(follow this journey forward to chapter 2)
My journey this year has been one of quite intricate and beautiful weave. i’m so completely grateful for all the stitches and right now particularly aware of a new pattern that emerges in the fabric. i was called on to write a bit of the old tale last year and it feels somehow appropriate now to share it as i am called to enter a new weave. i hope you enjoy reading it as much as i did discovering it:)
So long ago when time was measured not by hours and minutes, but by the star’s passings of the moon, a girl child lived in the halls of the palace of the gods. How she had come to live there, no one can exactly remember; only to say that it seemed she had always been there, tread the halls ever so lightly, peaking from behind doors, finding tiny passageways which must have been constructed for some purpose, but had gone unused for so long that not only couldn’t anyone remember their purpose, really no one but the girl could even remember they were still there.
Many servants had come and gone; grown old in the service of the palace, and they were always the ones to notice a pair of mary- janes abandoned at the threshold of the courtyard, a game of jacks left to scratch the fine ebony floors of the grand ballroom, or a window left ajar too close to the scribes’ ink in the library causing it to dry out much too quickly. The gods were always questioning who had left such a mess or been so careless, but they didn’t hold their breath for an answer, knowing the servants were quick to scurry behind their own footsteps, cleaning up whatever mess had been left behind or caused too much of a stir.
The goddess of the great dance hall, Chatelaine, was particularly known for calling the servants to clean up one mess or another. Her particular favorites—servants that is— were Fate and Destiny. These two had a way of filling the hall with music, making sure all the guests were well looked after and that all those with a dance card had filled it out in time to enter the Reel, everyone’s favorite dance, a beautiful and intricate pattern interweaving and crossing partners for its duration. Chatelaine was an exceptional dancer, and the girl child watched her in awe as she dressed in gowns of silk and damask, deftly filled her dance card with the most handsome beaus and glided among the party goers with Ease and Grace. Ease and Grace were two of Chatelaine’s most constant companions; ladies-in-waiting who attended their mistress to perfection. The girl child had watched many times from behind a floral screen as preparations for the evening’s events proceeded. Funny though, even when she sat right on the hearth to watch, it was as if she were a statue or little pet animal who went entirely unnoticed.
One evening, warming herself by the hearth and going typically unnoticed as Chatelaine prepared for the ball, the child dropped her jaw in awe when Valiant and Griffin, two of the lesser gods who often were away on noble errands to earn favor, entered the room dressed in palace finery to pay their respects. Their coats were clearly of a new fashion; woven of the finest silks and delicate sea moss. It was clear the two had been at sea and seen and done many amazing things on their quest. The child sat up quite straight from her game of Fox and Chicks to listen to what tales these two might have to tell. She was eager to know of their adventures abroad. But as they began to regale those in the hall with tidbits of the high seas, the child was overcome by fatigue and no matter how hard she tried to stay awake was lulled by the warmth of the fire and fell into a deep slumber.
It was not until the early morning when the guests had long since returned to their chambers that Constance, the morning chaplain, pressed the child’s shoulders just enough to wake her, whispering it was time to rise and tend to her own daily chores before she could be left to her own devices. Try as she might that day, it always seemed to the girl as if she were entering the room too late, or having to leave a table too early to hear a proper account of the twins’ tales from the night before. And so she was left to her own imaginings to determine what glorious times they had at sea.
This pattern continued for lifetimes—the girl living the life of one of the gods, sitting at their table, dressed in their finery, served by their servants, but never growing into a position of acknowledgement or import—always the child and interloper.
One morning the child awoke to the strangest sensation. It was if she were Sleeping Beauty, and the entire castle was asleep because she had pricked her finger—only that wasn’t quite it because she should also be asleep if that were the case. The child wandered through the hall of the palace and found everyone else deep in slumber. All the gods and servants, even the animals were sleeping. She was extremely worried and tried mightily to awaken or stir even one person—she would have been happy with simple Constance to talk to at that point, but to no avail…the spell they slept under was much stronger than the medicine she had in her power to wake them.
