Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Chocolate Box-My Imaginary Friend

" Here " Kincross says from behind my right shoulder, " let me take a look at what you're writing. Is it about me? "

Kincross is quiet for a second, which surprises me because my Werewolf has never been the quiet type. This can't be a good sign, especially when the second turns into a minute and I hear her growl " an imaginary friend? Write a dialog with an imaginary friend? "

" That's what it says Kincross " I tell her.

" I'm not imaginary and I'm not part of your subconscious either " she says quickly.

" If only." I snap " You're TOO pushy and noisy to be imaginary. Go on, go howl at the moon or something, I have work to do "

" I want my story told. " she says darkly.

" I want to be six inches taller and fifty pounds lighter but it ain't gonna happen in the next half hour.So get lost, go kill a Vampire or something I have to get this exercise done right now. "

" Okay. I'm sorry Anita. " she says with feeling.

" That's alright. "

I can hear her talking to my cat, and then I can hear the chair at my husband's work desk, the one on wheels, coasting from one end of the room to the other. I can hear Darwin my cat chasing something around and I'm guessing Kincross and Darwin are racing each other.

" Anita? " she stage whispers. I use the word whispers very lightly. You could probably hear her over the end of the world right now but she IS whispering. And she won't stop she sounds like some weird primitive cave woman chanting my name AnitaAnitaAnitaAnitaAniiiiittttAnittta "


" The phone is ringing. "

" OUT! Get out NOW! " I yell.

" You shouldn't talk out loud like that, people are going to start thinking your mental or something. " Kincross says, her voice dripping with concern and honey. Neither of which is in her nature.

" Is so in my nature...hey, what the heck are you saying about me there? "

" Are you watching? " I ask.

I look back and her eyes are narrowing, " Yes. "

" Once upon a time a self absorbed Werewolf got hit by a bus loaded with silver bullets and she died and never bothered her Author again. The end. "

" Oh very funny. "

I turn back to my keyboard and start to write and two seconds go by. Then a minute. No Kincross. I look out my door, under my desk. It's quiet it's actually...

" Go on, you missed me " my Werewolf says as she jumps down from the top of my bookshelf. She looks very pleased with herself and she sounds pleased as well.

" I really want to finish this. " I tell her.

" Oh, alright, but I'm not going know that right? "

I sure do.

Kincross is whistling, something I wish I could do and she looks over my shoulder again.

" I'd end there if I were you. "

" I look back and she actually pulls away. " FINE I'll just go sit until her Majesty is ready. "

And as I type away we both start snickering, " imaginary friend " we both say at the same time.

" Hey that's fun " Kincross says " let's do another one of these exercise things. "


And she actually does...for about two minutes.

What a record.


Kincross is standing next to my computer tapping her foot and whistling " Ode To Joy"
when I walked into my work room this morning. I ignored her so she went into a loud shrill rousing rendition of " We are the Champions. "

I wish she had air in her lungs, then she'd have passed out by now and I wouldn't have to listen to her love herself anymore.

" Nasty nasty thing to wish on your friend " she says as I start to write. " nasty thing to say about your friend who was a big hit up at the Abbey. "

" Oh, it's about to get nastier because I have to post a note about our rehearsal and all I have to report is... " while I worked very hard on our project and actually cared about it my imaginary friend goofed off, chased my cat around the room and bugged me the entire time and actively tried to scuttle our project? "

She looks up in remembrance and nods, " yes, that's exactly what happened only you forgot about the part where your nasty temper got the best of you and you kept screaming at me like a little baby. "

She watches the letters fill up the screen and nods. " Yep, that looks right. "

Wonderful silence...wonderful qui....

" Oh Anitttaaaaaahhhhh ? " Kincross says in a ghostly voice.

" What? "

" Can I ask you a question?"

" What? " I stop everything I'm doing and look at her, I'm hoping if I pay attention to her for few minutes in return I may get a few minutes of peace and quiet.

" That was it, hahahah. "

" God! go AWAY! "

" No really, who are all these strangers in my town...why are they in Duwamish. " she asks primly, back straight with her hands behind her back. She rocking back and forth on her heels and looking up at the ceiling like she's reading something that's written up there.

" They're visiting Kincross. "

" That's nice, when are they leaving? "

" When they feel like it Kincross. "

" Duwamish doesn't work that way you know. "

I look at her and she looks at me and I have to say, " I know. "

" Good place to end this? " I ask.

Kincross nods and for once I agree.

© anita marie moscoso 2005-text

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Chocolate Box - Simone Crowther

I wake up and there is a jewelled box at the end of my bed. The jewels glisten in sea colours of violet, blue, green and acquamarine; eels and fish entwine in the silver work. I open the box and therein incongruously lay chocolates!

Rich dark chocolates, milk chocolate, chocolate truffles, nut encrusted chocolates and white chocolates. I puck a white chocolate and memories swirl before me, memories that form the core of me. I find myself in a tiny airless attic with a trunk in front of me. I know of this trunk from the enchantress as the trunk of wonderment.

I open it and there at the bottom is a faded photograph of myself as a frail, pale girl, almost albino in my lack of colour with a voluminous mass of white blond hair that made me look like a mop on a stick. Such a miserable girl bowed beneath the hatred of a Poe-faced family. I remember her sadly. She was the sacrifice, I made to survive. I laid her in a chest, a stout wooden box, the size of a child's coffin and hid her (in the cave of an old formidable she-bear who takes in all such orphans) in a netherworld of my own depths because she was sick beyond my healing. She lies there still, swathed in a few precious scraps of sun shot nature, dreams and hidden ambitions, waiting... So wan, pale and sick almost to death but lo' she breathes, so precious!

I have been digging for that soul, to wake it up, revive it, breathe life energy back into it. I lay a honey comb as good will for the bear. A token of my recognition of the sweetness of life, my love and commitment. I take her childish form from the bear.

I call to her, coax her with soft words. It is safe to come out and be loved, joined with my body, joined with the present. It is safe to breathe deeply, to laugh, to dare, to dance wildly. It is safe to weep for old pain and dissolve old wounds.

I place her sleeping form over my shoulder and dig my way back up to the daylight world.

She is a splinter of my soul, a long forgotten part of me that had to lie hidden from the searching claws of my family.

She is a precious, precious thing. A part of me that wasn't safe to express. She is the forbidden, the wild, the magick and also the vulnerable flame of youth, of life lived passionately. She is white like the moon and her fragility is deceptive for she holds tremendous power. She is my Persephone, my playful, puckish spirit that had to lie in the underworld but now returns to be my soul's delight.

She lay like a spiritual seed and now she can grow like an immense silver-hot tree that casts both light and shadow.

