Max Goodwin takes us on a journey through living mythology into the season of Imbolc.
We are traveling across the great lake to the island, with a large woodland covered hill in the center. Now, together we move under the canopy and into the darkness of the wood. We find ourselves, just inside the woodland, at the foot of the hill in front of immense doors that are set into the very hillside.
Here we meet an old man dressed in bright white robes. His grey hair denotes an ancient wisdom and the staff he holds in his hand shines with the light of Divine Magic. Merlin, for that is his name, tells us, “If it is your wish, you may enter the gateway and I will guide you.” We do so now.
Down into the dark tunnels we travel together, turning this way and that, past great caverns and grand halls, until we find ourselves in front of another set of doors. These wooden doors are inlaid with precious metals and magical symbols. Two tall stoic elves, clad in the armour of light open the great doors.
We enter an awe inspiring hall. The ceiling is so high, it is lost in the darkness of space and with columns and arches that seem to go on for ever. This seeming impossible place is dominated by the two awesome figures who are enthroned at the end of the hall.
The Winter king, great consort, robed in snow, crowned with bone and ice. Ancient wisdom; ageless beauty.
Beside him, his Queen, The Dark Goddess. She sleeps. She dreams of spring.
In her dreaming, the forest is warm and the young maiden gently moves through the deep paths. Where her foot touches snowdrops spring to life, and where her hand brushes against the branches, catkins burst forth. She leaves in her wake the scent of spring and the promise of summer.
Elsewhere in the great forest another moves carefully and silently. The Prince of light hunts! Dressed as the wild man of the woods, in the hide and horns of the stag, he catches the scent of early spring and follows deep into the woodland.
He approaches a grove of birch and hazel and there in the center, with her back to him, surrounded by snowdrops, sits the maiden. Her long golden hair shines like the sun and his heart is captured in an instant. His breath comes quick as his pulse races. Pushing past the trees, he enters the grove, the sound of hide on bark. The maiden turns her head…..
The dark goddess on her throne awakens in the great hall, beside her consort. She turns to us with a knowing smile on her lips and the first stirrings are felt deep inside her and all across the land.
Merlin motions for us to depart. Through the doors and past the guardians, together we follow his sure steps. He leads us back along the passages to the vast doors in the hillside and out into the light of the day. As we travel through the woods, we notice the deep green shoots of the snowdrops and the light green of the catkins. Soon we are traveling back across the water leaving the island behind us, back from whence we came.