Skip to content


Discovered Words: Deorfrith

Deorfrith [translation unknown, Dee-OR-free-/th/zh/G??]: Deer Sanctuary.

A really pleasing find today, an Anglo-Saxon word discovered through Imaginal Futures, used in documents to refer to the deer parks created by the Normans when they conquered Britain. However, writer Tim Russell does some excellent work reclaiming and decolonizing this word in the above article, and I’ve endeavored to add a wee bit here.

Deor: (1) Deer (2) Any wild animal that lives on the land.

Interesting threads link to the Scottish name Deoridh, Anglicised as Dorcas, and deriving from Greek derkomai ‘to see clearly’ like a gazelle (or deer, presumably). Other translations of derkomai places it as the root of pilgrim (‘to see the way ahead clearly’), and dragon (‘who glances sharply’).

Frith: (1). Peace (2) Sanctuary (3) Friend.

From the article:

“The word frith is often translated as peace, but again more accurately refers to the conditions of kinship that give rise to a state of peace.  The term frith, also related to the words ‘friend’ and ‘free’, is ‘the state of things which exists between friends. And it means, first and foremost, reciprocal inviolability.'”

Putting that together, and Deorfrith becomes a word symbolizing interconnectedness, kinship even, with the more-than-human precinct. I like to think that when we add that ‘seeing’ ‘pilgrim’ and ‘peace’ it also alludes to that feeling of connection, nourishing joy and rest we get when we step away from purely human society and surroundings, as when we tarry a while in a park, or any wilder place.

“To be claimed by deorfrith, or to claim it is to subvert the colonised mind of our history and dare to imagine that we share in the life and fate of all things of the world as our true family.”



Beyond the practical reasons for learning to identify bark, I realize that I have been learning and teaching the art of perception. Bark may not seem exotic. It may not, at least initially, leave you in awe like the panoramic view from a hilltop or a glimpse of a crimson morning sky. But learning to see formerly mundane or hidden layers of beauty and function opens up a world of detail and nuance that allow what is local to become spectacular, bringing us closer to home.

– Michael Wojtech, The Language of Bark (American


Disaster Altruism


Get the latest posts delivered to your email: