A Tale of the Wood
Article ID: 15421
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,856
Times Read: 2,341
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Author: Bran th' Blessed
Posted: June 16th. 2013
Times Viewed: 2,341
Once I went looking for the oldest creature in the wood. I asked my father, the woodsman, "Are you the oldest person in the wood?"
"Oh no, " he said, "There are beings much older than myself in these woods. Yes..." and he wrinkled his brow as he mulled the question over. Then he noticed me still awaiting his answer. "Ah, yes, the old mother elk who lives in the Holly grove, for example. Why, she must be almost 80 years old, much older than most of her kind, " and he nodded his head in affirmation of his words.
So I went next to ask the old mother elk if she were the oldest person in the wood. "Indeed, " said she, "I am older than any other of my kind, and some days I know I must feel every year and day of my long life. But I am not nearly the oldest one in these woods. Oh no, my dear! My grandmother told me long ago that the first being she befriended in these woods was an ancient bed of moss that had grown upon a fallen tree in the shadowy ash thicket at the center of the wood. I have seen that moss bed myself. It still flourishes in the heart of the woods."
I thanked the old mother elk for her information and wished her happiness in all her remaining years and days. Then I journeyed to the old ash thicket at the heart of the woods where I found the old bed of moss on the rotted remains of the old fallen tree. "Tell me, old one, if you will, are you the oldest creature in these woods?" I waited as patiently as I could for the moss to respond, for even young moss, as you may know, can be quite slow in almost anything it does. Finally, and after a long silence, a chorus of small voices answered me.
"We have been here a long, long time as it is recorded in our lore. We have rested long years upon this fallen tree and indeed we clung to its side from the days it first peaked its shallow tendrils above the ground. And you know, it was one of the first trees in the wood, an ancient boughard, grey and grizzled when he fell." And the voices repeated it with venerable grief in their tone, "Grey and grizzled when he fell."
I started to offer them condolences for their loss, but I could not quite find the right words. As I paused awkwardly, the voices continued. "But we must tell you, child, there are older ones in our lore. It was told in the tales that the old trees shared among themselves that there was one who was here long before them, before this sacred land became the wood it is today you see. Perhaps that old one remains today in her home to the north of the lake somewhere west of our thicket.
"Go and see, " they urged me. "And when you have found her or not, return and tell us so that we may add this tale to our lore."
"So shall I surely do, " I affirmed to them, to the ancient colony of the moss. And turning toward the west I walked slowly to the lake some half a league beyond the thicket. When I reached the lake I circled the long way, deosil, to the north banks, chanting to myself as I strode through the grasses and the reeds that lined the lake. "Grant, Mother Goddess, that I may have eyes to see and wisdom to know."
Her feet were shorn with dirt and grasses, and a vine-entangled bush embraced her from behind, but the wind-worn face of the ancient boulder remained resolute against time and age. There was no doubt that this stone was the embodiment of the old one of whom the ancient lore of the trees had alluded. I knelt before the stone and lowered my head in homage.
"Blessed be you, ancient one, of the Earth who gave you birth and the sky that shelters you from above." She made no sound, but I felt her gaze settle upon me. "I have set myself upon a quest, venerable grandmother, to find the oldest being in these woods, and I know that surely you must be that oldest of old ones, you who stood here in these woods before anything but the very Earth herself."
"I and the Earth, " she said in a voice that was a whisper echoing from a cavern, "are one. So I am the mother of all that lives in these woods as I am the mother of all else that flourishes between the hidden Earth and the clear empyrean heights of the deep blue, open Sky."
"I am thy child, great Goddess, " I declared as we all may, "flesh of thy flesh and blood of thy blood."
"But tell me why you seek the oldest one in these woods, " she spoke with an understanding that there was more to my quest. "What would you gain from this old scarred stone that you could not elsewhere gain?"
"Can you tell me, O face of the Goddess, where there is one than which no elder can be known?" It was the question I had cultivated so carefully and cherished as a secret until I thought I had found one who might answer it.
She was silent, but I felt the serenity of her silence. She spoke. "Look to the sky above you, to the stars of the firmament, many of whom are older than myself and the sun and moon and planets. Their very lights shine upon us from ages long forgotten. Before I could become the mother of all life, some stars once lived whose lights no longer shine, but in their lives and in their deaths they labored to bring forth the very fabric of my being. I am star stuff, my child, and therefore you too are made of star stuff.
"And here is another secret. The light is born of darkness. No star could be born except the clouds of darkness, born from the debris of cosmic creation itself, had gathered into swirling spheres that slowly shrank and began to glow with the birth of elemental fire. Remember this secret that I tell you. *The Sun is but a mortal light surrounded by immortal Night.* For all stars are born from the clouds of darkness that are the oldest beings in all the very sky except for Night herself, who is not born and cannot die.
“Look, child, to the darkness of Night. She is the One you seek, the One than whom no elder can be known, for she was there before the emptiness of space itself, before the dawn of time she was and shall remain when time is done. We call her Night because the light cannot touch upon her, but she is the mother of light and the very stars from which it shines. Indeed, all that is or was and all that ever shall be arises from the womb of Mother Night. Call her not by what she seems, but by what she is. Call her Spirit, the ageless, endless mother of the ten thousand worlds."
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Bran th' Blessed
Location: Madison, Tennessee
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