Fiction, LONGREADS, WRITING, WRITING & BLOGGING

AN ANGEL CALLS

 

In 2012 I penned my first novel. It came from a place of pain. Seven years on I have grown both as a Writer and a person. I decided to revisit my book “Wychwood” and give it a re-write, detaching myself from the drama and writing as an observer. Although I received praise for the book I wanted to infuse it with more Grace, more Magic and occult layers. The Main Character has a new name Phaedra (Fay’dra) and I have introduced some new and more sinister characters.

This is Chapter One…

 

1 AN ANGEL CALLS

 

 

It is said that for every soul who walks upon the Earth a Guardian Angel is assigned ~ there are times the Angel may walk beside a soul, there are times the Angel may carry that soul and then there are times the Angel can only stand and watch and weep…

 

Midwinter. Dusk came stealthily creeping in, intent on stealing away the remains of the day. Fog descended over the grey London skyline, wrapping the Victorian villas in a numinous mist. White stucco coated walls that had shone in the harsh glint of winter sunlight now took on a ghostly air. Comforting coals burning in the hearths within cast a warm glow through opaque windowpanes, orange eyes keeping watch on a cold, dark night. ‘Fire light, fire bright, all is well tonight.’ Smoke snaking from tall chimney pots into the chill air warned any gathering preternatural creatures of darkness to stay away.  As dusk succumbed to night’s embrace, the fog began to lift, revealing a star-studded sky. Lights were extinguished and weary folk made their way gratefully to bed, giving thanks to the Lord for the day that was done and the morrow yet to come. One house stood apart from the camaraderie of its neighbours, no warmth or light was to be found within its walls. The interior of number four was just as bleak as its cold, nocturnal façade. Winter’s icy fingers reached into the very heart of the despondent house, into a cavernous bedroom dressed in heavy furniture from a bygone century back when the house was proud and new. A huge mahogany bedstead, barely discernible in the gloom, rose as a dark island in a sea of darkness. Centre stage was given to a huge black Victorian cast iron fireplace, inset with tiles glazed with an elegant William Morris floral design. It was too dim to appreciate the contrast of the beautiful pure white flowers, against the blackness of the cold and empty hearth. Lilies for the departed soul now restored to innocence after death. The room was out of step with the modern world unfolding beyond its ornate walls patterned in rich shades of gold and teal. Heavy jade brocade curtains dressed the window, although slightly closed they admitted a pale sliver of light to slyly come creeping in and illuminate the scene within the room.

From the remoteness of the huge bed, a young child sat up, big hazel eyes wide open, scanning the room for a phantasmagorical Presence she could sense hiding somewhere in the shadows. She drew an eiderdown tightly around her tiny body, tucking the edges under her trembling chin. The big bulky frame of her Father lay beside the little girl. He was sleeping, lost in Morpheus’ arms with heavy breathing reverberating around the room, chasing away the creeping silence. Shadows danced along the walls, thrown up by arbitrary moonbeams. A gilded mirror hung above the fireplace and the child was mesmerised by the forms within its silvery depths.

At bedtime Phaedra loved to curl up with a book of fairy tales enchanting her. She imagined the ethereal creatures from the pages, elves and goblins, fairies, centaurs, unicorns, talking owls, nightingales and brave Knights and beautiful Princesses were all living in the mirror, inhabitants of a world within worlds. As another ray of capricious moonlight fell across the Oak floor, it illuminated a pale, languid, crumpled body. Comatose, the flaccid form lay curled in a foetal position, an almost empty brandy bottle clutched in a lifeless hand. A malevolent shape crouched beside the figure. Both were reflected in the mirror. Seeing the Presence, she had sensed, the child let a strangled sob escape into the gloom, alerting the man. Startled, he scanned the room and assuring himself and his tiny daughter that nothing was amiss, he urged her to snuggle down and sleep. His wife was where he had left her, on the floor. Having witnessed the same drug and alcohol induced scene for far too long and powerless to change things, he had ceased to care a long time ago. Defiantly, the child shook her head, soft auburn ringlets swaying around her little heart shaped face, eyes luminous and anxious.

‘Daddy, the thing is here again! It is sitting next to Mummy!’

