The Path to the Star-Throne of the Lady
Old Man Who Lives In The Stones: I sense the longing in your soul and the triumph of the evil powers. Chaos and madness reign where once the deer was hunted and the fire of people was joy for all. Listen, way-watcher and way-maker and I will show you the old magic that summons the vision you need. To see is not enough, but it may be all that you are to have. Suffering men and women, I and those others like me have become ageless spirits, like unto those which we sought aid from when we lived in the boundaries of flesh. I see so far and so much, I know the good and the evil. I see so many men and women lost, and terrible powers running free. I know that nothing ever ends and things will be well, but great is the need for men to embrace their task. Men alone complete what begins unseen. The great unseen alone completes men.
Arrow-maker: You have all that you need, save one thing: you do not know what to tell the Lady when you meet Her, the words that say what so many have forgotten, and without which, no peace or health is possible. The Lady is the earth, source of every life and goodness, source of every food and healing herb, life's faithful sustainer. You must recognize Her for this. That is all. Her true worship is recognition.
Old Man Who Lives In The Stones: Here is how the magic is made. The earth powers and the growing powers will show you the place. The sun rises and sets in a straight line over the place; at its middle point are two trees standing near one another- they form a passage-way. The sun passes between them and goes below far beyond them; you can see its red death from between them.
Take a staff of ash or oak and etch upon it a horse and a rider, and set it up far to the east of the two trees, but always between them. Pour from it a line of water, running between the trees, the length of twenty men- and where it ends, build a fire of wood from the land all around. Kindle the fire as the sun is sinking and walk back to the horseman's pole. Pour honey, milk, and blood into the ground in a pit dug before the pole. Say the words:
Wisdom spirit, gallop and trot to me!
Into my hand place the key.
Life spirit, give your offerings,
And we will rightfully repay.
Fate spirit, bind unending as you will,
But spare me wisdom.
Walk backwards on the water-trail for the space of five men, never taking your eyes off the horseman's pole, and look beyond, to the dark eastern horizon. See there a man on horseback, watching. Send him a voice:
Master of tree weird, Master of earth weird,
Riding between day and night and through the dreams of man
Leaper over ditch and mound, river and wood
Holder of the secret key, ride forth and appear!
Not above nor below, not there, not here
But in the knowledge clear of woman and man.
Come with wind! Come invisible if you will,
Come with the people of the storm.
Turn around and fix your eyes on the fire in the twilight. Walk towards the two trees, with your palms towards the ground. Walk along the water-trail you have made; do not ever leave it. Speak:
Fate-weaver's strands, binding grove and well
Pond and tree, fire and circling rock
Not by hands nor words is Fate woven
But by the Woman with star-filled eyes
And her great field of darkness.
World of nine times and nine deeps,
Where weirds hide their truthful shapes,
And life and death struggle forever:
Let summer fade and winter win,
Let winter break and summer grow,
Always the ebb and the flow.
In that turning, let light increase
Let the power collect in me, rising without end.
Amid the darkness of unseen things,
The Master rides with his rade
Let him bring the key of life and death.
Arrow Maker: As you reach the trees, turn around and face the pole. It will be gone; in its place, you will see the Horseman. He will ride forth with great might and come to a circling halt before you. He will reach down and hand you the Key of life and death- an arrow. Etched on it will be many strange signs, but you need not worry as to their meanings. Bend your neck to him and say "I honor the Lady and the Old World". He will nod and ride away to the east. You will turn and hurl the arrow between the two trees, towards the fire, but it will not land before you; it will vanish as it passes between the trees.
This is a sign that the Sundown Door is opened. You will place your hand over your heart and commend yourself to the Lady and step through the two trees, but as you pass through, watching your fire, the twilight will vanish, to be replaced by a night full of stars. The fire will still be there, glaring through the darkness, and it will seem further away than it was before. The two trees will no longer be to your left and right; instead, a man and a woman, naked and covered with dark markings, will be standing- they are the weirds of the tree and the dead. They will walk you towards the fire, which is on a land-rise. When you reach it, you will pass the fire by a few paces, and hear the voices of many people in the valley below.
Under the bright stars, and with the full moon overhead, you will see many smaller fires below you, and distantly. The shapes of men and women will be next to them; they are the ancients, still worshiping the stars by building fires on earth to match their places in the night sky. Look up; you will see the arrangements of the stars in the sky have been recreated on the earth with the fires of the earth. The people are gazing up, making their songs. You have forgotten what shapes the stars made- the hunters, the beasts they chased, the heroes who killed monsters. Before you on the ground, in the star-fires, is the Lady's bower. Above you is Her bower. Behind you, the ghost-fire you kindled is the pole star come to earth.
