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#8 The Call: The Sword August 13, 2020

Posted by wimynspeak in Sourceress: The Book of Fear.
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As we rejoin our story, we see that both time and travelers have moved on, as time and travelers will. We have come, finally to that morning, the one that changes everything, though this will not likely be readily apparent to even those of us who have been warned that it is so. The sun, on this day, shines valiantly in the awakening sky, adding its welcome warmth to a cool, dry wind that coats the travelers with a fine dust it has picked up in a far away desert. Even the local herders are huddled out of sight in their small lean-tos, waiting for the mysterious wind to pass. The brave sun nearly, but never fully, succeeds in overpowering the air of impending doom and loss that hovers about like a flimsy specter, its presence felt but unseen and unacknowledged by the travelers, as if ignoring it will ensure it doesn’t exist. But of course, it does, and it is in this spectral atmosphere that we pick up the traces left behind by the events of the day, and days past that, in this space of once upon-a-time in time, are yet to come …

 

While birdsong had welcomed the travelers to dawn’s first light, that had quickly been silenced, perhaps by the choking dust, perhaps by the inherent lethargy of the day. Nearly everyone, except the girl, who could not hide her feeling of quiet exhilaration, had awakened in moods that ranged from dismal to foul, with the girl’s father feeling particularly on edge, especially upon noticing his daughter’s cheerful disposition, so dramatically different from all the others. What had she to be so happy about, when everyone else had succumbed to the day’s uneasy energy? The girl alone seemed immune.

Dark suspicions were unleashed from their hiding places and began to play at his mind, and he determined to bring this “horrid sword business” to an end once and for all. For even though he had seen no sign of the old woman, and neither his wife nor daughter had mentioned her or the sword, the unease in the air he could only attribute to a particularly heinous influence, and he became convinced the old hag was somehow behind it.

As he sat with the others, eating their morning meal in near silence, the man watched his daughter closely, remembering her recent disappearance. He had been so grateful that she had come back, so relieved, that he had been lulled into a state of complacency, feeling that they had put enough distance between themselves and the old woman, that he had never really questioned his daughter regarding her whereabouts. Now he determined to do just that and, without realizing it, found himself staring so pointedly and harshly in his daughter’s direction that she suddenly looked up, meeting his gaze, and, as if she had been struck, gave a startled cry that was noted by the others.

They looked from father to daughter, whose previously cheerful countenance, which they had much appreciated this dismal morning, was replaced by one of fear, and they wondered how to respond. The family had never seemed to them to be anything but a normal, loving family, but now they wondered. Clearly there was something going on here that they were not privy to.

The girl’s mother laid her hand gently on her husband’s arm and he was brought back to the present moment with a start. He tried to smile at his daughter, could only manage a weak grimace, but it was enough to dispel the pall shrouding the circle, and the remainder of the morning progressed uneventfully.

By the time the sun had reached its zenith, the mood of most in the group had brightened with the day, though the girl’s father continued to watch her every movement. Because of this, the girl had not had the opportunity, without raising her father’s suspicions, to share with her mother the good news, the anticipated event that had awakened her with a warm gush while the morn was yet dark, before anyone else had stirred. The girl had learned her lessons well and knew that she had only to be patient, trusting that the right moment for disclosing her secret to her mother would present itself, rather than rushing headlong into her father’s fear-infused energy by trying to force her own timing on the situation.

As the day wore on and everyone’s mood improved, and his daughter showed no signs of disappearing or doing anything besides chatting with the women and mingling with the other young ones, the man began to relax, thinking perhaps his morning suspicions had been merely overblown anxiety caused by the unusually windy, dusty conditions that had welcomed them to their day.

Unnoticed, in her seeming complacency, the girl had been sending silent, inscrutable signals to her mother, who understood the urgency of her daughter’s communication, if not the content, though she had her hunches. But despite the urgency, she, like her daughter, thoroughly understood the need to maintain an air of normalcy until such time as the next step became apparent.

They hadn’t long to wait.

That evening the woman and the girl retired to their tent at the usual hour, but the man stayed outside with the other men about the fire, his fear having been eased by the uneventful day and the marked progress they had made. Surely it was only another day or two until they reached his familial village. Had the day started differently, or had the man been less focused on easing his anxiety, less fatigued by blinding fear, he might have merely breathed a sigh of relief rather than allowing his cup to be filled and refilled with the dark, sweet, mind-numbing ale he usually avoided. This night, though, he felt so much relief that he had brought his daughter to a place of safety, away from that horrid woman with her fearful sword, that he dropped his guard and was soon more inebriated than he had ever been.

Inside the tent, though they could not see or hear what was going on, the girl intuited her father’s drunken state, sensing that she and her mother were free to converse. She turned then to her mother and smiled, though it was tinged with sadness. “It is time,” she whispered. “My blood time is upon me and the blind one beckons me to come.”

The woman’s eyes filled with tears as she held her daughter tightly, knowing she must let her go sooner than she had hoped. “Yes,” she said, “I sensed your flow had found you, though I could not be certain until you said it was so.” She paused for only a moment and then sighed, holding the girl away from her so she could see her face, her eyes. “I am ready, as I must be. But I will miss you, dear daughter.”

“Oh, Mother! How I wish you could be with me for the initiation.”

“Me, too, my love,” her mother replied, squeezing her close again. “But I am with you in spirit, always. And who knows?” she whispered mysteriously. “Who knows?”

That night, under the cover of darkness, the girl left her tent. No one saw her as she turned to gaze on the sleeping camp one last time and then, seemingly, step into a warp in the very fabric of the night and disappear.

The next morning, the girl’s father awoke in the same spot in which he had fallen into a drunken sleep the night before. None of the other men had thought to waken him and he had slept outside, by the fire, which had burned down to a hot ash that one of the women, eyeing him warily, was now stirring while tossing in a number of thick roots to cook for the morning meal.

The man shook his head and groaned, trying to remember where he was, why he was here. He looked around the camp in the meager dawn light and saw his wife exiting their tent, heading down the path to the river, along with several of the other women and girls. His daughter was not among them, and his stomach lurched with sudden dread.

One of the other men had made his way over to the fire pit and laughed now as the girl’s father staggered to his feet. “Not feeling so well this morning?” He had meant his comment as a gentle tease, feeling none too well himself. But the father was in no mood for teasing or camaraderie and shoved the other man roughly as he stumbled in a blind rage toward the family tent. Pulling open the flap, nearly ripping the material in his haste, he called out to his daughter. There was no answer.

The tent was empty.

