," a term I had never encountered before. It is an odd term, indeed, which sounds fairly modern... I wouldn't be surprised if she got it from Kelsey or Karen Binns. The bongo boys in that case wouldn't be the ones performing a ritual summoning positive change. I think that Persephone might be she whose "ascent from the perilous pit" is awaited. I was taught that Persephone spent six months in the underworld yearly, beginning with autumn (emergence of Euros) and ascending in spring, of course. What I'm getting from this interpretation is that the bongo boys are the ones summoning Euros for the sake of bringing on autumn which is the season preceding Persephone's descent. The native invaders (bongo boys) are hiding behind birch trees (for obvious reasons) as they are trying to control and prevent fruition, vegetation and rebirth. Those weary of Persephone's absence and her mother's destructive (in botanical terms) grievances are bound to remain a victim to the bongo boys' cleverly manoeuvred deceptions. This actually translates rather logically in the current political context...

    Please don't laugh at me.

  8. #8
    Not laughing.

    I think that's brilliant.

    Regarding the Persephone myth, I'm fairly certain that in some versions it was six months and in others it was three (I just did some research and even found one version in which it's four!). I remember from school that Demeter started fearing and feeling anguish over Persephone's yearly descent well before she actually left, thus explaining Autumn. She knew what was coming, and it sucked.

    But Euros obviously works well in this context too, and is most definitely he who is being referred to as the eastern breeze. I really, really like that.

    And of course it makes more sense for Persephone to be ascending. *slaps forehead*

    Also,

    as the forest celebrates
    she says "make it rain"

    That would be Demeter speaking, rejoicing now that her daughter has returned.

    I love this song.

  9. #9
    Hock...hockety-pockety? Joey's Avatar
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    This song absolutely floors me. It's been in my head constantly. What a gorgeous, lyrically dense, atmospheric track! And good fucking job, Mark, on guitar work that actually ENHANCES a song!

  10. #10
    Senior Member hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacob's room View Post
    Not laughing.

    I think that's brilliant.

    Regarding the Persephone myth, I'm fairly certain that in some versions it was six months and in others it was three (I just did some research and even found one version in which it's four!). I remember from school that Demeter started fearing and feeling anguish over Persephone's yearly descent well before she actually left, thus explaining Autumn. She knew what was coming, and it sucked.

    But Euros obviously works well in this context too, and is most definitely he who is being referred to as the eastern breeze. I really, really like that.

    And of course it makes more sense for Persephone to be ascending. *slaps forehead*

    Also,

    as the forest celebrates
    she says "make it rain"

    That would be Demeter speaking, rejoicing now that her daughter has returned.

    I love this song.
    This might be my favourite song of hers in years. I am fascinated.

    To get back to Persephone/Hades/Demeter: now that I think about, it actually doesn't make that much sense to think of Persephone's absence in months. At the end of the day, it is about hte change of season which has probably been measured across different time spans depending on regional variations of the myth (and respective seasonal phenomena). Either way, Euros' mythological presence in autumn coinciding with Demeter's increasing distress makes a lot of sense (if you want it to and I am inclined to) and therefore nullifies the question of when exactly Persephone descended into the underworld.

    I am having so much fun tracing these mythological undertones in the song.

  11. #11
    Warm little diamond Nateb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey View Post
    This song absolutely floors me. It's been in my head constantly. What a gorgeous, lyrically dense, atmospheric track! And good fucking job, Mark, on guitar work that actually ENHANCES a song!
    Right?! I'm really enjoying this one too. I'm really surprised at how much his guitar is improving the song.

  12. #12
    it's a long long climb Kari's Avatar
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    This is one of my favorites from the past like...15 years, maybe ever. I love it so much. What's great is that I AM NOT REALLY SURE WHY yet - i am not sure what about this just drives a stake into my heart, but it does. I well up with tears at the opening notes. And yes, Hawley gets a cookie for the guitar here.

  13. #13
    someone to fall back on Owen's Avatar
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    There is so much going on here. Just the way she sings"touch me" is glorious and perfect.

  14. #14
    Senior Member SkyLab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kari View Post
    I love it so much. What's great is that I AM NOT REALLY SURE WHY yet - i am not sure what about this just drives a stake into my heart, but it does.
    Yup x10000. That guitar opening slays me a little....the guitar throughout does tbh (shhh). It's such a simple structure of a song but it's so effective. It blows my mind how she can find so many angles within the confines she sets herself. I also think the rhythm line has a lot to do with why this song is so successful. The syncopation in her vocal lines runs so smoothly with the drums.

  15. #15
    Militia of the Mind toriMODE's Avatar
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    The backbone of the song reminds me very much of the intro to Liquid Diamonds from the 2005 Beekeeper tour. Only it's done with the Wurlitzer and guitar now, instead of the piano.

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