Thursday, January 17, 2008

Walking with the lone wolf – London

Monday December 31, 2007:

It had been raining, a slow soft drizzle which moistened the surfaces but didn’t really soak. My neighbour next door had Jules Holland on, but the window was closed so it wasn’t so loud. I put my big black coat on and stuffed the pockets with things that I thought I would need, a sage smudge stick, a lighter, rattle and so on. Earlier that evening, I lit incense and placed a candle in a lantern on my garden alter.

Fireworks were beginning to charge recklessly across the sky, I took no notice as I cast my circle.

The sweet smell of white sage wafted through the cool wet air as I circled the garden. Cleansing, and purifying, I made ready to meet the old blind she-wolf who always came when I needed comfort. Leaves brushed tenderly against me as I walked, the gravel crunched beneath my feet. All was still.

Come feather-bright, light of dawn, the optimism of a new day, the insubstantial ness of berth with its important life-giving purpose. With them came the perfume of the damp garden, mingling with the incense, a cocktail of calm.

Come spirit of fire, dancing, spiralling, flickering and shimmering in the dark, the place of purification, consumption and transformation. With it came the energy and the amber light of the internal fire.

Come water that enfolds, embraces, cradles and caresses, the soft shaping, ever flowing love. With it came nurturing, forgiving acceptance.

Come, the stones that are the bones of the earth, the great trees that watch, the place of manifesting of power made real. Solidly, the earth’s great roundness came, always full.

I called the above, the below and the all that is, stirred by the great ladle of existence into being, as the wheel turned again. The garden drew in closer to me, quiet and attentive.

“I journey with the lone wolf into the year 2008,” I whispered as I shook the rattle in a gentle soft rhythm.

The woods were quiet and deserted. Against their black straight trunks, the red glow of a distant fire danced throwing their shadows hugely across my path. Winding in between them, I crossed into the opening and the dancing fire, but it was not to its side that I was bound.

Beyond, the shaggy old yew tree stood, burnished by the fire, the great hollow at its belly deep and dark. I stooped and entered into the amber glow that was the hollow.

The chamber had not changed. The fire glowed in the square hearth with a great mantel like a straight brow looming over it, the shining cauldron gleaming on its hook above the small but determined flames. I moved and sat down near it.

Out of the shadows she came, walking slowly and stiffly, following her nose till she was at my side. Leaning her great grizzled head against my knee, she whined deep in her throat. I reached out and touched her head, stroking with one finger the velvety skin above her eyes.

She shifted and moved, walking towards the door. I put my hand on her back and followed her out of the hollow, past the fire and into the woods.

She led me to a great old tree, tangled with leaves and stems and indicated that I should sit beneath it. I sat down, with her at my feet and waited. The rain dripped, the ground beneath me was chill. I was cramped and uncomfortable but I knew I needed to stay here. She sat, her head resting on my foot.

I watched the gloom, the laden sky that seemed to press down upon my head; its blue grey darkness change to a duller steel as the days moved on. I was board and anxious but I kept watch as there was nothing else I could do. And the days span on and eventually, the sky changed, growing silvery then the palest of blues, till the golden sun nibbled at its edges.

Slowly we rose and began to walk. We walked through woods, across fields, up on heathland , over rutted grass, boggy tuffets, muddy tracks, our feet snatched at by briers and brambles, always reluctant to let us go so that we had to tear our feet away. Scratched and bleeding, I pushed on and on across the never-ending terrain.

We came to rivers; somehow fording them, soaked and tired, we stumbled on, toiling up yet another sharp incline and edging our way down the other side, this time, spying a yellow gold path below, to which we made a bee-line.

Midnight struck as I stepped onto the path, its loose stones crunching beneath our feet as we trudged along it, up a hill, circling up and round the cone shaped hill till we reached its summit.

And there below us lay London, the river snaking like a serpent through its midst, the tall buildings glowing in the sun, and when night fell, glimmering under a dark sky. The bustling packed city was full of energy. Oh how I wanted to continue to serve it. This was my purpose.

And when I came to understand what I wanted, we walked through the woods, past the fire to the hollowed yew, bending low to climb in, flopping exhausted down in front of the fire. The cauldron was steaming. I got up and looked inside it, reaching for a ladle so that I might stir it.

A bowl lay on the hearthstone; I reached for it and poured some of the cauldron’s contents into it. Bending, I placed it beside the she-wolf, gently guiding her head with my hand. Slowly, she began to lap.

When she had done, I refilled the bowl and would have raised it to my lips had my eye not caught the movement of a figure in the darkest corner of the fire place. It was she! I offered up the bowl but she indicated that I should drink it myself. When I was sated, I sat quietly by the fire, the she-wolf at my feet and the lady in the opposite corner. There we stayed, content and at peace.

My mind was drawn to the future and I looked into the fire, searching for something that would sustain me through the hard things I had to do. The flames leapt cheerfully and I thought of bravery, of courage, like the merry flames of a small fire. This is what I needed to go forward with because the road would not always be easy and I would need courage to cope with it.

I did not want to leave. The world lay outside beyond the yew tree and I had to face it. I got down onto my knees and stroked the she-wolf’s head. She raised her head and lent it against my thigh and I stroked her gently. Deep in her throat she growled a contented growl and my heart turned over with such love, I felt the tears prick at my eyes.

Rubbing my eyes, carefully I rose to my feet. I bowed to the lady sitting quietly in the corner. I bent to stroke the she-wolf, who stirred but did not get up. I walked quietly to the door, ducked under the opening and out into the clearing.

The fire had burnt down to glowing red embers. It seemed pale in the light of the coming dawn which silvered the eastern sky beyond the dark trees. I walked quickly through the silent wood and back to now.

Sitting amongst the dripping leaves I listened to the sharp cracks and bangs of the fireworks bursting across the London sky. From beyond the garden, canned applause and then singing came to me from a television. A car rumbled in the distance and I imagined the millions of people lining the great river, their faces turned to the sky to marvel at the brilliant splashes of colour bursting across its darkness.

I picked up the Orgam oracle cards and chose one to help me this year. I got gooseberry, and I remembered that I had two planted somewhere in the garden and wondered where. The Gooseberry meant ancestral wisdom.

I thanked the goddess for the gift of my dream and the wisdom it had given me. I thanked too the old she-wolf, and all the elements that had been here, the spirits of the place and opening the circle, got up.

I scattered flower petals on the place where I had sat and made a silent commitment to come again and sit and wait for the wisdom of the garden to come to me when it had a mind to. How lucky I was to have it.


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