Old Gods, Old Journeys – Thursday photo prompt – #writephoto

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Image: Sue Vincent

My offering for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt:

Thy file past, hearts and minds filled with a multitude of wishes, sorrows, and joys. This pilgrimage has remained constant since the time of their ancestors and beyond. The land and its guardians have watched over this sacred site long before humans had even set foot on its hallowed earth. The gods changed faces and names over time, but their true essence was always present and unchanged.

The Old Ones watch from the other side of the Veil, see the sincerity, or not, of the passing crowds. Petitions and offerings are laid at the shrine, many imbued with feelings of desperation and hope. Humanity seeks cures for its ills, lays its battered spirits at the feet of its gods. Tears are shed, potent remembrances of lives fulfilled and potential unrealised. Their pilgrimages are often hard, last acts of faith when all else seems lost.

The Oracles and Gods of yore dispense their wisdom in dreams and visions, undertake new journeys in the furtherance of continuity. A fact not lost on the wise at heart and beleaguered of spirit. Suffering brings with it a harsh reality and clarity of purpose.

As for this shrine, the One with Three Names and Aspects stands guard, watches intently for the suffering of her people. They reciprocate, flowing like tributaries into the greater River of Life. One pilgrim falls to her knees, beseeches silently, grasps the hand of compassion and healing. Perched on the edge of a precipice she has no other recourse but to pray with her last breath.

It may be a modern world but the inherent nature of these people is written on stones in forgotten languages. It is an old, old tune. One sung and chanted under Sun and Moon, memorised intently and reverently. It is present in legends and histories that are hidden. Some say the Old Ones created their children of flesh and bone to sing their praises, and enact the divine plan on Earth.  Is this truth? Is this illusion?

Such things are of no concern to those who journey to these places of power. For they seek nourishment of the soul and healing of deep wounds. Who can blame them?

 

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View Across The Water: Part 1 Of The Living Vessel

Image: Jan Malique

The month of the Crane was approaching, bringing with it mists from across the headland. His ancestors stood with him, gazing across the water to the sanctuary of the one known as the Hermit. The little white washed building stood on the remains of a temple dedicated to an unnamed deity. It was said this goddess had watched over his people from a time of cold and silence; when the world was frozen by the breath of ice giants. Or so legends said.

The Hermit had also acquired near mythological status, as people of his kind were often viewed with fear mingled with deep respect. His origins were unknown, but many kingdoms called him one of their own. Merlin was the name he answered to, although his true name was hidden.

The man on the shore had travelled for a year to reach this place. A year of hardship and danger, evading hostile forces, both human and supernatural. This was a time of warring factions, of cosmic and human battles. It was foretold by the Oracle that a time of balance was approaching, when choices would have to be made, and destinies shaped.

A sense of heaviness lay on the man’s shoulders, composed of a sense of duty and sacrifice. Sacrifice of things not physical but spiritual. He had undergone trials that would have broken someone with less resilience and humility. He had been forced to look deep within his soul and face its true reflection. Not an easy task. Self-insight never is.

During the most terrible moments of his sense of isolation the tears flowed like a raging river. As did his anger. Where were his gods when he needed them most? This state of abandonment had left him almost broken, shredded his humanity, left it bleeding profusely on the ground. Thus was he prepared for the task they had chosen him for.

He was marked as a protector of the ancient relic his people had been guarding for ten thousand sunrises. A ritual object their gods had dreamed into being, holding the power to transform, create and destroy. It had no physical form but resided within a living vessel. He was now the chosen vessel, bound by unbreakable oaths. So it was that this man was brought to the edge of an unknown land seeking his guide and teacher.

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Image: OpenClipart-Vectors, Pixabay

The Hermit felt the man’s presence and prepared himself. The instruments of his art were gathered and his fire replenished. The sky and water simmered, infused with the scent of storms and portents. He whispered his student’s name, let it snake its way across the water, and enfold the human in a protective cloak.