I have let the moon out from my box. She is both the daughter and the mother of me.

She rests now, breathing deeply, rapidly gaining strength.

She is hungry and I feed her little scraps of meet. This is no vegetarian soul but a huntress with wolf's tail, canine teeth and claws.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Delving into the Chocolate Box - Alex Chua

Delving into the Chocolate Box has been a gratifying and sensual
experience for me. The chocolates from Australia taste so much better
than what I get in Singapore :-) Pure and milky, melting seductively
in my mouth as I savor the moment of intense pleasure.

Anyone who really knows me will know that I am a really slow eater...
I savor my food. If there is anything I appreciate more than the air I
breathe, it is the food that I eat. And these chocolates is so filled
with love that I can feel the love over flows and spills all around my
body, a shimmering energetic field that glows brightly, lighting up
not only my little corner of the Grotto, but the whole Cave and Abbey.

The love from the chocolates revitalized and inspired me to go on the
Road Trip to the Lemurian Abbey with zest. Stopping at Duwamish Bay, I
am ready to present my piece to the inhabitants of the Abbey in a

The Invitation
Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Canadian Teacher, Writer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life's betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you
can disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn't interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Reclaiming a Ritual - The Skeleton Woman - Megan Warren

I have partaken of the chocolates that the Enchantress so kindly left for me.
While I was bathing my guide returned in her mysterious nature, she advised she was delivering a parcel that was left for me. I thanked her, telling her that I would attend to it after my bath. And then she was gone.

I quickly got out of the bath, wrapping myself in the luxurious robe that had been left for me. The parcel, a small box lay on the table next to the chocolate box.
It contained the following items: yarn, thread, beads and charms of the sea.

It was then that I noticed the note on the inside of the chocolate wrapper Reclaim a Ritual I held each of the items, a spiral bead, a seahorse, fish and turtle.

The yarn became a knitted amulet bag with a spiral bead closure. As I worked I thought of Clarissa Pinkola Estes (Women Who Run with the Wolves) story of The Skeleton Woman.

The Skeleton Woman

Cast out
into the sea
tossing and
washed in
washed out
bones lay

casting out
reeling in
fright feat
tangled line
pile of bones.

piecing together
her form
quenching thirst
taking heart
beating drum
fleshing her
building her

wounded souls
entwined together
nourishment from
the sea
feeding off
one another.

© Megan Warren 21/7/2005

Those welcome Chocolates were delicious - Lois Daley

I awoke after having slept for 12 hours in the cave and even on a hard stone bed the sleep was the most peaceful and sound as I can remember although perhaps one would have to have a special memory to say this.
I touched my left hand as it felt warmer than my right hand,I wondered why ..perhaps it still had the lingering touch of my Grandmother Maria Sophie ...yes that was it I could still feel her tiny hands curled around my short fat fingers.
Beside my bed on the small table was a large leaf all curled up as if it was tied with ribbon but it wasn't ,it had grown that way......I uncurled it and inside were four of the biggest cholcolates I had ever seen......Dark chocolate my favourite ..I said aloud......I was hungry but had never had chocolates for breakfast before.....Damm I thought here goes ....I had left sensibility in the cupboard at home ....One down, a sip of water...lovely.......Two down another sip of water....I was starting to feel a little sickly so I wrapped up my remaining two chocolates in the curled leaf and popped them in my cotton backpack....." For later On as they say"
I sprinkled some of the water on my hankie ,washed my face ,combed my hair ..luckily it has a curl in it and it looked ok.
I walked toward the door after tidying up (In case I was to come back this way, or one of my companions might follow in my tracks and need a restful bed)......I found the doorway I had come through and wandered out into the warm sun ..whatever the time was I did not know ,as I had not brought a watch ,I came back in to write in my diary as to what I had experienced and as I wrote my journey so far. I looked about me wondering what was to be the
next adventure.....and this is where I leave my story for now and will look further as to the orders left for me from the Enchantress .....(She who must be obeyed)

Chocolate Box Memory - Leonie Bryant

Sitting in my warm cosy room, I opened my delicious box of chocolates. My mind drifted back to life on the farm in the Mallee in Northern Victoria.

My fondest memories are of the derelict old buildings around the farm. My favorite was the stables which were used to house the draft horses who pulled the machinery around the paddocks. The building was made of split posts with a thatched roof of straw. The empty troughs lined the walls and the old harnesses and bridles hung from the posts. I can remember climbing onto the roof and jumping off onto the heaps of earth behind the stables. I can almost smell the aroma of the rotted straw and grease as I sit here.

The other derelict building I remember is the pig sty, as above. The picture here is of a painting done by my sister when she returned there in the 80's. As you can see, the shelter for the pigs is almost intact, although the drifting sands from the drought have covered most of the surrounding fence.

Despite the fact that I had 3 sisters and a brother, I can only remember playing by myself. Strange! The home held many difficulties for all of us. As I reflect now, I can see the resourcefulness of the little girl who nurtured herself helping her rise above those difficulities.

Shamrocks and Chocolates - Barbara Banta

Chocolate. Of all the things in life that would be troublesome to give up, chocolate is high on my list. Thankfully, not only do I *not* have to give it up, here in the cave, eating it is mandatory! I force myself to take another piece and as the silken delight melts in my mouth I look around my room for perhaps the 100th time.

My suite of rooms is in the shape of a three-leaf clover--a shamrock. I have no idea what types of quarters the others have been given, perhaps they are all alike, but something tells me that each of our rooms has been designed specifically to make that person happy.

My bedroom is one leaf, the kitchen another, and the third is, I think, waiting for me to design or tell it what it should be, for at the moment it is simply an empty shape. The stem of the shamrock, flanged wide at the bottom, narrower where it connects to the body, serves as the bathroom.

In the center, where leaves and stem converge, is the living-room or social area and here I sit, my box of chocolates on my lap, on a luscious fawn colored couch. Most of the furniture is rounded or freeform to fit the curving walls. Everything is either off-white or neutral tones, but there are brilliant flowering plants and ivy everywhere.

The chocolate prompts are lovely and the two words they've given me are words I cherish and claim in my writing: wonderment and conjure. An image in Archie's box of wonderments (a tiny bird's nest) also helped release a small golden memory.

One day, while sitting on my back porch, I saw movement in my garden and went to investigate. I found a baby bird, featherless, eyes sealed shut,
writhing in pain and covered with ants. Its movements had dug a tiny cup in the dusty earth. I lifted it into a trash can lid and poured water on it until the ants had been washed away. Not quite drowned, it lay there, gray and naked and gasping for air.

That night I sat looking at TV with the bird nestled in my hand. Every half hour or so it raised it's scrawny neck and begged for food and I fed it thin farina by eyedropper. After it ate it dropped into a deep sleep.

