Monday, June 2, 2014
Slaying the (tiny) Dragon By Carrie Kreinbring
Last night in my sleeping hours I was called to the cave where my Ancient Mother dwells in her simplicity and wisdom. This is the first time that I can recall being summoned by her, although surely there must be times far beyond my conscious mind that she has called for me. For it is she with her rheumy eyes; shaky, gnarled, veiny hands and toothless grin who has fashioned me. Typically I seek her out, appealing for guidance, direction and aid in this journey I embark upon.
This night was different.
I made my way her to dwelling, a place by now that I am quite familiar and comfortable with. My bare feet know each stepping stone along the way. I recognize and can name each tree, plant and flower. The smooth, gray stones - worn well with the timeless passing of my ancestral women's footfalls show clearly the way to the Old Crone.
I approached her and saw that as always, she is weaving. Weaving, weaving, weaving. Is she weaving a pattern on a basket or weaving the pattern of my fate?
As my approach alters the line of sunshine slanted to where she sits, she looks up at me, sets her busy work aside and in her faint, gravelly old-woman voice beckons me. "Come, my Child of Light. It is time for you to face the wyrm[i]." (For I will not give it a Capital start to its name) To do so would be to offer it far more respect than it deserves).
I knew of which she spoke of. The wyrm. The plague of the Children of Light. The killer of love. The destroyer of purity. Mr. Small. The wrym was known by many, by many names, and this abomination had sought to infect not only me, but so, so many others. Oh, I had encounters with this vile creature. I still bore the scars upon my flesh and upon my soul where it had sought to infect me, wound me, sicken me and kill me. The time for this evil to be destroyed had come
I took a deep breath, exhaled and steadied my hand. If my Mother knew I was ready, despite the dread and fear I felt inside of my own soul, I trusted that I was ready as well. Ready to finally put an end to such a vile, despicable thing that had infected and sought to destroy so many.
Mother," I spoke in a clear, strong voice, "I am fit to take upon myself the ending of this evil. Only arm me with what I need to do the dark task. Do not send me against it vulnerable. It has not been that many moons since I was snared within those honeyed words, those false promises, those silky lies. I need strong protection if I am to face it with the intent to destroy it."
My Child of Light. Don't you see that you have all you need already within you? You faced it once and out of the ashes, the pain, the scars, you have emerged a warrior! A champion of all the Blessed Ones." All that you need to defeat this wyrm is in within you. Go now!" the Ancient One commanded me, "You will not fail. You only need to remember who you are, from where you come from, and what you're made of."
I looked into those milky eyes. Those eyes that have seen so much for so long. Those eyes that held the history of the Children of Light in them; that witnessed birth and death and rebirth; that saw peoples rise and empires fall. Those eyes that held every wisdom of this world and beyond. Her eyes told me that indeed I was ready. Nay, I was more than ready – I was destined to face my enemy, the enemy of the Light, and I would not fail.
On my way back to my dwelling, I mentally prepared my heart, soul and mind for this ordeal. For I knew the wyrm to be cunning. I would need all the sharpness I had acquired since my last encounter with it in order to not again fall beneath its seductive, sly trap. I prayed to the Goddess for the strength to see through the false trappings that the wyrm was so skilled at donning. I prayed that I would see it as it truly is, and not as I had wanted to see it when I was almost undone by its deceitful mask.
I arrived at my shelter in the forest, where I lived peacefully these days, among the animals and birds that also called this sanctuary home. It didn’t take me long to pack for my impending battle. My physical needs were few. Water and food I would forage for along the way. In the way of weapons, I chose my staff and shield the Crone had crafted for me. Those and my dagger were all I chose. This would be less a battle of arms, and more a battle of souls. The more I thought about this, the braver and more confident I felt. My main concern is in what guise would I find my enemy, for his disguises are numerous and clever. Would be appear as a friend? A lost soul in need of rescue? A lover, romantic and seductive? What did the wyrm look like in reality? This I did not know. What I did know, was that I would never be deceived again. I absentmindedly touched the scar that remained on my chest where the vile creature had sought to cut out my heart. Feeling that reminder of how close I had come to succumbing to the wyrm’s evil charms gave me courage to face it and annihilate it for once and forever.
It did not take me but a half day’s march through easy lands to come upon where I knew him to dwell in his infested, fetid cave. Before I could even see the mouth of the cave that was nearly hidden among bracken, thorns and dead trees, I could smell the stench – the sickening stench of rot, of decay, of all that is the opposite of what is good, and pure and light. Gagging, I raised myself to my full height positioned my shield, raised my staff and strode near the mouth of the foul creature’s cave.
“Come forth you sickening, perverted creature and meet your doom,” I called forth in a clear voice. My words echoed through the dead trees and bounced off the cold, dead stone of the cave.
After a moment’s silence, a voice, beautiful, silky and low replied to my challenge. “Ah, you want to play baby? Come in and we’ll get reacquainted. I know how you always loved conversation.” I heard the beauty in that voice as I had always, and for a moment I felt the familiar thrill of arousal. But I realized that I had heard something more in that seductive tone now, something that either was not there before, or something that I failed to notice until now. I heard self-doubt. I heard desperation. I heard fear. And my stomach turned and my lip curled in disgust and disdain.
“Come out to meet me here, in the open if you have the courage! For I want nothing of you lies, your slimy promises, your empty words. I have not come to banter with a snake, but to destroy a wyrm. Show yourself and face me in honor, if there is any honor that lives yet in you.”
I waited, wary, on my guard and tense, for what seemed to be a lifetime. I was just about to hurl another insulting challenge to my rival, when I heard a scraping sort of rustling at the mouth of the cave. I raised my shield, checked my dagger and steadied the staff in my hand. I was prepared to do battle with this creature that had used so many and had told to so many vile lies and destroyed love and fed only on lust and hate.
But nothing could have prepared me for what came slithering out of that dank cave.
I beheld the wyrm in its authentic appearance. Where once I, and any Child of Light may have seen a man, a friend, a lover, I now saw crawling out of the cave was a tiny, bloated yet shriveled, oozing, ugly tiny little worm. A worm – not a fierce, towering, fire-breathing wyrm. It slithered toward me, trying to appear bigger than it actually was. I could have stepped on it right then and there and ended the nightmare, but vindication, needed vindication from every Light-filled being this hideous creature had destroyed called out for justice.
“I know you want me Baby.” At those words, those sick, disgusting words I had heard far too many times, I raised my staff, leapt forward, and with a primal scream, drove that shaft of wood straight and true into the belly of that disgusting abomination.
A look of sheer surprise and disbelief came over the hooded, beady eyes of the pathetic , ugly disease that lay impaled upon my staff. As what life that remained in it quickly dissipated, I caught a whiff of sickening cologne and some kind of strange alcohol, and heard the faint murmur of “Oh Baby…”
One sure stroke through what perhaps had been its heart ended the horror. Never again would a woman, a family, any person suffer from the lies of this evil being. I withdrew my staff and without a look back at all, walked away, a wiser; tougher; but not hardened warrior.
Was I hailed a hero by those I had vindicated, those who were fortunate enough to have escaped the fate of those like me? No. But it didn’t matter. The world of Light will never know what I had endured, what I had faced, what I had overcome or what I had destroyed. But that was perfectly fine with me. That was as it should be.
As I walked the miles back to my sacred dwelling, a snow-white dove descended from the limitless sky to perch on the branch of a rowan tree in my path. I paused, and looked into her eyes and saw my soul mirrored in her perfect, beautiful and innocent gaze.
By Carrie Kreinbring