And so, after many tears, the child’s crying dried up—she looked around and began to try all the things she thought she had been missing. She tried on all the most exquisite dresses in Chatelaine’s closet, and then deserted them on the floor of the dressing room. She even ventured into the great hall of the Hunt where the roar-like exclamations Lord Brunehinter had always frightened her too much to enter. Here she found the most amazing and terrifying things she had ever seen. It turned out that Brunehinter was a master of the hunt and took great pride in displaying his trophies stuffed and staged in lifelike stances throughout the hall. Never having left the palace, the child wasn’t aware that such beautiful and powerful creatures even existed. Once having seen the lovely beasts, she was overcome by an amazing sorrow for their unpurposed deaths and resolved to improve the plight of their kin.
With this vow in her heart child determined she would leave the palace to see if there was anyone or anything awake anywhere else. Having never left the palace before, the girl had no idea that she should leave through the great doors at the entrance of the grand hall, and in truth, these doors were so massive, so firm and unmoving that she never could have budged them using her bicep strength. But this thought didn’t occur to the girl as she pressed open the intricate wooden shutters at the top of the grand staircase; these she had seen the servants open many times, and once had even ventured out into the courtyard when Chance, the gardener, had inadvertently left them open, but Constance had quickly spotted her and rushed her back inside.
—Now the story has long been told of how it was discovered that child had been living in the palace for years undetected— When the girl stepped onto the patio her feet recoiled in shock and perhaps a bit of delight as she stomped through a field of tiny white crystals. By the time she got to the garden wall her delight had turned to concern as she finally realized her feet were cold and the bright with crystals of snow had cut into her pristine feet so sharply that her toes had begun to bleed. It was at this point that the girl finally thought of a good reason to actually wear the shoes that were always showing up at the foot of her bed. So on painstaking tip toes she returned to her room, through the snow, down the gallery, up the residence staircase and into the living chambers of the gods. Here she searched for just the right pair of shoes to put on. Through all of her searching she trailed little crimson toe prints, a silent witness to her passing that screamed quite loudly, eventually waking everyone in the palace and finally betraying her presence there.
But by this time the child had long since wandered into Morelia’s rooms, goddess of wing-ed flight. She had always seen her coming and going through the royal kitchens with so many beautifully appointed garments. The child often made a game of following Morelia as far as the kitchen garden wall before cook scolded her for leaving the door open and rushed her back inside. Following the goddess Morelia had always been a delight for the child and she yearned for the freedom to go past the kitchen wall—filling her pockets with delicacies, carrying bags and packages containing all the mysteries of her days beyond the wall. Now in Morelia’s chamber, the child hopped in triumph as she dressed in a thick-soled pair of riding boots which made an ever-so-clever clicking noise as the child walked; just like the horses down at the stables. The child then wrapped herself in a warm and very soft and voluminous fur stole; smelling faintly of nutmeg and mint from hanging in cold storage in the barn where Morelia had herself retrieved it just that morning thinking she would wear it to meet with the artisan’s guild later in the week. Alas, she would wear it no more, for the child slipped her feet into the boots and her arms into the warm coat-sleeves, and grabbing an empty basket and bag or two—something Morelia always did before leaving the palace—she joyously clicked her heals all the way downstairs into the kitchen. From Morelia’s chamber the telltale spots of blood disappeared in exchange from bits of dried mud shed from the sole of the boots down the back staircase, out the kitchen door and over the garden wall. Here she dropped a fine lapel pin that had been attached to her coat; it had belonged to Morelia’s mother, Florence—who had sung so beautifully whenever asked to, that the palace had retired her favorite aria when she passed out of the time of stars and moons.
Throwing her legs over the garden wall, the child didn’t think for one moment of taking the garden gate, and was suddenly overtaken by true emotion for the first time in her life. It was true that she had only just had her first experience with pain, but feeling the pain accentuated her glorious intake of breath as she left behind the old and unimpassioned life of perfection in the palace of the gods. Stepping onto terra firma the girl felt a tear of joy slide down her cheek, she quickly brushed it away with certainly as she jauntily made her way into the land and field and forest beyond the world of the palace.