‘There is no thing, it is just the shadows.’

‘I can see it in the mirror, flashing dark eyes with red sparks burning like hot coals, Oh Daddy!’

‘Phae, it is just the reflection of the embers in the fireplace.’

‘Daddy the fire is out. Mummy is cold, laying there on the floor, does she need a blanket?’ She enquired tentatively. ‘Why is Mummy on the floor again, and not snuggling up with us like she used to. Why is that scary thing next to her?’

‘Oh, that thing? That’s just Mummy’s shadow friend.’ With tired indifference, he humoured her, eager to go back to sleep. His once beautiful wife’s modelling career had paid handsomely but come at a terrible toll with easy access to drink and drugs and the descent into oblivion and addiction.

‘Shall we cover Mummy to keep her warm? She may be afraid of the dark and are you sure the thing is a friend?’ She persisted.

So many questions, so few answers. Thinly veiling his feelings of revulsion and contempt, voice laden with disgust, the weary man offered comfort ‘The floor is where Mummy and her shadow friend belong, go back to dreamland, Phaedra.’ Then kissing her on the tip of her nose, he rolled over and went back to sleep.

The little girl burrowed under the covers and lay down with her tiny face snuggling into her Daddy’s warm back. Mummy was fine, Daddy knew best. Her worries alleviated she slept the rest of the night comforted by the deep sleep of the innocent. In her dreams, the child called for an Angel, an Angel of Love and Light to come and take the thing away and keep Mummy warm. And the Angel hearing her call, came.

In the hours that lay on the cusp of night and day, a luminous golden radiance bathed the room and an Angel, with benevolent arms outstretched, stepped out into the gloom. He held a gossamer blanket, woven from the light of the stars from the heavens above. With a gentle touch He wrapped the child’s Mother in love and light and tenderness. For the Angel knew, just as the child knew, that the woman although bound by addictions was still deserving of love and compassion.

‘She is mine!’ Hissed a misshapen demonic form.

‘No! She is His.’ Serene cobalt blue eyes looked heavenwards. The Angel knew whilst barricaded into her own pain, it would take a lifetime to free the woman from her tormentor and captor. How long that life would be was written in the stars, yet the Angel was prepared to fight the demon for her eternal Soul.

The demon’s dark eyes flashed red sparks of pure malice and it pushed the brandy bottle across the floorboards. The woman stirred and through a haze she reached for the bottle and taking it from him she drained the last dregs. In his clawed hand the demon held a fresh bottle. The woman lunged at him, eager to feed her addiction.

‘It is yours, but not whilst you clutch at that useless thing!’ it spat in loathing, pointing his gnarled claw at the blanket of Light.

The blanket of Light felt good and through the haze of drugs and alcohol the woman knew she should keep a tight hold.

‘Go away!’ She cried, wrapping the blanket tightly around her body. Grace washed over her and soothed her unquiet soul into a deep and peaceful sleep where the demon could not reach her.

The demon spewed fire and brimstone. ‘If I do not take the mother, I shall return for the child!’ it hissed at the Angel, before its malignant form dissipated into the darkness, along with the stench of stale alcohol and bitter pungency of opiates pervading the air.

The Angel prayed silently and bestowed a quiet benediction over the child and her lost Mother and the man who had long forgotten the truth, as he slept in his warm bed whilst the woman he once loved and had lost her way, lay on the cold floor.

A fragrant blend of frankincense and attar of roses filled the room. The man did not smell the perfume purifying the space around him, his child and his wife. Nor did he see the celestial blanket of stars woven with the Light of Heaven wrapped around her. He did not see the pure white lily the Angel had placed in the woman’s hand when she took away the empty bottle.

He did not see the Angel of Light standing at the foot of the bed, waiting. The demon would return. The woman would try to fight. Without the help of the man her redemption would only come the other side of the veil. The man could not see these things, for he too was enslaved by his own addictions and unable to feel the Presence of God when an Angel calls.

