Throughout all of human history the forests of our world have always held a special allure. The trees have birthed countless legends and myths, as well as spawned all manner of forest entities, sprites, and spirits. Just walking amongst the tranquil woods one can feel why this might be so, as it is a place that holds an almost mystical quality to it, sometimes even seeming like a place we don’t even belong in at all. Over the ages there have been many tales of encounters with the supernatural denizens of the woodlands of the world, and here we will look at some that take on a rather frightening quality, to show that the forests can not only propel wonder, awe, and myth, but also fear as well.
Some of the most spectacular encounters with strange, unsettling mystical forces in the forest are those accounts that describe seeing some sort of spooky wood spirits or perhaps even demons. These are those incidents in which people have come across what seem to be ghostly or magical entities somehow connected to the forest, and which likely did not mean to be seen at all. From the site Your Ghost Stories we have an account from a woman who had her bizarre experience as she was hiking in the summer time with her boyfriend in the mountains of Italy. On one of these peaceful hikes she reached the end of the trail before her boyfriend, so she decided to wait there and enjoy the tranquil scenery while she waited for him to arrive. She says of what happened next:
I was sitting there on a rock and, I don’t know how, but I felt something was in the woods behind me. Behind me there was a precipice not very deep though and the forest would cover the end of it and all around. I stood up and tried to see if there was something down there. That’s when I saw it (I still get shivers when I think about it) deep down there, there was a chamois, a beautiful one with long horns, I got excited because I rarely see one. I was looking at him from behind, his fur was light brown and he had a black line that went from the neck to the tail, but something was very wrong with it, that’s when I froze. His front legs looked like they didn’t end with a normal cloven hoof, but he had three fingers at the end of his front legs similar to a bird claw but not that sharp, the back legs seemed normal. I could see it cause he was walking very slowly and calmly through the vegetation. Then I noticed with great horror that his face seemed flat, no muzzle, I couldn’t look at him directly in the face but I couldn’t see his forehead and nose, what should have been there, just wasn’t.
Thinking about it now I really wished I had seen his face, just to see how the eyes and mouth were organized. He disappeared in the pine’s shadow and I was still there shocked when my boyfriend finally arrived. I told him what I saw and he didn’t believe me, he laughed. I know it’s not scary and it can even be funny if you think about it, a chamois with eagle leg and flat face. I thought about it all the time we were descending. It was so weird. At the end I told myself that I must have dreamed it even if I would love to know that I wasn’t the only one to see that thing. I like to think it was a Deity that took the form of a chamois. There wasn’t any village at the mountain’s feet so I couldn’t ask if someone saw that too, or if someone knew nothing about a weird animal living in the forest.
This was obviously not some normal animal of the forest, so did she happen to come across some forest spirit or deity as she suspects, or was this all some strange hallucination? Perhaps an even odder tale comes from a Reddit poster who claims that at the time he had been in the wilds outside of Houston, Texas, in what he describes as “an isolated patch of forest” by a creek. He had set a hammock up that evening and was relaxing listening to the sounds of the night when the strange came for him. He explains his experience:
This night, it was dark, like “extra dark” (I think the moon was covered up, but there was still enough city light to create a dim “atmospheric glow”) and I heard some movement, definitely coming my way, where I was on the creek… And it didn’t seem as “cautious” as most of the other animals, which startled me: whatever was coming my way was ballsy… I don’t think I had my knife at the time, so I think I grabbed a stick, and listened quietly as the sound got closer… It kept walking in my direction, but I could barely see a thing… Eventually, it got pretty close, and I could FAINTLY see a silhouette… This wasn’t an animal I had seen before… It was white, with long legs, too tall to be a hog, and definitely not a deer. It just stood there, staring at me, as if it was pissed that I was in its spot or something… I don’t think I made any sudden movements or anything, but just sat there looking, trying to figure out what it was… Eventually it went back into the forest, and honestly, even with how much I go through those same patches of woods, I haven’t seen it again… I was thinking it was a wolf, or a coyote, but this thing was WHITE, like “white enough to see him in almost pitch black darkness”, and he had long legs, and a real dignified demeanor… Like, he just stared at me, not scared at all, before he calmly disappeared… I aint seen nothing like that before, and I aint seen it since, nor have I seen any footprints or anything that really seem indicative of what it was… Just “long legs, white fur, and a really calm, dignified demeanor.
