Entering the subterranean chamber beneath Stone Henge, I was greeted cheerily by Merlin. Too cheerily for that late at night, but then again, Time had no meaning for him… and generally not for me, in that mystic sense. It was just harder, coming from the mundane world I created about myself.
“So… what’s up for tonight, Lady?”
“I’m supposed to see a wren and a druid, and then choose a staff or a cloak.”
“And do you have ideas about this?”
“I am trying to be very empty of pre-conceived expectations, sir.”
“Ah… any luck?”
“Somewhat. Better than at first; not as good as I’ve been.”
“Well, then, don’t let me distract you.”
And he turned back to the book he was reading, patently ignoring me. Curious, I looked to see what book could possibly interest him. Mort, by Terry Pratchett. Figured.
I knew the Path originated from here, so I started searching the chamber for some clue as to where that might be. Certainly it wouldn’t be worth my while to ask Merlin, for he would just tell me that my searching was half the Journey. So I began walking the ledges that led into the darker areas of the chamber.
I noticed that, in a smaller version of the chamber, a cave was tucked behind a huge boulder, keeping it invisible to visitors of the underground healing lake. I cautiously walked closer, and finally entered the cave. It appeared, then, to be more like a tunnel, for the walls narrowed and elongated the further I walked in.
Suddenly, the Path ended… or seemed to.
In front of me lay a line of flat rocks, individually separated from one another by perhaps twelve to eighteen inches. Although I counted ten, it was easy to see that there were probably many more, lying unseen beyond my vision. The problem was that they were not lain upon any ground. They appeared to rest upon air. Glowing cobalt blue air. There was a sense of limitless depth. And currently, in the mundane world, I had been dealing with an unexplained escalation in a fear of heights. So, this would be interesting. There was no way to know if the rocks would hold solidly in place if I stepped upon them. There was no way of knowing what would happen. I had to trust. Trust in the Path. Trust in Spirit.
So, I did. I stepped out onto the first one… and quickly onto the second one, determined to get across as fast as possible. And then I stopped. When I had stepped upon the first two stones, a strange thing had happened. The rocks had glowed a specific hue and hummed a specific tone. And each stone had been different. I stepped to the third stone, and waited this time. I allowed myself to absorb the color and music of the rock: to merge with it, converse with it, listen… and see. And not think of the vastness beneath me.
In addition to the color and tone, I was given an experience of some place: forest, desert, meadow, ocean, stream, beach, tundra, volcanic cliff, snowcap… complete with the indigenous sentient beings. Not all of these were on Earth, either. Also, some were Faery; some were Faery but not Terran. Some were indescribable, far beyond my imagination and knowledge. And it was as if these were, in truth, Gateways, if I so chose. Some rocks, as I continued on, even allowed me to merge into places that weren’t quite places, as one would reckon. They were more like different senses of being: like a song, cloud, rainbow, cosmic wind, nebula. Some were beyond my ability to translate into concepts understandable to those who might read this.
The rockway ended at the edge of a deciduous forest, late fall, somewhere in the Welsh countryside. I stepped onto the crunchy brown leaves, looking around at the land, a bit relieved to have finished those rock steps. I knew I would return, though.
A small figure seemed to detach itself from a nearby tree, and quietly walked towards me. She was as brown as the trees and leaves, looking smoothly wooden – if that makes sense – and smiling.
“Hello. My name’s Wren. I’ve been waiting for you. We’ve a way to go, so if you don’t mind, we’ll be moving on now.”
She led off, obviously expecting that I would follow at her pace. I did, while curiously pondering how in the world she could walk on crunchy oak leaves without making a sound… a Faery thing, I guess.
After walking for a considerable distance, she stopped before a huge old oak tree, and waited for me to catch up.
“Here you go,” she said cheerily, reminding me of Merlin – speaking words that held a clandestine “something” in their energy… hoping, patiently, that I would ‘get it’.
I looked at the ancient tree.
“What do you mean, ‘here you go’?”
“You came looking for a druid, yes?”
“Well, this is a tree.” I knew it was an obvious and inane comment, but something was missing in this puzzle, and I was too slow to figure it out.
“Yes. A tree. An oak tree. A door. A druid. An ancient power. A gift to you.”
And, right before my eyes, the tree shape-shifted, or something. The energy of its form realigned itself, so that it was no longer bark-solid. Its silhouette became a portal of energy… swirling, shifting translucent autumn hues… calling me in.
“Go ahead,” she said. “I’ll follow you in.”
Cautiously, I stepped within and through the energy field. And found myself in a huge oaken room: floor, walls, ceiling… and something resembling a throne. Actually, that was my word. I felt like I was in the presence of the Oak King, or something similar, thereby expecting a throne. In reality, I could see nothing but very bright golden energy somewhat coalesced in a particular area of the room.
“You have a query?”
“Ah… well, I requested a Journey, and understand you to be answer.”
“What was the question?”
That stopped me. I pondered that for a very long time, not having really considered it before now. What was my question? I hadn’t thought – no; I hadn’t expected that kind of response.
“Ummm… who am I?”
A deep chuckle. Like from the depths of an ancient, untouched Forest.
“Who do you think you are?”
“A seeker. A student. Somewhat foolish, somewhat wise.”
“What is your question?”
“I told you.”
“No. What is your heart’s question?”
Again, I had to stop to ponder this. What was my heart’s question, truly?
“I guess, I want to know if I am someone important?”
“Ah… now the truth is revealed. ‘Importance’ is a loaded word. Part of the Human journey. Do you hold that question in your Place of Peace?”
“Well, no, of course not.” And I paused. “So, you’re saying it’s only relevant to the Human dimension, the mundane world I live in?”
“Indeed. So what’s your question?”
“How can I discern my importance, my being worthwhile, as a Human?”
“An oak tree is only an oak tree as long as it believes it is only an oak tree.”
“An oak tree is important, worthwhile and valid as an oak tree. It doesn’t have to be more than an oak tree. But it can choose to be more.”
“You have chosen to become more than Human, Elc’yrr. But you chose that in order to find importance, validity, and worth. Qualities you have innately.”
“And the problem with that is..?”
“You haven’t accepted those qualities in your Human self.”
“That’s the answer.”
“As you already inherently have those qualities, it is up to you to reveal them to yourself, and accept them.”
Quietly, I tried to absorb this wisdom, feeling as if I was back on that rockway, and the rock was moving. I reached for a bit of the golden Energy to still myself.
“Now, then, I do have the gifts designed for this Journey: a cloak and a staff.”
“I cannot wear the cloak anymore. If I am to honor your wisdom, I need to accept myself as-is.”
“A cloak can be more than camouflage and protection, you know.”
“A true Elc’yrr, in any dimension, can manifest what is needed, as it is needed.”
“What of the staff, then?”
“Actually, I prefer to walk empty-handed. So, I guess, I would choose neither.”
“Then, I have a different gift for you. Stretch out your hand.”
I did so, and he laid upon it a single acorn.
“This holds the answer to your question. You cannot accept being an oak tree, until you have accepted being an acorn. You cannot grow beyond what limits you have accepted as being true – whether through fear or pain or comfort. Learn from this acorn. It will guide and protect you. It holds all of what you believe I hold. It holds you.”
And, I knew I was being dismissed. Wren had entered at some time, although I had not felt her Presence. She took my hand and led me back through the Portal, into the Woods. I turned, and bowed to the old oak tree, which had solidified after our passing. After a long walk, Wren led me to an opening in the thick briars.
“Go through here. It will lead you back to the Cave, without having to traverse the Petramaze. I will see you, again. Soon. Try and rest, if you can. You look a bit overwhelmed.”
I thanked her, and left to return to Merlin’s Cave, looking forward to relaxing in the Healing pool for a long, long time.