The causeway is now hidden beneath shimmering water and there’s no one available to take him across to the island. Faith, such a loaded word these days. He carries an ocean of it within his being; hearing it whisper against the rocky shore of the emotions. Its music echoes in dreams and waking moments. This pilgrimage has been undertaken for several thousand generations. The land remembers presence of beings who had spoken life into manifestation. A sense of sacredness had always existed here according to his ancestors. They’d worshipped their gods, held their memories safe in mind and heart through turbulent times. The Old Ones had eventually retreated into the misty shadowlands, not forgotten but waiting to see which way the tide would turn. The currents appeared to turn against them, but the true faithful remained steadfast in their worship. Although it was practised in secret.
The man sits on the shore for a while, he’s cold and hungry. This only highlights the sense of loneliness. Faith, in himself and the Higher Powers had fluctuated wildly over the years, causing him to abandon his path and calling. A temporary situation as his natural talents refuse to be ignored. He comes from a line of priests that stretch into infinity, the link isn’t going to be broken now. That much he vows to their spirits. “I’ll return” he promises.
Other presences slowly gather, forming a protective circle around one of their own. He hears them and rejoices, the beloved ancestors. They give him love and also their chiding, for not using his skills to build a fire, for not eating the food lying in his bag. The apathy fades in the light of companionship. Putting on a head torch the search is on for wood, there are scraps sufficient for a small fire. He makes sure the fire and his emotions are safely contained before settling down to eat. The salamanders are quite active tonight.
Fed and watered he settles down to listen to the sound of the waves. Its hypnotic sound soon pushes him into a deep sleep. Huge wings enfold his figure, giving warmth and safety. The Raven, totem of his family has watched over him since birth. She was a constant in his life, even if he wasn’t always aware of her presence. Raven now whispers “have a little faith”. He smiles.
The darkness of sleep fades to see in a glorious sun rise. Raven’s wings open and she flies into the sky, reminding him that it is time to cross the expanse between this and the next world. He stands for a moment to look across to the island. The land waits for the relic he carries, it will return home soon. Each step taken on the battered and almost unrecognisable causeway brings back memories of all those who have gone before. Thousands upon thousands of pilgrims had made their way to this spot long before it became separated from the mainland. It hides remnants of ancient temples, obscured from human eyes but strong in presence nonetheless. There are just ruins now but on another plane the buildings remain tangible. This location exudes peace and a sense of being loved by all who had worshipped here. Some of them even being his family.
“Have a little faith”. Those words wash over him, urging the need to remain steadfast and focussed. The relic starts to hum in response to Raven’s chant, an old song sung in the temple of its origin. Not far to go now. The sky has brightened considerably, the quicksilver colour of yesterday replaced by cobalt blue. The sea is warm and calm. His heart blossoms in the beauty of the day. Raven’s chant reverberates within him, “not far to go” it sings. Waking consciousness transforms into trance. The feet know where to go even if his mind doesn’t. They stop at the threshold of the temple that once was. He comes out of the trance to see Raven in human form standing in the centre of the ruins. She beckons and he obeys.
The relic urges to see the light, its call is insistent. He uncovers the small pendent and lays it gently in her palm. The Raven Priestess murmurs words of blessing over it and then offers it to the man, saying:
“We welcome our priest back into our heart and temple”.
He bows in humility. Tears fall down his cheeks. A welcome release after so many years of wandering. He’s finally reached the centre of the labyrinth.