And so, the Angel stood and wept.

~~~♥♥♥~~~

 

Eily Nash~2019

 

Thank you for reading.

The Original version will remain in print as I work on my new version.

 

LONGREADS, LOVE, SHORT STORY, Uncategorized

Beguiled By Beauty

When a married man sets eyes on ‘the girl with the far away eyes’ he is beguiled by her beauty. Will his desire for the lovely Maude be reciprocated and turn into something more?

Is it Love or dark obsession…

Maude Fealy
Edwardian Beauty~ Miss Maude Fealy

Do you believe in love at first sight? If you had asked me that question six months ago I would have said categorically no. I am rational man with a rational job. That is until the day she crossed my path. I guess I was in the space to let her in. Life was getting mundane. You know yourself. You wake up, kiss the wife, go to work, come home, kiss the wife. Sleep.

Dreamless nights that pass too fast, then you wake up and do it all again. It’s what we do. Without question. The days of wine and roses, who needs them? Once the golden band is on her finger, then the deal is sealed. Job done. Then time, crafty, insidious time, starts eating away at you. The minutes turn into years and you don’t notice because you are so busy waking up, kissing the wife, going to work, coming home, kissing the wife and sleeping. Then somehow, without even knowing how it happens you don’t kiss anymore. When did romance die? Where did you loose yourself? Then all you have is this familiarity and distance and a strange feeling that something is missing. A longing. A longing for what? How can you even answer the question when you know something is wrong, but you are scared of the answer? Too close a look and the careful world you have constructed to keep the wolf from the door and the bear firmly outside your cave is suddenly not so safe anymore.  So the indefinable something ‘wrong’ becomes the new normal. And everything goes on the same, evenings spent alone downstairs, my wife upstairs with some pulp fiction for company. Vague stirrings of guilt. Why did she need to read that stuff? Didn’t she have me? Vague stirrings of regret, we were all right weren’t we? What if the romantic fix she got from the pages of her books didn’t cut it and she wanted more, from me, or someone else? Would I have anything left to give, or even care? I thought about going up and joining her, taking the book out of her hand and telling I was here, I was real. Notice me. I wanted to tell her I had my own hopes, dreams and desires and if she would only listen then I would share them with her and she wouldn’t be white noise anymore. But how do you come back from too many years of comfortably numb? I didn’t want to look too closely at that and shoved the awkward feeling deep down inside and just let it go.

Time ticking away, your life ebbing, second by second. Every moment one-step closer to the grave and nothing in between. I had heard all about mid life crisis, even knew a few of the boys at work who had gone through it. Hit forty and hit a brick wall. The sudden desire for a tattoo, a Harley, a fast car, even a quick fling or two with whoever was willing. I’ve seen it end in tears, broken hearts and broken bones. Not me, I thought, won’t happen to me. No one told me about mid life madness. No one told me about Love, not love like this. Obsessive, crazy, can’t get her out of my mind love. I work, she’s there. I drive, she’s there. I’m sat across the table from my wife. We eat. We have nothing to say, apart from the usual catch up on the day stuff. It doesn’t matter, because she is there. Inside my mind. My wife is talking, but long ago I ceased listening. White noise. I smile. I nod. I agree. Whatever she wants, whatever it takes. Eventually my tactics pay off and there is blessed peace. I indicate I will be up in a while and she goes to bed, alone. Silence washes over me, a soothing mantle. And all I want is to go off, alone too. I want to picture her, be with her, the woman living in my mind. But it’s all a crazy dream. Or is it?

I first met her late one Friday night after a very long day in Manhattan’s Financial District. I wanted to relax and the old fashioned comfort of Harry’s Bar Midtown hit the right note. I should have asked the  cab to take me home to Brooklyn Heights, instead I walked in off the busy street into a cavernous basement. The walls were lined with vintage photographs from Hollywood’s golden days. The décor was oak and leather, low lights, discreet booths and reminiscent of a gentleman’s club from a bygone age. Somewhere someone was playing smooth jazz on a saxophone. The bluesy notes washed over me, soothing, with the music literally hitting just the right note. Cigarette in one hand, single malt over ice in the other, I settled back into the comfort of a big leather chair. I took a deep drag of my nicotine hit. Through the haze of smoke she appeared. Long, long dark hair, falling in tumbling waves over her slender back. And her eyes. Oh those eyes. Luminous, lovely and inviting. She was a goddess and she was there, right in front of me. I sat up and paid more attention to a woman than I had in the last seven years. More attention than I had paid to my wife in the longest time. Did I feel guilty? No. There was something in me that needed her. And here she was, in all her radiant beauty and she was present, right here, right now, a timeless goddess of the silver screen invading the recesses of my hungry mind.

