Monday, April 27, 2009
The Crystal Flower
Once upon a time of the Medicine Wheel, there was a young girl of a desert tribe. She was afraid of death and, in holding onto her fear, her spirit became misplaced and she became ill. None who loved her were able to help.
Now, at this time there was an old, old woman who lived by herself in a canyon, close to the pueblo. This grandmother was held in great reverence by the people, though few came close to her, for spirits had talked through her since she was a child. She heard of the young girl and sent for her.
The girl's father carried her to the old woman's fire and set her gently down beside it. He stroked his daughter's hair and disappeared into the night, leaving her to face its magic. She turned her head like a frightened fawn at the rattle from the other side of the fire.
From behind the red rocks stepped a tiny woman, clutching her hides around her with claw-like hands. Her face was as lined and as red as the parched earth beneath her feet. Amber eyes shone in the fire's light. Her braids, thick and white, came down to her ankles. It seemed as if they glowed with a light all their own, making the young girl shrink back in fear.
"Do not be afraid child," said the old woman, in a voice like wind over sand. She reached under her robes and brought out a pouch. Loosening the ties, she sprinkled some strange powder on the fire. The young girl found herself staring deeply into the flames as the old woman began to chant her story. Suddenly there appeared, in the depths of the fire, the most beautiful flower the girl had ever seen. Her breath caught high in her throat. The petals were crystal prisms and the fire's light sent rainbow shafts shooting into the night. The girl's eyes began to tear with the light and sheer beauty, but she could not look away.
The old woman sang in a voice as soft and sweet as a maiden's. She told the girl of the quest she must make to find this flower and the secret it held within, for it was the secret of immortality. Death would be unable to claim her. As she sang, she walked slowly around the fire and laid her surprisingly gentle hands on the centre of the young girl's being, returning her spirit. Joy danced in her breast and she felt her strength surge to meet the task. She embraced the old woman and curled to sleep by the fire. With first light she would set off in search of this most magical of flowers.
For many years she walked Turtle Island, growing within and without from life's experiences. She had many adventures...but they belong to other stories within this one. Everywhere she went, she looked for the flower. She asked everyone she met and was shown many wondrous things, but no one had seen or heard of the crystal flower.
The young girl grew to womanhood, each turning of the seasons finding her in different country. Passing years began to sprinkle her braids with silver and the elements sculptured her form. Her walk became slower and her back became bent with the weight of her years.
She wanted to go home. Her braids were now as white as bones in the desert and she knew she was going to die. Slowly she made her way, labouring with every breath until, at last, she came to the arid land of her birth and to the very canyon of the old woman's fire, so long ago. She collapsed on that red parched earth and tears of anguish fell hot from her eyes. To have searched for so long, to have worked so hard for only an illusion of light! She hid her face in her arms and became quiet to take stock of her life. In the darkness within, she searched for the answer that had eluded her for a lifetime.
Painfully she raised her head for one last look at the world...and there it was.
Where her tears had fallen, grew a tiny and delicate, beautiful and perfect crystal flower. A light seemed to come from the centre of the blossom and, in the centre of her being, she felt a warmth begin where the old woman had laid her hands, all those years before. Now she understood. The light of the universe was hers, had always been hers just as she had always belonged to that light. She was now ready to return. She shed the body that had aged and slowed, the mind that had feared and doubted...soaring effortlessly over the landscape, higher and higher into the sky, to the light beyond the stars.