 

And for now we will leave it thus. The girl’s father, as anyone might guess, is both fearful and enraged, a most dangerous emotional territory. What he will do, and how the story will proceed, remains to be seen. But if you are at all familiar with the weaving of tales and the intricate patterns of human nature, you likely have at least some idea of the trajectory we might expect when once again we take up the thread and follow it to that recent long ago time in that nearby faraway place …

Copyright 2020 Linda Maree/Linda M. Gabriel

#7 Festering Fear: The Sword May 30, 2020

Posted by wimynspeak in Sourceress: The Book of Fear.
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And so, just as characters in a story, or we in what we call real life, must make choices, so too must storytellers. There comes a time in every story in which the details, while relevant in the moment of occurrence, become less so in the telling. What must be known at this point is that fear is festering. While the girl’s mother has an intuitive understanding that sometimes safety is a cage that traps and confines, the girl’s father has no such comprehension and, in fact, believes it his paramount duty to provide absolute safety for both his wife and daughter. It makes no difference in the telling where these beliefs originate; we need only know they are so.

Likewise, it can be helpful, too, to stay out of a place of judgment regarding who is right and who is wrong. That being said, the girl’s father, in his fear of failing at his duty, has begun to lose faith in the cooperative relationship he has enjoyed with his wife, no longer trusting in her intuitive wisdom. And so he has begun to make choices that are in direct opposition to his daughter’s path and destiny, and which will have grave consequences for all of them.

He sees nothing of this, of course, and decides on his own, and in the clutch of fear, to take the family on a journey and remove them from the dangers he sees presented by the old woman and the sword. It matters not at this point in our story where or how he plans to do this, only that they will be in the company of others and the journey will be a long one. While the girl and her mother do not wish to go, they confer with the blind warrior and decide that, for now, they will go along with the father’s wishes. The girl has learned to trust her mentor, and though it saddens her, does nothing to disrupt her father’s plan. And so the family packs up and sets off on an unknown path. It is here, in this unknown yet familiar time and place, that we pick up the dangling thread of story …

 

Some time into the journey, the girl crossed her eleventh sun cycle threshold. The family celebrated the occasion along with the others in their little caravan, honoring her with trinkets and songs and a sumptuous meal followed by a fragrant pastry rich with spices and dripping with sweet golden honey. The girl smiled and laughed so gaily, so easily that her father nearly forgot the old woman, the sword, and the reason they were making this long and exhausting trip in the first place. It had been quite some time since he’d felt so at ease, so safe. Or so he believed.

The girl, of course, had found the time and clever ways to continue her training with the blind warrior, and one day, not long after her sun cycle celebration, she did not show up with the other young people for the evening meal. Her father was frantic, and though they enlisted the entire caravan in the search, still the girl was not found. The girl’s father suspected the old woman’s hand in this, but he had no proof and had little choice, finally, but to agree with the others and reluctantly move on, albeit slowly and always with an eye for the girl’s return.

When finally she showed up three sun crossings later, looking healthy and unharmed, the girl’s father was so numb with relief that he could not bring himself to berate her as he knew he should, but only asked, holding her tightly to his chest, “Where have you been, my daughter? We have been beside ourselves with worry. And you have held up the progress of the entire caravan.”

The girl could answer him truthfully when she said, “I’m sorry I worried you.” But she offered no further explanation, and because he didn’t really want to know the truth, preferring to believe his own misguided thoughts regarding the girl’s “escape” from the old woman’s clutches and her voluntary return to him (for he was sure that is what happened) the girl’s father did not ask for more.

Her mother, however, sought out her daughter that evening and suggested a stroll under the vigorous full moon. When they were far enough from the others where they could still be seen in the silvery light, but not overheard, the girl’s mother said simply, “You went to her.”

The girl nodded. “Yes,” she said. “We met in a hidden place not far from here.”

“She is following us, then?”

The girl only shrugged. “She called to me; I went.”

When her mother smiled, she continued. “The time is getting close and, well … I had to go. I’m sorry I couldn’t let you know.”

Her mother put up her hand and waved away her daughter’s apology. “There is no need to apologize,” she said. “You are doing what you must do: following the path that has been laid out for you even before the light of the first star shone in the dark of the first moonlit sky.” She took her daughter’s hand in her own and squeezed it. “I am proud of you,” she said. “I don’t know that I would have had your strength had I been called to follow this path.”

The girl laughed, a sound as light and bright as the tinkling of faerie bells. “Oh, Mother,” she said, “where do you think I get my strength, if not from you?”

Her mother was silent for a moment, searching her daughter’s face and truly seeing for the first time the wise young woman she was becoming. “It won’t be long now.”

“No,” her daughter answered. “The time is upon us and …” She paused. “My father will not be pleased.”

“He will not,” her mother said, a shadow of sadness flitting across her face. “No, but that is not your worry. Your father will do as he will, but you must remain steadfast in your commitment.”

“What about you, Mother? How will you handle the certain upheaval that is coming?”

The woman smiled again at her daughter, taking the girl’s face gently in her hands. “That, too, is not your concern, dear one.”

They stood still like this for several minutes, searching in each other’s eyes for any trace of hidden anger or resentment, and found none.

The girl nodded then. “I trust you, Mother.”

“And I you, my daughter.”

 

And so we leave our story here, in the silvery light of a young girl’s trust in her own destiny and her mother’s faith and assurance that all is as it should be.

 

Copyright 2020 Linda Maree/Linda M. Gabriel

#6 Training Begins: The Sword April 6, 2020

Posted by wimynspeak in Sourceress: The Book of Fear.
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Nothing is ever as it seems, neither in time nor space nor the threads of circumstances that make up a story or a life. No matter how it is experienced, there is a flow of truth that is related to perception, and another which is harder to define for it is not often recognized for what it is: THE Truth, the ultimate. We will not presume to lecture on the latter, for that would likely be fruitless. Most of us live in the relative truth that is our story, and it will help to keep this in mind as we return to find the girl beginning, or so it seems, her sword training in that once-upon-a-place-and-time that is neither here nor there …

The first time the girl felt the sword in her hand she was blindfolded. She thought maybe this was because her teacher was blind, so that she might share her experience, but the old woman assured her this was how they all started, each warrior in their lineage. When she felt the cool hilt against her palm, and the weight of the sword pulling at her muscles as she struggled to hold it steady, a tingle, a current of energy, like lightning, ran down the length of her arm and she let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.

“Just feel it,” the old woman said, “its weight, its power.”

The girl nodded. Even had she wanted to speak, the awe of the moment carried away all of her words on a soundless breath.

“Now,” said the old woman, “put one foot in front of the other; it doesn’t matter which, and leave some space between them. Good. Now turn the front foot out slightly so your feet are at an angle. Yes, that’s it. This is how you set a strong foundation.”

The girl didn’t stop to wonder how the woman could “see” her stance. She had stopped questioning the blind one’s abilities and knew that though her eyes were no more than seers of shadows, the old woman, in her own way, still had certain and precise vision.

“Hold the sword out in front of you. “

The girl again did as she was told, willing her arm and weary muscles to stop shaking; the sword was much heavier than she had anticipated.