Suddenly it woke with a start and instead of begging began to squirm and wiggle, almost flinging itself out of my hand. I assumed the poison from the ant stings was causing it to go into a fit and feared the end was near.

Then it pooped.

Not a messy bird poop, but a perfect green and white marble fit for a box of wonderments.

From the chocolate box - a song for my imaginary friends - Gail Kavanagh

"You'll have to stop this talking to yourself," my mother said.
"People are saying there's something wrong with you."
My immediate reaction was embarrassment and shame. It never occurred
to me to say that I wasn't talking to myself. If I'd said I was
talking to imaginary friends my parents would have been convinced I
was crazy - or doo lally tap, as they used to say.

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
People who talk to people who aren't there are
Doo Lally Tap

So I told my friends they'd have to lay low for a while, at least
until my mother's friends stopped spying on me. I was the classic
candidate for imaginary friends, although I didn't realise it at
that age - I was an only child, my parents had few friends with
children of their own, I had never made any close friends my own age.
But in my imagination, I was never alone.

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
People who let their imagination run away with them are
Doo Lally Tap

My imaginary friends didn't have to be human. For a long time I had
an imaginary dog, until my parents relented and bought me a real
one. I was never without an imaginary horse, which looked a lot like
the one Tamzin rode in Monica Edward's books. When I discovered the
Moomin books of Tove Jannsen, I happily followed Moomintroll and the
Snork Maiden into their enchanted world.

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
People who have their noses stuck in a book are
Doo Lally Tap

If my parents had visions of me ending up in a padded cell having in
depth conversations with people and creatures no one else could see,
they needn't have worried. The world is well adapted to making sure
no one grows up hanging on to the innocence of their childhood. My
imaginary friends politely took to staying out of sight when their
presence might prove embarrassing, eventually settling into
my subconscious as all well behaved imaginary friends do. But they
refused to disappear completely.

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
People who stare dreamily off into the distance are
Doo Lally Tap

Through my teens and young womanhood I was repeatedly accused of
`day dreaming'. The only way I could be alone with my imaginary
friends was to run or bike for miles, giving them a free rein in my head.
I learned that slipping into a daydream any other time earned
me the title of `Typical Moony Eyed Teenager." I mooned around
painting, writing stories and doing other pointless things that
would clearly never help me earn a living in the real world.

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
People who can't get with the program are
Doo Lally Tap

Eventually I married, which seemed to be the only honorable thing to
do when my parents realised I would never make a proper career, and
started having children. Suddenly my lonely life was full of the
most enchanting little friends. And they had imaginary friends and
they weren't lonely onlies, so that knocked that theory on the head.
And they kept my imagination alive, making up Dungeons and Dragons
games for them and playing in our family orchestra.

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
People with no imaginary friends will soon go
Doo Lally Tap

Oh but so many years went by, and life got more and more serious and
my imagination retreated in horror at the reality pouring into my
mind day after day. I became everything my elders had entreated me
to be when I was young and moony eyed and now I feared for my own

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
Dancing in the moonlight is a sure sign you are
Doo Lally Tap

I thought they'd all gone, my imaginary friends, my imaginary
worlds, my beautiful horse that carried me deep into the realms of
dreams. Then one day he nudged me in the middle of the back, and I
heard giggles, and I smelt the Moomins' pine forest. I know I can find
my way back there, if I can just let go of the baggage I've
been carrying.

Doo Lally Tap
Doo Lally Tap
I will dance to the rhythm of
Doo Lally Tap.

From the Chocolate Box - Heather Blakey

I put my suitcase on a ledge, leaving it open, ready to store the stories, images, artefacts and look for a place to rest. I am suddenly beyond weary. I yearn to sleep. The Enchantress is gone, riding, galloping towards the Lemurian Abbey. A night rider, dressed in black she is sure to return, eventually. I have faith that she will return.

It is a deep sleep filled with recurring images of the womb. The image of that Wintered Womb that I have lain in rises to the front, demanding I lay a ghost to rest.

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From The Wintered Womb

Underneath the thrice ploughed, fertile, fallow field
Impregnated within a wintered, woven, womb
Of richly composted humus
I lay seeking sustenance, nourishment from
The oxygen filled wintered mist that
Drizzles, seeping, replenishing the amniotic fluids
That trickles through the membranous umbilical cord
Fertilizing, greening,
Ensuring a bountiful spring harvest.

Voices on the wind, drift through the chosen womb, throught the richly composted humus... a mother crying... she has three children already... how will she manage. Dr Salvaris reassures her. They will do a tubal ligation at the same time as this child is delivered, to ensure that her womb will lie fallow from this time on. What does this mean for me I wonder? 'Prove your worth that's what you will do....' more words come filtering into the womb filling me with apprehension. Will I ever be good enough?

A delicious box of chocolates - Karen

When I awakened from my sleep, I found on the bed next to me a lovely box. It was in the shape of a sort of reliquery, tall and tapered like a cathedral. Purple satin and gold beading and tassels bedecked this lovely creation. I opened the little doors on the front and saw rows of delectable chocolates, nestled within layers of spun sugar. I selected my favorite, a succulent dark and popped it into my mouth. I was instantly transported to another time and place. I am quite small, I thought. I hear a voice, somewhat muffled, saying, "And what do YOU want to be when you growup?"

Countdown to a Grown-Up

At seven a teacher, a nurse, an actress
wild dog, space alien,a magician
At thirteen an artist, a writer, a poet
beautiful, sexy, someone who belonged
At twenty-one a nurse, a mother, a wife
artist, writer, traveler
At thirty divorced, wealthy, somewhere else
intense, passionate, sexual
At forty Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keefe, Ellen Gilchrist, Barbara
Kingsolver, Margaret Mead, Winnie Mandela, Guinevere, an organic
farmer, Sojourner Truth, Lillian Wald, Margaret Sanger, the Dalai
Lama, Laxshmi, a bellydancer, a healer
someone who sees, listens, transforms, creates
I grow toward myself.
I am large, I contain multitudes.*

(Walt Whitman)

Complimentary Chocolates

Fellow Cave Dwellers

At last you are alone in your quarters, able like the young bride in the Bloody Chamber to rummage and explore your new surroundings. You will find a box of chocolates. On the box it says that:

Childhood is a state or phase of imaginative existence, the phase in which the world of imagination is still a brave new world and yet reassuring and intelligible.

