On Innocence


Photo courtesy of Sheryl Derrick

I’m trying something new on my blog today. This is my first VLOG (be kind – I had a grander vision than what it ended up being) as well as my first post in a series  of posts about the different feminine archetypes and why I believe each can teach us something about being powerful and alluring women in the modern world.

I’ve chosen to start with “The Innocent” archetype because it intrigues me so much.  Most don’t see “The Innocent” female as being powerful or alluring but I beg to differ. I think it’s important to differentiate between youthful innocence and the innocence I am talking about here.  “The Innocent” archetype is a mature type of innocence that uses truth and honesty as their greatest weapons.  Above all they will let you know how they feel, but in return they will also want to know exactly how you feel, for it is their greatest desire to help, heal, and nurture others.

I’ve used Taylor Swift as a modern example of “The Innocent” and have included her videos and interviews to make my point.  Would love to know if you agree or disagree in the comments.

Innocent from FeatheredMuse on Vimeo.



Twisting, turning, bed sheets wrapped around.

Summer heat surrounds.

Was that a voice?   A whisper?

She awoke, reached out, grasped only air.

But the air was thick, and swirled, and it moved in waves.

Over her body they came. A little touch here.  There.

Her hip.  Her thigh.  Her breasts.

“Make me real.”

It was a voice.  She wasn’t mistaken.

She seized, not wanting to move.

But the waves came faster, breaking her, and she did move.

The air thickened, his heat rose.

She tried to scream,  just a muffled cry.


So she did.

The waves quicked, thickened, and became slaps.

One after the other they came.  Each one harder than the last.

Soon after,there were no more waves.

Just heat, flesh and blood.

“Thank you,” was all he said.

Intimacy and Light


Photo courtesy of Nadia Pimenta

I’ve been trying to figure out how I feel today.  I’m struggling between two sides of myself, neither one winning, just stealing time from the other.  One side is lustful, vengeful, full of ego and spite, and wants to win at all costs.  It constantly compares and seeks to separate itsself from others, because it wants to be smarter, prettier, and whatever-“er” you can think of.


She’s my dark side and I really wish I could shake her.  Not pretty.  Not smart.  Not anything worthy and good. When she’s done with me I’m full of ash and smoke because her fire consumes me.

My other side wants the exact opposite.  She wants to connect with others and create an honest type of intimacy, the type of intimacy that isn’t just a physical merging, but also a mental, emotional, and spiritual merging.  This type of intimacy is rare, and I’m starting to believe only a few special souls in this world can achieve it.

The act of merging requires the parts to change in order to achieve the act.  To mentally merge you must affect each other’s thoughts, to emotionally merge you must affect each other’s emotions, and so on.  But, trusting another enough to influence you in this manner is an act of vulnerability that requires a great deal of courage and faith, because most likely (in a world like ours), you will get hurt in the process.


It seems the closer I get to the side of me that wants this type of intimacy, the more forceful the dark side becomes.  It takes everything that is good in me and twists it into yearnings for more attention and praise so I can prove I’m separate from others and better in some way.

When I finally wake up again and shed the dark side, I look back at that person and know it’s not really me.  The better me, anyway, and I end up feeling ashamed and guilty for letting that side win out every time.  I feel empty, anxious, and decidedly not human, and just want to say I’m sorry…to my family, friends, strangers, and anyone I affected with my darkness.


Photo Courtesy of Coley Nay

I want the light to win in all of us.

I’m sure my dark side will win again.  I’m sure I’ll apologize again.  Probably tomorrow.   But, at least I can leave these words here as a reminder that we all have good in us. And maybe, just maybe, someone struggling  with their own darkness will read them and find their own light even when I can’t find mine.

The Flame



Amaya looked around at the tapestries, gilded statues, and pristine dancers, and felt decidedly out of place in the King’s palace.  Most of the other dancers had all lived there for years training in the arts of courtesans, and she had just arrived with nothing but a few costumes, props, and lessons from Parvaneh, her mother’s oldest friend.



Photo courtesy of Avordisa

It didn’t help that Mahasti, the King’s favorite, was also wearing red.  Today was the only day of the year where the King chose new courtesans, and it was rumored he gifted his favorites with wishes.  The current courtesans flaunted their status and talents while the nervous hopefuls stood little chance of being chosen.  Of a hundred dancers, he would choose just one, and some years he chose none at all.



Photo courtesy of bargello.com

When he finally did summon them for the first dance he was a vision in white, but she quickly averted her eyes when she remembered it was forbidden to look him in the eye.  At least not in public.  Parvaneh’s voice rang in her head, Always remember a King is still a man.  Amaya fought the urge to look at him again as the dancers took their places for the first dance.  Before the musicians started playing, she remembered the last thing Parvaneh told her:  One look of true desire can move a man more than a dance, a song, or even a touch.



Image courtesy of scarletslounge

Once the musicians hit the first note she felt the surge of energy that magically switched off her usual shy self and turned on her sure, confident self.   She loved a crowd but this crowd was different, skilled themselves in the arts of courtiers and courtesans, no doubt her little tricks would not get her far in their eyes.

