Thursday, February 21, 2019

the old crone walked through the forests, it was familiar to her but so ravaged was she from her vision her perception had darkened. she spluttered to herself as she negotiated the path, the trees all seemed different as though some darker nature had taken root. the leaves all fell before her and the vines seemed to get under her feet, even the mushrooms she passed looked tainted. normally she would stop and take her pick filling up her basket because there was an abundance of mushrooms in these parts but she knew better to eat these sick ones. 
the night approached, it was upon her back as she made her way towards the village. she mumbled to herself and chanted words of protection, her long grey hair was spilling from her shawl as she picked up the pace.
she could not return back to her home, it was corrupted now, cursed by visitation. she was normally so careful, protective. how had that thing penetrated her security, that horrible awful thing carried by that arresting enigmatic stranger.
she was a folk witch, herbs, powders, broths and brews, medicine from the forest. of course, she knew such a dark world existed but she had never chosen to penetrate it, nor had she succumbed to its powers like some of her sisters. she had never in her whole 100 years ever desired ill will or harm so it appeared most unfair that such a thing could choose her. 
light was fading fast, she only had a mile to travel but this was still dense forest and the low branches now began to become dangerous obstacles so she kept one arm out, waving it as a safety in front of her head.  she should have grabbed her broom, it would have kept her safe, but she was shocked and she had to get away out of there. fast.
what had she done? events replayed in her mind's eye. 