“The words you don’t say speak louder than those you do.” She was a mind reader as well. I covered my embarrassment with a slug of whiskey. I resisted the urge to ask her if she came here often. Despite her soft southern drawl it was obvious she was always here. I wondered just how many men had sat here and gazed on her loveliness. How many men had she looked at with those faraway eyes? How many men had thought of running their hands through her luxurious long locks, pulling her into a tight embrace and kissing those luscious lips. I was getting out of my depth. Stubbing out my cigarette and draining my drink I stood up to leave. At that moment I was lost and she knew it, catching my eye her gaze said, “You’ll be back.” And I was. I was finding reasons to go to Harry’s bar with the boys or alone. Never with my wife. I knew Maude would be there. Waiting. That seductive gaze, those eyes, I could drown in the depths of emotional intensity. My wife truly would not have understood. How would I find the words to explain just how or why another woman’s beauty had the power to speak to my very soul? Maude listened to me. I found myself pouring out how I felt about my wife, about myself. I told her I didn’t understand just how we had ended up in this big freeze. Where was the passion, the magic? When had the fire gone out? I told Maude everything I could not tell my wife. I got the feeling she would have liked to meet my elusive wife. But how could I introduce them? How could I explain Maude, who she was and what she meant to me? I loved her for her beauty, her glamour and mystery. She had the allure of an icon of the silver screen. She was there, she was present but she wasn’t. I could look but I could not touch. She had made that clear. But I could dream. You are innocent when you dream. Maude knew these things and she knew I adored her. She didn’t judge me. There was no blame, no weight of disappointment for things I had done, and things I had failed to do. With Maude I was free to be me. A man with hopes fears and desires and she understood and that was huge, and with all my heart I wished my wife would too. I was out of my depth and I was drowning. I guess it was only a matter of time before my wife found out.

The questions had started. ‘What time will you be home? Why are you late? Where have you been? Out with the boys again, really!’ I had no answers. No excuses. I closed down. Maude or my wife? It was becoming a very hard call. Maude was becoming my drug of choice. I needed her. I didn’t need the third degree. After all I was innocent, wasn’t I? Innocent when you dream…And dream I did. As I climbed into bed each night I envisaged she was there with me accompanying me into the realms of fantasy.

‘I am an actress,’ she said, ‘A weaver of dreams and a maker of magic!’

‘Maude, you are luminous! Do you have a gold star on Hollywood Boulevard? Take me there!’

‘My star is a long way from Hollywood. Search the night sky for the Morning star and you will find me. I am your Immortal Flame. I am your goddess of love. Always remember Love conquers all.’

Together we travelled the World and danced under starlight skies. We banqueted within Castle walls, she was my Princess and I her Knight and somewhere a Troubadour strummed a mandolin and sang of our love. We visited the Alhambra Palace, walked hand through the Court of the myrtles and beneath the Andalucía sun she whispered sweet words to me. In the shadow of the iconic monument to love, The Taj Mahal, I became her Rajah and whispered words of devotion to her, my beloved Rani.

The mornings came, I awoke next to my wife, with her back turned to me. The gulf between us was now an aching chasm and I felt a wrenching loss in the pit of my stomach.

The night they finally came face to face with each other is etched on my mind. A cold November and the big freeze between my wife and I was now arctic in its intensity. Something would have to give. Even a row would show there was some passion left, some depth of feeling. I felt so surplus to requirement, the weight of her disappointment in me was becoming a burden too heavy to handle.

‘Don’t wait up. I have to work very late. I may sleep at the office.’ And I was out the door before she could question me. I had plans for tonight and I would face the music in the morning. Right now there was a fire raging and if I didn’t quench it, then I risked being subsumed in the heat of my own desire and aching need to be with Maude.

