Phaedra was aware the sun was hanging low in the sky and would be setting shortly. She would need to make haste if she were to avoid the impending gloom once it disappeared into the horizon. Her mind had been full of thoughts of the talking Owl she had met in the Night Garden at dusk yesterday. She had been eager to share with Hepzibah, who smiling, had observed, ‘That garden is full of witch’s weeds, you need to realise that some of those herbs can be hallucinogenic, My Lovely.’
Once again, Phaedra was left confused by the paradoxes she was encountering in Wychwood. Either the veil between worlds really was very thin or else she was suffering serious delusions. As the overgrown dirt track meandered downhill, her eyes were firmly fixed upon her next step in an attempt to avoid stumbling on the loose pebbles. Nimbly side stepping one of the many offerings left by an equine traveller who had preceded her on the ramble, Phaedra looked up as a glint of light caught the corner of her eye. Stopping in her tracks, she became aware of a perfect circle of chestnut trees as she watched the sunlight dappling golden light on the rich green leaves. The branches slowly swayed to the music of a gentle breeze, leaves quivering and dancing to the soft low hum of the wind. Golden light twinkling and sparkling on the rich verdant leaves and the deep brown nuts that littered the floor, cracked open from their protective spiky casings.
Gently stepping over the fallen harvest, Phaedra answered their invitation and stepped within the circle of trees, noting by the girth of their trunks and the strength of the long outstretched branches, that these were indeed Grande Dames of the woodland. Their age and wisdom were apparent from their gnarled and knotted yet strong proud and beautiful trunks. Their outstretched limbs intertwining and interconnecting with each other, embracing each other in an intricate lattice work of wood which seemed to grow tighter and more close knit as Phaedra moved to the centre,
‘Ah, the circle is cast!’ she thought.
Within their protective conclave she became aware of a quiet communication, first between the whispers of the wind, and then between each sister tree. With a jolt, she realised that the trees were speaking not only to each other, but also to her, to Phaedra! They were imbuing her with a sense of themselves, of what it felt like to have roots that sank deep down into the verdant rich dark soil, their root systems mirroring the branches above, all interconnected and intertwined. Phaedra felt tingles in the soles of her feet and with a start realised that she had sunk ankle deep into the earth, but she did not feel any fear, just an awareness that her toes; the bones and nervous system and veins seemed to be growing and extending beyond the confines of her flesh.
She was growing roots!
Roots that meandered through the earth, touching, connecting, wrapping around those of the trees that surrounded her, and it felt good. Phaedra raised her arms up high in sheer joy, and once again the tingle, and her fingers seemed to elongate, the flesh, veins, bones, nervous systems stretching, stretching up to the tall branches, connecting, weaving, latticing into those of her sisters around her, for now Phaedra felt at one in the circle of the Horse Chestnut sisters.
Above her upturned face, the sun in a final swan song, burst through the density of the leaves, bathing Phaedra in a golden light. It felt so good to pull the light of the sun into her body. She felt it travel through her limbs and trunk, and then as the sun sank on the horizon she became aware that all was suddenly dark. From the blackness of this void a light appeared, whirling before her eyes, as its motion slowed to a standstill, there hanging in the nothingness was a perfect golden hexagon. And within the six points of the star, a silver tree was transposed, its branches perfectly fitting the three upper points of the star, and its root system stretched out in symmetry over the lower three points of the star. Then a blinding flash of light in the centre of her brain and the symbol seemed to be absorbed through her crown chakra with the words,
‘As Above, So Below.’
In that moment in time, Phaedra knew the cosmic synergy of heaven and Earth and the importance of the trees as fully sentient beings upon the Earth, working in Divine Service of Source.
Then nothingness, the void.
The loud chattering of the birds stirred her to her senses. Phaedra was surprised to see the Sun was rising, no doubt awoken from her slumber by the sweet call of the birdsong.
She was lying curled up on a carpet of springy moss and sweet smelling chamomile, under the protection of one of the huge Chestnut trees. Stirring to remember how she had come to be here, a whirl of thoughts flooded her mind and senses…feelings of being one with the trees, of having roots that stretched deep down into Gaia’s warmth and received sustenance and grounding; of having strong branches that stretched heavenwards. She felt the warmth of the sun bringing life giving energy down through her body, she recalled the feelings of pleasure of having beautiful leaves, and bearing flowers and fruit that in turn delighted and nourished. She was pleased by the shelter she gave to the birds of the air, the insects, and creatures of the forest. Of the pleasure of the wood nymphs coming to dance and play, and the heavenly delight of being of service to the Light of Source and beloved Mother Gaia by providing oxygen on the Planet.
