Chapter Three: The Meadow
Today was the day. I felt it in my entire body the moment I awoke. Oh, the stars and spirits of the forest had been sending me signs that this day would come soon, but I was not sure when. I had been preparing for weeks, taking herbs and sending my prayers to the spirits of the woods and forest.
I had much to do. While the events of the day had been ordained for decades, I must still prepare for the occasion and look my best, mustn’t I? My gown had been finished for a week, but still much was left to do. There was food to prepare and weather to master and birds and animals to get in place. And the magic—I had to weave the magic to make the meadow safe and secure. The spirits must be aligned, for today was the day.
He would be riding by just before the sun reached the zenith. The meadow had to sparkle and draw his attention to wander in and I had to make this happen. The spirits are a mischevious lot, they make all of us work for our destiny. Even if they do lend a guiding hand.
I lay on my bed and pondered these things. As I went through them in my mind, I came awake to a sparkling morning. My favorite sparrow alighted next to my bed and sang to me and I smiled. He finished his song and chirped; I stretched and he flew away.
I dressed underneath the canopy of the elder trees. Not in my gown, but in a tunic and breeches. I had much work to do and magic to weave, and I did not want to dirty my gown! I combed and braided my hair to keep it from getting tangled.
As the morning sun filtered through the trees, I planned out the events of the morning. There was magic to weave in the meadow, calls to the squirrels and deer and birds, a magic spell to cast on the brook so that its sound would only be heard in the meadow and on the path, a magic spell on the path to cause thirst just as the sound of the brook appeared. Only when these tasks were completed could I spend the time to make myself look like a princess.
I looked in my mind’s eye at my future soulmate. He was a soldier, a warrior, and not wise in the ways of the forest. His sight with his mind’s eye was clouded by logic and he discounted his visions and spiritual senses, so he was not aware of who I was or that today was the day.
We had never met but I have known him since my birth. In my mind, I have followed him as he grew, often protecting him in battle and making his sword swift and strong. I could see him in the barn this morning, caring for his magnificent stallion as he prepared for a long day’s ride to his king’s castle.
I paid homage to no king; rather I was the guardian of the forest. Plants and animals were under my protection. I used my magic to make the forest safe and to keep the forest people out of harm’s way. Since birth I had been trained in the ways of magic and the spirit. It was ordained in the stars that one day we would meet and become one. And today was that day!
I spent the morning creating the spells to make the meadow sacred and safe. I talked with the spirits of the forest and they promised to behave, and to lend their blessings and their prayers to the events of the day. I kept getting nervous—“why is this?” I kept asking myself. I have known of this day for years and years, yet my stomach kept doing flip-flops. I would start to cast a spell and forget the chant! I kept smiling to myself, knowing that today was the day. Then I would get a warm feeling in my tummy and the flip-flops would start again. I kept thinking that sometimes knowing the future was more trouble than it’s worth. Why couldn’t I just let things happen? But such was my fate and I must use my gifts, taking the bad with the good.
Finally, the spells were cast. I could see him entering the woods many miles away. He was not in a hurry and kept the horse at a walking pace. I blew him calm and serenity, so that he would not be in a hurry and enjoy the beautiful morning. I wanted this to be a special day for him as well.
I undressed and bathed in the brook. I unbraided my hair and washed it in the clear water. I dried it as best I could with the wide cloth and combed it for a long time until it felt like satin. I walked over to the pool and looked at my reflection. Yes, a flower in the hair and some herbs on my eyes and cheeks to create more color, I decided. A little sparkledust in the hair and on one cheek would add that special touch. I leaned over the pool and looked at my reflection, holding my long brown hair back with one hand. I looked at my round bosoms with a critical eye. I stood and look at my hips and legs. Yes, he will be pleased, I thought.
Finally I put on the white gown. It was long and flowing, special-made by the ladies in the village to the east. It had been made for my mother many years before, and kept safe in a sealed box in a special place, waiting for my turn.
I felt more alive than at any time in my life.
He was nearing! Quickly I gathered a blanket and some food, and went to the meadow.
I could hear the clink of hoof on stone from the woods. I wanted to go to him in my mind’s eye, but I was too nervous! It was not long now, and I wanted the surprise to be total.
I closed my eyes and cast my spirit into the woods, to make sure that my special magic to make him thirsty was in place. I saw him coming very close, so I brought my spirit back and waited.
I could see him on his horse on the path through the woods. He rode through the place where my magic spell was cast. Did he feel it? He rode into the spot where the sound of the brook was echoing. Did he hear it? He must, I thought, he must know something of magic, after all, my magic has been guarding him for these many years.
I saw his head turn, listening. He looked through the opening in the trees towards the sound of the burbling water. He could not see me, yet. He dismounted from his horse and said something to that beautiful creature. I yearned to hear, but I had to sit and wait for the moment. I was so nervous!
He re-mounted his horse. I was horrified! Had everything been for naught? Would he ride away? I wanted to scream, to call out to him, but I could not find my voice, or my magic!