The strictly non-fat chocolate from the Soul Food Chocolate Box is full of projects and material to help us return to that wondrous kingdom where imagination and creativity rule. The special fillings focus on celebrating childhood joy, spontaneity and imagination.
Choose one and respond.

have a good day in the Cave
love The Enchantress

~My Room~ - Patricia

~A Room of One's Own~
... My finger tips push the door open. Astonished, I try and take the whole room in at once. An impossible task. The flow of calmness and serenity speaks volumes to my soul. It is the colors of sky and water. It's as soothing as the sound of the waves past midnight, this ocean blue room. It is instantly an escape from any world. The room shares my passion for vintage embellishment ...
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My Cave Dwelling - AshleyShea

I was surprised by the amount of time it took for my eyes to adjust to the darkness of the cave after the door shut behind me. After the glare of the afternoon sunshine, the darkness of the cave set the hairs on the back of my neck on end. It felt like an unnatural darkness. Not even being able to see myself, I felt what I can only assume it feels like to be spirit -- completely without form -- except for the cold, clammy feeling.

A gasp stuck in my throat when I felt a chilling breeze. Did someone walk past me? I wouldn't have known it by sight. Was it an animal? A bat? Or some other creature I hadn't learned about in science class? I stood frozen, wishing for my sight to return, when I realized I wasn't breathing. Ok, first lesson in dealing with stress, b-r-e-a-t-h. I forced myself to take a deep breath and felt as if I was swallowing the cave. The cool air reached to my toes and then shot back up to my head. I had to stay focused. "Keep breathing. Slowly." I reminded myself.

Finally, the oxygen must have reached my eyes and they began to see shapes and shadows. I saw a narrow passage way and a hope of light far off in the distance. Using my trusty walking stick, I felt for confirmation of the path in front of me. Sometimes I discovered I was facing a solid rock wall when I thought I had a few more steps to take before the next turn.

Making it through the maze of rock walls was worth it when I reached my room with a view. My whole body breathed a sigh of relief. The lapping sounds of the water brought down my heart rate and reminded me to breath at my natural rate again. I was home. The ocean always feels like an old friend, and here it was to comfort me. As soon as I regained my senses, I took my digital camera from it's pack and took this photo.

In this room I discovered an elevated area where I'll stay dry even in high tides. I have a wonderfully soft mattress that hugs me. I can't believe the mattress is sitting on a cave floor. A plate of luscious fruits, native cheeses, and a fresh-from-the-oven loaf of bread sat on a tray beside the bed. I'm glad I found this luxury before it was sampled by the other creatures who call this cave home. Honestly, I don't know why it hadn't been devoured.

After eating a portion of the food left for me, my strength, along with my curiosity, was renewed. I noticed a second passageway off my room and thought I'd wander its length to see where it would take me. Without fear, I let my eyes adjust as the light left and soon I discovered a new light to approach. It didn't take me long before my eyes were rewarded with this sight. I knew my camera would never be able to capture the beauty, so I sketched this image when I returned to my room.
What an amazing place! It is completely lit by glowing icicles, stalagtites and stalagmites. It glows with the energy of the earth. I felt a strong, wise, loving presence in the room, though I was the only being I could see. I wasn't ready to sit in one of the chairs and commune with whatever may be there. My senses were already on overload. I decided to return to my room with a view to rest and relax, record these scribblings in my journal, and take a short nap. I'll return to what I've dubbed the Conference Room when I feel more settled.

NOTE FROM CONSCIENCE: The images I have posted in this blog I found on the net. They are not mine. I do not own copyright for them. Since I assume only my few traveling companions will see this blog, I felt it was ok to use these images as this is for personal use only. Please do not share these images with anyone. In future posts, unless I take credit for an image, assume it is not mine.

Michelle's room - Michelle V

I've reflected long on this room I am to call my own and realize I don't want to be closed in by four walls and a ceiling no matter how attractively furnished with its stone hearth, iron wall sconces, and authentic primitive artwork. Heart racing, breath ragged, I feel buried alive in this cave. I am more claustrophobic then I realized. I will sleep outdoors.

Tonight, when the yellow moon rises and reaches the zenith hour, I will dance in the warm breeze under an inky sky filled with stars--semi attired in an ankle length, sun colored, belted skirt of scarfs, hair flowing loose against otherwise bare skin, face tilted, eyes closed. My steps sure, filled with knowledge so ancient it has been forgotten until now.

A song..... - Lisa J

Well, as I have already described and explored my lovely quarters inside the caves of the enchantress, I have been sitting here in front of the fire and I feel like singing. I hope you can all hear me from your quarters. I want to sing a song by a group called the Waifs. It is called Papa, and I sing it in a blues scale, acapella. It may seem sad to some, but it fills me with joy. I am a daddy's girl - at 27 years old, I still walk down the street holding his hand, and my hand still feels tiny in his. I still stand on his feet and dance and hug him whenever I can. I loved both of my grandfathers very much also, incredible men who helped influence and shape who i am. I will always be these men's Little Girl, so rather than finding this song sad, it makes me feel happy, it makes me proud - it may not be the story of my grandfathers, but to me it honours the men in my life who do and have meant so much to me, so I sing it loud and clear.

We-eell, my Papa was a fisherman
and he fished the deep blue sea
he did home-make some fine blackberry nip
and he always passed a nip along to me.
Well he smelled like black tar fishing nets
of tiger-belly growl
He was my good Papa, yeah
but he just be bones now.

Well Grand-daddy was a sailor man
and he sailed from far across the sea
he did talk some kind of funny, yeah
but it never did bother me.
When he talked about his home-land
Twas with a sad and furrowed brow.
No more tears Grand-daddy
you just be bones now.

Well I look now at my Papa
and his black hairs all turned grey
and the strong arms that did carry me
they're now withering away
Lay down your burden Papa
Won't you come sit with me at home?
We've got to spend some time together
before we just be bones.


My Quarters in The Cave of Enchantress - Heather Blakey

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Inside the Cave of the Enchantress

I stand looking tentatively at the sealed cellar door that leads deep within, to a place I have been reluctant to enter alone. Others have bravely opened their tailor made doors, but this one has been haunting me for many years. I have seen it in there, amid the parched arid terrain, tightly, heavily closed and I have felt an overpowering apprehension. The fate of Pandora and her box has been well and truly etched into my psyche and I have dreaded the thought of opening it, only to release winged terrors.

Right at this moment something is very different. As I stand looking I can hear sounds that I have never heard before, soft voices calling me to explore the expansive chamber below. Intuitively I know that this will not be the last seal to break but I have been released from a stressful work-place and feel a little stronger, more able to cope and those voices are haunting me.

It has been a long day and I am weary. I am standing in harsh, flat, scrubby plains that have little appeal. I am confused! The Sibyl's Grotto is supposed to be in Umbria, Italy and this landscape most certainly is not Umbrian. The enchantress is not going to be impressed when she cannot find me at the appointed spot.

