There once was a young peasant girl, known by the name Gaia, she lived in an ancient land, a land that was fertile and abundant in all good things. There were olive groves and fruit trees. There were honey bees and goats and cows that provided delicious milk and cheese. The skies above were azure blue and the seas around were warm and abundant with rainbow fish. The air was sweet with the scent of jasmine and honeysuckle. The birds filled the air with sweet birdsong. Life was good in this land of milk and honey, for everything one needed was there. Gaia lived with a large community of people and laughter and song and dance was the way of life. For they knew life was good and they knew that they were beloved and taken care off, although they knew not by who or what. This security engendered much peace and happiness, and they lived in gratitude. Their Land was an abundant Mother and the skies above their protecting Father. And as Night followed day, and season followed season, the people of this land gave praise for the bounty that was their gift from the Earth.
They honored their Mother Earth for all she nourished them with, her fertile soil in which many crops and flowers and herbs and trees thrived. Her flowing rivers and the sea around, providing an abundance of fresh fish and water to drink. And the jewels of the earth, beautiful crystals fashioned in colours of the rainbow. Their father provided his children with the radiant warmth of the sun, to bring life to that which was upon the earth. He gave them the cool evening breeze and the light of the moon, from which the people marked the passage of time, through the cycles of the moon. As night fell, the skies above were clothed in a brilliant show of stars and planets, and constellations around which they wove stories to inflame their minds and provide excitement. Every now and then, a magical light dance would happen in the sky, a multi coloured display of fantastic and beautiful majesty. Shooting stars and asteroids tore across the heavenly canvas bringing wonder and awe. Life was indeed good. This island, although small, was clothed and blessed in the majesty of nature, and profuse in all that was good in creation. The peoples were tolerant of travellers who chanced their way. They provided hospitality and warm welcomes. They enjoyed hearing about faraway places, of different lands, cultures and religions. They did not feel threatened if the visitors did not have the same belief systems, knowing in their hearts that all was one and that there were many roads and paths to reach Divinity. It was an intangible thing that each and every heart had to feel for their selves. In this place there was no bigotry or intolerance.
One day, Gaia was out gathering herbs, for these were the medicine cabinet of the people, as Mother Earth (after whom she took her name) supported all life, she healed her children when called upon. The herbs rejoiced the child had chosen them, for they knew their path was to grow to heal, and they understood that all was one and that the child also knew that all was one.
A beautiful butterfly caught the girl’s eye and with delight she followed after the delicate creature, marveling at Gossamer wings as blue as the sky above. The girl felt good to be alive and part of all the wonders of nature around her, for although yet a child; she understood the interconnectedness of all things, that simply all was one. Gaia focused on the butterfly’s game of chase, and the creature delighted in this lovely child joining the game. The butterfly knew the child understood that all was one. In time this child would undertake the journey of initiation, such as she the butterfly had done, into the cocoon and transmuting into a thing of great beauty.
Gaia was unaware of the storm clouds gathering, very unusual in this land. Then suddenly there was a downpour of rain. Looking around for shelter she saw ahead the entrance to a cave formed in a rocky hillside. Gratefully she ran into the cave, blessing her good fortune to find shelter from the ensuing storm. The cave was dark and smelt dank. A rough path was hewn from the bedrock, and from deep inside she heard a strange resonance, a toning of sorts. Intrigued she followed the source of the noise, as she moved deeper into the cave the darkness enfolded her. Trustingly, she followed the direction of the strange toning and chanting of unknown arcane words.
The darkness shifted to an eerie gloom, and Gaia saw the passage had widened into a cavern with a sandy floor. She heard the faint sound of running water. Above the cavern there was a light source, a hole in the roof of the cavern. From behind a large boulder a voice crackled;-
‘Who are you, what do you seek?’
The voice belonged to a tiny, misshapen form. A woman clothed in dirty ragged garments. They had the vestiges of a once beautiful blue material, patterned with stars about them. Even in the gloom the girl marvelled at the fragments of beautiful cloth. The woman’s hair was grey and bound tight to her head in thin plaits, and her eyes were small and black as shriveled raisins. With sly interest she regarded the girl before her, dressed in a simple tunic of beautiful linen, her hair long and golden and flowing, her eyes a deep cornflower blue, alive and dancing with curiosity.
‘I have lost my way, and have taken shelter from the rain outside’ said Gaia. ‘They call me Gaia in honor of the Great Mother, the Earth,’ the child smiled happily.
‘Pah.’ Came back the rude, curt response from the wizened old crone..
‘What should I call you?’ enquired Gaia politely.