The man swayed as if in a trance, standing on the threshold of this reality and the ones beyond consciousness. The relic sensed the presence of the Hermit and throbbed in response. The man opened his eyes and saw the Hermit before him. He spoke but no words issued from his lips. He conveyed knowledge through signs and visions. Through song and silence. So was a connection sealed with the vessel and relic.

The man stood unseeing and unspeaking. Then the dream shattered, releasing illusion and falsehoods. He felt the weight of suffering vanish like mist in the rays of the sun. Merlin beckoned the student and both got into the coracle waiting on the shore. A mist rolled in swallowing the two men. The ancestors stood guard on the shore; for as long as their kin was under the tutelage of the Hermit they would be present.

Here begins the journey of the one known as the Living Vessel.

Thursday photo prompt – Distant #writephoto by Jan Malique

Image: Sue Vincent

Infinity rose in the East, place of greatest light, as the tribe stood in silent respect. The day of the Third Sun and hour of the Unfolding Future was upon them, initiating the rite of disintegration and reintegration. Such a ritual had been performed by the Elders and Way showers since this phase of their world began. A time measured in tens of thousands of years. The cycle of this age was now nearing completion, and the Tree of Life and Death waited in the Temple of the Sun for the delegation from the people of the Third Sun.

The tribe viewed this event as a necessity to keep the cycles of the Universe ebbing and flowing. It was their duty and carried out with devotion and steadfastness. The journey to the spiritual heart of their planet waited in the snow-covered mountain range. It called to those ones chosen to undertake this task.

The stone circle they waited outside was a portal into the gigantic outer court of the Temple of the Sun. For the whole planet was a sacred landscape, littered with smaller temples that acted as power “sub-stations.” The main temple was psychically linked with every inhabitant of the planet, with each tribe pledging fealty to one of three suns in this multiverse. Every moment of their lives, every act, every thought, was imbued with a sense of purpose and devotion. Resilience was their distinguishing characteristic, with souls tempered in the fires of their Sun.

The High Priest and Priestess of the main temple appeared at the portal to escort the delegation to the place of ritual. It took milliseconds, for time behaved differently inside these precincts. The inner sanctum beckoned, composed of pillars of gleaming crystal, in the middle of the hall stood a tree of grandeur and awesome power. It was a remnant from the beginning of creation, placed by hands unknown in the very belly of the planet. Life and Death played out within its branches, words of power were inscribed upon its leaves, forbidden to all except the initiated.

The leaves shivered in expectation of the rise of power. The people of the Third Sun stood in a circle around the altar that was the Tree. Sound issued from the pillars of crystal, vibrating molecule upon molecule. The circle contained immense energy, powerful enough to incinerate millions of stars and galaxies. The time of disintegration was upon them, dismantling the Universe as it waited for the moment of transition; for death was an inadequate word for what was coming. Helices spun and transmuted as the skies turned to fire, all this and more was reflected in the eyes of the ritual participants, nine in all. Then silence descended upon the Universe, it held its breath, as darkness gathered, embraced its kith and kin. All mourned and then rejoiced.

Light bubbled over from the centre of the Tree and gathered up the remnants of all that was lost. Atom by atom the matter of the Universe coalesced, integration had been achieved and the time of the First Sun had begun.

Transitions by Jan Malique – Thursday photo prompt – Blue #writephoto

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Image: Sue Vincent

As we approach the end of another challenging year my thoughts turn to the possibilities waiting beyond the horizon. More of the same or things life changing? In a positive sense of course. Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt #writephoto brought forth oracles standing in the shadows, bringing a message of hope and alchemical transformation.

Alchemical transformation sounds grand and rather unreal does it not? I tend to think in such terms as the human spirit is engaged in perpetual change and transformative cycles. Challenges are important catalysts in these transitions from one state of being to another. They can propel us into deep introspection and self-analysis. Tear apart our sense of self and throw us into the crucible to be melted down. Burn away the dross of our entire existence to reveal gold, incorruptible, eternal and beautiful. My thoughts now turn to an early post in the saga of Amunet the Alchemist. She’s come a long way from the young woman who underwent regeneration in spiritual fire to become the Phoenix, which is a symbol of alchemical resurrection, Elemental Fire and rebirth. Amunet appears once more in this post, to oversee the transition of another being standing on the threshold, not into death but into life:

She approaches, hidden in veils, enshrouded in the Blue of Sky and Ocean. A chrysalis in waiting, slumbering, receptacle of knowing yet to become. I see her ivory bones engraved with the history of her ancestors, nestled within ruby red flesh, and drenched in blood of scarlet and gold.