The voices become louder, urging me to lift open this door, at the bottom of stone steps. The steps remind me of an abandoned factory where I played, alone, as a child. At the end of those stairs there was a sealed door and I spent hours imagining what lay beyond. Curious!

With a strident, unfamiliar self confidence I grab the steel handle and pull it towards me. The hinges had appeared to be rusted but the door opens without so much as a creak. Relief washes over me as I pass through the doorway into refreshingly cool darkness. I lightly touch the chilled, stone ledge and make my way down into what feels like a vast chamber. It is the sounds, the smell that reveal the dimension of this place that I have entered. I sense that this is an enchanted, mystical , spiritual place that I have stumbled upon and stand quite still, adjusting my eyes to the light.

A warm hand grabs mine and as my guides flashlight hits the walls I gasp. All around us is exquisite, sacred art, art that is calling up my past. The rocky overhangs have been transformed into magnificent galleries, adorned with hand stencilled images, painted with striking red ochres and yellow clay paint. A thousand eyes turn to look at me, eyes that had been motionless until I made my entrance. Figures turned in recognition, figures longing for life to be infused into them.

What artist painted these halls; carved these figures, shaped the towering rocky overhangs?

My guide turns, looks at me and smiles. I know her immediately to be the Enchantress that had said we were going to Umbria. "This has been a place of celebration and ceremony for thousands of years. These are to be your quarters for the coming months!" she tells me and before I can respond she has vanished.

Still holding my empty suitcase I look around. No longer dark or gloomy the cavern is filtered with a radiant luminosity. This hauntingly sacred place, so full of atmospheric secrecy, has no sign of permanent occupation. It is pristine, the ultimate refuge. Nearby are deep, dark, still pools, filled with reflections and memories by Mnemosyne, Goddess of Memory.

I put my suitcase on a ledge, leaving it open, ready to store the stories, images, artefacts and look for a place to rest. I am suddenly beyond weary. I yearn to sleep. The Enchantress is gone, riding, galloping towards the Lemurian Hermitage. A night rider, dressed in black she is sure to return, eventually. I have faith that she will return.

Vista on the other side of the door - Carol Abel

rainbow photo taken in Lynmouth in 2004
I will trip the light fandango to reach the crock of gold that lies at the end of this rainbow.

Vista Beyond the Door - Audrey Larkin

Standing outside I admire the doorway I've claimed, and peek inside. Due to the brightness outside of the door, it is quite dark in comparison. Reaching into my bag I grab my trusty flashlight and ready it for the journey I'm about to begin. Turning around for one last look at the greenery and flowers I've recently trudged through, I start to feel a bit anxious and feel butterflies fluttering around in my midsection. I hate that feeling and decide to get to it and enter the cave.

Shining my light around in front of me, I am able to see that there is something or is it someone in front of me just a few feet away? The butterflies which started to quiet down just a bit, now increase their activity, which I don't appreciate as I'd much prefer calmness right about now. Feeling a soft hand on my shoulder, I nearly jump out of my skin. Looking up I see a hooded figure, completely covered from head to toe in a shiny flowing jet black hooded cape. A feeling of calmness washes over me, ridding me of those annoying butterflies and I begin to relax (at least temporarily.) Smiling I say "hello" to which she nodded "hello," back to me. "You do have a face under that hood now, don't you," I ask? I received no response but did get the impression that a smile surfaced under the hood. Turning away from where I first entered the cave, the figure starts walking deeper into the cave and I follow.

After what seemed like a winding, twisting maze that lasted all of five minutes we arrive at a room. It looks similar to the ones we past on the way. She, yes I've figured out by then "it" is a she, points and says "enjoy your visit" gives me a slight bow and leaves. Looking around I see the room is of a fairly decent size with a bed that looks comfy enough, a dresser next to the bed with a lamp on it, a few interesting pictures, who's artist aren't one's that I'm familiar with and a comfortable cushy chair that appears to me like it is antique. The most interesting thing I've found is that there is a window. It is a fairly small one that is closed with a curtain on it. The curtain,which is sheer yellow, is closed and I'm not feeling brave enough to open it. I mean, we are in a cave and as far as I know, there are no windows in a cave. At least none that I've ever heard of. The window is above the desk which is on the wall opposite the dresser near the foot of the bed. "That," I think to myself, will have to wait for another time to be checked out. Right now I just want to take a quick shower in the bathroom that is located on the left of the dresser and opposite the bed. That all this fits into a room of this size is amazing. It actually is a very nice, comfortable and rustic alcove that, for the time being, is mine to enjoy.

I think I knew my guide - Lois Daley

As I walked just a little way into the grotto with my branch before me brushing away pebbles on the ground I felt it was getting lighter and the darkness seemed left behind......It was as if she appeared from nowhere ..A tiny figure in a long brown dress with a high collar lightly beaded ,done up with tiny pearl buttons ,long sleeves also beaded at the wrist...her hair was rolled in curls around her tiny face ,big brown eyes ,small nose ,high cheekbones ......
I knew her face but where from....she smiled and said "Lois I have been wanting to meet you for such a long time " She extended her tiny hand to me and as I clasped it ,it was warm but firm.."Follow me ,this way" I don,t want to lose you again" Again I thought what does she mean.
We walked hand in hand along the low roofed cave,we did not need to lower our heads as we were both quite short under 5 ft.I had never felt so comfortable with anyone as I was with this tiny woman.
The air became sweeter and the darkness was behind was not quite light and as I looked up I could see cracks in the top of the cave that were letting in an extraordinary amount of light...As I looked it became brighter as if by magic.
We entered,still hand in hand into a small room containing a bed from large stone slabs with a blankets made from the skin of perhaps a huge bear or wolf or similar,one on the bottom one on the top.A small flat rock made up to be a table was beside the bed ,grapes,oranges,nuts,and a vegetable I did not recognise and a pail of water.....Now she said "You must rest till the morning as you look very weary"She took my hand and kissed my fingers gently,I rushedto see where she had gone ,but she had disappeared.
I was tired as she had said.....I ate ,lay down on the bed pulled the animal skin over me and went to sleep......
I had a dream that night.....The tiny woman who had guided me safely to my bed and who I felt I knew ,someone I had never met but someone who's photo is on my mantlepiece at my home in Port Melbourne......She was my Grandmother Maria Sophia Craske called Sophie for short....BUT...
I was never to meet her as she died in 1929 and I was born in 1936 to her Daughter Jessie Georgina ....She was the enchantress's guiding light who had come for me when I was in need of an angel to find my way and to rest my body.......I did dream this,I did,but it was so real ,was it really her ,will I ever know for sure. I knew I would not meet her again her mission was done....she had come back just for me .....I slept the sleep of sleeps,happy in the knowledge that I had had a wonderful experience ,one I could or would not share with strangers..only those who travel the path with me,.