He rode—through the opening and into the glade! He looked magnificent, sitting on his stallion. The sun glinted off his armor and his hair shone. I didn’t create that magic. Were the spirits having their fun with me? Or was he just that way? My heart started pounding wildly in my suddenly heaving chest. What were these feelings and emotions washing over me?
“Hello,” I said, trying to sound calm
He looked at me, startled. “Forgive me, my lady, for disturbing you. I heard the sound of a brook, and I was wishing water for my horse and myself. If I inconvenienced you, I shall be happy to ride on.”
My emotions caught in my throat, and for a moment I could not speak. He can’t leave, not now! I thought, as I struggled to say something intelligent. I had worked too hard for this moment, created too much to let him ride away. And he was thinking of doing just that! Suddenly I stepped outside of myself and I was calm once again. I was no longer aware of my physical form, just myself and my future husband, on his horse in front of me.
“Please, stay. I was just about to have some lunch. Pray, walk your horse to the brook and then join me. It is the way of the woods to share meals with travelers. I would be a poor hostess if I were not to offer you some of mine.”
“Thank you, kind lady, I would be most honored for the privilege.”
With his horse picketed by the brook, he came and sat across from me.
“I am Gandor,” he said, “knight to—“
“Lord Isley,” I finished. “You are known in these woods, knight. Your deeds and your heart precede you.”
He looked startled. “Please, sir, do not be alarmed,” I soothed. “We of the woods know much more than people expect. It is wise to know those around you. Those who can be trusted, those who will cause harm, those who will aid and befriend us should the need arise. Surely you have noticed that you are never harmed in the woods?”
“Yes, I have. While others tell harrowing tales, I have never experienced harm nor discomfort here. I have always found sanctuary in the woods when needed.”
Yes, indeed you have, I thought. Many times I have used my magic to protect you in the woods. Many times I have looked out for you and kept you safe while others pursued you.
“You must be a kindred spirit to the woods, sir.” There was an easy way between us, and I felt drawn to him in a way that I had not felt for anyone before.
“And your name?” he asked of me.
“I have no name. I am merely me.”
“But surely you have a name. How do others address you? Are you from the village east of here?” He looked genuinely curious.
“I have never had a name. When others call for me, I know this and come to them when needed.”
“But where are you from?” he persisted.
“I am from the woods. I am the caretaker of the plants and animals.” I decided to tell him more. “I am guardian of the woods and glens. The spirits of the forest talk with me and we work together to make the forests safe for the creatures and people of the forest.”
“I have heard tales of such,” he opined. “Many discount anything other than the sword and shield. But I have heard and sensed many things in the forest that do not answer to sword and shield, or bow and arrow. And I have heard that there are special ladies in the woods who work with the spirits.”
He knew of magic! My heart leaped. Perhaps my knight really was someone special, and not just someone to marry out of destiny.
“Then, Sir Gandor, you know of me, and now you have met me. Then perhaps you will honor me and share my lunch with me.”
I was feeling strangely comfortable with this man. I had never been with him before, yet I felt like we had been together forever. We talked through lunch and I found myself becoming more and more attracted to him. We talked and laughed about many things, with a natural ease developing between us.
We both reached at the same time for the last piece of cake, and our fingers touched. It was like lightning! We both drew back in surprise. I reached my hand toward him and said, “Please, hold my hand.”
He held out his hand, tentatively, then I placed my hand in his palm. This time it was warm, with a channel that opened between us as our life force flowed back and forth. He looked surprised at first, then slowly started to smile with an inner light. “Kiss me,” I asked him.
He leaned across. I closed my eyes and I could feel magic taking hold, magic much stronger than anything I had ever created before. Was he a creator of magic as well? Our lips met and I could feel time and space falling away. Where before it was warm and sunny in the meadow, I felt no temperature, no light, only a muted dawn where perceptions ebbed and swirled in a slow dance.
Our spirits intertwined and I was vaguely aware of our bodies coming together as one. I do not know how long that slow dance continued, as our spirits soared to the heavens and beyond.
I vaguely became aware of time and space again. The stars were twinkling overhead. There was a strange glow in the meadow, even though it was dark of night.
“I will call you Glenda, my Guardian of the Glen,” the voice floated through the night. Then I realized it was Gandor, lying next to me, lying with me, our arms and legs wrapped around each other. It was the first time I had a name. It fit.
“I like the name that you have given me. I will keep it, and let others call me Glenda. For every time someone calls my name, I will think of you,” I whispered into the night.
“I am in love, Glenda,” the thoughts came into my head as though not even spoken. “I love you. For the rest of my days, I will love you. All of my life, I have looked for a love like this. Now it seems that everything was leading me to this place, to be with you.”
“I would ask you to come with me, Glenda, except I know that your place is here in the woods. In the morning I must be on my way, for my place is with the sword and shield. But I will be back.”
“Yes, this I know. For we are now as one. No law of man can take that away. Our spirits are joined as one, and we are now together outside of time and space, and thus together for all past and all eternity.”
I awoke from my nap, my soul more fulfilled than I could ever remember. And I knew that the dream was not a dream, but a memory. And we were together again. For how long, I did not know. However long it was, it would be a new eternity.