See how she struggles with the weight of life lived on a precipice. Each step taken as if walking on knives. They cut deep, not in flesh but of spirit. She is All and Nothing, femininity almost extinguished, warrior seeking redemption, priestess awaiting return.

I utter words of awakening, pour them into Soul, Heart and Mind.  How she struggles, burdened with ancestral history, ancestral pain, and ancestral shame. “These are not your burdens” I whisper, urge her to release, cut the cords that trap and enmesh. Her eyes lift and stare in wonder, truth can be revelation, can cut cords that trap and enmesh. The words of Power weave their spell, foretell of things mysterious and filled with awe. They shatter chains of slavery, unlock doors impenetrable. See how her heart blossoms, hears my words of Power.

She approaches, hidden in veils, enshrouded in the Blue of Sky and Ocean. A chrysalis in waiting, slumbering, receptacle of knowing yet to become. I see her ivory bones engraved with the history of her ancestors, nestled within ruby red flesh, and drenched in blood of scarlet and gold.

The Ancient Ones awake, come to the place of Becoming, bear witness to one who approaches from shadowed realms. We stand at the edge of the known world, where Earth, Water, Fire and Earth meet. She is Quintessence, known as the Fifth Element, the Philosopher’s Stone manifest. Come, come, we urge her, do not falter, have trust, have faith. See how she wears her humility with grace and innocence.

We stand in the temple between Earth and Heaven, Sky and Ocean. The flames of Blue blaze like a beacon, herald the transition from Death into Life. The chrysalis takes shape, turns from tomb to womb. See how she slumbers, passes through Blue flame, undergoes transition. Eons pass, memories fade, regeneration calls. We watch, silent as the depths of the Void from whence all springs and returns.

We stand between the passing of one epoch and another, we stand on the threshold between Death and Life, we stand in a place between surrender and acceptance. We offer Life. Will you accept it?

 

Mage on the threshold – Thursday photo prompt – Mists – #writephoto

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Image: Sue Vincent

An atmospheric photo from Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt, oh what wonders are waiting to be unleashed! With that in mind I present to you my explorations in the mists of time:

I see you Merlin, a shadowy outline waiting in the mists. Speak you unpredictable prophet of paradox and uncertainty, you appear to carry a message of great import. Both of us have played this game before. How that mischievous smile gives nothing away! This waiting is coming to an end I presume? The inner fires are slumbering, the flames show nothing as yet. The oracle is evasive and a reading cannot be given. I sense her behind my eyes, looking out over a world shrouded in apparent death, frozen in a sleep of becoming. The sun rises slowly, majestic in stature and movement. How many times have I been witness to such cycles, much like circles ever-expanding, like ripples in a pool? The wind brushes against my veil, eager to glimpse the dream enmeshed within reality. Come closer dear friend, come closer, our parting has been too long.

With each step the worlds move further up the spiral path, and the stars spill their light upon the Earth. All this I see with eyes sharp as your hunter’s knife. Heaven fertilises the Earth, and the seed lies buried deep within its womb. My song lulls her children in their sleep of ever becoming, my lips touch their brow, gentle, gentle are my fingers across their cheeks, loving are my thoughts. Yet again the dawn breeze brushes against my veil, eager to glimpse the dream enmeshed within reality. Come closer dear friend, come closer, our parting has been too long.