The witness also describes feeling a sense of power and menace from the entity. One odd account comes from a Reddit poster who says that his experience happened in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, which are a rugged portion the northern Appalachian Mountains of the Eastern United States. He claims that at the time he worked at the Appalachian Mountain Club at the visitor center and that he would often stay there after hours. This was when he would begin to notice something rather odd in the nearby wilderness, and this would escalate into the truly terrifying. He says:
Every once and a while as I walked from the dorms to the main building I would see lights up on the mountain and I usually dismissed it as some hiker or camper and most other people did. It was a very rainy night so I could’ve been hearing things or just my own paranoia but some lights seemed very close and it bobbed up and down quickly so I went to go see if someone needed help but it quickly went out and I could see from my own phone light a crouched, very dark “humanoid” shape hunched over. I ran, Fuck that noise.
The next day I asked the dishwasher who I was very close to and he had claimed to see something similar but no one else had believed him as he was pretty new as well. I had about 2 months left on my work contract so I decided to keep quiet about it. Where I live it’s around an old paper mill and I had a close friend come up and we decided to go for a walk in the woods across the street, it was about midnight and being college student’s we didn’t care about sleep at all. The area of woods we walked in used to be a street in the early 1900’s so there’s a lot of road bits but there’s one specifically that I have no better way to describe than “Un-earthly” damn near perfectly circular and a lack of foliage around it.
Again I have no better way to describe it than it “Called to me” I had a weird possession to sit on this rock. I had my friend watch my back as he had weird feeling about it as well. About a minute in a had gotten a splitting head ache and as much as I wanted to get off this rock I couldn’t move, I was absorbed in something else. About another minute in I had called out to my friend to see if he saw anything and he claimed to see a dark hunched over “humanoid” Figure in one of the trees. I had to have him drag me off the rock and we ran out of the woods.
This account is interesting in that it illustrates a dark trend among some of these mysterious forest encounters, in that whatever these entities are they sometimes seem to have malicious intent, perhaps even drawing us into their lair for nefarious reasons unknown. Such accounts seem suggest that these spirits wish to pull us in and take us from the reality we know, to spirit us away. One report that follows this same spooky pattern is one that was given by a woman named Moyra Doorly, who had been with a friend visiting a small island off the coast of Scotland called The Isle of Arran. The island itself is already rich in the lore and Celtic legends of fairies and forest spirits, and Doorly would actually report having several encounters with such beings. However, some of these meetings turned out to have a rather sinister air to them.
One of Doorly’s encounters happened as she was out enjoying the peaceful serenity of the unspoiled island and suddenly noticed what looked to be a procession of tall, slender entities with dull gray hair dressed in striped brown clothing and surrounded by smaller dancing, cavorting beings described as “imps.” Watching them she felt herself falling into a sort of trance-like state, and felt an overwhelming compulsion to follow this bizarre parade into the lonely wilderness. She went along with them in this daze, and says she did not remember much of the walk, but that she soon found herself in a strange new location. She says of what happened next:
We were soon inside a hall which looked as if it had been hewn out of rock. [uh oh….]. There was a long table where preparations for a meal had been made. Again the imps tried to make me change my clothes but I refused. The stripes stood very still, as if in anticipation. Perhaps they were waiting to see if I would sit at their table, which I couldn’t bring myself to do. Then I heard the words: ‘You are the first person to come this way for 200 years. Come be with us.’
According to Doorly, this ethereal voice was compelling, and both angelic and evil at the same time, it sort of snapped her out of her stupor, yet she still describes the atmosphere as remaining “languorous and dreamy.” As the beings stood around her smiling and beckoning to her she managed to find the reserve of strength within her to turn away and walk the other direction, after which they vanished and she found herself by an unfamiliar stream. Even more shocking than this mysterious encounter was that when she was able to get her bearings and find her friend, he also claimed to have met the very same entities, and that they had implored him to stay with them as well. They would continue to see weird balls of dancing light or odd mists in the forest, and hear disembodied singing from the trees, but they would not see the strange little beings again during their stay. What were these entities and what did they want? Even eerier, what would have happened to these two witnesses if they had decided to stay as the entities had asked?
