In ancient legends and folk beliefs, the forest was often described as a dangerous place, filled with mysterious beings and winding paths that led into the unknown. There you could meet predators, and robbers, or get lost. If an accident happened, you were left to yourself and your discretion to get by.
At the same time, the forest was for many a well-known place where you went to work and get things you needed for your survival. The forest could also be a sanctuary where you were protected from the eyes of those around you and could go undisturbed in your thoughts for a while. Knowledge of the forest was greater among the common man than it is today. Of course, they knew where to be if you stayed out in the forest, and also how to manage there.
The forest today
As long as everything was as usual, you probably felt safe; but if something unusual or unexpected happened, the stories about the dangerous forest were in the back of the mind - then fear awoke and the event was perhaps put in connection with supernatural beings. In the notions of these beings, there was an explanation for the inexplicable, while folk belief offered rituals with the help of which one could tangibly do something to ward off or prevent what threatened - a psychological tool to deal with the frightening. Furthermore, the beings of the forest were not only dangerous but could also be helpful in difficult situations.
Today, most of us live far from the forest. But we have a different kind of relationship with it, and we still consider it a place of recreation. For many, the forest is a place where you go for rest, the stillness, and the feeling of being in an environment that is more natural than the asphalt and concrete of the city.
Sometimes there is also a pronounced spiritual dimension in the experience of the forest. The forest can be seen as a soulful place, although it is not a simple concept with unequivocal meanings. Spirited can mean everything from scientific reverence for the complexity of nature, where all small components are connected in a large ecosystem, to more pronounced religious beliefs where the forest is seen as a sacred place filled with magical powers. In these contexts, the forest is often regarded as a good place where it is healing for people to stay.
At the same time, many people today have limited knowledge of the forest, which can cause it to be perceived as a frightening place, where the unknown and dangerous await. In today's popular culture, both of these perceptions are reflected. In children's literature, the forest is often presented as a good place and its inhabitants as a counterweight to the predatory man who destroys nature. In horror films, on the other hand, the forest is a frightening place where evil and supernatural forces can grow strong undisturbed.
The forest is a place of mystery, wonder, and fear. It is a place where we can go to connect with nature and with ourselves. It is also a place where we can find solace and peace. But the forest is also a place of danger, where we can face our fears and overcome our challenges.