I got to the bar early, before the evening rush. I wanted to be at our table where I had first set eyes on Maude. The bartender, now familiar with my order, started pouring my favourite single malt Scotch, Glenmorangie, over ice. I settled back into the comfort of the deep leather chair and lit a cigarette. This is where it had begun. Maude was waiting for me, beautiful as ever. Every time I gazed at her I saw perfection and paradoxes, beauty both beguiling and innocent. I wanted to reach out and protect her. I wanted to hold her in my arms and tell her I would keep the wolf from the door and bad at bay. I looked into her eyes looking at me from a distant place and time, and saw her sadness and saw her soul. She was a star from a bygone age that shone so bright she still lit up my lonely night. But she wasn’t real. She was a fantasy. No matter how much I longed to take her in my arms, to love her, Maude would never be mine for she belonged in the firmament above. From her gaze I saw she knew that I, as so many others before and after me, would always be hers. A captive of beauty. It was time to say goodbye. It was over.

‘Go home,’ Maude said, ‘what you see in me, you first saw in her. What you feel for me, you first felt for her and you will again.’

The weight of loss was too much to bear. The double life I had been leading, the freezing cold at home that had caused ice to form over my heart had been melted by the passion I had felt for a woman who was not my wife. I had been beguiled by beauty, Maude had touched my soul and I would never be the same again. A great wracking sob clawed its way out of my throat and I sat, head in my hands and I cried.

I felt her arms around me. Warm, loving and strong. She sat on the arm of the leather armchair and cradled me. Slowly she pulled my hands from my tear stained face and her soft mouth gently kissed my sorrow away. I looked into her eyes and saw the depth of love she felt for me and my heart began to beat fast. She was so beautiful, she was here beside me and she wanted me…I took her by the hand and asked her would she come home with me because I very much wanted to make love to her. She stood up and pulled me to her. I kissed her with a passion and intensity I had long forgotten and all the love and feeling inside me washed away the years. I was a man with hopes, feelings and desires and my wife understood, she always had and that was why she was here tonight.

‘How did you know?’

‘I know you,’ she replied. ‘I saw the way you looked at her photographs on the Internet, over and over. I watched you fall under her spell. How many men has she enchanted? You are not the first and you will not be the last. I wanted you to look at me that way, the way you did before we both forgot why we had been enchanted by each other.’

‘And you forgive me?’

‘Yes. Maude’s beauty is her gift to the world. Beauty that speaks to the soul. She spoke to you and her silent words told a story of love, romance, hope and desire. And I heard.’

As we walked hand and hand out into the New York night air we turned and took a final look at Maude Fealy, an Edwardian beauty and movie star from a bygone age, as she watched over us from her home encased in a silver frame on the ‘wall of fame’ at Harry’s Hollywood bar.

At that hour just before dawn wakes a sleepy world, as I lay entwined with my wife I happened to look out at the night sky. And there she was, true to her word. Venus, Goddess of Love.

My Morning Star.

© Eily Nash

Thank you for reading!

From my book Nightshades~A collection of supernatural Tales

Fiction, LONGREADS, NATURAL WORLD, SPIRITUALITY, Uncategorized, WRITING & BLOGGING

Gaia’s Garden

cropped-dsc03161.jpg

A short story on the magic of nature and “All is One”

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.

william-robert-symonds-sea-nymph-1893_a-l-9040776-8880731
William Robert Symonds~Sea Nymph

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 colors 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 colored 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 travelers 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, marvelling 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 shrivelled 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 realized 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.

star

‘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 recognized 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 the Star in you and you in the 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 he sky.’ The excited 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!’

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Edward Robert Hughes~Night With Her Train Of Stars

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 hem 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 realized the Sun was shining brightly and the rain had bathed the world with cleansing water and everything looked so fresh and new.

A multi-colored 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…

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Thank you for reading 🙂