Walk away from your fire. Walk down into the dark valley, and pass the other star-fires. The people there will not turn to see you; you are a spirit to them. They will continue to adore the stars. You will walk to the center of the Lady's bower, and before you, out of the darkness, will come bounding a great and majestic red deer. She will stop before you and gaze at you with the most ancient eyes. She waits.
You must bend your knee to her and tell her that you recognize her as the source of life. You must say it with your heart. You must withhold nothing. She will nod her head back and a blessing will enter you. Then, the red deer will turn into a great deer of wood and straw. She will burst into flames, and the fire will rage bright; hundreds of sparks will fly upwards, seeking the stars. That is how the stars came to be in the sky.
Old Man Who Lives In The Stones: You will reach out and seize one of the sparks, and it will carry you upwards like a glowing moth into the sky. You will be lifted upwards by the spark, into the darkness between the many brilliant white stars, all of which will turn into men and women, all standing on a field of utter darkness- the ground which is the sky. They are white-skinned, draped in white animal skins, all facing towards a larger light, which you could not see from the earth. In that light, on a great chair of silvery and white, sits the Lady, whose earth-form you just met and honored in Her form of the red deer. Through it, you and She have both transformed upwards, and you can come into the presence of Her starry-form, Her true shape.
From above She sees all. From far beyond Her light, in the darkness, is the sound of the weaving of eternity. Her people are gathered around Her seat, and She smiles in recognition at you. She is the source of all life, and She has revealed Herself to you as best a mortal man can receive Her.
Arrow Maker: I am there, in Her court of stars, and so is the Old Man Who Lives In The Stones. So are all of us who once lived on the earth, and whose ghosts stay bound to the earth. We are here, above, too. The Horseman is here, too- see: he is the Son of Light. The great Life Spirit is here, too- everywhere. We are all Fate; no power is excluded. But the source of it all is the Lady, she is the power of powers, the fiery spirit of fires, the source of the many waters.
To live perpetually among the stars of the sky is not difficult; the key to this place is knowing the source of all things and recognizing it, withholding nothing. Those who forget their true source are capable of every evil; they become the servants of the evil powers that tear the world and life down to the murky clot of water, blood, earth and salt in which it began. They reduce things to their roots. They do this by making incomplete that which should be complete; their words are evil, and their dreams are evil.
They follow a road that is broad and dark- you must follow the narrow road of the water that passes between the two trees, for those trees are life and death. It is a road full of the redness of blessings, the blessings of the deer that the ancients hunted, and which sustained them. The earth sustained them, because they recognized it and loved it. The sky sustained them and the stars- we, the stars- sustained them. They knew harmony then and now, for true harmony is beginningless and endless. They knew how all things have many shapes, how trees and stones spoke like people and could look like people. They knew the old magic.
Old Man Who Lives In The Stones: Take this harmony, offered to you now- look at Her, on Her throne: She beckons. Two lives for you begin today, a life above and below, which are the same life.
Before you came here, only the earth and the underworld were in your range of power; now, the stars, earth, and underworld are; the star-court has become your new earth, and the earth of old is now your underworld, and you will see its many lost souls and dangers, all in a new light. And below that? In the darker, deeper underworld? There is no deeper; if you were to return to earth, and go below, you would find yourself here again, in the stars.
For you, the dark underworld's once dim and terrifying shapes have become stars! That dark source below- mother source of waters- has become the bright throne! Know that they were always stars; it was a dark dream that led you to believe otherwise, a dark dream that is also among the Fateful powers. Embrace the joy you feel now. There is a joy at the heart of Fate, a crystalline body of indestructible life for all.
In joy, one day in your life below, commit your body and soul to the ground. Should you go onto a pyre, the sparks will carry you back here, instantly. Should you go into the mound, you will merge as we did and become a phantom bound for countless millennia, at least from the reckoning of mortal men and women who still wander the earth and eat meat and bread. For you, time will cease. You can teach those few who may speak to you to find their way to the sundown door, or show them what other things Fate asks you to tell them.
But your spirit will still be here, as well as below. Your spirit will no longer sleep in the wholeness of the sky, sleeping here as many others do; it is awake now for all time.
Look at the Lady; She is calling you to come before Her. There is someone she wishes you to meet. What remains of your mind of earth and water and air is about to become whole.