Stalactites and Stalagmites - Barbara Banta

Although Heather said we waited for those who were late, after I described my door and stood before it, it seemed only seconds until it opened into the ancient Cave. A swirl of excited energy surrounded me, colorful auras, bold and bright, and I recognized them as my good friends whom I knew from other Soul Food journeys. More lights flickered on and off in muted colors, shy or uncertain about this commitment they had made. For a brief moment I was filled with compassion for the newcomersand wanted to welcome them and calm their fears, but that, I knew was the task of l'Enchanteur.

How can I describe what I saw? I have the words, but not the breath to speak them. A huge circular cavern spread out around us, so bright it made me blink.

"This isn't at all like the Alluvial Mine!" I thought in astonishment and the aura closest to me broke into a shimmer of laughter at my foolishness.

"Pleasure Dome of Kublai Khan and Xanadu should have given you a hint, Slow Poke!"

Under different circumstances I would have enjoyed observing the auras, clustered together as tightly as preschoolers on a field trip, but my gaze was drawn from them and my joyful companion to the stone walls. Snowy white alabaster, curved like the petals of a rose, they ebbed and flowed around the cavern and contained countless examples of exquisite sculpture and cut work resembling lace. Stalactites twisted down from the domed ceiling, thick and sturdy as columns and delicate as thetendrils of a woman's hair. The air was sweet and fresh as a meadow. Small fountains carved into the walls flowed with sparkling water. A stone table set on a stalagmite pedestal offered a mouth watering display of fruits and berries, but I soon noticed there were no chairs anywhere in the room.

Our group still clung closely together, their auras radiating distinct hues and patterns but here and there I began to discern the faint outlines of form, the curved line from shoulder to hip, a slender hand held up in awe. I wondered if this meant the grotto was accepting us or we were accepting the grotto. As I pondered this strange idea a shape approached and handed me a woven basket made of willow. I say shape because under a silken white cloth, which could hardly be called a robe,there were no tell tale signs of a body, either male or female and although it glided easily across the floor, I could see no feet.

Baskets were approaching my companions, as well. Clearly we'd each been given a guide, and I wondered if they could see theirs any better than I could see mine. I joined everyone at the table and filled my basket with strawberries, peaches, slices of pineapple, and mangoes then followed my guide out of the entrance hall and through winding corridors to my living quarters. I cannot even tell about this now--it is too fresh in my mind and I have been too overwhelmed today to take any more in or give anymore out. Perhaps I'll write about it tomorrow as I nibble the chocolate Heather has provided.

One thing, though, I need to add. I asked to know who my guide was and the answer I received perplexed me.

"I am who you wish me to be. When you know, you will see me quite clearly."

The Storyteller - Anita Marie Moscoso

She has been in my dreams and nightmares and stories for as long as I can remember.

Sometimes she wears my face and sometimes I wear hers.

We have look through each others eyes and have taken pleasure from the same things: Mozart, Thunderstorms and Dark Airless Catacombs.

We've spent endless midnights together whispering tales, sharing secrets, and together at each sunrise we’ve watched the Sun murder the only place we belong

The shadows.

So this is my friend, the Musician in the House of the Dead, she's come to take me to my quarters and together we will play our music that others call storytelling.

Settled at Last - Anita Marie Moscoso

The room I found myself in was bare and cool and quiet and there was no furniture in it except for a mural etched deep into the stone that I would have missed all together had I not dropped the lantern on my way in.

When the lantern hit the floor the kerosene spread into a pool at my feet that instantly caught fire. Then the flames reached up and flared so bright it was like looking into the sun.

That’s when I saw in deep and delicately carved lines, a story about a man, a bell ringer who died alone and was mourned by death itself.

The dead man sat in a chair in a simply furnished room with two books by his side and an open window over his over his shoulder. He was a workingman who lived and died simply and I wondered why would Death grieve for this one life when it had taken so many already and would take many more because that was the nature of this creature?

Death itself was ringing the bells for this man who wasn't a King or young and handsome or rich and famous. I could see genuine grief in the way the skeleton’s head was bowed, in it's hunched shoulders, in it's tired frame.

Before I could wonder more, before I could reach up and touch the lines the flames died down and someone from behind invited me into the room across the hall. I had taken a wrong turn and had gone into the wrong room.

A much more comfortable room with a bed and warm blankets and all those other things we especially enjoy after long uncomfortable journeys was just across the hall waiting for me.

I didn't turn around, " this room is perfect, thank you all the same. I could use a lantern and maybe a bed. Yes, that's all I think I need. "

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Vista beyond the Door - Megan Warren

The Guide

Mysterious woman
shrouded in
emerald green
her features
she carries a
a beacon
to light
her path …
and mine.

There is something about my guide that is familiar. I can’t put my finger on it. There is something about her that reminds me of myself. She has kept herself shrouded in her robes, her hood drawn down over her face. When speaking to me she has spoken in mellow tones and she has kept her head bowed to avoid eye contact.

I am thinking that perhaps a previous or future incarnation of me may have been sent to the grotto to guide me in my self-exploration.

I have settled in my quarters. I am intrigued by the identity of the mysterious woman who was my guide. She led me to my quarters, advising that all I required for my stay had been provided for; she would leave me to acquaint myself with my quarters. She said before leaving “We hope that you enjoy your stay at Grotto della Sibilla and that it is beneficial to you in some way. I will return to accompany you on a tour of the grotto. Keep the key that has been provided for you. It is yours to keep.” With that she turned and left.

The lodgings are certainly well appointed; it is more like a modern apartment, with a bedroom, bathroom and living room. The living room is equipped with a desk and all the art supplies that I will possibly need. My laptop is on the desk and my books are on the shelves. There is even a couch for lounging on.

No wonder Heather said to pack light, everything I need is here and it is mine!
If only I could live like this. I am going to run myself a bath and relax. Oh, there is a box of chocolates on the table, nothing like a bath and chocolates – I could get used to this.