there she was making her soup, tearing some rosemary and throwing it into the pot. everything was normal, all familiar, even her cats were relaxing around the small dwelling unsuspicious.
then there came a knock upon her door. 
she opened it, while at the same time realizing her mistake. her mind was wandering a lot these days, she was forgetful, absent-minded. getting old she laughed to herself.
standing before her in the doorway was a strange shape, a man, tall in his fancy boots and mysterious in his big coat, features obscured by a hat. all she could see were those eyes, dark and intense as though looking right through her. looking into her soul, looking into her life and beyond. she recognized magicks when she saw it. she recognized this was no woodcutting man.
'i'm sorry to trouble you madame, i'm somewhat lost in the woods, i was wondering if perhaps you could tell me the way out. to the nearest town. i think it's called sanctuary place according to my knowledge. i know i'm not far away.'
the crone was bound by various codes of conduct when it came to strangers seeking help so she offered him a place at her table, let him inside. she was confident her own powers would keep her safe should he turn out to be difficult, but she was suspicious none the less, for he was a mystery, impenetrable and he had a power she could not fathom.
she poured him soup which he ate.
'sanctuary place is two miles south, you just follow the road until it forks, then go left. you can reach it by sunrise if you keep a pace.'
'thank you.'
there were so many questions, who was he, where did he come from what was his business in sanctuary and what is the source of his magick, but she couldn't talk, couldn't speak as he sat there in front of her sipping her soup and drinking her in with his eye.
'i am captain mission, came from the northlands although i was born east. i 'm seeking sanctuary place as this is where i believe i may find the serpent's spine. i am tasked with the quest to find it.'
it was then that she fell from her chair. 
the captain assisted her find her feet, he placed her gently upon her chair and fetched her water. 
'i know of this serpent spine you speak of captain and your task is doomed, for it is unreachable. it is an evil thing and all those who seek it come to an ill-fitting end as does all upon that path. you are forbidden by the laws of nature to seek it therefore your quest is sanctioned by beings beyond. you're presence here is my death sentence.'
the captain stood, he towered over her and cast a shadow upon her whole being, 'i will leave you now if i am to reach the town before dawn. i thank you for your kindness and hospitality and bid you good night.'
the old witch looked upon him sadly, 'you have put me in a paradox. i am cursed now by association.'
'i know nothing about curses but i wish you well.'
he left.
the witch pondered her situation, if she helped him she would be smitten by the curse, if she did not she would still be unreleased. had she not already helped him, aided him with direction and sustenance. 
'do no harm old woman,' she whispered to herself, 'do no harm.'  
she was bound by a code yet the code would now bring damnation upon her. 
that captain had unwittingly led her to an inevitable end at the hand of the serpent spine. if she was doomed then she was doomed such are the fatalistic thoughts of her craft. she ran from the house after him.
he moved much faster that she would have credited him and when she finally glimpsed him he was on the outskirts of the village marching towards the cobbled street that led to the tavern. 
her whistle stopped him in his tracks, it was shrinkingly loud he spun around to see a small shrouded figure hobble towards his direction. 
'who are you and why do you follow?' he yelled out.
as the figure approached a wiry long-fingered hand pulled down a shawl revealing the old crone. 
'don't be so ungrateful, tis only i come to warn you.'
'you already warned me, i have heard your tales and fear them not. no whispers will steer me from my quest old lady.'
she stood close to him now, her face pale and eyes yellow, night had come and the stars were appearing filling the dark sky.
'you must spare the villagers, i will help you find what you seek but please do not involve anyone lest they be lost to.'
'you take these curses very seriously old woman. have you not contested the idea that it may just be a self fulfilling prophecy?'
'now you speak in riddles, i am a simple herbalist who lives in isolation, i know nothing of the world outside of my experience. and i can tell you there is much to fear in a curse.'
'the curse only works if you believe it will. that is where it's power lies. i tell you now, no harm will come to you.'
'do you know what the serpents spine is?'
'i know it.'
'then you doom us all.'
the witch looked downwards, staring at the ground and the captains, big black boots. they were not going anywhere, instead a finger placed gently upon her chin began to raise her head, and she found herself staring once again into his black eyes. 
'do not fear witch, fear not me, nor the serpents spine, these are all entrapments cast from the faux world for we are in it's glamour. even you are beholden to it's illusion and you are enlightened.'
'tis madness you speak off sir, there is no illusion here.'
the captain leaned over and whispered, 'it's all illusion, even your fear. now witch, come with me to seek the serpents tail and i will show you the magick beyond glamour, the true magick.'
'sir, master, i cannot follow you, i am bound by my code.'
'i am no sir, no master, only captain mission. you have no requirement to fear me witch, only listen, the serpents spine is not an object. it does not glisten or glimmer in the sunlight like trinkets, it will not be held by hand nor vault in any city, it is only a pathway.' 
'no, no, it's a powerful talisman created by a powerful wizard. we all know the stories, everyone.'
'you do not know the truth then.'
'you say it is a pathway. where does it lead?'
'ha! it has led me to you. now we must see where it leads us.'
'tis madness, how can the spine lead you to me?'
'for here we stand in this sacred place witch.'
the captain turned away and began walking onwards.
she watched his tall shape move away, transfixed upon his long black silhouette as the moon began to sink behind the hills and the sky filled with subtle shades of pink hues, soon it would be day.
'captain,' she called out, 'captain, i want to follow but i don't understand.'
'then that is a good beginning witch.'
'i'm afraid. i've never encountered anything like this experience before, in all my long life, i seek the truth.'
you can't from inside the glamour witch, it has everyone in it's thrall. only glimpses of truth will set you free from it's hold, dissolve it and liberate you. the glimpses are the path, the serpents spine is the way out but it is not for all to follow. it's only for the fools.' 
'it's so very hard to let go of all i believed, and then to accept this new way of perceiving.'
'yes, that is the glamour at work, it's influence is very strong. but you have penetrated it and now you know. it's just a matter of time before you see it for what it is, a trap for all.'
'but it real! the very consequences are real.'
'only if you believe in it witch, only if you believe you are old, a crone in your twilight years, only if you believe you fear something you know nothing about is something else, only if you believe. belief is the engine that powers the glamour, just like it powers my liberation, the glamour has no influence upon me. it avoids me and leaves me sacred space, and should you choose to step out, you to will see the sacred space.'
'im very conflicted, i'm frozen to the truth i have invested in.'
'you are old witch, a mighty auric field surrounds you, you have love and truth in your heart and you nourish all that come under your influence. you are stronger than you believe and more beautiful than you appear. why even in these few moments i myself have seen you for what you are, and your freedom is entangled with mine. i will stay here, in this town, this village until you see how it is. for i want nothing more than your liberation now.'
the crone, no longer stooped but stood tall, upright, her face brighter and energized, her years slipped away and she was younger, the lines upon her face unraveled and her face became pure and radiant, time ran backward around her. she was young and filled with vitality, and she took a step forward towards her captain.

No comments: