Alana, Spirit Alligator

Saffron white, albino Alligator
Wise companion, Light of the Creator
Ancient guide, and Key to resurrection
Lightning strike - I trust in your Protection.

I sat on the pier of Bredha's home, contemplating how I would get far downriver to the Ancient Cypress tree. No boat or raft. Too far to swim, and the water held many predatory dangers in any case. There truly was no way to walk, either, because there was no solid land. There were little hummocks and groupings of roots, reeds, and fallen trees, but nothing that offered a secure and safe route for any length of time or trail.
As I sat pondering, an alligator drifted close to the pier.

"I would carry you," he said.
Warily, I replied, "As much an honor as you present, kind sir, I would not want to be your dinner as well. Is there a sharing that might work for us?"
He was quiet for a very long time, as if napping in the calm afternoon water. Only his eyes remained above the surface, but they were distant, as if he, too, were considering the bargain and the honor inherently woven within it.
Soft as the breeze upon the river, he spoke again.
"If you will sing, I will carry you, protected... as long as you sing."
"Done, then. I need a ride to the Old Crone Cypress, if you will."
Then, he said, "You will have to get into the water to get upon my back. It is important that you are wet, as my skin is sensitive."
As I lowered myself from the pier into the river, I realized that two more alligators were heading towards me, and I began to panic as I knew I had only bargained with this one for my safety and not any others.
But my Guide answered me, "These will offer us protection, as I will be unable to defend myself with you riding upon me. And, they, too, want to hear your songs."
So it was, that I rode upon the back of an alligator, with one other to each side, downriver to the Crone Cypress. And I opened myself to Spirit, calming and becoming One with the present, allowing the songs to come.
Of the several simple tunes, one shone the brightest. From the Earthmother, I am sure, I sang a ballad of the Great White Alligator - scion of the Spirit, daughter of this Bayou, legend of their own Lore. And when I finished, the One whom I rode said, "Sing no other, now. Sing only that, again. You have more than balanced your share of the bargain."
And I sang into the evening twilight until we arrived at the Cypress. Again, she glowed in her auburn Light, but this time it seemed to reach out and touch us - all four of us - and welcome us Home. Enveloped in her energy, I can only speak for myself, but there was a sense of being lifted to a higher Place, a higher Bayou, if that makes any sense to the one reading this. And I could see us four still where we were, but not - like within a shimmering mist - as if the Veil flowed through us and purified our energy into the Oneness and Greater Harmony of Creation.
And, then, the glow drew back to the Tree, and we were again floating in the black waters, close enough to the Cypress for me to disembark.
The One Guide Alligator looked at me, and said, "We owe you a ride, Lady, for all this. Call whenever you have a need." And the three of them turned slowly and began moving back upstream.

As I entered the small room in Grandmother Cypress, I heard her voice.
"I am sending warmth through the Inner Wall. If you take your clothes off, and lay them near, they will dry. If you lay next to me, I will warm you."
And so I did, and I think I must've slept for a while, too. When next I looked outside, it was very dark.
She said, "You have a visitor, Child."
I dressed hurriedly in warm, dry clothes and went back out to where the roots provided a seat by the river. I saw a white light glowing in the water, drawing close.
Amazed, I realized it was the Spirit Alligator the song had spoken of, that I had sung of, without intention or awareness or experience of its Truth.
"You sang my Song," a quiet melodious voice spoke through the darkness.
"Was it ok?" I tentatively asked.
A soft chuckle filled the night.
"You have no idea of your power, your gift, do you, Child?"
"No, m'am."
Another soft chuckle. "My name is Alana, not m'am. And I have come because you sang my Song. Are you ready for your Initiation?"
"My what?"
"Your Initiation. You asked to go deep, to return to the ancient, to journey to the place before thought. I have answered the Call."
"Well, ok. Then, can you tell me what I need to do, what's going to happen, how soon I need to prepare?"
"New Moon is soon. You need only to trust."
"Can you give me some clues?"
"Ordinarily, no. But you sang the Song, so I will share the process. I eat you, and then birthe you."
I know I must've turned a whiter shade of pale. I know I stopped breathing. And it is not that I haven't experienced shaman deaths Inworld, with Brighid and others. It was just that this felt even more real, and I can't explain that. This wasn't just a cognitive exercise, or shaman trance journey - this felt as real as being Outworld does. And I had to allow an alligator to crunch me up into dinner kibble and bits.
"You have a Choice," her gentle voice flowed through my mind like the river before me.
"I can choose to decline?"
"Of course. And I will honor that and return you Home."
"I have until the New Moon?"
"You do."
"I would like to consider the honor of your Initiation."
"I will return in eight nights, then."
And she slipped beneath the black water and disappeared.

Grandmother Cypress spoke, "You are welcome to remain here for the week, Child. The Faery who live here will take care of your sustenance. For now, just sleep and we will see what the morning brings."
And so I went and laid down in the warm area she provided, and slept.

Blue heron greets the new-born day
River softly chants my death
Cypress smudges where I lay
Alana draws my quickening breath;
Vulture dances in the sky
Flicker taps a rhythmic call
Black snake weaves its fire to mine
Alana sings to stop my fall;
Bayou rocks me in her arms
Cattails whisper lullabyes
Morning sunlight keeps me warm
Alana soothes my birthing cries;
East wind comes to cool my face
Moist earth turns my fears to light
Spirit touches me with grace
Alana names me into life.

beyond all mortal thought,
cannot be known
by those who know it not;
a true conundrum -
a lock within the key -
secured by giving
the Dark its victory.

New Moon

I sat on the root-woven seat of the Cypress, awaiting the arrival of Alana, the Spirit Alligator. I worked on easing my mind, my fears, my need to hold on to life - regardless of my knowing of its Illusion. I centered and grounded myself and tried to be as ready as possible for this task - for I had accepted her Invitation to Initiation.
Soon as darkness fell, I saw her glowing white silhouette glide over the black river, towards me.
"Are you ready, Little One?" she gently asked.
"As ready as I can be," I whispered.
She glided closer, until she was less than a yard from where I sat. She paused, and rested, as I grappled with subsiding my panic. Up close, she was the largest alligator I had ever seen - larger than I had ever imagined. She was easily three to four times as big as me. I swallowed with difficulty and tried to slow my heartbeat.
She spoke gently again, "You know I don't do crunchy kibbles and bits, don't you? I'm not made like that. We aren't made like that. It is a drowning, and you have experienced that before in your shaman alchemy shifts, yes?"
"Yes," I whispered, "I've done that."
"Then, think of this Initiation in those terms. In truth, it is no different, and I will help."
"I'm afraid."
"And I honor that. Choose, then, what will be tonight."
"I choose you."

And in a flash, she snapped her jaws around me, and swam to the bottom of the river.
I held my breath, instinctively, as I have always, trying to avoid - until the last moment - the consequences of my choice. I started thrashing about, trying to break her hold on me, trying to get back to the air, trying not to die.
I thought she would just clamp her jaws shut and crunch my body to still me, but the painful act never occurred. Regardless of how I struggled and fought against her hold, she remained gentle and firm in her hold. Finally, I could no longer keep from breathing, and in that one gasp for air, I filled my lungs with the river... and died in her jaws.

Somewhere, as if from a distance, I heard her quiet voice speak from behind tears unseen in the black water, "I have you, Child. You are within me now. You are very brave. Soon, I will give birth to you. Rest now. Sleep in peace."
And then, all the world was silent.