A Fool's Journey - Gwen Myers

"The greatest of journeys begins with a single step." Would this quote be the root of my undoing, or would it be the beginning of another glorious adventure for me to learn from? No sense in dithering about that now. I am standing before the door I must pass through to truly begin.
It is a door, like any door; except that it is sturdy and old-fashioned. It reminds me of the doors in the house I lived in back in Oregon, solid hardwood with gracefully arched trim on the thin part of the panels. It isn't painted, it is gleaming with varnish, the brass handle shiny from use. I know this door, and don't fear what lies beyond. It was through this door I fled when a life gone painfully awry became completely unbearable.
There is a difference now. I am not thoughtlessy, heedlessly trying to escape, now I am conciously choosing to walk through the door and see what lies beyond calmly and in depth.
I know that beyond lies the ocean of dreams, where I have floated serenely. I have eaten from the tree af fantasies, the times life felt loveless and unbearable. My path was guided by constellations of ideas on a sky of shifting colours, like those of the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis.
What will I see now, when I am expected to look deeply, and report on what I see here? Will I have the words to say what lies across this threshold?
Pye and Skye snuffle impatiently at the crack at the bottom. I reach my hand out to the handle, there is the tiniest arc as skin contacts brass. The cat's tails fluff and their eyes widen.
The door opens smoothly on gleaming, well-oiled brass hinges, the hinge-pins looking like the towers of minarets or Greek Orthodox Churches. As it swings open Pye and Skye stare at the vista for a breath, whiskers trembling as they sniff excitedly.
The air wafting towards us is rich with the perfume of the earth, dew on new-mown grass, the beach slumbering beneath a midsummer sun, the scent of growing things and the Circle of Life.
Through the door we three go, stepping in unison to soft grass and just the right amount of sunshine. The cats look up at me, their gazes saying, "I KNEW this was within you, you are too catlike for it not to be!"
I laugh and scritch one pair of shoulderblades, then the other. "I know kitties I know. Where do you think I learned to look at the world with 'new' eyes? Now, we are to seek the Cave of the Enchanteur? Our spirits shall lead us there? Non?"
Pye takes our lead, the crook in his tail pointing the way.

tis too dark to see by Stephanie Hansen

I love to travel; I loathe to leave home. I am the bewildered one. I would embrace the world if I could find the key of willingness to open my arms. The size of the roof over my head belies the reality of the mansion that is my heart. It is a mansion with a hundred doors I cannot open, behind which is all the wisdom to be had if I would brave all the fear that is before. Even when I would leave forever, never to return, I stand tiptoe on the threshold anxiously seeking my way back. How is this so? Why is it so? It is as though I am two completely different women, but it is more likely I am one complete woman torn asunder.

Stepping away from the threshold of indecision, I nip and swat and swipe tensely at the fears blocking the many ways to wisdom. With that I fill my days as a store clerk tending the illusion of importance, of authority, of busyness by diligently wiping the fingerprints off the glass cases and straightening the displays. Yes, the work needs to be done, but the greater purpose lies in the doorways beyond, not beyond the doors.

Yes, I mean "in the doorways". In the absence of willingess no doors are needed to block my way to these dark places, and the transformation I undergo simply by walking through them with nothing to comfort me but the vague promise of wonder is often part of - if not wholly - the reason such ways are so dark: to impress upon me that with every act of faith I become the light by which I travel, and by which others may follow my path.

I cannot draw this dark passageway any more than the most talented artist in the world could draw the face of God: blind in my personal night, attempting to define the shape of the way by feel, I reach out and touch neither wood nor stone, but


in the form of a question:

"What will I become?"


Vista Beyond the Door - Alex Chua

As I stand in the open doorway I saw only darkness. An emptiness fillsthe air as I walked towards the cave with only my own heartbeat toreassure me. My inner light was there to guide me and I can feel the energy of all who had passed throught this path before me.

I followed the tingling sensations and was guided by my heart towardsa part of the cave where there was a purplish glow. I felt safe there and I sat myself down and meditated... it wasn't long before I fell asleep.

Through the Rainbow Curtain by Shiloh Cannon Blackburn

What's at the end of the rainbow?
  • It isn't a pot of gold. Nay, no wee spry leprechaun lies in wait for a bumbling human to come along for a bit of sport in the game of "Catch the Leprechaun...If Ye Can."

  • It isn't a pool of rainbow water, where the fairies in charge of Nature come to replenish their store of dyes.

  • It isn't a gateway back to Kansas from Oz. Nay, only the Ruby Slippers and a powerful wish can send someone back home.

  • It isn't a fountain of rainbow colored Skittles, where one is told to "taste the rainbow."

  • And, sorry it is I am to say, it isn't a roadway to Rainbowland or Rainbow Brite.

    Ooooook, then what have you found at the end of the rainbow?

  • The joy of dreams.
  • Renewal...fresh hope.
  • A place which only innocent eyes and those with open minds can view. It's here, in the few precious moments when the rainbow touches earth, the gate to this unseen world is opened to mortals.

    It's here, if such a one is lucky enough to pass through the bands of color into this new, unknown world, they will see and experience things beyond their wildest imagination.

    It's here, where time has no meaning or seems to stand still, one can remain ageless.

    It's here that dreams come true.

    It's here that one is granted a boon, but only one, by the great Queen Mab.

    It's here that one can dance with the Fae folk in one of their enchanted circles while Queen Mab presides over her court in a secret glade.

    It's here that one's innocence is sustained and renewed.

    Aaahhh, so what happens when there is a double rainbow? Are there two gates?

    *smiles* I think ye are just the explorer needed for that answer, my child. Next time ye see a double rainbow, ye can tell me your answer.

    Aye, Grandma.

    *Inspired by a P-O-Y archived post.

    Lil did I know it at the time, that entry in my journal was to be the beginning of my journey along the Soulfood Silk Road. The child in it, now grown up and having seen a double rainbow just now on one of her many excursions just outside her village, is off to find the answers to her questions of what lies at the end of this twin beauty.

    Last night the wind blew hard enough outside my windows to be heard, and I knew the heavens would soon be opening up to release the cleansing tears we mortals call rain. For when the wind comes, moisture is sure to follow. It was a playful wind I heard, scuttling the first of the fallen leaves of the changing season along the path following the west wall of my cottage. It swirled through the village square, and sometimes, lying abed, if the wind brought it near I'd hear the slow wooden cccrrreeeakk of a business sign hung outside Paddy's Pub and a few other shops down the road aways. It rustled and pushed through the leaves of the trees, and in my mind's eye, snug warmly under my covers, I could see their limbs dancing and swaying to the wind's whistling tune.

    If there's rain on the morrow, I thought before drifting off to sleep, as sure as Ireland is green, a rainbow is sure to grace our sky. And I determined then to watch for it.

    Ever since I was a wee one, I've loved the tales told me by my grandma. Tales of Old Ireland, tales of the Fae Folk and Queen Mab, tales of the heroes of yore. They fed my fertile, young imagination and oft times I would go exploring, to see if I could stumble upon Queen Mab's court and espy what it was the Fae Folk were up to. Or perhaps to try and catch myself a leprechaun and have three wishes granted.

