Lords Of The Forest

A deity or a local god plays often an important role in forest horror stories. In Christian tradition, these original pagan gods become sometimes the devil. But forest deities as the Green Man survived. They even exist in churches as paintings or sculptures. There is a deep respect for these deities as they represent archaic forces of natures. Are they a product of human imagination or do they indeed represent the otherworldly side of nature?

Storytellers like the lord of the forest as a sinister deity since it makes a great mystery or even a murderous antagonist. H.P. Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen and many others made use of the long tradition of deities. Some of the forest deities are the same or resemble ancient gods of the greek, roman or Celtic tradition.

A prominent example is The Great God Pan. Horned gods appear often as lords of the forest. Both Herne the hunter and the Celtic god Cernunnos are horned gods like Pan. Cernunnos, sometimes also a fertility god, has a frightening appearance. He is present in rituals, in folk stories and made a career in horror. Sometimes he is more seen as a devil or demonic figure. Recently he appeared in the outstanding forest horror series Black Spot (Zone Blanche) by Netflix and France 2.

It makes sense to have Cernunnos and Herne in the European tradition of folk horror since there is indeed a Celtic tradition. The tradition was later borrowed by modern witch-covens. The horned god plays an important role in Margaret Murray’s Witch-Cult hypothesis. These lords of the forest are often connected with sacrifice and magic powers. People worshipping the gods hope to get something in return. In more modern traditions the lords of the forest are also connected with the seasons and rituals related to fertility. One example is the Beltane tradition on April 30.

In winter the lords of the forest are related to the wild hunt. Herne is sometimes mentioned and this – of course – mostly presents the darker aspects of the forest deities. They are often hunters and it’s not always animals they are after.

The lords of the forest are often local deities. Even it seems easy for a god to travel wherever he wants to these deities often represent the genius loci. It is a spirit residing in an exceptional tree or a mountain top. There is no evidence for this, but the idea of the lords of the forest represents more an earthbound entity rather than a cosmic force as in my story.

However, it isn’t necessarily either one thing or the other. If there is one thing that “true stories”, folklore stories, witness accounts of supernatural phenomena or horror fiction tells us then it is the fact that the gods exhibit many faces of themselves. It might be the same phenomenon which appears in different disguises. The important thing about forest deities is that nature itself is an expression of these gods. The giant old tree or the impenetrable forest itself is only a cover. There is an invisible world behind this. Ancient folks had a sense about it. Forest deities as the horned god make it more simple to grasp these feeling because if something has a face or a form it is easier to handle.

He Who Walks Behind

The mysterious lights are his currency. This is the way how he lures people into the forest in the middle of the night. In some nights he ignites the Black Fire. He who walks behind the trees (The Forest Dark Feature Film Project).

He who walks behind. This is mostly associated with Stephen King’s short story and movie franchise Children of the corn. In King’s story, He who walks behind the rows is a pagan fertility deity commanding the children of a remote city named Gatlin. The town becomes a deadly trap for a couple.

Like many supernatural powers, the idea of He who walks behind has already a tradition before it came in a contemporary culture like the black fire.

The interesting quality of this threatening and extremely dangerous entity is that it is present in many ways but usually cannot be seen. It manifests in many forms and is a shapeshifter. It can exert a hidden influence on humans, nature and things. It manifests in threatening ways but also makes promises.

The tradition of this kind of deities can be found in folk stories about pagan worship and in ritual. Typically this kind of deities demands sacrifice. In folk tradition, the deity is often connected to the power of place. Thus, it appears to be a local deity. However, it is not clear if it is kind of a force which is really a local power or is it one and the same phenomenon which manifests in different places.


Haunted forests appear to be a good place for He who walks behind to manifest. It may be that it is such a kind of unknown force is behind unexplained phenomena and secret ritual. Its most unsettling ability is its influence it can except over humans. It does not only lead them into traps but also makes them doing things.

Something dwells in the darkness. He who walks behind is an uncanny presence which sounds familiar. It is the chaos gods which appear in many mythologies. The places of power are their seats. The Forest Dark is a place where HE is close, closer than anywhere. As Algernoon Blackwood said in his famous story The Willows: “The Gods are here, if they are anywhere at all in the world.”

He who walks behind is the one who hides his face. But who is He? Perhaps it is an abstract form, not human-like but also not a machine. It might be a form of consciousness. He was given many names. In stories, he appears in many disguises. He is the shimmer, the Wendigo, The Colour From Outer Space or The Great Old Ones.


The Forest Dark Video Instalment No5 – Creation

“From the very beginning, there was light and there was chaos. Both came from far beyond” (The Forest Dark Screenplay).

Black Fire. Dark Energies in the forest. Telluric Forces. Where do they come from? There are many descriptions of the nature of haunted places. There are the remote forests and the mist-shrouded mountains where people vanish. Hidden places where rituals and sacrifices do happen. The region where mysterious lights can be seen. The haunted countryside where unspeakable forces had influenced many generations. There must be a source for this. Somewhere.

The mythological stories of mankind have many tales about something which came from deep within. There is a rich imagination about an underworld. The caves had been populated by the lower gods.

What if it came from outer space? H.P. Lovecraft described an entity in his famous story “The Color From Outer Space”. It is something which has an indescribable colour. Since it set its foot on Earth it is exerting a malicious influence. It never reveals its true nature.