Hear my song dear friend, hear my song, it calls to you, speaks of shared quests long before the boy Arthur emerged from the mists. King Maker were you named, little did they know what power you held within your hands. A power not seen for generations upon generations. We knew your true face, and held its secrets to our bosom. The oracle stirs, and I see the truth as the flames reveal. They stir, rising from the land, both beast and human. The Ancestors peer at us, unravel our histories and cause wounds to gape like the abyss of no return. Blood is spilled, pouring like waterfalls, and the stench of battle fills our nostrils. What battles do I speak of? Those of our unsettled natures and ill nourished spirits.

Yet again the dawn breeze brushes against my veil, eager to glimpse the dream enmeshed within reality. Come closer dear friend, come closer, our parting has been too long. Lift my veil and let me see your face, one I have missed and mourned for too long. How gentle are your hands, shying away from the symbols of my power and sovereignty. I am the Land in all her glory, manifestation of time itself, a never-ending spiral, starlight supreme in a velvet darkness unravelling its mysteries. You are my Mage upon the Threshold, straddling the worlds, beast master, prophet, madman and dweller in the forest. I see the dragons of the elements split asunder from the One, five in number. They scatter to the directions, seeking the essence of their power. They call to you Mage, heed their desire and fulfil your destiny. I see you Merlin, no longer shadowed, no longer a dream. For you are my Mage upon the Threshold.

His Bleak Outpost – #writephoto

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Image: Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent’s photo challenge Bleak – #writephoto  turns out to be another cracking photo prompt, and here is my offering this week. A tale of a presence on the headland surveying a new world in loneliness, he being a remnant of the proto-Universe:

Old parchment and molten grey meet in an uneasy embrace, sky and sea face each other like estranged lovers. “Are they bitter?” he wonders aloud. This place appears to be at the end of the known world, for there is only silence and regret washing over the rocks. The bleak outpost is his sanctuary and solace, a place witness to His fall from the heavens. 

She surveys Him from her vantage point across the channel. How his light has dimmed, barely perceivable. He fell and they followed, to see this new world of form and emotions. She is his twin Soul, ripped asunder, placed at the opposite pole. They gaze intensely, speak in signs and sigils, each offering consolation, each offering love. Suffering clothes the one and then the other. Singed are their broken wings. Vulnerable are their immortal souls, immersed in unspeakable longing.

The Lightbearer is bereft of the Light he embodies, She is ripped asunder, wrenched from his presence, placed at the opposite pole. His eyes close, shoulders flex, and arms rise. The Light answers, shadows his dance. She ignites his passion, brings back life. He becomes a million suns, She echoes his dance. They join from opposite poles, two become One. The Lightbearer shines his Light, incandescent in presence. Who calls this place His bleak outpost? Bleakness hides the Light within, nurtures and gestates.

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Lament for Ishtar – Luna #writephoto

Image: Sue Vincent

Sue’s challenge for the Thursday Photoprompt Luna – #writephoto

presented us with a haunting image of a crescent Moon. My thoughts immediately turned to Ishtar, the Evening Star and daughter of the Moon God Sin. She was a goddess of Love and War.

The world she knew has long gone, now only a memory in artefacts and academic papers. Or so we think. She still lives in the DNA and spirits of those who once worshipped Her. Her temples are  in ruins, vanished into dust, and the prayers and adoration of her priesthood linger in windswept plains. You may think such thoughts are fancies, wistful imaginings. Yet, the past urges us to remember our beginnings, of standing under ancient skies, and even older moons.

We are urged to recall the voices of adoration and lamentation. Her priests and priestesses gaze at us across the divide of time. Their lips move but we cannot hear. Where is the key to unlock the door? Mighty Ishtar gazes in silence, hand held out, fingers curled over a secret. Our eyes hold the tears of a thousand longings, of regrets and hopes. Of whispered petitions for success in love and victory in battle.

How have we forgotten one so radiant and clothed in silvered light? How have we forgotten the old magic, primeval and potent? Its power still surges beneath our skin and flows like fire through our veins. Luna, Luna, beloved Evening Star! Hear our lament, our songs and prayers for what was lost and can be regained once more.

There is only silence now, but it is steeped in expectation. She hears us and ascends once more, clothed in stars and silvered light.

