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#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

Posted by wimynspeak in Sourceress: The Book of Fear.
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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

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