In Lovecraft’s story the “Color From Outer Space” terrorises a strip of farmland. However there might be supernatural forces which are larger. They represent primordial forces. We find reports of “Chaos Gods” in any ancient culture. They are called “Ahriman” or Andra Manyu, destructive spirits, in Zoroastrianism’s hypothesis and Apep or Apophis in Egyptian mythology. Also the Norse mythology and American Indian People do know about the gods which stem from primordial chaos. Mostly these gods reside in the skies. They are opponents of the sun gods or the light.

In our times we tend to envision these forces as the “Great Old Ones” (Lovecraft) which come perhaps from a distant galaxy. But if we think about the cosmic influence it doesn’t necessarily always imply travel.

Albert Einstein who developed the Quantum mechanics described a phenomenon called “Spooky action at a distance”. It refers to the so-called “quantum entanglement”. Entanglement makes it possible to achieve what is not possible in the conventional world.

Entanglement means that if you watch a particle in one place, another particle, which could be light-years away, will instantly change its properties. It suggests that the two are connected.

This phenomenon contradicts ordinary laws of nature. Nothing can travel faster than light. But in the mysterious quantum world, there is long distance communication without any need of time.

Many scientists conducted experiments about the “Spooky action at a distance” and there are more and more results which appear to prove the existence of this phenomenon.

Perhaps the strange places on Earth, the haunted forests, are mysteriously connected with the universe. We could think of them as the cosmic forest, created by forces beyond our imagination. Thus a place on Earth could be directly be connected and influenced by something far away. It could be some sort of intelligence in a nebula or wherever the chaos gods reside.

If we follow the ideas of quantum physics we might also find that our idea of “here” and “there” isn’t any longer valid under certain circumstances. If “they” can be in touch with our everyday world here there could be also windows into the other worlds. In dreams, sometimes, very clear visions of distant worlds pop-up, which hasn’t been seen by any real explorer.

“Forest Dark Video Installment No5 – Creation” is related to the feature film project and hopefully inspires viewers about “Light and Chaos”, “Here and There” and how the forest is connected.

The Local Gods

Walter Evan-Wentz, a student of folklore, developed some very interesting ideas about the ancient gods, religion and paranormal phenomena. Among the famous “Tibetan Book Of The Dead”, he is also well-known for his book “The Masked Gods” in his time. It’s common knowledge now that the ancient gods are continued to live under different names.

However, Jaques Valleé speaks in his book “Dimension” about an even more interesting discovery by Evan-Wentz: “Could it be, he asked, that every land has its own psychic and telluric forces, contributing to the appearance of certain spirit entities, regarded by human beings as gods and goddesses? (Jacques Vallee, “Dimensions”)”


As I said in The Summoning I think that rituals and secret practices are often the expressions of the hidden forces at a certain place. It is an interesting thought that these gods are an expression of a psychic and telluric force rather than universal beings, which are usually imagined as celestial beings. However, if we look at ancient and even Christian tradition it makes sense. There are many saints which are special and have some sort of “local identity”.

The most interesting thought by Evan-Wentz is that not only the locals but the visitors, the new settlers, the intruder comes under influence of these gods.

Evan-Wentz writes in Masked Gods: “They had confronted here that great psychic entity which was the spirit-of-place, the heart of a new continent. It shattered them completely. But each succumbed in a different way”.

I believe that is what often also folk horror stories are about. It’s not only a potential confrontation with the locals but the visitor comes under influence of the landscape and its psychic forces. These forces find expression in paranormal phenomena but not necessarily.

Evan-Wentz reported that he heard about “shining beings”, which appeared to the Indians in California on sacred mountains which were very similar like the encounter the founder of the “Church Of Latter-Day”, Joseph Smith, had. It seems that in the new world resides a powerful psychic force, which triggers people to change in a certain way. It tends to create its own kind of belief-system. The otherworldliness of the new world is a different one as in Europe or Asia.

Sometimes it is all about atmosphere and a sort of hidden influence felt by visitors or by inhabitants. Often we can’t lay our finger on it. It’s difficult to describe what it exactly is, but we know it is there. Imagining these psychic forces as gods is a logical way to give these forces some face. In stories, it’s a challenge because if you want to stick true to otherworldy realities you might not have a Bigfoot-like monster or an ax-swinging madman as an antagonist. Therefore it’s sometimes difficult to explain the story.

Often we deal with’s what left of paranormal events a long time ago. Some supernatural-god-like force left its footprint on the landscape and the local population. Wonders and unexplainable mind-shattering events lead to weird belief-systems. Maybe the spiritual entity is already gone for a long time. But what happened is alive in a tribal memory.

If we look deeper into this, we are confronted with more mind-boggling questions: How could it be the place, the landscape? Why does it happen? My opinion is it even we not necessarily find a paranormal element either in a true story or legend or a fictional story it always tells us that there must be some sort of otherworld. It means there is an otherworld even more powerful than we think: our literal world, the landscapes, the forests, the mountains are more or less the surface on a windows-screen. The real world lies beneath. The otherworld carries our world.

And why? Maybe there is a spiritual control system. One favorite theory of Valleé and other ufologists is that men are the object of a control system engaged by invisible gods.

In the same chapter in “Dimensions” Jacques Valleé mentions a former Jesuit priest who implied in conversations with Vallee that “the “phenomenon originates with entities that manipulate our reality and our destiny for their own purposes”(Dimensions).

But what do we know? We can only develop our models or speculate what’s going on but the enormous impact both of real stories and fiction dealing with “the local gods” make us sure of the underlying truth.