I had been praying deeply, asking for guidance. There's been Stuff going on, people, major Stuff. And when I wonder, 'what will I do?", this is what I do. I turn to the Goddess and ask her to show me the way.
And this what what she had to say. "Take three seeds..." It soon became clear that She wasn't going to talk to me anymore until I had taken on this message.
It's not so common for me to receive such concrete, deliberate instructions in my spiritual guidance. I was intrigued, piqued and puzzled. Um, what does that mean? So I pondered.
It sounded like I had been presented with a Quest of sorts, a mission to carry out just for the sake of following Her wherever She may guide me. I thought of a book I had read a little while ago, a beautiful children's story published in 1872, The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.
In the story, the little princess meets her Grandmother, apparently a spirit-woman, ghost, or perhaps an angel, living in the attic in her castle. The Grandmother gives the princess a golden ring and tells her to use it to call on her if she ever needs help. When things go bump in the night, and the princess is frightened, she takes the ring and follows the fine, long, invisible thread that leads from it. She trusts that the thread will take her to her Grandmother, and she follows it, even when it guides her outside, up the hills and into the dangerous wilderness, on and on and finally into the mountain through the mines that were built by miners and goblins.
It's a story about faith, crazy faith that doesn't make any sense at all, but works out in the end. It's how I live my life and make choices, to some extent. I follow the invisible thread of Grandmother's instructions, Her guidance, even when it takes me into the wilderness, or dark and scary places. I often have no idea why I must do the things I do, only that I know the Goddess has asked me to. I choose to obey, knowing the consequences of choosing otherwise.
This task bestowed upon me seems abstract and trivial, but it is not for me to question these Mysteries, only to have faith and to follow. During my preparations, someone would occasionally ask me, hey Lady Demelza, what's that you're doing? And my answer was always, I have no idea, I'm just following instructions.
First I had to translate the rather vague description into a tangible act, an event that would mark my devotion to my Beloved Grandmother. 'Take three seeds' is literal enough, but where, oh where on Earth is the bitterest place?
First I turned to my most recently discovered magickal tool - the google search engine. Who'd'a thunk it, right? Google tells me that the bitterest place on Earth is the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. And while it looks like an incredible place, I thought that an intercontinental trek might be taking things a bit too far - geographically as well as metaphorically. I had to refine the parameters to the local area and engage my own Magickal Answers search engine.
What is a bitter place? It's unusual to ascribe the quality of bitterness to a geographical location, rather than something more or less tangible - a food, or a feeling. I thought of salt. I thought of thick black mud, mangroves, lagoons and swamps. I thought of rivers running brown with natural tannins. I thought of the nighttime and the winter. I asked everyone else what they thought of in response to the phrase 'the bitterest place.' There was much debate and checking of maps, but eventually we settled on Lake Tyagarah, a coastal lake which is home to a natural forest of tea trees. If you've ever accidentally tasted tea-tree oil while using it for medicinal or therapeutic purposes, you will understand how I made the connection.
From there, the synchronicity kept lining up. We discovered that the lake is by a three-way crossway, hence a place sacred to Hecate, who reminds us to honour the bitter experiences in life. Two of those streets were called Black Rock Road and Grays Lane - suitably dark and gloomy. When we finally got close to the site we were looking for, I saw this sign and shuddered. A bitter place indeed.
I didn't even know that they used 1080 poison up here. I saw enough of its effects while living in Tasmania, where it is widely used to kill native wildlife, and the beloved family pet often becomes collateral damage. I won't go on about it any more or I'll just get upset, but you can follow the links I've put in if you want to know more.
We got closer. This was the next sign we saw. Um.
A short walk along a scrubby path, and suddenly I was here, at this picture-perfect, shining lake. It struck me as odd that I had come looking for a bitter place and found myself in such a stunningly beautiful place. But that has always been the lesson of bitterness and the things in the shadow - to realise that they are beauty too.
The three seeds came from an apple, the sacred fruit of the Goddess. I would have found pomegranates or olives to be acceptable offerings, but on the day, apples were easier to come by. I took my apple down the lake's shore and cut it crossways, revealing the Five-Pointed Star, the Pentagram at its core. I scried for a message in its shape, as I like to do with the middles of apples like this.
By the edge of the lake, the roots of this tree formed a miniature of the mud flat I had been imagining.
Here I buried my three seeds, anointed my third eye with the waters of the lake, and said my thanks and blessings.
But... what happens next? What does it all mean?
Buggered if I know. I'm just following instructions.