The first dance was only to show off the basic skills (and figures) of the girls.  Amaya was surprised to find she didn’t consider herself one of the worst dancers, but definitely not the best.  Mahasti held that honor, and she knew it by the way she held herself and flung herself about.  The poor girl dancing next to her kept getting whipped in the face by Mahasti’s hair.

Halfway through the first dance the girls laid down in circles with their heads facing the center.  The male dancers rushed in and did a cane dance around and over them.  As the men stepped over the girls, one by one, they pounded their cane on the floor next to their heads which not only made the girls squeal(and the crowd laugh), but also created a drumming rhythm as the canes hit the floor all at the same time.


Photo courtesy of CapeTownDailyPhoto.com

Only half of the dancers would make the cut to the next dance, and even though she wasn’t the worst, she was the newest and the most vulnerable.  Parvaneh told her she must not be afraid to stand out even in the first dance.  Even though she was nervous, she knew what she had to do.

A dancer in yellow pants was making his way toward her and before he could slam his cane near her head she yanked it from his hand, stood up, and joined the male portion of the dance.  The crowd gasped as this was never done, but she knew it would make her memorable in the eyes of the King.  For the rest of the dance the poor male dancer kept trying to get his cane back from her.  Each time he did, she’d rap him hard on the bum with it and he quickly gave up trying as the crowd and the King roared with laughter at each attempt.

At the end of the dance, the King had his guard tap each of the girls on the shoulder if they were asked to stay and perform the next dance.  When the guard turned to her he said, “The King would like to speak with you.  You must kneel in front of him. Don’t speak unless he asks you a question, and do not look at him.”

She nodded, to show she understood.  As he turned around to lead her to the King, she saw he had the most perfect tattoo of a bluebird on his shoulder.  She walked slowly to show deference but also because her legs felt like jelly and she was absolutely sure her heart was about to burst from her chest.  But, she made it and kneeled in front of the King, looked down, and waited for him to speak.

“You’ve made me laugh and pleased me much with your…antics.  You’re brave to do what you did.  What is your name?” he asked.

“Amaya, sir.”

“Well, Amaya, I want to give you something in return.  What is it you desire from me for you shall have it.”  The crowd murmured in awe behind him.

Amaya sat there not sure what to say.  She’d heard that he grants wishes of his favorites, but she never expected him to do so with her.  If she lost his favor by asking for the wrong thing, she’d be on her way home in a flash.  She wanted to be a courtesan, so she had to make it to the end, which meant she had to continue to stand out from the others, but in a good way.

“You are very kind Sir; I am honored with your favor.  I only want to continue to please you with my dancing, but if you will allow it, I wish to look upon you while I dance.”

“Is that all?  No gold?  No jewels?”  The King laughed.  “Of course, silly girl, you may look upon me while you dance.” And he laughed again dismissing her with a wave of his hand.



Photo courtesy of bigtimebellydance 

The next dance was the water jug dance.  The goal of the dance was to show the dancers skill and balance by dancing with a jug of water and not spilling a drop.  The girls were split into two groups.  Mahasti was in the first group and Amaya was in the second.

As the first group danced, Amaya couldn’t keep her eyes off of Mahasti.  She wasn’t the best dancer or the most beautiful, although she was both skilled and pretty.  What she did better than any other dancer was play to the crowd.  She flirted with them, men and women alike, with her movements and flirtatious looks.  It was almost as if she included them in the dance, and when her eyes fell on a particular person, she danced only for them.  The one person she didn’t do this with was the King, as Mahasti wasn’t allowed to look at him.

Amaya looked down until the music started and then bravely looked directly at the King.  He was watching her; she felt her face flush so she looked down again.  No, she thought.  He is only a man.  And from that moment on, she looked up and didn’t take her eyes off him.  Even when she faced away from him, she still looked over her shoulder at him.  She danced for him, like Mahasti danced for the crowd.  He became her crowd, and every movement, every flick of the wrist, every sway of the hips was only for him.

At the end of the dance, she kneeled before him and took a sip from the water jug.  The King smiled and the crowd laughed.  She offered him a sip, still not taking her eyes off of him, and he obliged her.

“Well, now that you have thoroughly enchanted me with your eyes, what is it you wish now?”

“My wish is still to please you.  What is it that you wish of me?”  Amaya responded

The King laughed.  “Alright, then.   I wish for you to dance…with him.”  He pointed to his guard, the one with the bluebird tattoo.


Photo courtesy of bdsiren

The guard’s mouth flew open and he turned to the King in protest, but the King quickly silenced him with a look.

The guard stood next to Amaya, looking quite awkward and looking down at his feet, and she was sure he’d never had a dance lesson in his life.  She felt a pang of guilt when the crowd laughed and wanted to make this as easy as possible for him.  She remembered Parvaneh saying, Always remember your actions affect others and their actions affect you.  Every moment in life is both an opportunity to teach and learn.

As the music started she turned him to face her and she said, “Don’t worry about them.  Just keep your eyes on me and you’ll be fine.   Have you ever danced before?”