As Phaedra stood and stretched, she noticed a young sapling delicately rising from the rich earth just by the strongest and oldest tree. From one of its tender young branches a glint caught Phaedra’s eye. Stretching out her hand, she felt a familiar tingle, and there in her palm was a perfect silver six-pointed star pendant, on which a tree was wrought in gold.
The young tree seemed to whisper on the wind…
‘My gift to you, Mother…’
Phaedra knew her child, laying still within her womb, would be born with the wisdom and strength of the trees.
Deep within the darkest heart of night dance slender beams of soft Moon Light.
Brushing aside the despair cloaking the ancient ruins, La Luna’s children playfully danced amid dank and gloomy walls all that remained of the glories of the past. With carefree abandon the darting moonbeams brought illumination to the derelict Eastern Tower, a silent Sentinel withstanding the ravages of time, proudly giving testament to the pride and glory of bygone years. Those who once lived and loved within the Castle’s protective embrace are but jagged shards of memories, forever entombed within decrepit walls. Yet there remains a solitary voice from long ago compelled to whisper her sadness upon the wind. Trapped by her heart she cannot leave her lonely Bower within the Castle Tower.
By the light of the moon, at her lonely loom, sits Lady Perdita. The passage of time has ravaged her home but not she, for the lady is comely still. With hair as dark as a Raven’s wing and eyes of cobalt blue, her beauty beguiles the starless night, for there is no other to gaze upon her countenance within these torn and empty walls. Softly, she sings a sad lament, fragments from a Troubadour’s tale of a love long lost. Sorrow clouds her as a shroud. With downcast eyes and ethereal hands she takes soft strands of numinous threads and weaves silently through her tears. Through the telling of her silken tales there begins to unfold a story of love, a story of loss. The lost love of a Knight of old. Her Knight…Her story…
To the soft strains of a melancholy Mandolin every stitch of the Knight’s chivalrous deeds begin to unfold upon her fragile tapestry.
Sir Allard, encased in his suit of armour and clutching his sword of steel, mounted his dashing destrier. He basked in the admiration he drew from the assembly of illustrious Lords and Ladies, all too aware all eyes were on him. He smiled knowing both damsels and Dowagers were dazzled by his presence. As he graciously bestowed generous glances upon the Ladies fair, Perdita smiled trustingly. She knew within his brave breast beat the chivalrous heart of one who only had eyes for her. And so with a righteous fire burning in his heart and mounting his noble steed the valiant Knight bade Adieu to his assembled Court and proudly rode to war.
Satisfied with the vibrancy of the first scene, Perdita left her loom and her labour of love. Gazing out of the window her searching heart went forth once more into the blanket of night, looking and longing for her Gallant Knight who had sailed from England’s green and pleasant lands to faraway shores. With a sigh she returned to her tapestry, intent on weaving the threads of her fragrant memories, did she know how their story would unfold?
There is a chill that pervades her bower, yet her shivers are not from cold, but the delightful anticipation of her noble Knight’s triumphant return. The glory! The honour! How her heart sang joyfully for him! She wrapped her self in the warm glow of the sweet words of eternal love he had spoken. How her heart ached when she recalled her initial reluctance upset him so. His entreaties were urgent. Why would she not acquiesce to his burning desires? He protested his Lady was so cruel to tarry, for he had great perils to face. The sweet memories of her succour would comfort him upon the bloody battlefields. Surely his heart would rend in two if she did not return his love! Perdita was torn. She cried bitter tears. As a highborn Lady she would bring dishonour to her family if she lay with him without the sanctity of a wedding band. Kissing her tears away, her chivalrous Knight declared they would marry upon his victorious return from the beast of war. With lyrical persuasion Allard’s conquest was assured. Cautioning Perdita to keep her own counsel and keep their tryst secret, he gave her a ring of gold set with a ruby. The dazzling red gemstone held the promise of eternal love and bought her silence.
Through the cloak of darkness a mote of light broke through the night, bringing momentary illumination. Perdita’s fragile heart skipped a beat. Was that her Knight she saw? Cruel memories came crashing into her dreams. A tear fell. Her beloved had sailed away across the seven seas. He had abandoned his Lover to her fate and all for the King’s glory, crusading in a faraway Land. Watching the passage of many Moon tides from her lonely Bower she entreated the star clad night to light his way home, before her shame was there for all to see. Highborn Lady Perdita, who some may say was without blame, could not be seen to be robed in tarnished garments of dishonour as the seed of new life grew within her belly. Yet she held her head high, comforted by their unborn child’s quickening and Allard’s reassurances. For her Knight would surely return and she would be his wife, and all judgement would pass, would it not?