“Shift your weight front to back, keeping your spine straight, your head high, and the sword steady.”

It took all of her will and resolve to do as the blind warrior instructed, but once again the girl complied. When the old woman asked her to switch her stance again, she did so, the sword growing heavier and heavier until her arm, against her will, began to tremble noticeably with the strain. Only then did the old woman tell her to stop.

“Rest the tip of the sword lightly on the ground,” she told her, “while I remove the blindfold.”

So the blindfold was removed and the girl, eager for a glimpse of the Sword of Wisdom in her hand, turned her eyes downward and opened them slowly: Her hand was empty! With this revelation, the feeling of weight that had been the sword disappeared and she couldn’t hide her disappointment, feeling she had been tricked.

The old woman laughed, though not cruelly. “We are all disappointed the first time,” she said. “But do not feel cheated. In order to wield this instrument properly, you must know and trust that the energy of the sword is as real and powerful as the sword itself. “

Though she was not sure she understood fully what the old woman had just told her (she was beginning to see there was much she did not understand), and the taste of disappointment was yet sour in her mouth, still the girl felt a growing excitement about this new discovery: pure energy as a source of power.

The old woman waited silently, feeling the girl’s dawning awareness, more certain with each rise of the sun, each time they met, that the sword had chosen wisely. Finally she said to the girl, “Your sun cycle threshold is approaching and your blood time will surely come soon too, I suspect. We must be ready.”

The girl nodded, certain of her desire (and her destiny) to follow the path of the warrior woman whatever that meant – to be ready — but felt a fiery fear burning in her gut. Her father still did not know of her trainings, and both her mother and her mentor were adamant that he should not. She thought of all the warrior had taught her since their initial meeting, and she kept their secret faithfully, but was young and still wished to please her parents. The old woman put her arm around the girl and began to speak as if the girl had spoken her thoughts aloud.

“When we are children,” the old woman began, “we depend on our mother and father and the elders around us for everything. This is as it should be. But sometimes those who love us can begin to fear for us, for our safety, for our happiness. This usually happens to people who, for any number of reasons, have their own places of hurt, pain, and anxiety. Your father is such a man. He cannot see you as anything but his precious babe in arms, suckling at her mother’s breast, and so, to him, you are still vulnerable and need his protection. And because of the stories he’s been told and the evil he believes to be always lurking about, seeking to take revenge on the weak and unprotected, he cannot simply let you go to follow your path. That would be far too frightening, and he would feel himself at fault if anything hurtful were to befall you. For sure, the path of the warrior is not without its dangers to body and spirit.”

“My mother,” the girl asked, “does not have these fears?”

“Oh, your mother has her own stories,” said the wise warrior. “But she was lucky, as a child, to be surrounded by strong, loving women who were able to set aside their own concerns and allow the woman in the girl to emerge. She does this now, for you. She is able to hold a vision of you as a courageous, wise woman, while your father, in his mind, will not let you grow up but must always keep you dependent on him …”

“So he can keep me safe.”

“So he can feel like he is keeping you safe. Safety is an illusion.”

“Is there nothing we can do to change his mind?”

The blind warrior chuckled deep in her throat. “Oh, my dear, people have been trying to change others since time began. It has never worked. Your father will either gain this wisdom on his own, when the time is right and he is ready, or …” She stopped, seeing the girl’s furrowed brow. “Do you still have your Cup of Creativity?” she asked.

The girl nodded.

“Drink from it often in the coming moon cycle,” the old woman told her. “and see what you will see.”

That night, the girl sat at her window, drinking from her cup and listening to her herbs singing. (You remember, earlier ,I told you this would be so.) The air was redolent with their sounds and their odors, distinct as notes on a scale, carried to her on a light breeze. It had rained earlier in the evening and the girl could smell the scent of rainwater mingled with wafts of basil, lemon balm, thyme, and rosemary. She breathed deeply, humming along with each exhale, wanting to preserve this moment, for she had a feeling her world was about to be irrevocably altered.

The next time they met, the old woman brought the actual sword, but instead of handing it to the girl, she used it to draw a circle in the dirt. “Step into the center,” she told the girl, who silently obeyed. As the girl did so, she felt a winding energy move up from the earth, swirling first about her feet, rooting her in place, before it spiraled upward, eventually forming a halo vortex above her head. The halo pulsed with light, like a prism, and flowed with a gentle movement that was at once relaxing and invigorating. She didn’t know how long she was in the circle, but when she opened her eyes the light had shifted and the old woman, looking pleased, seemed very intent on something the girl herself could not see.

“It is as I thought,” the blind woman said. “There are powerful forces protecting you. But that doesn’t mean we can be complacent. Powerful protection is only required by those with powerful enemies.” When she the look on the girl’s face she quickly amended her statement. “Perhaps enemy is too strong a word. Let’s just say there will be obstacles and leave it at that.”

Here, too, we must leave our story ‘at that.’ We have had a glimpse of magick at play, and sensed, perhaps, a bit of the mayhem to come. But only a bit. For stories must contain a precise measure of particular elements, and it is only in the telling that each individual recipe becomes clear … and nowhere is it written that we must like it. Only that we remain true to its essence and telling.

Copyright 2020 Linda Maree/Linda M. Gabriel

#5 Magick Before Mayhem: The Sword January 23, 2020

Posted by wimynspeak in Sourceress: The Book of Fear.
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We have arrived yet again at another beginning, in this place of once-upon-a-timeless-time. In this part of our story, in this near-by, far-away place, the girl’s mother, normally astute, does not notice the change in her husband’s demeanor, or you can be sure she would have had something to say about it. Instead, she makes arrangements for the old woman to train the girl in secret, not in defiance or because she is maliciously hiding anything from her husband, but because, in her blindness, she believes he will eventually come around to the truth, as she sees it, on his own. And when he does, she wants to surprise him. And so, rather than the start of training (which we will come to presently), it is this beginning on which our story pivots: Though they do not know it, this is the first time in all their years together that the couple is working at odds with each other, rather than finding a common ground in their actions, as has always been their habit. But they do not see this and we shall not dwell upon it, except to note that this is so and the story bears telling as it unfolds, for here we find not only wisdom and grace, but also much of our own experience, as well as the magickal seeds that hold the essence of all our stories, including this one. And so we begin, not with the sword, not just yet, but with the seeds …

When the old woman first met the young girl at the agreed-upon time and place, she did not bring the sword but rather a handful of seeds, which she had chosen carefully from her own herb garden and carried with her as she had searched for the girl. Now, she gave the seeds to her with instructions that seemed to make no sense, but which the girl promised to follow anyway.