“No.”  He still looked frightened.

She had to physically place him in the correct position.  She crouched down to spread his legs apart to a good distance to provide balance.  She put her hands on his hips and push down gently so that he bended his knees slightly, which would allow freedom of movement.

“Now, it’s very important that you look up.  Look me in the eyes if it helps, but if you look down at your feet, you will get dizzy and lose your rhythm.”  She placed his hands on his hips, her hands on top of his, and showed him how to sway to the beat of the music. He smiled and immediately looked down at his feet and lost his rhythm.

She tilted his chin up so he was looking at her again.  “No, look here,” she said, and he found his rhythm again.  They started off with a slow beat, and once he seemed like he got the hang of it, she yelled over to the musicians, “Faster!”, and they sped up the beat.

Once he got on rhythm to the new beat, she yelled again, “Faster!” and the musicians sped up the beat once again.  This time, the guard kept swaying his hips and didn’t miss a beat until the music stopped.  He smiled shyly at her, quite pleased with himself, and the crowd clapped and cheered.



Photo courtesy of FlambeauxFire

The next dance was the sword dance, and each girl got to use her own sword and sheath in any way she saw fit during the dance.  Mahasti’s group went first again, though there were fewer girls since most had already been asked to leave.

Mahasti again played the crowd well.  She immediately pulled the sword from the sheath and gracefully moved it through the air as she turned, leapt, and swayed.  She balanced the sword easily on her hip, head, and throat.  It seemed this was the dance she was most skilled in.

For the last several counts of music she shocked the crowd by placing the sword in a sword holder on top of her head and lighting it on fire. On the very last beat of music, she lifted the sword from her head and blew out the fire swiftly before she bowed deeply.

She definitely knew how to play the crowd.


Photo courtesy of MelodiaDesignsInc

The sword dance was one of Amaya’s least favorite dances because it was so dangerous.  The swords were sharp and battle ready, and that’s why the crowd loved this dance, for its alluring mixture of beauty and danger.

As the music started Amaya kept the sword in its sheath.  She still danced as well as the rest of the girls, and balanced the sword on several parts of her body, but soon the crowd realized she was cheating and became hostile toward her.  What a scared little girl…How silly she is…She will be cut this time…are some of the things she heard people say.

By the end of the dance the jeers were so loud she almost believed she would be cut, but the crowd didn’t realize she had a strategy.

At the very last beat of the dance, just as Mahasti had blown out the fire on her sword, Amaya pulled her sword from its sheath and held it bravely to the King’s cheek.  The crowd gasped and the guard leapt forward to grab her but stopped short.

It was only a large feather.  Amaya smiled and tickled the King’s cheek.  The King laughed and broke the tension, which allowed the rest of the crowd to laugh along with him.

Always seek to surprise, Parvaneh had said.


Photo courtesy of Chris Boakye

After the sword dance there were only four girls left.  Each was asked to bring a prop from home that they would use in the next dance.  The first girl used a fan and the second used finger cymbals which were common dancing props.  Mahasti danced third and she did a gorgeously unique routine with sand.


Photo courtesy of SelkieDream

She told the musicians she didn’t need music.  She walked over to the male dancers and asked them to provide a specific rhythm for her by banging their canes on the floor.  It was a complicated rhythm, and she had to help the dancer in the yellow pants several times as he kept going too slowly.

Once they had perfected the rhythm she brought her basket to the center of the floor and took off the top.  As she danced around it her pet snake raised his head above the edge of the basket.  The crowd gasped and backed up in fear.  She knew the snake was harmless and trained to dance based on the rhythm the canes hit the floor.

If she danced slowly, the snake mirrored her and swayed its head gracefully around and around as it rose from the basket.  As she danced faster and faster, the snake continued to mirror her and his movements became more jerky and unpredictable.  Once the snake was completely out of the basket she draped it around her shoulders and she signaled for the male dancers to stop drumming.

She put the snake back in his basket and stood in a line with the other three girls.  The King’s guard gestured for Amaya and Mahasti to step forward and kneel in front of the King.

“You are the final two dancers and have pleased me well.  I offer each of you one last wish.”  He looked at Mahasti first.

“To look upon you while I dance, my King.” Mahasti said.  The King laughed and Amaya stifled a chuckle, amused that Mahasti would copy her.

“Of course you can.”  He said, and turned to Amaya.   “Let me guess.  You’re wondering what my wish is?”

“Actually, I do have a wish to ask of you.  During my turn, I’d like you to dance with me.”

The King laughed again.  “You never fail to surprise me, Amaya.  I shall try my best to keep up with you.”

Amaya smiled and looked over at Mahasti.  She didn’t look pleased.


Photo courtesy of Azha Sanders 

The final dance was the dance of fire of which Mahasti was extremely skilled.  She was bright, bold, flashy, and absolutely certain she was going to win when at the end of her dance she stood in all her glory, chest heaving, torches blazing, eyes deadlocked on the King’s.  By the response of the crowd, they thought so, too.