This little tale appears in my book ‘Torn From The Heart’ available from Amazon as Kindle and paperback editions, HAVE A LITTLE PEEK INSIDE BELOW:-

GOTHIC, LONGREADS, MAGIK, MYTH, PARANORMAL FICTION, Shapeshifting, Uncategorized, WITCH, WRITING & BLOGGING

Beware What You Wish For…

★ A  cautionary tale of asking an adept of the Dark Arts to misuse witchery★

 

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John William Waterhouse~The Crystal Ball (1902)

 

The lone horseman cut a shadowy figure, barely visible threading his way through Sherrards Wood. The trail was overgrown and difficult for both man and beast to negotiate, especially as the weather had a mind to be unkind and inclement this winter’s eve. It was a night to be fireside with plates piled high with good food and fine wine served by comely wenches. He cursed vehemently as the cold rain began soaking through his opulent velvet cloak, the fur trim sticking uncomfortably to his skin. The north wind, having taken a dislike to the man, had a mind to torment him and screeched obscenities right back at him.

Unsettled by the strange shadows prowling through the trees and the howling wind Favian made haste.  He violently dug sharp spurs into his horse, urging it to break from its steady canter into a gallop. Almost expecting to see a pack of baying hellhounds giving chase he glanced over his shoulder, unaware the path was narrowing ahead. The hoot of a barn owl startled his steed, and spooked, it lurched to the left into dense undergrowth. The move was unexpected and before the man could gain control of the reins angry brambles scratched and tore at his noble face. Favian shouted at the horse as he felt a hot trickle of blood coursing down his cheek, rivulets of red running over his lips. The taste of iron was bitter and he spat in distaste, wiping his mouth with the back of his gloved hand. Savagely he used his whip on the animal’s flanks, blaming the innocent creature for his discomfort.

By the time Favian reached his destination he was in a foul mood. He would not have ventured out on such a night if it were not of such import.  Dismounting, he tied Ned his uncomplaining old horse to an ancient chestnut tree. There was no thought to the creature’s well being. It had been a long hard ride and food or water would have brought welcome respite to the tired horse. There was none to be had. Instead the man saw to his own needs and reached deep inside his cavernous cloak searching for a comforting leather flagon filled with mead. Having availed himself of a long draught of the sweet tasting and warming liquor he strode purposefully towards a dilapidated hovel. Standing forlornly within the forest clearing it was a far cry from the opulence within his father’s castle walls. A spiral of thin grey smoke rose up into the damp night air, whatever comfort it brought was carried away on the howling wind. The crackling of broken twigs caused the hairs to rise on his neck. For a moment he hesitated. A sense of foreboding came over him and he felt uncharacteristically afraid. Drawing in his breath and a dagger from his side and with feral eyes searching for hidden foes, he was on high alert. The skinny black cat that rushed by him brought relief from his fear and aiming a misplaced kick at the cat he laughed as it turned, arched its back and hissed. Another deep swig of the mead strengthened his conviction and he followed the creature towards the hovel. The cat was sat outside a weather beaten wooden door staring directly at him. Its amber eyes were penetrating and he had the uncomfortable feeling the creature was boring into his mind. He shook himself, he was not a fanciful man, it was only a cat not some phantasmagorical creature of the night the likes of which the villagers spoke of in hushed and fearful tones. Favian was strong, and if not for an accident of birth as the second son of a nobleman he would be on the brink of becoming the most powerful Lord of the Manor in these parts. The cat was in his way. Favian did not like anything or anyone to stand in the way of what he wanted. Without a second thought he unsheathed his dagger and took aim.

His face clouded darkly at the thought of what might have been if it were not for his weakling of a brother. With only a matter of days, if not hours, before the Lord of the Manor breathed his last it would all fall into his unworthy hands. Favian spat in disgust at the thought of Florian, his pathetic sibling whom he had left sobbing at their aged Father’s deathbed inheriting everything. The heir should have been him. He was the man to own the castle and the lands far beyond its walls. He should be the one with men to command, swearing allegiance to no one but the King himself. He should be the one to marry Estella, the comely and virtuous maiden chosen for his brother’s bride. The thoughts burnt as raging coals in the furnace of his mind. It should have been him! He deserved no less. Life was unfair! His were the eyes that saw her first, the French beauty with flaxen hair wound and bound around her proud head and dancing eyes of cobalt blue. He had shown his devotion to her on the jousting field. Yet she had spurned his ardent displays of valour in favour of his weak sibling. How could she prefer Florian’s vapid utterings of courtly love, serenading her with the songs of the Troubadours, to his manly valour?