“When the seeds are ready,” the old woman continued, though the girl’s expression revealed some doubt, “you must plant them by a window, outside the room where you sleep. If you follow my instructions, they will grow quickly. At night, leave the shutters open so you can breathe in their scent. This will help to enhance your strength and the power you will need to wield the sword.” She said nothing of the herbs’ habit of nighttime music and dance but would wait to see if the girl discovered these attributes on her own. (In case, as happens, this part of the story thread is dropped along the way, it gives nothing away to assure the reader: She will. And it will have a profound effect on the path of her life journey, though the details are not as important as one might suspect, which is why they may get lost in the telling.) Back to our story:

At the mention of the sword, the young girl’s face grew first troubled, then fierce. Though he hadn’t mentioned it again, she knew her father remained opposed to her sword training and she worried about this, as she had always been an obedient child. “My father does not want me to touch the sword,” she told the old woman.

“I know,” the wise one said, laying her hand gently on the girl’s shoulder. “He is afraid of the warrior in you. He does not understand our ways, but believes only what this world tells him is so.” She wanted to reassure the girl, despite her own concerns. “But belief is not truth, as you will see. Be patient, child. He will come around.”

“That’s what Mama says, too,” the girl replied. “But I am worried. And I don’t like deceiving him.”

The blind one only nodded and sent the girl on her way.

Despite her discomfort, the girl kept their secret, and that night, after everyone was asleep, under the light of the full moon, she planted the seeds, meticulously following the blind warrior’s instructions: holding the seeds in her mouth until they were plump with her own saliva, and only then placing them into the ground, blessing each seed with her gratitude as she did so. The old woman had explained that she must see each seed as a willing collaborator on her journey, an extension of herself. The girl had no way of knowing that this, too, would be the way of the sword: a collaboration.

It serves no purpose to get too far ahead of our story, and so we shall stop here, bathed in moonlight and in the midst of planting magick; before the inevitable mayhem, which we cannot, unfortunately, in either story or life, avoid. It would do well for us, too, to take heed and remembrance of the wise old woman’s words regarding belief and truth, for these are often used interchangeably, misconstrued, and interwoven, as if one fashions the other. Yet, if one looks closely, examining past and future while standing firmly in the present, one will see that one of these is merely sleight-of-hand, a clever trick, and the other pure magick. Time will tell which holds sway in the nearby-faraway …

 

Copyright 2020 Linda Maree/Linda M Gabriel

#4 Meeting the Warrior: The Sword September 17, 2019

Posted by wimynspeak in Sourceress: The Book of Fear.
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It must be said that the girl knew little to nothing of swords and violence and keeping the peace (peace just was) when she saw the old woman, but this does not diminish the significance of their meeting. And, most assuredly, chance played no part in the event, for fate is written in advance and cannot be avoided once the scenario is struck and life and story have shook on it to seal the deal. That being said, choice still plays a role in how we meet our fate. So the stage is set, the characters are in place, the meeting will happen, and choices will be made. From these choices come all the consequences that follow.

It seems prudent here, as a reminder, to once again point out that the old woman is blind. So, from this point in our story, it is not only choice but blindness — our characters’ and our own — that determines how they and we are impacted in our understanding of events, situations, and outcomes — both intermediate and final. Take heed and remember …

The girl, for her part, recognized the old woman right away, though she couldn’t have explained how or why. When she saw her in the village market, she left her mother’s side and marched right up to the blind warrior. “You have something for me, wise grandmother,” she said.

As soon as she heard the child’s voice, the old woman’s heart leaped, and the sword at her waist began to shrink in the folds of her skirt, scabbard and all, until it was the perfect size for the little girl. The blind woman smiled and laid her hand on top of the girl’s head in grateful benediction. “Indeed, I do,” she said. “And it seems you are even more ready than I had anticipated. Your first blood cannot be far off. In the meantime, you will begin training.”

“Training for what?” asked the girl.

“Why, to take up the Sword of Wisdom, of course,” she told her. “A great sword requires great skill to be used purposefully. It will be many seasons before you are truly accomplished, but I feel you will learn quickly and will have at least some proficiency very soon.”

If the girl was surprised by this pronouncement, she gave no indication (though as we have already established, she knew nothing of swords and warriors and such, only, somehow, that the woman had a precious gift for her and that she must accept it). And so she nodded and bowed to the old woman, who could not see her, yet knew she was being honored.

“I trust the sword has chosen well,” the old one said to the girl. “Now, go back to your mother and wait for my summons.”

When the girl’s mother saw her speaking to the old woman with the sword, she knew intuitively that this was another of her daughter’s guides. She had no reason for concern regarding this (Who was she to question destiny?) and did not anticipate any problems, though if she had been paying attention to the dark clouds gathering overhead (or, we might say, had not been blind to them), she might have realized a storm — coming from an unexpected direction — was about to overtake them.

When her daughter returned to her and told her what the old woman had said, she put her arm around the girl’s shoulder and smiled. “It is time, daughter,” she said. They quickly made their final purchases and turned down the lane to their little home, now engulfed in deep shadow. Neither was sure what would happen next, but each was content to wait and see how events might unfold.

The girl’s father, however, was not so complacent when he heard about the old woman with the sword, and saw her arrival as a threat to their peaceful, contented lives. It had been nearly nine full sun cycles since the faerie woman had shown up at their door, and even though she still flitted about their home constantly in her dragonfly form, she was mostly inconspicuous and he had grown used to her protective presence. The appearance of a strange old woman with a sword, however, looking for his little girl, he found disturbing.

Just as his wife had missed the growing storm outside, she was equally as blind to the darkness that clouded her beloved’s walnut brown eyes, as solemn and deep as night-black fog. She simply patted his shoulder gently, as she always had at times like these and said, “It will be all right.”

The man wanted to believe her, truly he did, but something ugly and twisted had begun to grow within him and this time he wasn’t so sure he could trust without question. Though he had no experience with swords himself, and was generally a kind and gentle man, fear is a fierce alchemist, and he had grown up hearing the stories of the terrible deeds that men wielding swords had committed in the past, and surely did still, even today. He assumed that it was the sword that signified danger and could not know the training and honor codes of those in the ranks of the peaceful warrior, into which the old woman had been initiated. Could not know the crucial part his young daughter would one day play in mortal events. Indeed, had he known, he would have worried no less, for like all caring fathers, he wanted only to protect his daughter from harm, from danger, from grief. He wanted her path to be an easy one.

But now his fear blinded him to the truth: He could not alter his daughter’s destiny no matter what desperate acts he took. In the black clouds of the storm of fear, the girl’s father began to devise a plan to keep the wretched old woman away from his little girl. There was no way he would let his daughter take up the sword — destiny and magick be damned! And the old woman, too, should she cross him to make contact with his little girl.

Outside, thunder rumbled and the first drops of an unusually cold rain began to fall on this near-by, far-away place; the heaviest pelted the little cottage where the family huddled about the fire for warmth, each lost in a tangled labyrinth of her and his own thoughts.