Photo courtesy of Shantaru

As with the sword dance, Amaya was frightened of the fire dance because she’d been badly burned before.  She knew she couldn’t beat Mahasti’s version of the fire dance with traditional torches, so when the King stood to dance with her, she asked him for a single candle.  He had a servant bring one in a glass holder, etched with roses.  She also asked the servant to bring her a chair which she asked the King to sit in.

“I thought you wanted me to dance,” he said.

“Sort of,” Amaya said and winked at him.  The wink was bold, but she wanted to win.

As with Mahasti’a dance, all torches in the room were snuffed out, which proved a dramatic affect for the final dance.  With only a single candle lit, the affect was even more pronounced.  As the musicians started playing, she asked the King to close his eyes.  To her surprise he did without comment.

She whispered in his ear, “Now, don’t move a bit or I might burn you.”  He nodded in understanding.

She danced around him moving slowly at first, always keeping her eyes on him so she wouldn’t burn him if he moved.  She held the candle near one ear and he flinched.  “Ah, ah, ah…I said don’t move.”  He smirked, but still kept his eyes shut.

She moved to the other ear and did the same thing.  This time he stayed perfectly still.  “Very good,” she whispered.  As the dance went on the beat got faster and faster and the King remained still with his eyes closed, though she could tell it took all his internal strength to not move away from the flame when she teased him with it.

In the final moments of the dance, she picked up his hand and turned it palm side up.   She rubbed it quickly with one hand and then poured just the slightest amount of hot wax onto it.  He flinched and his eyes shot open just as the musicians stopped playing.

She was worried he might be angry with her, so she looked up at him and quickly kissed his palm where the wax had fallen.  She then blew out the candle leaving the room in complete darkness.

The crowd murmured.  She felt him move toward her and then he whispered,’You won.”

And in that moment she remembered a saying Parvaneh had once told her:  A single flame will light up the darkest room.

All Roads Lead to Rome


Photo courtesy of bellesqa.nl

Ancient Rome.  Majestic.  Powerful.  Legendary.  All roads led to it, most of the world bowed to it, and even today it holds a top spot on most travelers’ bucket lists.


Photo courtesy of Lizeth Martinez

Its cultural reach extends even up to today.  Our laws, politics, and even our military strategies are influenced by Ancient Rome.  It was a beacon of progress when it came to architecture, music, theatre, literature, and art, as well.


Photo courtesy of Veronica Venus

Pretty much anyone who was anyone lived in Rome, had been to Rome, or kept close tabs on the major happenings in Rome.

The New Rome

I would venture to say New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, London, Paris, and any other major city has never come close to the influence ancient Rome had on the world during its day and after.  But there’s a new Rome, a place where all roads lead and where most of the world is faced toward at some point of the day (if not most).  The Internet.

The internet impacts our lives more than any other modern place, person, or thing.  It affects how we play, learn, work, communicate, gather together, create…It affects everything and everyone, and those who rule the internet rule the world.  Instead of Roman Senators, we have bloggers influencing the minds of their readers with blog posts, instead of hand-picked artisans we have virtual artists selling their digital art on Etsy, and instead of soldiers, we have teenagers posting Youtube videos of wars happening on their side of the world.

Just like Rome the internet is powerful and incredibly alluring, and just like Rome, that power can sometimes be misguided.


Photo courtesy of Haley Smith

Rome was famous for its gladiator fights in the Coliseum, where innocents and warriors fought to the death to please emperors and bloodthirsty crowds alike.  Of course, some contemporaries like the philosopher, Seneca, did voice their disapproval, but even he still went to watch.  It was the thing to do.

The internet, like Rome, is a bit of a double-edged sword in its ability to be both progressive and barbaric.  It creates situations that are both very intimate and anonymous.  Isn’t it odd to be able to read the intimate details of a stranger’s life and then be able to comment completely anonymously?  Dangerous really.

Something is wrong when a major blogger has to turn off comments on a blog because he receives too many nasty comments and spammers just hoping to score a link, or when a blogger makes more money selling his How to Make Money on the Internet ebook than when he launches a campaign to raise money for a charity.  Even the fact that the famous “Ellen Selfie” was retweeted more than a beautiful speech on peace or an Amber Alert to help find a missing child is a bit mind blowing.

It makes me wish someone would stand up like Russell Crowe in the movie Gladiator and say, “Are you not entertained?”


Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Childs

It’s easy to get jaded with this new Rome of ours, but all roads do lead to it and we have a choice of which road to take.


Photo courtesy of Snooky Korczak

I choose to take the meandering path that will lead me past overgrown gardens, fountains, and dust covered benches.  I’ll seek out the artists, poets, wordsmiths, and musicians who no doubt are tucked away in odd little corners of the internet.

And like Plato said, I’ll remember to be like the gullible child afraid of the dark but still seeking the light.


Photo courtesy of raymaclean

Because there are sparks of beauty all over the internet just waiting to be found, but they’re beyond the walls of the Coliseum and out of reach of the gladiators and blood thirsty crowds.  Maybe they’ll decide someday to peer over that wall.  I have hope, especially when I see internet gurus choosing to go unfiltered on their blogs or giving heartfelt speeches about how to follow your dreams.