The dying embers of the old year brought tidings of great sorrow. Sir Allard would nevermore see the sunrise or set upon England’s Sceptered Isle. Nor give his child his rightful name. Enemy and Gallantry had brought him to his knees. Ever true to her Love, Perdita kept her counsel well. For the Templar’s cause her brave Knight willingly gave his life. For her family honour, Perdita gave hers.
They found her at the break of day, her lifeless and broken body lying at the foot of castle walls. A ruby ring upon her unwed hand glinted in the pale winter sunlight. The fallen Lady was laid to rest beneath her lonely bower whilst far away under an Eastern Sun her Lover sleeps beneath shifting sands.
The solitary passage of time has shrouded the castle walls in creeping ivy, shadows and gloom. Yet awaiting her Lover’s return Perdita’s ghost still sits by her loom, lingering midst the rot and decay, trusting Love eternal will raise their hearts from the ashes and dust of betrayal. Her Love lives on, though they are all long dead…
Perchance, your steps take you through the ruined walls of the Castle Keep, they do say by pale moon light and night’s embrace, you may yet hear the strains of a mandolin as the lonely Lady weeps within her ghostly bower.
Deep within the darkest heart of night dance slender beams of soft Moon Light.
Thank you for reading a ghostly tale from my latest book!
Once upon a Time, (as all self-respecting fairy tales start), a beautiful Princess named Rowena was trying to find her way through the forest. She thought she had become lost, and she panicked to be alone so far from home. As she neared a clearing in the forest she was delighted to see a fine Knight upon a fine horse. The sun was glistening on his amour and he was a dazzling sight. He introduced himself as Prince Tarnish.
The gallant Knight offered her his hand, and pulled Rowena up behind him onto the magnificent steed. And as is generally the way in these matters they rode off into the sunset. The Princess greatly anticipating the happy ending she had been sold with her Prince. Eventually, after a bumpy ride they arrived at the Knight’s castle. Once again, the bright light of the sun dazzled the Princess and she was unaware of her surroundings or where the Knight had brought her to, a fortified castle in the Land of Mendacity. She was so very tired after the long journey. Night fell.
Awaking from a fitful sleep, she opened her eyes and was bathed in pale daylight filtering through the window. With surprise she noted the window had iron bars. Why would such a beautiful castle need such things, what was to be kept out, or who was to be kept in? Peering through the thick black iron bars, which greatly restricted her view of the wide and wondrous world beyond, the Princess saw her Knight, Prince Tarnish. He was preparing to mount his trusty steed and ride out in pursuit of adventure, after all, isn’t that what Knights do? Rescue fair damsels and slay dragons.
In the cold light of day, the Princess saw that the Knight’s amour was not the dazzling white she had first seen. No, it was tarnished in many places. With blinding intuition she realized the Knight had no interest in slaying dragons, for they would be a formidable foe (and also put up one hell of a fight). This Knight sought out tender and pure hearts to run his gauntlet. Hearts he intended to batter with his spiked lances, and just for good measure pierce with the cold steel of his sword. For the pure of heart knew not of his treacherous traps. She also saw an image in her minds’ eye of the Knight. He was sitting astride his mighty horse, whilst she tried to wipe the tarnish from his amour, with the beautiful fabric of her luxurious and dazzling raiment. The Princess valiantly hoped she would be able to shine his amour so brightly that once again it would gleam as if the heart of the sun blazed out from the core of his very being. With deep sorrow, she saw that she was unable to polish the Knights amour, the tarnish was too ingrained. Worse, the beautiful, iridescent clothes that made up her attire were becoming rags. Torn, tattered and shredded beyond recognition with the fruitless effort. The Knight chose not to notice such trifles, and he did not provide his Princess with new garments befitting her royal status. She began to wonder if he truly was a Prince of
if he truly was of noble birth. Polishing Prince Tarnish’s armor was proving a huge challenge to Princess Rowena. This was a job for a serious Alchemist, versed in the magical arts of turning base metal to gold. It was not for the feint hearted or the delicate sensitivities of a Princess versed only in Love and Kindness. To know this grieved the Princess greatly, and in her sorrow many tears fell. Eventually the tears formed a shimmering, glistening pool in which her countenance was reflected. The Princess stared into the pool and it took many minutes before the realization dawned, the desolate and sad beauty looking up was indeed a reflection of her own self. How had this come to pass? In anguish she cried out for help.
