How many parts to this will depend on how fast I feel like writing.
Hekate is gone when I return along the path. Where she stood is a single silver coin. I use this and another silver ornament from my hair to pay the ferryman for my return ride.
When I return to the 7th gate, the black rabbit draped across my shoulder, He and I talk about the value I place on family and relations. About what it would mean to be alone again, and that I don’t ever intend to, but how it would change things…
My ring is returned.
The White Knight greets me when I return to the 6th gate, and asks me what I have learnt. I have learnt that I no longer need the armour. Some days it is nice to have, but it is not something I require to hide behind any longer. My clothes have become a form of self expression. I joke that I fear that all I express these days is ‘tired mum’ and that maybe I should fix that.
My shift is not returned. Instead I get an outfit, inclusive of boots. I get to wear shoes back.
The Guardian of the Gate meets me once again at the 5th. He waits. I have a complex relationship with this, my sex, sexuality and pleasure. I run the gold chain through my fingers. It’s wrong. It looks pure and whole, where the truth is it’s all messed up underneath the surface…
It gets very Not Safe For Work about here, but the result is a lesson in allowing myself these things without the shame I have been taught to attach to them, especially the shame attached to the shape of my body. I am to let it rise, ride it, know it.
I am told to take the chain and reshape it. I am not of gold, but flesh and blood.
The spirit at the 4th gate is called Rasputin, I may call him Rast. He laughs, acknowledging the beautiful cat of the same name owned by a dear friend. I can see him clearly this time, his colouring reminds me of my brother – Dark hair and eyes, tan skin. There is a playful air to him. I tell him I do not want the belt he took back, and that I have no use for those labels and what they once meant to me, to destroy it if he wills.
A flash of fire and all he is holding is the buckles. He asks what my next move is, and I tell him that I shall have to come up with better labels for myself. He laughs and flicks the buckles, and is fastening the belt round my waist.
“It doesn’t work like that, my darling Bones. You must work through them and heal the wounds. Perhaps not discard the good to destroy the bad.” He’s laughing at me again, but gentler this time. He can not help with the physical pain, but advises to persevere with the doctors and pace myself. Things will change.
Belt in place I move on.
Spider waits for me at the 3rd gate. He wolf whistles as I wander up, then giggles at himself.
“I like the new gear. So… have a cigarette and tell me what you learnt.”
“Integration vs. eradication. I need to integrate rather than segregate and push away”
“Succinct, I like it. A wrap ain’t gonna suit that nice new outfit.” He twists my wrap in his hands and turns it into a scarf. We also briefly discuss a particular set of issues that I promise to take up with my therapist (and have since done so) before he sends me on, happy with the work I have done.
I can not leave my mental illness behind, but it’s now a small part of the whole rather than cloaking me over.
I expected the 2nd gate to be harder. Much harder. Instead I was greeted, and sent off, with a kiss from my oldest lover. I had figured out, over my journey that there were a few specific areas to pay attention to – The two deities, the Ancestors, and the Land. The Fox and Rabbit (who had vanished from my shoulders and turned into a tattoo on my wrist by this point) were part of me and simply relationships that would flow.
Torque round my neck I moved on to the final gate.
He rises to meet me, and pushes my heart – now glowing hot with flame – back into my chest and points me through the gate with a smile.
Sometimes words are best left unsaid, and I return with my seven pieces.
He waits for me, this time unmasked. I quip about it and he fires back a comment about being a ‘great big fucking spirit’. We walk quietly as we ascend the stairs. It is companionable, He has been in my life a long time though I was loath to see it for a considerable period and… less than respectful in our initial dealings. When we arrive back the throne He lifts Fox into his lap as I perch on the edge of the hollow, and I listen.
“We’ll always be here. All those thoughts of failing at what you do is nonsense. All the reaching for the unknown missing thing is all in your head. Your relationships with us is… odd. Very. Perhaps because we had to work so hard to convince you we were real in the first place, and when you did come… We called you, but you came on your own terms. You are unusual in the manner. You give when asked, you do when asked, and in return we deal with your never ending sass.
You’re a lot like your little Fox, underneath it all, sharp, intelligent and good at surviving regardless – always on your own terms. You’ve done well. Keep working and giving. Accept the gifts that are freely given to you and return them with gifts of your own when you’re able. You are who you are, as long as you move forward you will be fine. You are loved.
I need to return now. You’re done here.”
I say my goodbye’s and put the Fox back around my shoulders for the climb down. When we are out past it’s great roots I look back to an empty throne.
I feel Light.