‘I am Alizza the Watcher, but you may not address me so. You have not the knowledge or status to speak the name of one as elevated and spiritually advanced as I!’
‘May I sit with you a while, and listening to your teaching, Mother? The child asked unperturbed by Alizza’s hubris.
‘You would know of my wisdom? I am happy to tell you child the ways of the world. Come sit by my side at the fire and pay heed.’ She rasped with a degree of satisfaction.
There was a fire pit set within a circle of small rocks, and from it the flames danced and swayed as a slight breeze played around them. Gaia stared intently at the fire, enjoying the pictures in the flames, and the sight of the Salamanders,those elementals charged with guarding the element of fire, and they in return regarded the child and knew she was one who understood them, and all things and that all was one.
The ugly Crone was impatient to begin her teaching and coughed harshly. In a voice that was deeply meaningful in tone, she began.
‘These, child, are words of wisdom given to me by Masters, and only those who are as spiritually advanced as I am can access the Wisdom of the Masters. For I am a Watcher, and follow the Path of the Star. Heed ye well!’ She jabbed a bony finger with a cracked and dirty nail at the girl, for emphasis.
The child smiled, continuing to watch the magical show the salamanders were putting on for her delight.
‘The purpose of creation, child, is to leave this place and ascend upwards to the Star. I, who have followed my spiritual path so diligently, by toning my tones and chanting my chants, will soon be able to leave.’ she said piously.
‘Do you not marvel at how advanced am I to be able to do such a thing? Do you not aspire to be as pure in spirit as me?’ she questioned.
‘Hmm’ mused the child ‘Are you alone here?’
‘Alone? What, with my incredible spirituality? I do not need mere mortals in my holy Presence. I need to remain unblemished and untouched from their germs. That is why I wait in the cave till I can leave heavenwards. I know I will not return here for I am just so advanced. The Star needs me with its celestial magnificence to watch over the minions below.’
‘Do you never see other people?’ enquired Gaia.
‘Ah, No’, said the wizened old Crone. ‘Once there were some who came to seek my teaching. I saw they were lesser creatures and just did not and could not understand. So I realised to keep myself pure in spirit I had to retreat deeper and deeper into this cave, where they could not taint me with their base natures.’
‘I would love to hear your wisdom,’ said the child.
She was a child who loved to experience all things and learn the different ways of people, understanding there were many different types of person and they each could choose different paths to travel up the mountain to touch Father Sky. And again the child understood that in all this diversity, ultimately all was one, for each in their own way would eventually touch Father Sky, whatever path they had chosen to walk.
The ugly Crone continued…
‘The path of the Star showed me that by prayer and devotion I can leave this place and be one with the Light.’
‘Where does the Star reside?’
‘Why up there’ the Crone pointed to the hole in the roof of the cave.
‘What does the Star look like?’
‘Like this’ and she pointed to a fragment of starry material.
‘Can anyone see the Star?’
‘Oh, No, Only one who is willing to follow the path of religious observance. A Practitioner such as I, versed in knowledge of The path of the Star.’
By now, the storm outside had passed, and night had fallen. Everything was quiet and still. The ugly Crone bid the curious, chattering child be silent.
‘It is time for devotion; my star is calling to me. You may observe, but be quiet as I, an illumined one, will commune with the Holiest Highest Star.’
The child looked on, wondering what marvels the Crone would commune with. Alizza went and sat on a boulder under the hole in the roof, a thin taper in her knotty hand. She looked up and began the low chanting and toning noise again. Slowly a picture of rapture appeared over her ancient face, as her gaze went towards the hole in the cave roof. Intrigued, Gaia too looked up, and was perplexed to see a tiny star, which she recognised as Antares, a bright star that guides one to see the constellation Scorpio. Gaia knew the night sky well, for oft times she had slept under that heavenly canopy, watching the majesty of the waxing and waning moon, and the beauty of the constellations and the stories they told. She knew the magic of seeing shooting stars and comets blazing their trails across the universe.
Yes, there were so many wonders in creation, and once again Gaia smiled understanding that One was All and All was One; and that the magic of the sky was a magic that was in her and everything else as well. So it was with interest she regarded the Crone, lost in her rapture at the sight of Antares above the cathedral like structure of the cave’s roof.
Eventually sleep fell upon Gaia and she curled close to the fire and slept deeply. The child was content, dreaming of the many layers of creation and existence, dreaming of universes held within atoms and universes so large her mind could not hold the thoughts. A raindrop on her nose startled her to wakefulness. The Crone was bustling around making a brew from hot water and some lichen she had scraped from the walls of the cave. The insipid brew bubbled in an earthenware pot, placed precariously on some burning twigs. She invited the child near.