A soft voice whispered in reply,
Surprised her request had been heard, she looked for the source of the comforting voice. Could it be there was a fairy godmother waiting in the wings? Turning her regal head towards the discarnate voice, she was met with the sight of not a glowing and magical fairy godmother, but what appeared to be an incredibly ugly, wizened old Crone. In truth the Crone was a Wise Woman, but the Princess had yet to find this out. At first she recoiled in horror to her answered prayer. Beware what you wish for.
The Wise Woman was wrapped in a deep moss green velvet cloak; under which her long and bony fingers gripped an object of deep beauty, an oval mirror, coated in a strange
black surface which gave no reflection.
‘Who are you, old woman?’ enquired the Princess.
The Wise Woman looked deeply into the sad eyes of the beautiful Princess. Her gaze was penetrating, reaching into her very psyche. Her eyes seemed to draw the very essence of the Princess’ character from the core of her being.
‘The help you requested’ she replied.
‘What do you carry under your cloak?’ asked the Princess, intrigued by the black mirror.
‘Your freedom’ replied The Wise Woman.
The Wise Woman told the Princess, as she handed her the object, that it was a scrying mirror, magic of course. It was made from black Obsidian, a crystal for prophesy and truth.
There was a warning on the back of the mirror stating:
‘Truth can hurt,
Untruth’s hurt even more’,
Proceed with Caution.’
‘OK, you read the warning, ‘What do you want to know?’ asked The Wise Woman
Holding the vision of the handsome Knight, not so resplendent in his tarnished amour, the Princess asked,
‘Pray, tell me what lies beneath the Knight’s amour, who is there when the real Knight stands up, is he really a Prince of Noble birth?’
Looking deeply into the mirror her gaze was met with an inscrutable black surface, slowly an image appeared in the depths of blackness. She did not see an image of a fine and valiant Knight, intent on righting wrongs and doing chivalrous deeds. She did not see a Knight worthy of the glorious deeds the Troubadours sang of in their love songs and on the strings of their mandolins. She was shocked to see a very horrid and naughty child. He was throwing the mother of all tantrums, his face contorted in rage because he could not have his own way. Sadly, the Princess recognized that this was indeed a true depiction of the Knight. She turned to
The Wise Woman and enquired,
‘Does the Knight not know of Love, Honor and Chivalry and all that stuff the Troubadours sing about?’
‘How could he?’ replied The Wise Woman
‘He is but a child, and he does not know that Love is unconditional. He seeks to receive not give love, from a place of childish egocentricity and willfulness. This child has not been taught well, he faces many lessons before he learns.’
‘Oh, how very sad, that grieves my heart.’
The Princess sighed, for she was indeed pure of heart. She did know about love being unconditional and compassionate. Her heart went out to the Knight who did not know these things.
‘And you, Princess? Are you ready to face yourself?’ enquired The Wise Woman
At first the Princess was afraid, the sorrowful face from the tear stained pool still fresh in her memory. It seemed an eternity since she had seen her true reflection. There were No mirrors in the castle; for the Knight had no desire to see His true reflection and equally had no desire for the Princess to see her true beauty. He knew then the light of her loveliness would illuminate the darkness in his heart.
Slowly she lifted the mirror, eyes tightly closed. And slowly she opened them, unsure what she would behold. The deep black obsidian once again stared inscrutably back. Once again an image formed within the heart of darkness of the magic mirror. An imaged that grew and grew in magnificent radiance. It was the most gorgeous, multi -faceted, pure cut diamond she had ever beheld; emitting glorious, iridescent, magical colors. The diamond glowed and pulsed with the intensity of the very Sun itself. In awe she asked
‘What does it mean?’
‘You see a true reflection of yourself, Dear One,’ answered The Wise Woman.
‘And the Knight?’ whispered the Princess.
‘You saw a true reflection of what he is, Dear One, he is no Prince and therefore not worthy of you,’ answered The Wise Woman.
‘What now, what do I do?’ implored the Princess.
Once again she lifted the magic mirror and gazed deeply into the void of all knowing blackness. She saw clearly the Knights castle, the draw bridge was pulled up and the hatches were battened down, for a fierce and mighty storm approached. Vicious vines were rapidly growing over the castle walls, reaching to the very turrets and parapets. And with all her heart the Princess knew, if she stayed she would be forever entrapped within the Castle walls.