As his Father’s second son arrangements had already been made for him to enter the church. His future mapped out for him, a future he did not want. It was not what he deserved. A future life as an Abbot was not to his taste, something had to be done and it had to be done now, before it was too late. The hovel before him held the solution. He had come this far and now there was no going back.

He seethed recalling the scene that had become etched in agonies of jealousy upon his mind, robbing him of sleep and peaceful repose. Florian and Estella locked in a tight embrace beneath the eastern tower, whilst he remained unseen listening from a window above.

‘Ah Estella, my heart aches for Father and his plight. I fear the days to come. If there were another way I would keep my brother close, but I have seen the darkness growing in his jealous heart. He would see me join our Father in death’s embrace and take you to his side!’

‘Fear not, my beloved Florian, for I will be forever at your side, two hearts entwined as one. Favian has a cruel and vindictive streak.  The powers that be would not allow for him to become the next Lord of this Manor. If ever two brothers were so different! One of you pure heart, the other with a heart as black as night. He would not rule with wise council and grace, as you will my love.’

‘He does not want to enter the confines of the church, but Father and I decided he is far too brutal to take on the auspices of Knighthood.’

‘Chivalry is not in his dark nature, Florian. The church may well prove safe haven for his eternal soul. Come my love, let us return to your Father’s side. Eliza has brought me a potion of Meadowsweet and Wood Sorrell she prepared in the herborium to aid him in his hour of need.’

‘You are indeed blessed to have her as your handmaiden for she comes to you with many talents born of an ancient lineage, my love. Those amber eyes of hers hold much knowledge.’

‘Indeed Florian, for one so young she is well versed in the old ways, which are always useful in dangerous times such as these.’

Hand in hand they had walked back into the castle and to his Father’s bedchamber.

With a sense of urgency Florian sought out Eliza…

 

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The interior of the hovel was dark, lit by a single stumpy candle formed from tallow and the dying embers of a spent fire, and it took Favian a moment or two to acclimatise to the gloom. The tallow smelt acrid and unpleasant and he sniffed in distain. A creak drew his attention and he made out the shape of a crumpled old woman sat fireside upon a wooden stool. She was wrapped in a thick woollen shawl over a dirty black skirt. Her feet were bare and coated in the grime of the forest floor. The cat was nowhere to be seen, despite having evaded his dagger and run through the door which had creaked open seconds before Favian had made his unceremonious entrance. A sudden movement and the fire sprang into life casting a low glow. A blackened pot hung on a hook above the grate. Burning embers added much needed illumination to the pitifully poor interior. It was almost threadbare apart from a rocking chair and a trestle table laden with jars of potions and bunches of dried herbs and flowers. The old woman broke into an unexpectedly raucous cackle and the cavern of her mouth gawped open exposing a few rotten teeth within her wizened maw. Her face was lined and wrinkled by the ravages of time and strands of straggly white hair covered her eyes.

‘What can I do for you good Sir Favian?’ Her polite enquiry was laced with sarcasm.

‘Eliza sent me,’ he stated starkly, not questioning she knew who he was.

‘Oh.’ There was no surprise in the voice that answered.

‘Eliza told me you practice the Arts.’

‘What Arts would they be? What would an old woman such as myself know of Arts? I live a humble life, living of the land and grateful for the charity of those good of heart.’

‘Pah! Don’t play with me old woman,’ he menacingly bent his large frame into her frail body. ‘It is said by those superstitious villagers that you are an adept of the dark arts.’

‘It would be very foolish to claim such powers. You know what villagers are like with their silly gossip about witchcraft and the like.’ She left her words hanging coldly between them.

‘Eliza is not given to gossip. That girl knows things!’

‘Aye, she may well do so Sir Favian, but I dare say what she knows she shares only with those she trusts within your Father’s walls and keeps her own counsel.’

‘And she did too, until I beat it out of her!’ he spat in frustration.

