The long polished staircase that I ascend is shallow stepped, and creaks at certain points. The treads are worn, the mellow wood grain almost faded into nothing, under years of searching. I imagine that there might be sunlight illuminating them at some point in the day, as there are places where the wood is almost bleached in its paleness. I am aware today that there is an intense illumination coming from the land behind the door, before I even open it, and as I pass through the door, I come into a place full of gentle light, and the warmth of early morning that can only be found in a place that sears like a furnace in the strength of the midday sun.
I have come upon a small desert oasis, still, peaceful and beautiful, a green sentinel that halts the undulating march of sand that fills the rest of my vision. Beneath the few trees that border the cool water bubbling up from beneath the desert, stands a figure, a woman dressed in black. A face of carved serenity gazes at me, a woman who time has touched, but has not yet ravaged, a woman whose strength has not yet been diminished by grief. Her beauty lies in the calm stillness of her eyes, emanating an aura of peace and power, I am in awe.
She said that her name was Almitra, and that she cared for this oasis, and welcomed me to come and stand beneath the trees.
As I walked towards her, my sight was drawn beyond the oasis, towards the landscape beyond, and I was struck by what I saw. A seeming endless line of figures were approaching the oasis, a line that stretched back as far as the eye could see, over dune and cliff, through valley and beyond mountain, even as far as the edge of the world that I could see. A line of women, that was without end, were approaching the oasis, walking steadily, slowly, proud and serene, each carrying on her shoulder, a water jar, to be filled at the well.
I asked what this scene represented, and I was told that the Priestess is the guardian of where the water emerges, the water of intuition. The river of intuition forms a network that links the entire world, a web of perception, unseen to those of us who live only on the surface. The water emerges from this underground river, at certain places, the oasis of the priestess, and she is the guardian of this place. As the women come, they take from the well, but they also give, of their hearts, their humanity, their knowledge…replenishing the river, adding to it, each one helping to ensure its strength and continuity.
The image I saw in the book was the phases of the Moon & a Willow tree, and the message to be flexible & changeable.
The object I left with was a Sea Bean.
II The Priestess
The Planetary Trump of The Moon
The Priestess of the Silver Star
The watery willow encourages the expression of deeply buried feelings, easing sadness through tears and grieving, and teaching the consequences of love and loss in matters of the heart. The willow reminds us of the need to let go some times, to surrender completely to the watery world of the emotions and the subconscious, so that we may be carried toward a deeper understanding of our inner-most feelings, toward a better appreciation of our hidden motives and secret fears and desires. Any suppressed and unacknowledged emotions can be a major cause of stress and illness. Through emotional expression, and through the sharing of feelings of ecstasy and pain, our ancestors believed they could help heal the human spirit. The willow enables us to realize that within every loss lies the potential for something new.
Lesson of the Willow from The Wisdom of the Trees by Jane Gifford
The Willow in the tree alphabet stands for the female and lunar rhythms of life. She is water-seeking, thriving from preference on the damp margins of lakes and streams or across the low-lying water meadows. Water and the tidal movements of the sea are governed by the pull of the moon. The moon in its monthly rhythms is female, contrasting with the male sun’s daily and yearly turnings. In several ways, the Celts held women in higher regard than we do today. On the material level, women were property owners, and whoever controlled the property controlled the marriage. Women of all types and appeared in the Celtic pantheon, the spiritual strength and life-giving qualities given by both female and male recognized equally. There were many colleges of Druidesses – learned women and teachers – respected especially for their gifts of seer-ship, often expressed through dreams, or night visions.
From The Celtic Tree Oracle-Liz and Colin Murray
The “sea bean” is a seed that travels the oceans, looking for a new place to grow. Only 10th of 1% of flowering plants create drift seeds, so they are pretty special. It is considered lucky to find one as they are so rare.
Extract from an article about being a “Drift Seed Collector”, or “Drifter” that I thought was relevant to its appearance here in this journey.
Finding the Sea Bean is just the beginning of the “drifters” experience. The real fun begins when you identify the type of bean or seed you’ve found and map its journey.
“It happens to all of us. First it’s curiosity about this thing you’ve found on the beach. Next comes enlightenment and you realize there’s a story for each Bean,” says Perry. “Then we move into the hoarding phase where the collector keeps every bean they can put their hands on. Fortunately, most move on to sharing and educating others.
“Finally, we get to the Zen phase.”
That’s where Perry is with his love of sea beans. He wants to share his knowledge and will gladly hand over a few beans from his collection. He’s content to pass by the more common beans that he’s come across over the years.