Never here, there or anywhere…
Always on our way, somewhere…
And then the Horizon
Cuts the sky
And through that dancing
Darkness is not
Darkness knows no
Earth’s shadow is
As a Day’s sun birthed from Night.
…Face of moving water
Breathing in water
The water a breathing face…
Today I will speak to you
For, today, we hold a race
A sprint to the death
Whose spirit yields to the swiftest
The fleetest of foot…
He, who with the most fateful
Imagination of mind
Can picture the year
through a carnival of fear…
It is he whom we call great
He, who grants freedom to stars.
Built by the sea
But not of the sea
These enclosing walls…
It is a ‘Celtic’ thing
The Spirit tied-to-tide
And it is still understood
By today’s Old Bones…
There they sit
Lining the sea-front
Of the waves
Which lap the shore
On the out-breath
In ceaseless rhythm
Which hints at beyond…
Built by the sea
But not of the sea
These enclosing walls.
Quiescence lies like a crime.
The crack of dry twigs underfoot…
A tumultuous green-flash
of thumping rampage.
A luminous ankh arrows away.
A way out to tree-stump.
To crook torso and tail.
And splay dripping
A panting swastika
Balanced in bark.
an ancient neck
Eon empty eyes
“All the elements can be used to ‘scry’,” smiled the instructor, “but fire is the most difficult because the flames flicker so quickly. To get you started we’ve freeze-framed a fire to give your vision the chance to keep up. Anybody want a go?” …
…”Don’t be shy, there’s no wrong or right with this science.”
“The central figure is St George,” said a reedy drawl from the back of the classroom, “he faces down a dragon which rears before him… Behind him another dragon waits to rear should he overcome the first…”
“Good! What happens to St George?”
“There is one thing that still troubles me,” said Wen who really seemed to have the ‘Rapunzel’ thing stuck in her craw.
“Yaas,” said Don, in his most irritating drawl.
“Shouldn’t the seasons be sisters?”
“On what grounds?”
“Well, I’m presuming that Mother Nature is an Enchantress precisely because of things like her ability to transform the world through her seasons.”
“This is true, Little Grub,” said Don with the kind of tired air which suggested he would not be around for very much longer, “but the seasons are really contrived in so far as they are useful for sustaining our life through crops. Agriculture is a technology. A very ancient technology but a technology nonetheless. In that sense the seasons are man made.”
“And that’s why we can have the debate over whether or not there are really three or four seasons,” said Wen.
“Or even two. In the four season year there are really only two pivotal points and their inverse or reflection.
Wen considered this idea for a bit and then pressed on with her original line of thought, “so the brothers are really alchemists?”
“The first alchemists, adding their art to nature, I like that, Little Grub, can I go to sleep now?”
“Only if you give me something to ponder while you’re gone.”
“You seem to be doing rather well in your pondering without me.”
“But it’s not the same.”
“Why, oh why, my Little Grub, would the day of the king’s death be now known to us as Bent-Black-Sun-Day?”
A short time later Don re-entered the temple room somewhat bleary-eyed.
“Better?” asked Wen doing a poor job of camouflaging her excitement.
“You have been grubbing,” stated Don by way of an answer.
“The bent twig of darkness grows the petals of the morning and shows to them the birds singing just behind the dawning.”
“Ah, Little Grub, ’tis music to my ears.”
… “As I see it,” continues Wen, “we have two possible identities for an Old Woman who tends a Herb Garden and can be described as an Enchantress, or an Ogress…”
“She is either Mother Earth or she is Mother Nature.”
“The first is very old and the other is much, much older than the first.”
“The different versions may even be emphasising different roles.”
“Basile’s Ogre would be Mother Earth.”
“The Grimms’ Enchantress would be Mother Nature.”
“Or, we may be able to argue for a combination of both the roles in one character?”
“That’s what’s been bothering me so much,” says Wen, “I can’t help feeling there ought to be a third Mother.”
“Which would be Petrosinella or Rapunzel.”
“No names, you said.”
“Ah, so I did…”
“Perversely, I almost feel like the third role should be Mother Sun.”
“Because the Herb Child has sun rays for hair.”
“And the Prince would be?”
“The Prince would be Father Moon.
In the Grimm tale he visits at night and has his blindness banished by the Sun’s tears.” …
“In fact,” says Wen, placing the metaphorical bit firmly between her teeth, “I’m not even sure I’m happy with the term folk belief, I think I prefer folk wisdom.”
“And which version of the tale do you prefer?”
“Oh, Basile’s by a country mile.”
“I wonder if the title owes anything to the ‘King of Kings’?
“And what are we to make of the ending?”
“The ending is hugely problematical and yet these old chestnuts though preposterous in the extreme still retain a curious validity.”
“I agree, yet I am not sure a lion would be quite so afraid of a donkey.”
“In the natural world, no, but for the torturous realms of our inherited psychology it makes perfect sense.”
“Psychologically where would you put it?”
“I’d put it alongside Rumple-stilt-skin.”
“In a story cycle would that be before or after?”
“Are we done?”
“Of course not, we still have to sort out the Old Woman.”
“Before we solve that particular problem,” says Wen, warming to her theme, “I’d like to spend some time considering the ‘craving motif’.”
“It is not particularly overt in the Grimm version. I even thought about including it as a problem.”
“It is occluded in Grimm, one could be forgiven for thinking that Rapunzel is named on a whim.”
“Not so in Petrosinella!”
“She even gets the birthmark, presumably because the craving for parsley is only partially satisfied.”
“Are we thinking that the craving comes from the unborn child?”
“As a curse of styes in the eye we, perhaps, might be, yet the birthmark motif seems to hark back even further and is at least suggestive of the spirit of plants or some such.”
“Petrosinella replays many of the motifs of the frame story and in the frame story Basile appears to ridicule such folk beliefs.”
“Ridicule, or call them to the fore-front of our attention,” says Wen, and then continues, “the second tale of Day One, ‘The Myrtle’, features a fairy who lives in a sprig of Myrtle.”
She seems mighty reluctant to let this go…