In other cases like this the forest entities are not seen, but they still seem intent on drawing the victim away into the forbidding wilds. On Your Ghost Stories is the account from a witness in Croatia, who seems to have been beckoned by some unseen force dwelling within the woods as he was out walking his dogs along a trail near a steep drop-off. The witness says of his spooky experience:
There was a new road going through my forest made last year. I walked my dogs there a couple of times, but I never went too far. Until this time, when I went all the way to the end of the road. There was a dead end and after that, nothing but forest. There was also a cliff/drop so there was no more paths I, or anyone else, could walk. I sat there on the forest floor and was giving my dogs water, when I heard someone calling me. They (he or she, I couldn’t quite recognize if it was a male of female voice) were shouting my name.
I wasn’t quite sure if I heard it right, so I stood still and waited to hear if they will say it again… And they did. They repeated it a few times and now I was 100% sure they were calling my name. I thought it was maybe someone who I know, so I shouted back. No response. They just continued shouting my name, over and over again. I eventually got up and returned home, I could still hear my name shouted as I was walking away. I don’t know what that was and I’m also not sure, if it was a person, where were they? Because as I already said, there was a cliff at the end of the road. Not a place where people could walk. And the shouts were coming from that direction, from the forest, like someone was at the bottom of the cliff.
I went down that road a couple more times after that and nothing weird happened. I always feel kind of uneasy there, since that part of the forest is a bit dark, so I feel watched at all times. Especially now since that happened, it’s like I expect something is out there just waiting on me.
Considering the proximity of that cliff and the origin of the disembodied voices, it almost seems as if whatever it was may have been trying to lure the witness off of the trail and off of that cliff. Is that what was going on here or was it just his imagination playing tricks on him? It is hard to say, but an unsettling account nevertheless. One more account that seems related was given by a witness in England who had a couple of weird encounters with a forest spirit of some sort. It started when he went out for a walk in the forest near his house one day and ended up in a clearing, where he explains what happened next:
It was night when I arrived first, and I had to make use of a torch to get to the bottom of the hill, which looked out across the wide field. I lamented after a while, speaking my troubles to the wind which blew back comforts at the ends of my sentences. It was then, that I noticed something, across the field. A small, pin-point light, appearing for a moment before vanishing into the darkness once again. At first, I was about to leave, startled by someone obviously walking towards me with their phone out as a torch. But torches aren’t that small, or perfectly round (orb-like), nor do they dance up into the air and fade out of existence; and no one would ever in a million years be able to walk through the slick muck without the aid of a light, so turning it on and off for a single moment would be pointless and ultimately fruitless.
I stayed for a while afterwards, thinking I saw it again, but couldn’t be too sure if it wasn’t just my eyes playing tricks with me. The next time I went there, was Christmas Eve. I once again sat there, this time in the forest itself, talking to seemingly nothing but something. I ended a sentence with a greeting, saying ‘hello’ to whatever Wight lived thereabouts. I was hailed by a guttural greeting back, short and clipped, rough but gurgled, like a wet rock going down a stream. No one was there – I was at the centre, and the looseness of the trees let me see completely 360 degrees – and as a result, was thoroughly freaked out enough to leave with a promise to come back another time.
The witness in this case goes on to explain that he felt the presence he had encountered wanted him to stay or to follow it, and it is hard to say what would have happened if he had. These particular sorts of accounts are very eerie, in that they seem to perhaps possibly tie into the myriad unexplained vanishings that have occurred in forests all over the world, such as those covered in the Missing 411 series of books by David Paulides. It makes one wonder if some sort of force, energy, or entity of the forest could be luring some of these unfortunate souls in for reasons we may never understand and are perhaps not meant to. Whatever the origins of these forces are, or whether they really even exist at all, they underscore the fact that these seas of green have always had an allure and mystique to them, and perhaps harbor dangerous things beyond our comprehension.