We will stop here, in this place where the fear that was planted when the girl was but an infant is finally taking root and heretofore becomes a major player in our story. It is not that fear was non-existent prior to this moment. We, all of us, carry fear within us as a primal emotion, but it is usually best that it does not direct the action, at least not for long. It has its place, to be sure, in keeping us safe, but when it runs the show, havoc most often ensues. And this, for now, is where we must leave our story, in anticipation of mayhem … and perhaps a bit of magick, too.

 

Copyright 2019 Linda Maree/Linda M Gabriel

#3 Activating the Warrior: The Sword August 21, 2019

Posted by wimynspeak in Sourceress: The Book of Fear.
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And so we are, finally, past the beginning, and now we enter another phase. In this phase we will meet the warrior, and, eventually, the girl will be gifted The Sword of Wisdom. But of course we are not there quite yet. And it must be said that the warrior is not what we think. Or perhaps even who we think. Or why. When one travels back through time and language one learns that ‘war,’ the word and so, too, the idea, in its original meaning and various spellings, had more to do with the confusion of things rather than violence, killing, and the obliteration of people and things. And so our warrior has more to do with cutting through confusion than with cutting through flesh — destruction, unless it is the destruction of useless ideas. Hence, The Sword of Wisdom, for it is wisdom that cuts through confusion.

We return to our story, then, this once upon a time in time, just before the little girl’s eleventh sun cycle threshold, to find a very old woman showing up at the village gates…

She was dressed very much as all the women in the village dressed, except for one thing: at her full, plump waist was sheathed a great sword, so long that, despite her remarkable height, the tip of the jeweled scabbard all but dragged in the dirt. A sword of that size would take, one might assume, great strength to wield, and though the woman was large, taller and heavier than the people who lived in this recent long-ago time and nearby far-away place, still she was undeniably old and no one was likely to be ridiculed for failing to imagine that she could handle the great sword.

No one could know, of course, upon first meeting her, that the old woman had carried the sword an immense distance already; that indeed it had not left her side since she had received it all those long cycles and seasons past. They couldn’t know that the sword itself had grown in size and strength proportionately as she herself had done. And only she could tell that, recently, the sword had become just a shade lighter in weight, an infinitesimal measure shorter than it had been. This was how she knew it was time to find her successor.

The old woman had been raised to be a warrior ever since she had been given the sword at her blood ceremony when she herself had reached eleven sun cycles. An auspicious age to step into the blood flow, her own mother had told her at the time. She was lucky, her mother further explained as they prepared for her ceremony. Some girls, most girls, in fact, were a lot older when their flow found them, and by then it was usually too late.

“Too late for what?”

“To activate the warrior,” her mother had replied. “Because of the way things are in our world and in these times, for girls the warrior-self has to be activated early on or it will never happen, and the best time, the most auspicious time, is at first blood.”

“Never?” She couldn’t imagine such a thin slice of golden opportunity with no second chances.

“Well, almost never,” her mother had said as she finished braiding her daughter’s long chestnut hair and turned her to face her. “But it’s much more difficult. It will be easier for you. Besides, you don’t really have a choice; it’s your destiny. You have been chosen. And,” she said, smiling, “you are ready!”

The old woman hadn’t been sure back then, when she was just a child, that she wanted to be a warrior of any sort. And she would have liked to have felt as if she were making the choice, not being passively carried along on the tides of fate. But her mother had been right. She had fallen naturally into the training as easily and comfortably as she fell into the softness of sleep every night. After a while, it felt as if she had chosen her path, and she was satisfied.

Her training had been intense and rigorous. Warriors in her lineage, she learned, never set out to destroy, but to cut away, when necessary, that which obstructed, strangled, choked off, killed life. Sometimes, paradoxically, this still required the taking of a human life, but this was exceedingly rare and only considered as a last resort. And she was assured by her mentors that the day would come (soon, they hoped!) when warriors would not be required to kill at all. When they would have learned or, perhaps more accurately, remembered the secret that would allow only peaceful resolution to all conflict. When the mere presence of a warrior would inspire life-enhancing choices, collaboration, and cooperation. When the energy of polar opposite positions would come together to create a current of vital life force that nourished and sustained rather than maimed and destroyed.

This was the vision she held still, and she believed it was within reach; could possibly even happen in her lifetime, but would almost certainly happen within the lifespan of the child for which she now searched; the child whose eleventh sun cycle threshold was imminent and whose blood flow would likely begin within the same or the following moon-cycle. She was as sure of the inevitability of this awaited transformation as she had ever been sure of anything in her long, long life.

The only thing she had not been sure of was her ability to find the girl … in time. She had had to trust that she would be led to her. That her eyes that could no longer see would not be needed, and that it was the eyes of her soul, the eyes of the Great Ones, the eyes of her mentors long past who would lead her to the child. For this was also something that was not readily noticeable: The old warrior with the great sword was blind.

Going blind had been a surprise, sudden and traumatic. One day she simply woke up to darkness. She had had no warning, no premonition. She had been angry at first. How is a blind warrior to use a sword? But she had found that the sword, after all their cycles and seasons of practice and working together, had become an extension of her own arm, her will. The sword always found its mark, even when she could not see it.

Her other senses, too, had grown stronger (or maybe it was just that she had learned to use them and rely on them to a greater degree), her inner sight more acute and assured. And now her knowing had led her here, to this village. She was sure the child was here, could feel the certainty in her bones, in the peacefulness that settled around her heart. Her mission would be fulfilled, her dream for the world realized, surely. Surely …

We have come, now, to a natural pause in our story, a time for pondering. Who among us does not hope for peace, at least for ourselves, which is a start,? And who among us does not at least occasionally feel confusion, chaos, turmoil, like a great, foggy storm both within and without? We get a sense here of what is coming, and this is good. It means we are paying attention, even if we are uncertain. Attention, awareness, these are the first steps that can lead us beyond our blindness. For yes, in some ways, perhaps many ways, we are all blind. And so it is with some excitement and yes, some trepidation, that we await the meeting of the girl and the blind warrior, and the gifting of the sword. It must be noted, however, that wisdom is not bestowed so easily as desire and creativity. It will take more than the waving of a wand and the nourishment taken from a cup, no matter how valuable, how magickal, to gain true wisdom … to accept the gift and to learn to wield it with courage, grace, and humility.

 

Copyright 2019 Linda Maree/Linda M Gabriel

#2 Still the Beginning: The Cup July 31, 2019

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And so we find ourselves yet at the beginning still, though, to be clear, it is not the same beginning. Life has moved on, as it does, in a flow of cycles and seasons, and this beginning finds the child sitting quietly occupied in play while her mother carries on with her chores. Her father is not present at this moment, out working at the business of financial livelihood and, as best he knows how, the care and security of his family. (We will see later that this seemingly beneficent belief in his role as family guardian has some unintended consequences, which may cause more than one of us to question the usefulness of such “truth” in our own lives, which, to digress even further, is the purpose of story – to engender introspection and questioning.)