The sparks are there, and I’ll continue to look for them.  I hope you will, too.



Photo courtesy of Indulgy.com

As they walked through the woods, Merlin’s stomach tingled with what was to come during his lesson tonight.  He knew the ritual part of it, but he sensed the lesson would be a difficult one.    Last night he dreamt of the witch (she never told them her real name).   For twelve moons now, the witch taught him and his friends her strange magic.  Merlin, in particular, was learning quickly.

When they reached the river, Merlin knew they were close to the witch’s hut.  The witch made it perfectly clear during their initial meeting that they must always bathe before taking lessons with her.  It was not just a way of honoring her, but honoring themselves and the sacred knowledge they would soon partake of.

Merlin stripped and jumped in and the coolness of the water made his teeth chatter immediately.   The other boys laughed and Merlin yelled at them to come in and splashed water wildly at them.

“You know.  I’m the strongest.  I can make you dive in if I like,” Merlin said.  And at that, the boys knew he was serious and started running.

First up, thought Merlin, is Lars.  And up Lars flew with leaves swirling around him, blue cloak falling from his shoulders.  Down hard in the water, he thought, and Lars came hurling at him and splashed down in the water.  Once his head broke the surface, his teeth were chattering, too.

Next up, thought Merlin, is Brockton.  The fair-haired boy flew up in the air and splashed down hard in the water, too.  He bubbled up to the surface and tried to splash Merlin, but Merlin easily froze the water in mid-air and flung it back in Brockton’s face.  He sputtered and wisely gave up the fight.  Good thing, Merlin thought.  He needed a bath.

The fastest runner was Gavin, and he was smart enough to take off his cloak before dashing away.  He could still see him, though, sprawling up a hillside.  Face down, Merlin thought, and sure enough, Gavin’s face was immediately pushed into the fallen leaves.

Merlin could hear a faint muffle then said aloud, “Alright, alright.  Care to join us?”  The boy flipped forward and Merlin flung him into the water with the rest of them.

“Now what am I going to do about Tristan?” he asked out loud, smiling big.   The red-headed boy was nearly as skilled as he.   He never ran.  He just stood there, against a tree, laughing at the other three.

“We both know you’ll win so truce?”  Tristan asked, stepping away from the tree.  He started to take off his blue cloak, and Merlin smiled again.  He was used to winning, and liked it.

“Truce.” He nodded.

As Merlin turned toward the other boys, Tristan made a run for it.  He jumped high above their heads and landed on the other side, no doubt propelled by magic, and ran faster than all three boys put together.  But, Merlin knew he couldn’t maintain that level of magic for long and waited for him to tire out.  Once he did, Merlin used his still strong magic to pull him back and lift him above the water.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” He said.  And he dropped Tristan in the river, and lifted him back up again, so he hovered above the water.  Again, Merlin thought, and Tristan was dunked.  Again, and he was dunked again, this time coughing as he didn’t have a chance to close his mouth.

“You yield?”  Merlin asked.  The boy was hovering so close to him that water dripped on Merlin’s shoulders and chest.

“Yes, yes!  I yield!”  Merlin dunked him one last time.

When they finally reached the witch’s hut, she was already outside looking slightly annoyed (because they took too long, he thought).    The boys immediately started to help her make the ritual tea which had a spiciness that was to Merlin’s liking.  She also brought out a generous helping of bread, cheese, and berries to go along with the tea.

When they were finished eating she had each of them make their own smudge stick to burn before the lesson.  While they were making them the boys regaled her with the story of Merlin dunking them all in the river.  As they laughed, especially hard when remembering Tristan’s triple dunk, she still didn’t look pleased.

“I want all of you to think of one thing you’d like to learn today,” she said, looking directly at Merlin.  Merlin really enjoyed overpowering the other boys today so he thought of one word:  Power.

She never took his eyes off him, and at that moment she looked more like a wolf than a woman.   All she said was, “You shouldn’t have done that,” and she stood up and led them toward the ceremonial stone circle that was in the center of the woods.

It was fully dark by the time they reached the circle.  Not all of the stones were still standing, but the site was still magnificent to behold, especially by the light of the full moon.

The witch wasted little time.   She quickly lighted each of their smudge sticks.  Merlin began to smudge himself to get rid of any remaining impurities before the lesson.  He slowly moved the stick around while wafting the cleansing smoke toward each part of his body.


Photo courtesy of hennadervish

She led Merlin to a large stone and asked him to kneel and place his hands on the stone.  The other four boys started beating the ritual drum, slowly at first.

The witch laid out four items on another stone:  A branch with red leaves still attached, a golden dagger, a smooth rock, and a large bowl of water.  She asked each of the boys to choose an item and strike him with it three times.  The boys jumped up in protest, but she shook her head.

“Do it.  Or your lessons are over.”  She walked a few steps away from Merlin, sat down on the soft ground, and opened her book of spells and started chanting.  She was able to magically throw her voice so that Merlin heard her as if her mouth was right next to his ear.  He couldn’t believe she was making them do this and he could feel his muscles starting to clench in fear.