Infinity – Eye #writephoto

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Image: Sue Vincent

My contribution for Sue Vincent’s lovely photo challenge Eye – #writephoto this week.  It certainly stirred the creative waters:

It is said by the ancient tribes who live in the land of shadows and fire that the All Seeing Eye contains mysteries, ones that would inflame the spirit and shatter false perceptions.  They believe it lies between the barren desert wastes and the verdant lands beyond. To gaze into its iris is to see all timelines converge and vanish into infinity. So the stories say. I am inclined to believe they are ancient truths garbed in fantasy and fiction, the inner message no longer understood by the children of this new world.

The Eye hides in plain sight, a bridge between the waking world and the mysterious inner realms. It is a dream that haunts our Soul and refuses to relinquish its hold. It speaks to us of existence, of the reality of flesh and bone, of emotions that brush gently across the mind and at other times cut deep like a knife. To gaze into the Eye is to see your true self reflected in an infinite number of mirrors. Truly a marvel but the enormity of its power has shattered many, sending them fleeing into the barren desert. They thirst for the waters of life, tormented by mirages, not knowing that they have the power to release themselves from the shackles of a false reality. This much I convey to the nomads who travel through the land of shadows and fire. They carry my tales across the vastness of this land, much like the wind carries moisture from the Great Sea at the end of the world.

So I wait, watching for signs and omens carried by winged messengers and spirits of the forest. Clouds break one upon the other like waves breaking on the shore. The Great Sea calls, sends forth its emissaries into the world of human and primordial gods. So it begins, The All Seeing Eye turns its gaze upon this new world. What does it see?

Old Adversary – Spur #writephoto

pationImage: Sue Vincent

 

It’s been a while since I last participated in one of Sue Vincent’s #writephoto challenges. Various attempts had been made to no avail, until a postcard arrived from a couple of old friends. I love getting postcards and this one was a little intriguing, it was from Bob the Bibliophile troll (otherwise known as Little Troll) and Flavius, arch-mage, bookseller and exorcist. It’s been a while since we three met. The last time was under unhappy circumstances when an attempt was made on the Archmage’s life. We still don’t know whether it was a disgruntled client or something more sinister. I recall the assailant was trying to steal a rare edition of Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy. Flavius has recovered well, considering he was run over several times by a large truck.  It’s a complicated story and rather painful to recollect. Not for me but poor Flavius.

Bob and Flavius are holidaying in Ibiza, not the most ideal of places for a troll and one of the undead. Regardless, it sounds like they’re having a great time exploring the less known parts of the island. The club scene has lost its excitement and all they want is to rest now. The friendship between the two is enduring and unusual. The postcard was accompanied by a little parcel. I opened it to find a lovely leather bound notebook. It was a journal and appeared to contain entries written by a certain Comte de Saint Germain! Well, what a surprise. The note inside stated it was for the attention of the Shed owner and contained a history of the adventures of Little Troll and Flavius. I lost myself within its page as the writer spun their tale. It was a little disjointed and the tone inconsistent. Was it really the hand of the Comte in this journal?

This is a record of my observations, being Comte de Saint Germain. In this year of our Lord 1999. I am in a new world but instilled with old world thoughts and memories. Time travel can be disrupting and a little dangerous in the wrong hands. It tears at the fabric of time and perception if performed without care. I am fortunate in excelling in this art and meeting with remarkable minds and souls. Two in particular being very dear companions throughout the ages, Robert and Flavius.

Robert and Flavius had met several centuries ago in Prague. Robert  was attending an alchemy conference and Flavius was at an exorcism masterclass. Prague’s population had quadrupled during this period, causing extra policemen to be drafted in to cope with increased criminal activity. Of the unnatural variety. The Prague constabulary were liaising with the Renaissance equivalent of Interpol, in fact a little known department of that organisation. They dealt solely with matters of magical and esoteric phenomena. Flavius was occasionally used as a consultant by the department due to his specialist knowledge. He was also one of their former field agents but had to retire due to health reasons, such as being “afflicted” with a little death.