The girl, as promised by the giver of the wand, has indeed grown both strong and kind, and always seems to know her mind and the desires of her heart, though she is not prone to insisting on having her way. If this seems inconsistent with the usual manner of such a young one, so fresh in this world, so be it. We will continue in this vein nonetheless. And so …

Once upon another particular point in that same recent long-ago time …

Just after the girl’s second sun cycle threshold was reached, a beautiful woman, with hair the color of silvery moonbeams, a dress iridescent with the light of a thousand stars, and gossamer wings that were at once as blue as the clearest afternoon sky and as seemingly inconsequential as morning mist, appeared at the family’s abode. She found the door open, as it nearly always was, and the little girl sitting on the floor, the Wand of Desire at her side, while her mother hummed sweetly over some mending. When the winged woman stepped inside, the child and her mother looked up at the same time and smiled identical smiles.

“Hello, little one.” The woman’s voice shimmered and sparkled in the air around them, like sunbeams playing in their own light, and the child laughed with delight. “I have been looking for you,” the woman said to her, and the child nodded in apparent agreement.

The young mother rose from her seat to brew some tea and offered their guest some sweet cakes she had baked earlier. The woman accepted graciously and sat down to wait while the child crawled onto her mother’s lap to suckle. The women sat in companionable silence, nibbling on cakes and sipping tea, until finally the child was satisfied and slid from her mother’s arms.

Then, without hesitation, the little girl approached the shining woman, who lifted her onto her own star-shimmer lap and stroked her baby-silk hair with the same motion the child’s mother used to soothe her when sometimes at night she had frightening dreams, always the same: a great fire and an immense expanse of space where the darkness was impenetrable. (We will see later, of course, how these dreams relate to and even presage the future. For now, we remain in the moment of all-is-well.) The woman spoke to the child’s mother over the silken head lying easily against her breast. “She is growing tall and strong. You have nourished her well.”

The mother nodded, pleased, recognizing the truth as it was spoken. “Yes. Thank you.”

“Soon it will be time for the little one to be weaned. She will know,” the winged woman said, inclining her head toward the Wand of Desire lying on the floor where the child had been playing, “when she is ready.” The woman paused and stared as if considering some long-distant place. Her eyes dimmed to the palest of blue, as clear as water, and she herself turned momentarily translucent, as if she might disappear, before gathering herself and returning firmly to the present. “I have a gift from my sisters in the Land of the Fae,” she said finally, and brought forth from the light of her wings an exquisite little cup. The cup was the color of the moon at its fullness and was encrusted with colorful gems that gleamed as if lit from within.

“Oh!” the young mother exclaimed. “It’s so beautiful!”

“Yes,” the woman of the Fae said, “and there is no other like it. It was created by an ancient alchemist in gratitude for a favor done for her by my many-many-times-great-grandmother. The alchemist used materials she found in my land and imbued them with her own very special magick.”

The winged woman handed the cup to the little girl, who took it and squealed with delight.

“What is it for?” asked the child’s mother, certainty and uncertainty fighting for precedence within her. Another special gift? she thought, glancing at the wand lying on the floor near where her daughter sat in the faerie woman`s lap. The little girl was gazing at the cup, seemingly entranced by its shimmering light. What kind of child receives such favor, and, more troubling, what might be expected from such a child? What be the cost?

The woman of the Fae read the young mother’s struggle in the way she watched her child and so spoke to her gently and with understanding. “It is the Cup of Creativity,” she said. “When she is weaned she must drink from it often. This cup is hers and hers alone. As the current guardian of the cup, it is my choice to pass it on, or to hold it for another. The word, the praenomen, by which your daughter is known to the stars, was whispered to me in a dream, and so I set out on my long journey to find her.” The woman smiled, wishing to further reassure. “If she will accept the cup, I will be her faerie mother,’ she said. “Not in the ways you are her womb-mother, but in ways you cannot be. I will be here to watch over her and to guard the cup.”

Rather than being reassured, however, a dark cloud of concern crossed the young mother’s face, and the faerie knew that the woman understood far beyond what she might have expected. The Fae woman would not lie to her in the presumption of protection.

“Yes,” the faerie said, “unfortunately there may be those who would wish to destroy the cup or to harm the one who bears it … No, no, you mustn’t worry.” She spoke lightly, reassuringly when she saw the distress deepening and taking over the young mother’s face, so that it was collapsing into a mask of fear. “We do not know that this is so. It may be that these are but the stories told by the ancient ones to frighten us into awareness. Rest assured I will allow no harm to come to this child. She will be protected. I promise you. Do you believe me?”

The young mother looked deeply into the faerie woman’s eyes, which were now the sapphiric color of a crystal blue sky on a warm May morning, and saw there only truth. She nodded and, finally, smiled, her fear dissipating into the void. “Yes,” she said. “I believe you.” She knew in a way she couldn’t explain that the faerie woman was incapable of speaking anything but the truth.

While the women were talking, the child had climbed down from her faerie mother’s lap and taken the cup with her. She picked up the Wand of Desire and chewed on it for a few moments, as was her habit. She was only a babe, really, barely two sun cycles out of the womb after all, but she understood, in a way that needed no words, that tonight she would nourish herself at her mother’s breast one last time, and that tomorrow she would begin drinking from the beautiful cup the nice lady with wings had given her.

When the little girl’s father came home, she ran to him as she usually did, and threw her tiny arms about his neck. “Look!” she whispered in his ear, pointing at the cup sitting on the table.

“How beautiful, my love,” her father said, setting her down and giving his wife a quizzical look.

She tried to explain everything to him in detail, wanting him to understand how important this was; what it meant for their little girl. First the Wand of Desire and now the Cup of Creativity! “The faerie woman said this cup is so special there are those who would destroy it,” she told him, wanting only to convey the cup’s special value, not to frighten him.

“What?” Her husband looked suddenly worried, stern. “Then we cannot keep it. I will not allow it!”

The man’s wife was taken aback at her husband’s vehemence, forgetting her own initial fears; then she remembered the faerie woman’s promise. “My dear,” she said, taking his worried face into her two hands and drawing his gaze so that he peered deeply into her eyes. “It is not for us to allow or not allow,” she said gently, but with conviction. “It is as it is. The woman of the Fae has declared herself our daughter’s faerie mother and has promised that no harm will come to her. Our little one is protected by our love and by faerie magick.” She smiled. “It will be all right.”

The man looked deeply into his wife’s eyes, and there he saw the moon and the stars, and a bright, polished gem the color of a crystal blue sky on a warm May morning that could only be the truth. He nodded, softening. “Yes, well … “ and he turned his brightest smile on his precious child, who stood by, watching her parents, the wand in one hand, the cup in the other.