The boys sat down and started pounding the drum again.  Tristan chose first, and he selected the red branch.  His first strike was tentative, and Merlin was thankful.  The witch magically pulled the branch from Tristan’s hand and struck him hard on the chest with it.

“Like that,” is all she said, and then started chanting again.

Tristan did as he was told and struck him hard on the back two more times with the branch.  Merlin could feel the dampness on his back which must’ve been blood from the slash marks.  He tried to mentally heal himself, but the pain overtook him, and the drumming and chanting drowned out his thoughts.

Tristan returned to the drum, and Brockton was next.  He chose the golden dagger.  But he moved in front of his head instead of at his back, like Tristan.  He took the dagger and quickly made three slashes, two on his left shoulder, and one on his right.  Blood was drawn again and Tristan started apologizing profusely.  The witch silenced him easily with her mind, and the boys started drumming faster.

Lars chose the smooth rock.  He didn’t dare strike his already wounded back or arms.  He moved behind him and struck his thighs.  Blood was not drawn, but Merlin turned his head slightly to look behind him, and Lars was crying.

Only the bowl of water was left and Gavin now stood at Merlin’s head.  The drumming and chanting were now at a fevered pitch.  Merlin’s head was dizzy with pain and anger.  No…fear.  He wanted this to end.  Gavin grabbed Merlin’s head and dunked it hard into the water three times.  And at that moment the drumming and the chanting stopped.


Photo courtesy of apod.nasa.gov

He could barely look up, but when he did the full moon was right in front of him between two of the large standing stones.  She was soft and round and comforting even with the pain still coursing through him.

The witch stood up and made some sort of potion or salve.  As he watched her, she magically lifted several small fruits and swirled them around her head, three times one way, and three times the other.

She peeled them and put each in her mouth one at a time.  She slowly sucked out every bit of juice and spat it in a bowl.  She then crushed some herbs and mixed them into the juice which thickened it.  She raised the bowl above her head, speaking in her strange tongue, and set it down on a large stone.

The witch stood up and brought the bowl over and gestured to the other boys to help her.  She showed them how to gently apply the salve to his wounds.  Immediately the pain started to subside.  The witch spoke while she massaged the salve into his arms and back:

“The sun is very powerful and strong.  He’s so powerful, we cannot look upon him.  We must shield our eyes from his intense light.  If we stay in his light too long, our skin gets red and hot.  Just like your skin is now, from the powerful lashes of the other boys.”

She asked him to stand while she rubbed in the salve into his arms.   Lars knelt down and massaged it into his legs.  She at Merlin, eyes sweet and kind now.


Photo courtesy of ErbaLunaria

“The moon and stars are also powerful and strong but in a soft way.  They’re nurturing and patient, and we can look upon them with ease.  The guide us and watch over us.”  She lifted up her necklace to show him the circled star she always wore.

“Our kind of magic is gentle.  Our power is the kind from the moon and stars.  We use it to help others, to guide others, not control them or hurt them.”  Realizing that the witch just taught them a very painful, but important lesson, Tristan came up behind Lars and put his hands on his shoulders.

Merlin dropped to his knees and wept for what he had put them all through.  And with the salve on his skin, he shone just like the moon and stars in the middle of the great stone circle.

The Seven Clans


Image courtesy of Tiffany McCarthy

Children and grandparents alike buzzed around the sacred spring chatting to kin they haven’t seen in a while.  They were patiently waiting for the last clan to arrive so the ceremony could begin.  Six clans were already there.


Image courtesy of MD-Arts

The first to arrive were the good witches and they were the clan who had the power of passion which was symbolized by the sacred flame.


Image courtesy of rui-alberto.tumblr.com

The second clan had the power of the beasts of the Earth as symbolized by the tiger.


Image courtesy of black_eyes

The third clan had the power of Earth herself as symbolized by wheat and a dove.


Image courtesy of Ironshod

The fourth clan had the power of love and will combined as symbolized by the Dragon.


Image courtesy of FuzzyBunny

The fifth clan had the power of music as symbolized by the violin.


Image courtesy of touchn2btouched.tumblr.com

The sixth clan was a giant clan and had the power of second sight as symbolized by a lantern.


Image courtesy of moroka323

Finally at sunset, the seventh clan arrived in a flurry of wind and rain because they had the power over storms and the waters of life as symbolized by the sky.


Image courtesy of Avine

Once the seventh clan was settled in, the high priestess walked out slowly into the water of the sacred spring.

As she reached the center of the spring, the water started to bubble and up lifted the sacred sword that had the power over the sands of time.  The clan members murmured to each other in awe.

She took hold of the hilt, lifted the blade to her other hand, and quickly drew it across her palm.  She held her palm over the water and let her blood drip into the pure water, turning the water pink where it fell.  The same action was done by all attending.


Image courtesy of erikananette.tumblr.com

The moment the last born added her blood to the water, the entire spring started bubbling.  Up from the depths of the water sprang a pure, strong white oak tree.   Again the clan members murmured to each other in astonishment, surprised their blood could create something so powerful.