The old woman responded icily ‘Did you indeed? Was there any need for that? Eliza has been a true and loyal maidservant to the Lady Estella and your noble family. I hear you tried to make good use of both those fair ladies yourself. I hear your Father has made provisions for you to enter the Church.’ Her voice was loaded with contempt.

Favian clenched his fists, face red with rage. He would have swung for the helpless old woman, but he needed her. His eyes grew cold and he resolved once he had what he had come for she would get what she rightly deserved for such insolence. They burnt witches and no one would doubt his testimony the old hag had put a spell on his brother causing him a quick and painful death. He smiled at the thought of all his plans coming to fruition. With his Father dying, his brother dead and the Manor all but his nothing would prevent him taking the lady Estella for his wife. And as for the comely Eliza, there would be no one to protect her and keep him from her bedchamber now. It would not be long until he got just what he rightly deserved.

‘A man in my position gets what he deserves, and more, that is why I am here and you will help me get what is rightfully mine.’ He crouched down low and grabbed the old woman’s wrists in a vice like grip. ‘Eliza said you practice the dark Arts. She said you were the only one who could give me what I deserve, and give it to me you will!’

‘Unhand me and tell me what it is you want, I will not be able to practice the Arts you speak of with broken hands.’

‘I want control of the Manor and all the land and villagers. The old Lord is on his deathbed and I should be his heir.’

‘Does not his Lordship have a firstborn son, your brother? You are but a second son, the right of title will not pass to you.’

‘Aye, what you say is true, but with less than a year between us my brother is everything I am not. He is weak and his support for King Stephen over the Empress Maude could loose us everything in these dangerous times. As Lord of the manor I will pledge allegiance to Maude and her cause. I will receive great riches and rewards for my loyalty!’

‘There are many in these parts would call that treachery Sir. King Stephen is the rightful heir and his support is strong. You could loose everything, The King is not a forgiving man, so it is said. But how can I help with such matters?’

‘You were the one taught Eliza the power of potions. I need such a potion. I need something to remove the obstacles in my path to my destiny. I need what I deserve and I need it now, tonight!’

‘Then why did you not ask Eliza for such a potion?’

‘She said her skills were in healing and removing those things that ail a body. I beat the truth out of her, she sent me here to get what I deserve from one practised in the old ways and the dark Arts. I am done conversing with you old woman; give me what I ask for. I will have what I rightfully deserve before day break.’

‘Hmm. Indeed I shall use my Arts to give you what you deserve, Sir Favian. If it is your will and you so desire it, then confirm your intent and it shall be so, but I warn you once the spell has been cast to give you what you rightfully deserve there will be no going back. Death will occur and what has been engendered cannot be undone.’

‘I do desire it.’

The old woman stood up and walked over to the trestle table. Carefully she rooted through the bottles and herbs. Selecting those she required she returned to the fire. There are indeed herbs that heal and there are also herbs that harm. Throwing sprigs of henbane onto the fire, she began chanting arcane words. She added Hemlock, Mandrake and Thorn-apple followed by Wolfsbane. The fire began to spit and growl as angry flames grew higher.

Favian stood before it lapping up the warmth, satisfied it had begun. The chanting grew more urgent and the flames intensified.

‘Are you sure I should continue?’ she asked.

‘Do it!’ he replied excitement of what would rightfully be his consuming him.

The old woman opened a vial of a foul smelling liquid and cast it onto the fire, her woollen cloak slipped to the floor. She did not look frail now. Her hair was no longer white, but a blanket of black cascading down her back. Through billowing smoke he could just about make out her shape as she stood tall and proud. As she added more herbs and resins, the smoke cleared. Favian saw her eyes for the first time. Luminous, deep amber eyes. Eliza’s eyes. Shocked he blinked and she was gone. With a roar, flames of blue and gold chased red sparks up the chimney. Favian gave a gasp, it seemed as if the gates of hell were opening. Fire and brimstones spewed out into the room and began encircling him. In fear he cried for it to stop.

A cackle filled the air. The only reply was a vicious hiss from the black cat as it stepped out of the cloak on the floor, fixed him with deep amber eyes and sauntered out of the door.

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Beautiful image from Pixabay

 

 

~Thank you for reading! 

★ and more tales of the supernatural are within my latest book★

“NIGHTSHADES” ~A Collection of Ghostly & Gothic Tales

 

 

Available on Amazon on Kindle & paperback