‘Is this all there is for me?’ A solitary tear fell onto the mirror.
‘Look again, Dear One’. Replied the Wise Woman
When she did, she saw a path leading from the treacherous castle. A tiny little path, winding through thickets and thorns and all manner of unforeseen terrors.
The path gradually widened and once free of the castle grounds it opened into a glorious golden path leading towards the Sun. Along the path were strewn infinite possibilities and opportunities. Once again, the Princess’ intuition showed her that if she summoned all her courage and bravely traversed the path she would find her own Eden. The Princess vaguely remembered, from what seemed an eternity past, this path was the very one she had been on. That was before becoming lost in the forest and doubting her ability to travel alone, before seeking the ill-starred protection of the Knight.
‘What do I do?’ she cried to The Wise Woman, who had stood by and silently observed all these things.
The Wise Woman wrapped the Princess in her old, fragile and wizened arms. They felt strangely warm. They felt strong and the Princess was filled with a pulsating feeling of absolute acceptance, peace, tranquility and an overwhelming sense of unconditional, heartfelt love for The Wise Woman. A feeling that was all at once familiar, the Princess felt she had come home.
‘The choice is yours alone, Dear One. It is the way of this land you inhabit, this Earth plane, that you have been given as part of your lessons the double edged sword of Free will. You have free will to stay or go or free will to enslave yourself to another or choose to use the key that you alone hold to your freedom. You always have the gift of free will, use it wisely.’
As these words sunk in, the Princess broke free from The Wise Woman’s embrace, and through her tears which were now falling as rain upon the winter of her heart, she struggled to see the Wise Woman. As she wiped her face, she gasped, The Wise Woman was gone. In her place there stood a radiant Being of Light. An Angel, whose very presence filled the entire room and emitting a brilliance that was truly ethereal and heaven sent. In awe, the Princess realised she was looking into the face of her own Guardian Angel.
‘Know this, Dear One, now you have asked for my help I will support you whichever path you choose. I cannot choose for you, as you have free will. I can and will ease your path and illuminate the way. Know that I have Always been with you and there for you. I have laughed when you laughed and I have cried when you cried.’ The Angel smiled and then continued,
‘Dear One, nothing is lost, herein lays the opportunity for a lesson to be learned. Things on this Earth plane of illusion may not always be what they seem. Can you now see the day you were lost in the forest, you alone had the freewill to find your own way out, and you alone had the free will to choose to accept the Knight’s hand? You could not make the Knight what he is not? The Knight could not make you who you are not.’ The Angel paused to allow the Princess to assimilate her words, and then continued,
‘Dear Princess, a priceless lesson to learn is this: all you need to navigate this sea of life is to let the wisdom of your Soul captain the ship of the Self. The Diamond that you are refracts the Light of Cosmic consciousness you hold as your birth right.’ Her eyes looked deeply into the Princess’ as she continued;
‘Even the Knight holds this light, and when his inner child grows so he too will come to realize this Truth.’
‘Will the Knight change his ways, will he change for me?’ asked the Princess, holding onto a tiny vestige of hope, for she loved the Knight although she did not love the way he had chosen to treat her.
‘In order to love another, first the Knight must learn to love himself; completely free from his ego self, this may take some time,’ the Angel answered.
The Princess bowed her head. She realized that her Knight may never be able to change his ways and that if he did, it would be for himself and not for her or anyone else. She finally realized that to hold onto the hope another person would change to be the way someone else wanted them to be, well that was a flawed hope, doomed to failure. Her wise companion continued to counsel,
‘Remember and hold these Truths: Time is the great illusion, for in Eternity there is no time. You, the Prince and all mankind are in essence spiritual beings; you are in the density of matter whilst you grow through the experiences of being in human form. You are more than you can see. There is much more that you can be. Princess Rowena, the choice is yours alone. You may choose your path, you cannot choose for him the path that you would wish Prince Tarnish to travel, only he alone can decide.
The pure essence of Divine Love resides within you~All that is without is merely an illusion.’
And in That moment the Princess absolutely and unequivocally knew the path she would choose……
Do you wait patiently for me
To come along and set you free
I’ve heard plenty an aged tale told
Of the magic a Dandelion holds.
Is that so little wishing flower?
Do you have such magic power?
I bid of thee, fly free, Blessed Be.
Bring my heart’s desire back to me!
Scatter through the fields and trees
Soft starburst on the gentle breeze
Treasured seed falls to Mother Earth
Within each one the promise of rebirth