Around the world, countless cultures have viewed the forest as a place of darkness and danger. From the foot of Mt. Fuji to the depths of Germany, people all throughout history have looked at the shadows between the trees as the home of something to be avoided at all costs. The woods have always been a place that demands respect; whether the true danger comes from ancient forest deities, or the inherent risk of entering the wilderness unprepared, the best course of action might just be to never set foot inside at all. Because if we do, we might not come back out.
In episode 176 of the Lore podcast, host Aaron Mahnke leads an excursion into the woods, and they are unlovely, dark, and deep. “Rooted” covers a lot of forested territory, ranging through Roman, Hindu, and Norse mythology, Grimm fairy tales, Arthurian legend, and Scandinavian folklore. The second half of Mahnke’s narrative is devoted to the “Witch Woods” outside Salem (accused practitioner Giles Corey is said to have hid out there at one time). Mahnke relates Caroline Howard King’s mid-18th Century encounter with an uncanny farmhouse in a clearing in the woods (an event that King would later record in her memoir When I Lived in Salem). The episode’s Gothic trails all converge into a concluding promo for Mahnke’s latest venture, the audio fiction podcast Bridgewater (which premieres on August 6th). Before traveling on to Bridgewater, though, loyal listeners will easily get lost in the strange sylvan spaces visited in this highly enjoyable installment of Lore.