And it is here we come to the end of another scene, another pause in the pacing of the telling, though of course, life for our happy-so-far family continues on, as it does, even if the story seems to rest. By the time we are ready to rejoin the flow, bypassing the ongoing seasons of mundanity that would become simply boring in the telling, the feelings of anxiety produced by the gifting of the cup would seem to have dissipated. But like many seeds that fall on fertile ground, when the right elements come together to nourish it, the seed may indeed germinate and grow. But that is still some time in the future. For now, we must focus on completing the beginning. To the unstoried, it would appear that not much has yet happened, but this would not be so. Much of life and story occurs below the surface of our awareness, and if we are wise, we will recognize this blindness of reality and take it into consideration when we note that, in this moment, though there be ripples in our little family’s glassy pool of calm and truth-as-we-know-it, all is yet well.

 

Copyright 2019 Linda Maree/Linda M Gabriel

#1 Beginning: The Wand July 3, 2019

Posted by wimynspeak in Sourceress: The Book of Fear.
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We begin her story where all good stories begin: at the beginning. But beginnings are controversial and nebulous at best, most being no more than a moment, really, too small for the eye to see, too brief even to take up the space of a word, a sound, too ephemeral and misunderstood to be agreed upon. And so we will choose this particular beginning from all the possibilities and begin our story a few moon cycles after the babe has slipped the confines of her mother’s watery womb and her father has danced under the stars singing, “It’s a girl! It’s a girl!” And all the universe has felt his joy, at least in that precious moment, for life goes on, does it not? and moments change, each a new beginning. Each a story in and of itself. Hence the confusion.

And so, as I said, we will begin here …

Once upon a time, as recently as long ago, in a nearby faraway place, which we shall, for want of a better name, call “home,” a young child, an infant still, lived with her parents. In this place where nothing ever changed and each moment was, as we’ve noted, different from the next, they had settled into their roles, the father opening his shop each morning, serving his loyal customers, and the mother caring for the child, often strapping the little one securely to her body and walking with her to meet the old women, the elders who huddled under the spreading branches of the great Grandmother Tree to once again tell their stories in the hope that they, the stories (for the women understood full well their own mortality), would be more likely to infinitely live on.

And just as the child would do herself one day in the not so distant future, the young mother loved hearing the old women’s stories, so different from the mundane tales of the everyday, for they told of a far distant time, when the stars burned hotter and time itself had a less slippery pace. And no matter how each story progressed or ended, no matter how the characters behaved or events transpired, no matter how it all turned out, the old women always finished their storytelling in the same way: they’d sigh, smile, and pronounce, “It is as it is.” And then they’d all nod, for they understood their acceptance was absolutely necessary for the wisdom within the stories to fully ripen.

And so the sun rose and set, rose and set, and then one morning, just as the steady sun rose once again, a stranger from an even farther far-away place came walking along the river, an old woman with bright skirts and jangling bangles on her wrists and ankles. Her scarves were dyed in colors never before seen in this part of the wide world, and she carried a small and colorful pack on her back. She was tired, for her journey had been a long one, and she stopped at a little pool at the edge of the river to wash the dust from her feet and splash cool water on her face. She was just slipping her sandals back on, leaning on the great Grandmother Tree for balance, when the elder women began to arrive, looking forward once again to the telling and the retelling of the stories, for therein, they knew, lay the magick.

When they saw the old woman, so colorfully dressed, a stranger so different from themselves, they stopped for a startled moment to take her measure, and then, sensing no malice within, they smiled and welcomed her as a sister. The stranger did not speak their words, but she made it known she was looking for a child, a babe in arms no more than a few moons into her terrestrial cycle. The elders invited the woman to sit with them underneath the great Grandmother Tree, for, they assured her, the child she was looking for would surely be along with her mother very soon.

And so it happened. The sun had barely shifted overhead in its journey across the sky when the young woman arrived, carrying her child in a sling across her belly. When she saw the stranger waiting with the elders, she smiled. It was as if she were meeting an old friend, though she was certain she had never laid eyes on the woman prior to this moment. They smiled at each other in silent recognition and when the baby stirred, her mother took her out of her sling and the child reached for the stranger in a way that made it clear to all present that here, for sure, was a kindred spirit. As the woman, now merely an almost stranger, took the child readily and comfortably into her arms, she pulled a long, colorful wand from her equally colorful pack. The wand sizzled like a hot pot over a flame and glowed with the silver shine of the moon when she gave it to the child, who immediately put it in her mouth, as children are wont to do. A startled chorus of women gasped in unison.

“What is it?” asked the young mother.

One of the older women, her crinkled eyes smoothed in the widening of wonder, whispered in her ear, “A Wand of Desire. I have never seen one, but I have heard many stories, passed down through the generations, enough to trust what my admittedly shadowed eyes reveal to me now.” The young woman, startled, immediately tried to take the wand from her daughter. “Oh, no!” she said, apologetically. “She’s chewing on it!” The merely-nearly strange old woman just smiled, patted the young mother’s hand, and pushed it gently away from the wand, shaking her head. The old woman closest to her whispered in the mother’s ear, “She wants her to have it, my dear, to do with as she will. It is for this reason only, it seems, this wise woman, this colorful sage, has come here. It is an auspicious gift, one many of us believed to be no more than a myth. And yet, our eyes do not lie. We see what there is to see. And this little one,” she continued, nodding toward the child, who was clutching the wand and laughing with the old woman who had bestowed her with its blessing, “will cut her teeth on the Wand of Desire. She will always know exactly what she wants in life.”

And so it was.

From that day forward, the Wand of Desire was nearly always clutched in the child’s fist, and when it was not, it could certainly be found within ready reach. At night the little girl placed the wand under her cheek, where she could taste it, smell it, hold it tight while she dreamed. If her mother ever worried that this was not an appropriate use for such a rare and precious object, she never said it aloud.

And so we come to the end of a scene, a segment of time, which itself does not stop, though the story seems to pause, an illusion, to be sure, for life does not pause, though it does change. So far, all is well with our girl and her parents, but because this is a story worth telling, we can be sure that this will not always and forever be so. Something must happen. But not yet. After all, our story is still only just beginning …

Copyright 2019 Linda Maree/Linda M. Gabriel

Playing … an exploration of surrender May 26, 2019

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I was born magick in a world of logic and reason. Creativity was tolerated in children in the context of play, but the real world was the ultimate arbiter of life. When I was a little girl, I may have been allowed to draw moons and stars on my forehead with blue paint and golden glitter, but these kinds of antics were not tolerated in my grown-up self. “Play” was frivolous and must be put aside. I would have said then that I surrendered to authority, giving up on magick and settling into the mundane. But now I know, to have followed the magick would have been the surrender. All I did was give up on my true self. It was not surrender but betrayal. The worst kind of betrayal. And I have been working since then to make it right. To win back the trust of the one who should have been … always … the most important in the world to me. Myself. Once you lie to yourself, it is so much easier to lie to others. Once you betray yourself, betrayal becomes your imprisoner, your signature, the mask you wear, the face you show to the world. Others do not call it that – betrayal — for most wear the same kind of mask. We call it reality, the real world, just the way it is. And we are told we might as well accept it. Life is not fair. Surrender. Give up.

