this week's rainbow dreams is brought to you by the Inner Child Tarot, bells, and the letter Q.
fleet-footed as the soulful-eyed doe who had greeted me upon my rebirth from the earth, from Earth, i ran through the dark forest along paths no human foot had trod for hundreds of years. she leapt and gamboled beside me, her dappled hide seeming to shift in the muted sunlight and shadows from the canopy above, as i ran faster than thought, silent as shadow, through the thick undergrowth.
my mud-heavy hair bumped against my back with each stride. my feet were cut on sharp stones and thorns. low-hanging branches left rose welts on my flanks as i crashed through them in my haste. my nipples hardened in the cold, damp morning air. the mud on my body dried in the breeze of my passing.
and every sensation of the stunning standard and numinous normal was a note in the spectacular song of the Funky Jive. my breath rasping in my throat was rapturous.
together, the doe and i broke through the dark wild wood into a sunlit clearing, in the middle of which grew a single maple tree. a small creek burbled and danced along the inner edge of the clearing and formed a pool on the other side of the maple. long sweetgrass and heather grew thick in the clearing, the heather shining with every delicate color nature could imagine. the thick perfume of heather mixed with the fresh, warm scent of the grass and water to tantalize my soul.
the doe bounded into the clearing, stopped to bend her head beside the pool for a drink of water, then with a leap was gone. she vanished back into the wood once more. i ran to follow her, but a few strides into the clearing i felt the woods fall away. suddenly, i found myself in a wide and fertile valley, white-capped mountains cradling me as if i stood in the palm of a verdant hand. the cloudless sky was as high as birdsong and as wide as joy.
but what took my breath was when i realized i was still within a circle. elm and oak, pine and apple trees stood at the four cardinal points. they were ancient sentinels, i knew, and gentle guides. and standing at four of the five mystical points were four other sacred Trees, with the mighty oak standing as head of both, to create a powerful Circle of nine sacred trees. with maple at its core.
the maple was my tree. the tree that bleeds, and in its blood gives nourishment to others. the tree that Bleeds But Does Not Die.
"Daughter of Earth," said the Sky, "Bathe thyself. Be cleansed of what was."
i knew i couldn't bathe in the pool, but downstream a small ways was a shallow dip, waist-high with a sunning rock the perfect length for me to stretch out upon. testing the waters, i found the creek so warm and aerated it felt like laughter soughing across my skin. i scrubbed the mud from my hair with sand, then crushed handfuls of heather and rubbed them into my hair and skin. as i sunned myself upon the rock, i took handfuls of spiraled pond grass and ran it through my hair so it would dry straight and untangled. when it was dry, i wove my hair into two long braids over each ear, then wound them around my head as i'd seen my great, great grandmother's portrait. she'd been a beloved curandera in her village when she was alive, healing the sick of spirit as well as fostering health in the body.
i had not seen it while bathing, but as i came out of the water i found my wounds had been completely healed. there was a pale scar, like a birthmark, where the Pomegranate Priestess had lain my heart open, in the shape of a star burst. there was a serpentine scar around my upper arm, pale and thin. but i was whole, and hale, and my time within the Earth had given me perspective into what my problems truly were:
Not That Big a Deal.
"Child of Water," said the Earth, "Immerse thyself and drink. Be freed of what is."
the small pool beckoned. only a moment did regret flicker inside me as i thought about my freshly dry hair getting wet all over again. i suppose even meditation and perspective can only go so far for vanity. but my steps were sure as i lowered myself into the pool. i cupped my hands together and lifted the water to my lips. it tasted sweet, and rich with minerals. it went to my head like a sip of brandy.
"it's just..." i heard myself sigh. "the idea of peace with him, like a holy grail, only i watch it tear me apart and i can't stop crusading for it."
my path had become, without my knowing, the path of compassion, of love and mercy and the never-ending struggle for understanding. and yet my own fear of being laid waste again was too powerful to allow me to surrender fully to compassion. i still saw it as giving permission to another to cause me pain. and the harder i struggled, the more it ripped me apart. there could be true compassion within me, and it didn't have to cost my Self. compassion, forgiveness, and mercy could be given, but it did not require me to treat the other person as a lifelong and trusted bosom companion. to truly pardon required only forgiveness of an offense, and anything more which led to my demise, again and again, was my own naive folly.
it was time to leave hopeful childhood dreams and idealism behind. there would always be room for beauty in the world of magic, but there could be no trust given freely where it was not first earned.
i cried for myself, then. deep inside myself, i had always prayed that someday i would be forgiven by people i loved and could then be welcomed back with open arms and laughter to resume my place among them as if nothing had happened, once my penance was repaid. and in my hope to receive that, i had given that very thing to many others, foolishly, and with disastrous results. with enough compassion, forgiveness could be given. but the time had come to accept that my place among them was lost a long time ago, that others' places in my life were gone, and sometimes there is no such thing as happily ever after together.
no matter how much the child within might want it so.
"Sister to the Sky," said the Water, "wash thy tears and dry thy face. Take, and hold it in trust for what will be."
i washed my face and stepped from the pool. immediately i was dry. sitting upstream at the edge of the creek was a crystal vial with a carved stopper. i filled it with water and clutched it to my heart.