‘You looked so happy watching Antares’ offered Gaia to the busy old woman.
The Crone looked puzzled by the question. She clearly had no idea what, where or who ‘Antares’ was.
‘Child, I was in Rapture communing directly with the Star of the sky. I have sat in my cave for decades meditating on the nature of divinity, and I am truly blessed to have seen this wondrous sight. I know that because of my advanced spiritual understanding one day soon I will ascend and join Star! Pay heed to my teaching child; ask what questions you need to further your own limited understanding. Who knows, maybe one day you too will understand the advanced teaching of the Star!’
This time it was Gaia’s turn to look puzzled…
Tentatively she asked, ‘Mother Crone, why do you work so hard to reach Star, for is not Star in you and you in Star, for Mother Crone is not one all?’ she continued with enthusiasm and passion, ‘Does it not feel oh so good to travel on the wind as it blows through life? To feel the whisper of the gentle breeze that cools the skin? Or a raging, howling hurricane that sweeps away that which no longer serves? Knowing the wind is the Divine’.
Smiling happily Gaia chattered on excited to be sharing ‘…and the joys of letting your spirit become one with the Condor. Soaring heavenwards and riding upon the wind, majestic and powerful, magnificent wings outstretched and all at one with the wind, on our journey across the vastness of the sky.’ The child continued to share the excitement of her experiences. ‘To fall as a drop of rain, blown by the wind into the fast flowing river and feel what it is like to flow over the smooth rocks; and be tickled by the bulrushes, to move as one towards the vast ocean and just know that every raindrop is part of the vastness of the mighty ocean….’Smiling happily, the child continued,‘….and Mother Crone, that which brings me the most joy is when I become one with the beautiful trees and feel myself strong and solid upon the Earth. I love the feeling of my roots burrowing deep into the rich warm soil. I love the feeling of the goodness within the Earth sustaining me, feeding me. My branches reach towards the heavens, and I sustain life, for the birds and insects to come to find shelter above me and below me; as they eat the food I give from my berries. And my leaves glisten in the warmth of the sun, and cool to the stars above. Oh, to be a tree is truly magical Mother for then one is completely one with Mother Earth and Father Sky!’
Gaia’s eyes shone with happiness as she relived her shamanic journeys, she did not see the disgust and distaste on the old woman’s wizened face…The acrid smell of the Crones infusion filled the cave. Helpfully, Gaia reached into the pocket of her robe and pulled out the little bunch of sweet smelling herbs she had gathered. Gently she added them to the pot and said a little blessing. The bitter smell was soon replaced by the pure and healing scents the herbs released.
‘Oh, that is so good Mother Crone; will you drink from our brew?’ Gaia tenderly asked.
She saw the Cones eyes were weepy, and her body was stiff and rigid from rheumatism. Gaia knew the herbs would help and heal. Nature’s apothecary had a cure for every ailment. One just needed to go to the trees, the flowers, herbs and crystals for their assistance.
With a howl, the Crone arose and with her temper boiling over, she kicked the earthenware pot hard. The hot contents spilled over and splashed onto the skinny legs of the incandescent Crone. Her ugly face contorted in rage as she screamed at Gaia:-
‘What witchery! What wicked sorcery! What foul blasphemy! You dark thing, you dare come into my world and speak such nonsense! Be gone bad thing! Thou have no knowledge! How could I, an illumined one, teach you whose head is so full of nonsense….all is not one foolish child, the star is all there is…now go!’
In absolute shock, and with tears streaming down her face, the child turned and ran through the darkness of the cave. She barely knew how she reached the outside. She sat with her arms wrapped protectively around herself, sobbing at the Crones cruelty. Could she have got it so wrong, after all she knew she was a child with so much to learn. But those people, who were her own, understood; wracked with longing for home she began to weep again.
Slowly, she became aware of a presence, and a warm feeling enfolded her. Raising her tear stained face. Gaia realised the Sun was shining brightly and the rain had bathed the world with cleansing water and everything looked so fresh and new. A multi-coloured rainbow arched across the azure sky. The birds were singing their sweet songs and the insects were busy humming and the honey bees buzzing and so much life was all about. A little white feather fell from the clear blue sky into Gaia’s hand, and above she saw a white dove in flight. Smiling, Gaia rose and turned for home for the child just knew all was one….
Later that night, deep in the cave, as the Crone settled down for her devotion to the Star, she was amazed to see a bright light streak past the narrow opening in the cave roof and as the comet passed by she heard the child’s wise words as they echoed in her empty heart and cave…
© Eily Nash ~ from ‘Torn from the Heart’