The city was buzzing with strange energies and an epidemic of horrible dreams. It seems the barriers between the worlds were getting thinner, allowing undesirables to slip through. As an Empath Flavius was finding it difficult to cope with the increasingly negative atmosphere. Being recently deceased and then re-animated was a challenging situation, but not an obstacle that was insurmountable. He was a positive person when alive and death, or “undeath”, hadn’t changed that. Something was coming and he was a little nervous at the prospect. Saying that, exorcism was a calling that reinvigorated his spirit, and the foremost practitioner of the art was holding a masterclass in the city. Hence the reason for his presence in Prague at this time.

Meanwhile Robert was exercising his intellectual prowess with great minds of the Alchemy fraternity. They consisted of those seeking materialistic and spiritual goals, gathering from different timelines, countries and disciplines. I had arranged to meet Robert in Prague for the conference and to introduce him to a bookseller friend, Flavius. He knew of Flavius by reputation. Flavius was able to obtain rare texts almost out of thin air, and for this reason he was feted by many, especially those of ill-repute. The traffic in looted artefacts, including rare books was rife even then. Therefore Flavius was in a perfect position to monitor the situation.

We met in a seldom visited tavern sited down a narrow road between a churchyard and apothecar’s house. I informed them of my encounter with a mysterious visitor received two days ago. This man had worn a wide brimmed hat, which concealed most of his face. As for his footwear, the boots were made of the finest quality leather, with the added surprise of delicate gold spurs attached to the back. He dressed like a Regency dandy crossed with a cowboy. The visitor had requested a meeting with Flavius in relation to making a purchase of an early edition of the “Three Books of Occult Philosophy”. I knew Flavius had a copy but declined to mention this fact. There was something not right about the manner of this individual. The stranger made his excuses after a few minutes and left for another engagement. The scent of opium and bitter almonds infused the air in the drawing room for hours afterwards. I gazed at the visitor’s introduction card, it was made of dark vellum inscribed with a blood red dragon on the front. The back was blank. This did not bode well.

I finished my tale and became silent. The look of unease on the faces of my companions confirmed certain facts about the identity of his visitor. The silence was broken by the opening of the tavern door. We could smell the aroma of opium and bitter almonds, then heard the sound of spurs. We held our breath. The tavern owner gestured towards a back room and we raced towards it. It held a secret door into the apothecar’s house. We could hear raised voices in the tavern, then a door slamming. It was evident our lives were in danger, who was after us? We could hear the sound of horses going down the cobbled street. I peered through the window, my eyes meeting the red glow of the visitor’s gaze. He had three other companions, all seated on horses.

I put the journal down. Several pages had been torn out and the next entry was three years later. This didn’t sound right. My gut was telling me the Comte had no hand in this journal, suspicions being confirmed when I turned the page. There was a red dragon stamped on the page. The mystery deepens.

Dark Foretelling – Sight #writephoto

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Image: Sue Vincent

My entry for Sue’s Thursday Photo Prompt. A bloody tale of gloom and dark prophecies…

The visions shimmer, immerse themselves in mystery. I cannot unveil that which hides in solitude. Your eyes reflect displeasure. Do my words enrage? Bring despair? How hate and anger gnaw at your entrails, poison your spirit. Darkness follows in your bloodstained footsteps, bringing destruction in its wake. The gods finally speak, their words fall like tears upon my heart and the gall rises in my throat. I peer through the portal, at worlds hidden, at worlds of terror and destruction.

What say the gods? From the place of greatest darkness rise the Unnamed and Unholy. They answer your call, brought forth by blood sacrifice and pain. Warrior only in name, for your soul is empty, devoid of sanctity. Whence did the path diverge from reason to chaos? How you’ve strayed from true purpose, faltered from destiny. You offer material gain, bribe and cajole, to what end stranger? Such arrogance, to what end stranger, to what end? A new age dawns, one perched on the edge of revelation. We must meet the threats with iron hard courage, with hearts of truth and spirits of integrity. You have a choice, what path do you choose?

The gods withdraw, the visions fade, and the portal is once again veiled. They have spoken stranger, now leave this place of sanctity and make your choice.