The high priestess dipped her goblet into the sacred spring, now home to the Tree of Life.  She drank from it and passed the goblet to all the others so they could do the same.  Once everyone had drunk from the spring, they surrounded the tree and said:

And by the power of the Sword, we let our lifeblood to nourish the Tree of Life.  May the Tree nourish us with life in return and shield us from those who wish to do us harm.

And at that moment the shield appeared


Image courtesy of Lady-Tori


The Labyrinth


Photo courtesy of EmilySoto

Though deep call unto deep as calls the thunder,
And white the billows leap the tempest under;
Softly the waves shall come up the long, bright beaches,
With dainty flowers of foam and tenderest speeches.

Part of After the Winter Rain by Ina Coolbrith


Photo courtesy of Olivia-P-Photography

The dark Queen bid her eat the berries even though they numbed her tongue and stung her throat.  She fumbled for a goblet but ended up coughing on a sip of wine quite unceremoniously.   The Queen wasn’t pleased, but, at least tonight she didn’t fear her.  There were other unspoken things to fear this night.


Photo courtesy of Innferna

The Lords and Ladies looked immaculate, donning their finery and masks for the masquerade hunt as was required by the Queen at the start of each winter.

Violin maid

Photo courtesy of DarkVenusPersephonae

They marveled at the beauty and music of the Queen’s fair maid.  The maid flitted through the party enchanting all with her dance and song.   She’d seen the Queen’s maid before as she also was skilled at dance and song (as were the rest of her people)-  If only she could get that violin.  She didn’t dare try to take it from her now.

Dark Queen

Photo courtesy of riffmaker

The Lords and Ladies knew they weren’t there for a feast or a dance as the Queen wasn’t known for pleasantries.   They peered at her through their masks, thinking they were hidden, but she still felt their searching eyes and pitying thoughts.  She was glad when the Queen leaned over her shoulder and whispered it was time.  She could finally slip away from their stares.


Photo courtesy of nordstjarna

“You won’t be needing these,” the Queen said, as she pulled off her mask and grabbed her fan.  She gave her one more sip of wine.  This time she welcomed it as only numbness was left from the berries, not the bitterness.


Picture courtesy of yasmins

As the Queen led her to the gardens the party goers excitedly followed.  When the rounded the corner, a large labyrinth came in to view.  The Queen stopped her at the opening and said, “Listen well, girl.  Find the key and you’ll live.”  She said it so sweetly and calmly as if she were tucking a small child in to bed.


Photo courtesy of yasmins

At first she slowly walked through the twists and turns searching the ground and the hedges for a key.  It’s an impossible task she thought.  So many hedges.  So many ways to go.


Photo courtesy of yasmins

Just when the fair maid stopped playing her violin, she heard gasps and screams from the party goers.  A second later she heard harsh footsteps and a rustling near the opening of the Labyrinth.  She had no idea who was there, but it sounded fast and big.  She ran as fast as she could even though the branches of the labyrinth repeatedly slashed and whipped her skin.


Photo courtesy of Muzungumbaya

Then she heard it, even with the rustling behind her:  An urgent chirp.  She looked up and a bluebird was perched right above her head on the top of a hedge.  She took a right and the bird chirped more urgently.  She turned back around and looked at him in a panic, knowing the rusting was quickly becoming closer.  She ran the other way and the bird remained quiet and seemed to cock his head in the direction for her to go.


Photo courtesy of acrosstheuniverse67

As she came to another turn, she found a beautiful blue feather on the ground at her feet.  She picked it up and kept following the bird.  Maybe he knew a way out.  She had to take a chance.


Photo courtesy of andreshanti

After several turns following the bird and his feathers, they reached what seemed to be the center of the labyrinth, or a clearing.  In the very middle was a fountain topped with the goddess, Venus.  The bluebird flew to the fountain for a quick bath and then flew away.  She silently thanked him for his help.

The footsteps behind her were growing near.  She had to find the key.  She ran toward the fountain thinking it must be there and tripped over a branch.  She fell to the ground and looked up just as he reached the fountain.  

She was surprised that he wasn’t the half beast/half man she had feared, but just a man.  She’d heard all the legends and her imagination ran wild – every one of her people had disappeared due to this being.  And then she saw it:  The key.  Her key.  The key only one of her people knew how to use.  But how?  Why did he have it?


Photo courtesy of Serreth

She grabbed the key, a flute, and start playing.  He started to float and could no longer hold on to her.   She started to float as well until she could no longer play as everything around her was floating, even the water from the fountain.

dark Queen2

Photo courtesy of riffmaker

Just then, she heard the laughing of the beautiful Queen behind her.  Everything that was floating slammed hard to the ground.


Photo courtesy of Jason-Little

She looked over at him and he was lying on the grass at the base of a hedge.  His wrists were still in shackles, though broken, and the chain around his neck had seemed to fuse to his skin.


Photo courtesy of xbassxharmingx

She scrambled to find the flute again, as it was flung somewhere during the fall.  The Queen laughed and easily forced her into a standing position.  Arrows whistled toward her and there were too many to stop with her own powers.  One nicked her arm, but just before another was going to pierce her neck, they stopped in midair, quivered slightly, then turned toward the Queen.

