arela and the symbols of wisdom

My dreams for Bran and Bryn have always started with the Alphabet… I have struggled with how to present the letters, what order, stories…. but here I am, offering this first chapter of The Symbols of Wisdom…


 

Once upon a time there lived a brother and sister, named Bran and Bryn, who lived in a cottage surrounded by a large forest. Down the hill from their home sat a quiet and cosy village, and beyond that was a great ocean. The elders of the village told stories of a Wise Woman that lived on an island across the sea, who protected a lantern that kept light in the world. They said it was her wisdom, which was gained from her many travels, that kept the lantern alight. They also said that one day, there would be a storm that covered the earth and would threaten the lantern. Bran and Bryn spent hours listening to the stories told by the elders, including their Nana.

So it was that one day, after listening to Nana tell a story, the siblings set out to the forest for their own adventure. They chose to take a different path than usual – instead of heading straight into the forest, the children took a side path that would lead them along the fence of Old Man Afal’s orchard. As they rounded a corner in the trail, they noticed that a tree had found it’s way off of the orchard and across the path. There, on a top branch, sat a beautiful owl. There were no leaves, or blossoms, or apples on the branches (which saddened the children, as they had hoped to find at least one to snack on as they walked), only the owl – she watched as the children walked by the tree, placing their hands on the trunk in respect.

Before they reached the final bend in the path that would take them into the forest, there was the soft sound of wings and air behind them. Bran turned first and saw that the owl had taken flight, but could not see it – when Bryn turned, and both children were facing the tree, a young woman wrapped in a red cloak (the deep colour of fresh apples) appeared from behind the trunk. She held out her arms in peace and greeting to the children. The children began walking toward her, slowly until they stood a few feet away. She leaned down and smiled at the children, her eyes as wide as an owls and feathers in her hair.

My name is Arela and I come from far away, across the ocean. My mother sent me to find something that she has lost. Have you seen anything strange in the forest recently?”

After a moment, Bran said, “There were those strange lights in the tree tops the other night. Nana said they must be a Star Sounds because it sang a beautiful song that put us to sleep. They were going over the forest to the Faraway Hills.”

Ah! That sounds exactly like what I am looking for!” The woman smiled and clapped her hands. “I must find these Stars and put them back in the Lantern. Would you two like to help me?”

Of course!” The children said in unison.

Arela led the children away from the bare apple tree and into the forest. Beyond the edge of the trees, the path split into three directions and she stopped, unsure of how to proceed. “Which way should we go?”

Bran took a moment and held up his hands over the paths. “To the right!” He said as he ran down the path. Arela and Bryn followed soon after until they all reached a meadow, and in the centre of all the smaller trees stood a large Yew. There, at the base of the tree, was a tiny flickering light.

Is that a Star Sound?” Bryn asked, pointing at the small light. Arela strained herself forward, trying to hear something from the meadow.

No, it is not a Star Sound, but it is the first piece of the puzzle of what my mother lost. Shall we greet it?” Arela stepped into the meadow and up to the Yew tree – she placed her hand on the trunk in reverence, her eyes closed, her ears against the tree. “Yes, you have a special tale to tell us. Please, speak.”

The flickering light grew and soon appeared as a small person, no larger than Arela’s forearm, and she had shimmering yellow wings and a yellow dress.

I am eternity
I am rebirth
I am protection
Learn from me the resilience of time,
For as I have lived thousands of years,
I know that there is more than this meadow
And this land.

The Faerie touched her hands to Arela’s face and shrunk back into herself, leaving only the flickering light. The yellow light flared once more before winking out of existence, leaving Arela and the children alone in the meadow.

I don’t understand…” Bran whispered, holding Bryn back from running to the tree. His little sister looked at him in confusion. “What was the tale? What did that little light have to do with what your mother has lost?”

She held within her a special Symbol of wisdom and power. Here, look in this book,” Arela removed a book from her cloak and opened it to the first page. There, drawn with care and attention to detail, was the letter Y. In her hand was a small branch shaped just like the letter in the book. “There are twenty-six Symbols, including the Star Sounds whose light powers this lantern. My mother made a mistake one evening – she trusted a traveller who robbed her of the symbols. In order to right that wrong, she sent me to collect each Symbol. The thief’s trail led me here, to this forest.” She handed Bran the branch letter,”Place this in your satchel for safekeeping.”

Why would someone steal the Symbols?” Bryn asked as he put away the branch. Arela shrugged her shoulders and looked skyward.

My mother has many theories, most of them bleak and dire. There has been a storm looming on the horizon for some time, and she believes that above all else, the Symbols were stolen to appease the storm and hopefully stop it from progressing. Unfortunately, it has not.”

We have not seen anything like what you describe,” Bran said, crossing his arms. “How do we know you are not the thief?”