But true surrender is not a giving up, it is a giving in to a higher calling, a purpose. It is a type of courage that calls one to live from the heart, serving the voice within that tells us that there is infinitely more to life than what we can see. That magick still exists. That we ARE magick, and our magick serves a powerful energy that can only emanate from spirit. So, rather than weakness, rather than loss, to surrender is a means of service above and beyond any we thought capable of. Surrender calls us back to our essence, and there …

Playing … I am as a child again. My thin, straight red hair has been transformed, in my imagination, into long, black waves, thick and abundant. My skin has darkened somewhat and my bearing is regal. I feel exotic, different, and I relish my differentness. On my head sits a golden crown in the form of snakes, their heads rising above my forehead, where I used to draw the moon and stars, proclaiming to all my worth. I wear a long white gown, so that I feel as if I am enrobed in clouds, my power as wide as the sky. In my right hand I carry a long sword, but it is gripped casually, a relic from the past that I treasure for what it has taught me, but it is not the source of my power. It is not who I am. Some have called me princess, but I am no prince-ess, no lesser-than prince. No priest-ess. No god-dess. None of these. I am neither s\he nor fe-male. I am simply who and what I choose to be in the moment I surrender to my choice. Nameless until such time a name is possible. Until new words are created, new vocabularies formed, new tongues proclaimed throughout a land revived and reborn.

Playing … I am as a child again. My thin, straight red hair has been transformed and my head is topped with tight black curls. My skin has darkened and my body broader, huskier, more muscular than before. My voice has deepened and drips with authority. I carry no weapon, and yet I feel that the moon and stars would bow at my feet, were I, priest of all that is sacred and holy, to command it. A channel of energy rises through me, and I have a choice: to follow that which is seductive and promises the kind of power and authority that most men dream about. To be the saver of souls, the changer of lives, the maker of rules, the arbiter of life … mine and others. Or to surrender to the unknown. The unseen path that draws me with the power of the soul and the dread of responsibility. The path of service. The path of the change rather than the changer, giving way to the moment with acceptance and a willingness to act when it is time to act, to be when it is time to be. The path of vulnerability. The path of courage.

Playing … I am as a child again. My thin, straight red hair has been transformed and my head is topped with tight black curls. My skin has darkened even more and my body is long, lean muscular. Around my head, a white halo-band of beads and tassels. Strung beads hang from my neck, crisscross my breasts, and shells encircle my waist and my feet, marking me as a dancer. My weapon, if you want to call it that, is my joy. If I could, I would use it to bludgeon others into surrendering to this celebration, giving in to the exuberant persistence of life. But surrender can neither be forced nor coerced, and so I dance. It is no more than an invitation, but it is what we know to do, we mothers, grandmothers, sisters and daughters of the world and the spirit. This is the story we carry within us, the story we use to paint the sky with rainbows, to draw the moon and stars on our foreheads, to tattoo our bodies with the scars that mark us as courageous in the face of our failures and steadfast in our vulnerability. We dance a reminder of the blessing of surrender and the power of choice.

— Linda Maree

Stone Bear July 26, 2018

Posted by wimynspeak in General, Story Tellings.
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Did I ever tell you the story about the time I met the stone bear? It happened countless lifetimes ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was on the hill where the old stone circle ruins now stand. Back then, the circle had not been constructed yet, and wouldn’t be for many generations, and the hill was higher, less rounded by time. The surface was covered with dark, jagged rocks and stiff, course grass; it was not the gentle, comfortable place it is now. On one side of the hill there was a very small cave, which was well hidden and said to be unendingly deep. In fact, the ooooold stories said that one could see the other side of the universe from the mouth of that cave. Of course, no one in my lifetime, then … or now, really, had ever seen such a vision, but I decided that I must do just that.

So, one morning in mid-summer, I woke before all the others and crept away from our encampment. We were nomadic, then, remember, but we would be in this place for some time yet, at least another turning of the moon, for food was plentiful and we could fill our bellies and put on necessary fat stores for winter. Though morning had just dawned, the stars still shone overhead as I made my way… they were much closer and brighter back then … and the spiky grass was damp with dew beneath my feet. I knew how to creep as silently as an owl moves in flight, and I am sure I disrupted no living creature’s rest, nor drew the attention of any of the nocturnal predators returning to their lairs with whom we shared the brightening landscape. I had just reached the path that led up the hill, where the cave and its mysteries lay silent and hidden, when I saw the stone bear.

He snuffled in front of me on the path, moving and breathing like any other living creature, but it was obvious his great hulk of a body was created entirely of stone. Even for the time it was back then, so close to the dawn of humanity, as we call it now, I knew that it was not usual for stone objects to move and breathe thus. This was obviously no carven object, such as the mage’s made, but a living creature made of stone.

I followed the creature, fascinated, and it seemed that, a time or two, it turned its great stone head to see if I was still following, as if it expected me to do just that. I seemed now to be captured by its hard, earthen energy, and felt that even if I were compelled to do so … and I was not … I could not have left the beast’s influence.

Of course the stone bear led me directly to the cave, which, from my vantage point a few steps back along the path, appeared gaping and dark, an abyss into which one might be swallowed whole and alive, to live out one’s allotted time in abysmal nothingness. But the stories promised something greater, a wide expanse of universe that would make the magic and majesty of the star-filled sky over my head seem ordinary, mundane. So I stepped closer to the bear, wanting the promise it seemed to offer.

“You must leave them behind,” I thought I heard the bear whisper when I found I could get no closer. There seemed an invisible field of force about the creature that repelled me, not in the sickening way, but in the true physical sense of the word. I simply could not come closer, no matter that I tried.

“You must leave your most precious thoughts, your fears and inhibitions, your expectations and disappointments, all of them. Leave them here. The others will not find them. Strangers will pass by without noticing them. The treasures of the mind are such that they cannot be recognized once abandoned by the thinker. Even you, upon your return, will not be able to pick them up again, not as they are now.” All of this the bear said without words, but I heard the message nonetheless and vow that this is a true telling.

Be this a curse or a gift? I wondered, and got no answer, and so I came to see that it was neither, but rather a choice that hung on the balance point of my desire. For good or ill, if I wished to see the wonders of the cave, all must be left behind, and the leaving must be understood to be undoable.

The great bear turned away and moved toward the dark entrance of the cave as if certain of my decision.

 

 

© 2018 Linda Maree

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