Before the arrows could pierce her, she was gone in a wisp of smoke.  He must’ve controlled the arrows, because she wasn’t strong enough.  He was powerful, more powerful than she or the Queen, and she was a slightly in awe.  She walked slowly toward him, not sure what to say.  She was thankful, yes, but also a little embarrassed.  She shouldn’t have feared him.  He was one of her kind.  He looked filthy, a mixture of dirt and sweat covered his bare chest, face, and neck and she felt another pang of guilt and a desire to comfort him.


Photo courtesy of slevinaaron

She tore several strips of cloth from her gown and soaked them in the fountain which was infused with honey and rose petals.  She gently wiped away the dirt and sweat from his body.  She was particularly gentle around his wrists and neck as his skin was rubbed raw from the chains and shackles.


Photo courtesy of slevinaaron

She went back a second time to soak the strips of cloth.  When she returned he seemed more alert.  She smiled hesitantly, still embarrassed.  He now smelled of a mixture of honey, roses, and that wonderfully earthy smell that only a man can smell like.  She now washed his face and hair as best she could.  He grabbed the final strip of cloth and twisted it above his mouth and drank the remainder of the honey and rose infused water.  She blushed, though not quite sure why.


Photo courtesy of vishstudio

After his thirst was quenched, he stood up and bowed his head holding out his sword to her.

“Take this,” he finally spoke.

She admired its gilded beauty, but knew she could not take it.  “I cannot. It has slain all of my kind before me. “

“No, you misunderstand,” he said.  “I have saved them all.  Let me show you.”

“Hold the sword up high,”  he said.  She did as she was told, and again everything started to float, but this time the power of the magic stirred even the skies.  Lightning struck nearby and rain started to pour.

The stone fountain broke apart, and piece by piece it rearranged itself into a doorway in front of her.  At once, everything was calm again.  


Photo courtesy of cip-rochnaug

They picked up the sword and as they walked through the doorway it crumbled and the Queen’s world was no longer in view.  But, what she did see was every one of her kind whom she had thought perished before her.  The man, whose name she didn’t even know, saved them all before himself.

The Waters of Time

Our imaginations have been filled with stories and poems of legendary pirates, mermaids, sea monsters, treasure islands, and fated shipwrecks.   Of all anti-heroes through history, pirates still garner a bunch of attention in recent movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean.   Even though they’re big on entertainment value, we can learn a lot from pirates as I see these rogues of the rough seas as the perfect metaphor for the process of spiritual enlightenment.

We are all made of and born from the waters of life, and our first action is to reach for the light.

Amphitrite – Underwater Goddess from Damien Krisl on Vimeo.

As we emerge, we breathe for the first time and relinquish our ability to live in water.  When we open our eyes we are still submerged, but instead of in physical water, we are submerged in the waters of time.

There exists a realm outside of time, where the pirates of our imaginations sail the tides of time in search of treasure and adventure.   I believe our goal throughout life is to learn how to do the same.


Photo courtesy of ann-emerald

Even from a young age we are told the story of Peter Pan, and how he never grows old because he lives in a land beyond the reach of time.

He’s always outdueling the random Captain Hook.  The fact that Peter Pan fed Captain Hook’s arm to a crocodile can be considered a friendly nod to the rising of the kundalini life force which is usually symbolized by a dragon or a snake.  Getting rid of the parts of ourselves that no longer serve evolvement is usually painful, but necessary.

With the help of Tinker Bell, Peter Pan is able to fly beyond time.


Photo courtesy of tom-hardie

Her pixie dust, along with happy thoughts, is what allows Peter and his friends to float.  It’s also just another metaphor for the rising of the Kundalini life force up the spine.

Pirates are known for wearing eye patches.  The seeing with one eye symbolizes seeing beyond time and space by using the spiritual third eye.


Photo courtesy of Republic of You

The carrying of a sword, as well as finding treasure at X marks the spot, is representative of the cross and the purification process that brings about enlightenment.

Sirens and mermaids are known to lure pirates to their deaths with their beautiful songs.  But, really it’s about the masculine and feminine parts of our beings coming into balance.  The feminine side is always calling the masculine.


Photo courtesy of zemotion

If one side overpowers the other, we lose our way for awhile.  And we remain locked in the web of time.

Those that are able to find the balance between the masculine and the feminine find themselves on the shores of time, able to dip into and out of time at will.

They’ve reached the point where the snake-like kundalini force no longer holds them hostage in time, but frees them.


Photo courtesy of vishstudio

And the treasure that they sought is found.  But, being spiritual pirates, the treasure is not physical.  Yes, they still had to find the key.  But the key is internal.  And the X that marks the spot is within themselves.

At the level of the heart is where the merging of the feminine and masculine occurs.  The heart is the X, the key, and the door. Once this occurs, the web of time no longer holds us.  And we finally see with true sight beyond the sea of time.


Photo courtesy of Lady-Tori