The thief let the Star Sounds loose, he scattered the other Symbols across this land in an attempt to hinder my mother from righting the wrong. Were I the thief, I would have no reason to harness these Symbols again.” Arela’s explanation eased the children’s hesitation, and in silence they followed Arela from the meadow and continued down the path.

the legend of lochán na cuimhní cinn

I have returned to the written word, at least for the time being. I’ve been somewhat inspired to write tales for my children (we are homeschooling, and since I created Bran and Bryn I thought I might as well write their stories). This particular tale does not involve the brother and sister, but it is something that I wrote because of those characters. I hope you enjoy.


 

Legend holds that there was once a small spring surrounded by the rather odd combination of Fir trees and Ivy. The Ancestors called the spring Lochán na Cuimhní Cinn – the Pond of Memories.

It is said that a young woman, Morré, was blessed by Mneme, Goddess of Memories, and was tasked with protecting the pond, having been given a jug filled with water from the Goddess’ spring. There, beside the spring, Morré erected a small hut and every morning she would take the jug to the edge of the pool and mix the waters together, reciting a prayer to enchant the waters.

Soon after Morré began her blessed task, she learned that her family and the entire village had forgotten her entirely, and though the villagers would come to the pool and ask for the blessings of Mneme from the pool, they could not recall her. Regardless of her attempts, and they numbered in the hundreds, nothing stirred their memories.

One evening as the Moon hung full in the clear sky, Morré called to Mneme and begged her to bring her families memories of her back. The Goddess, who had the utmost compassion for the young woman, explained that if she were to restore their memories, Morré would no longer be able to protect the pond and it would dry up, leaving the villagers afflicted with a severe forgetfulness.

Morré was told to make a choice – the memories of her or the memories of entire generations to come. The Goddess gave the young woman one month to decide, saying that she would return on the next full moon. Over the weeks that she contemplated her choice, Morré continued to assist people from far and wide who came to experience the healing properties of the pond. She met with many people of all ages, who had travelled to regain the thoughts that they had forgotten. She took their stories and the experience of meeting each person into consideration each night as she sat on the large rock at the edge of the pond, staring at the Moon growing in size above her.

On the night of the full moon, Mneme arrived at Morré’s doorstep and took the young woman’s hands. With tears in her eyes, Morré told the Goddess that she chose to remain beside the pond. She had seen the amount of good the waters had done and could not, in good conscience, remove the pond from existence. For her sacrifice, Mneme granted Morré eternal youth in order to protect the sacred waters, but over time that gift turned the young woman into a statue.

Morré is said to stand on the edge of the pond, pouring the waters from the jug into the pool. Every full moon, she is allowed to come to life and partake of the offerings left for her, to stir the pond, and to breathe the fresh air of the forest she calls her home.

summer solstice

I have always been less than friendly with the summer, and here in the desert it has become nearly impossible to force myself from the house. I have a love/hate relationship with heat and humidity, and yet I am drawn to spend the warm summer days outside. For the last 6 years, we have always found our way to the park to spend a few hours under the shade of a tree, watching the children run and play and offer pinecones to the Faerie Tree. Unfortunately, with how hot it has been and due to recent developments, both healthwise and in regards to our situation, we have not made it to the park for our annual celebration of summer. I hope that we will be able to make it to the park tomorrow, even if it is in the early evening when the sun is setting.

I know that the solstice was a few days ago, yet I continue to feel the shifting energy as the days grow warmer and the weather moves closer to Monsoon. It isn’t quite Summer until there is thunder and lightning overhead.

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We haven’t seen much adventure recently, which has lulled me into a darkness. Going out and seeing our little corner of the world, exploring new places, brightens my head and heart, and it is nice to get out of the house. So, with that being said, I have been trying to find beauty and magic in my mundane surroundings, which can be quite difficult some days. However, with clouds in the sky, the electric air all around me has been an inspiration.

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We are all waiting, with bated breath, for the clouds to darken and the thunder to echo in the valley; for the flashes of lightning and the rivers of rain water that flow in our yards. The earth is parched, the trees stretch up with open arms begging the skies to open up and drench the ground.

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As always, the sunsets are amazing here – but there is something about Monsoon that brings a sense of wonder to the skies, more than any other time of the year. There is a darkness, a sense of worry in those grey clouds, and yet there is the brightness of the sun hitting them, illuminating them in pinks and oranges and yellows and blues. Here in the San Pedro Valley, our sunsets are not as striking and sharp as the ones in northern Arizona – they are more gentle and soft, less like the sun cutting through the sky over the desert and more like a blanket being laid over the earth.

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For the time being, I will continue working on doing crafts with the children, letting them be kids, because with everything that has been happening they need some sort of normalcy in their lives. I hope I can share some of their creations with you in the coming weeks.