    One day when I was seven, and it was nearing the end of the summer vacation my family and I had taken to visit her here in Ireland, it had rained most of the day. I was quite put out because I couldn't leave the cottage. I wanted to explore! I wanted to see if I could find and capture a wee man or woman and have them grant me my wishes. I knew exactly what I'd wish for too. I wanted to stay in Ireland with Grandma, not having to go back to the States come next week. I wanted to meet Queen Mab and dance with her people. I wanted to be great, like the hero Cuchulainn.

    "Now child, don't mope so," Grandma told me as she sat knitting in her rocking chair. "Ye can go explorin' tomorrow. 'Tis sure to be a better day."

    The rain had stopped by then, but twilight would soon be falling upon the tiny village and my parents and sister and brother would soon be returning from the next town over. The adults didn't like it if it was nearing dark and I wasn't within calling distance.

    I was at the window, despondently watching the leftover raindrops slide in slow, meandering rivelets down the pane of glass. I was about to turn and answer her when an arc of color caught my eye. A rainbow! A beautiful, brilliant rainbow perfectly arching across the gray sky!

    "Grandma! Look, a rainbow!" I said excitedly and launched toward the door, throwing it open and hastening out into the front yard. I pointed to Earth's natural prism hanging above the trees and drank in the deep red that lightened by degrees then bled into what soon became orange and all the other colors. I had never seen a rainbow this vibrant before and I wanted to take in every last detail so I could tell Da and the others about it later. Da loved rainbows.

    Grandma was slower in coming, but come she did and placed her thin arm around my shoulders, a smile wreathing her beloved wrinkled face. I noticed then one end of the rainbow seemed to touch the hills in the distance, and I remembered the tales of a leprechaun's pot of gold being at the end. Having a child's curiosity I asked her. It was that day she shared the true magic of what lies at the end of a rainbow if one is lucky enough to get there before it fades. It was that day my world changed just a lil, my imagination expanded to include new possibilities and my own love for rainbows was born.

    I never forgot that day or her words to me when I asked about double rainbows. "I think ye are just the explorer needed for that answer, my child. Next time ye see a double rainbow, ye can tell me your answer."

    Now I'm grown and have come back to Ireland, having inherited Grandma's cottage.

    Sure enough, the rain came. I awoke early this morning to the tap-tap-tapping of its drops on the windows and thatched roof. I smiled into my pillow and curled my toes into the mattress, my heart dancing at the prospect of seeing a rainbow. Grandma's words filtered up through the lingering mists of sleep and I was suddenly gripped with the whimsical thought of chasing a rainbow to see what was at the end of it. Maybe this time I would be quick enough to slip through the gate into the invisible world of the Fae and finally meet the queen I had so longed to know.

    What if there's a double rainbow? You could finally have your answers and no more wondering... This thought followed closely on the heels of the first and my eyes opened. Sleep was firmly banished in the new compelling whimsy of the idea.

    Why not? I thought as I stretched, pushed back the covers and rolled from bed. It's crazy, but then Grandma would say, 'It's magic. It does'na haveta make sense.'

    True, and it would give me another excuse to take my camera, journals and things and go exploring. And maybe, if today's is a double rainbow I'll be able to find the answers to my long-ago questions for both Grandma and myself.

    The chilled wooden floor instantly cooled the soles of my bare feet, sending lil shivers up through my legs, causing me to yelp in surprise. Hastily I reached for my Irish green zip up slippers and put them on. Hugging myself and chafing my arms a bit to ward off the chill that invaded my room early this morning, I walked down the short narrow hallway to the common room where the fireplace and kitchen are. I knelt and started a small fire to warm the place up then moved to the kitchen area to start a pot of tea.

    "If the rain lets up later, Grandma, I'll go exploring," I told her. "Perhaps then I'll be able to answer those questions we both wanted to know about and find out what's at the end of a double rainbow."

    It may seem crazy, I know, talking to a dead loved one, but it's comforting to me. Since she died four months ago I've been missing her something terrible; talking to her fills the void and brings her spirit close.

    The rain let up just after one this afternoon. I spent my morning in restless anticipation, cleaning my cottage and then packing any and all things I thought I would need for this exploration in my oversized Texas Flag overnighter. When I noticed the rain was letting up outside my bedroom window I slung the bag over my shoulder and started down the short hall toward the door. My image in the hall mirror caught my eye and I stopped briefly for a quick once over. My reflection grinned wryly back at me. Dark brown hair was pulled into a bun, but flyaway wisps were falling around an oval face on the rounding side with sea green eyes evenly spaced apart. Thin-rimmed tortoise shell glasses were sliding down a short wedge of a nose. I pushed them up then looked down at myself. A red sweatshirt with the old-fashioned Mickey Mouse sewn on the front and on the right shoulder, paired with black floral-printed stretch pants and Ugg hiking shoes. I had to laugh. Eccentric Colleen O'Leary's granddaughter was sure to be thought of as eccentric as she if people ever caught wind she was chasing after a rainbow.

    Stepping outside the rain was falling intermittently now, and I knew I had to hurry. Not caring that the occasional drop splattered on me or my glasses, I followed the muddy path in front of my cottage until it forked left or continued straight on into the village. Turning left I walked at an increasing pace until I left the path altogether and began climbing a knoll. The heavens soon dried up and cleared, and though I crested the small hill and kept going and climbing others, I remained alert, searching the lightening sky for the rainbow.

    Stopping to catch my breath for a moment, having climbed over a low stone wall and hoisted my bag over it, I twisted to my left to scan the horizon. And there it was! A double rainbow! The inner arc of banded colors was more vibrant and prominent than its outer sister, but I thought the first just as lovely as the second. I knew I was grinning foolishly and my heart jumped into joyous overdrive. A double rainbow!

    "What a magnificent sight, Grandma!" I cried as I shouldered my bag hastily again and took off in that direction as fast as my bag, the terrain and stone walls allowed. "Here we go!"

    Always keeping the curved bands of color in sight, I prayed they wouldn't fade before I could get there.

    Funny how magic works, especially on Time and distance and other things. The rainbows always seemed to hang in the distance, no matter how far I traveled. Then all of the sudden they were before me! Shimmering arcs of brilliant color, one about 25 feet from the other and duller, but no less beautiful. Their ends barely brushed the tips of the grass blades, and they sssooaarred into the sky. I felt insignificant standing there in front of them and shivered.

    It's difficult to describe what it's like standing in front of a rainbow, but I shall try. Words, speech failed me as I stood there looking up with my mouth hanging open. The air seemed thin, charged with some invisible force and my nerve endings tingled as if sparkles, all the colors of the rainbow, traveled along them.

    I don't how long I stood there in silent awe. A hundred years, or mere seconds, I couldn't tell you. Belatedly, and excitedly, I remembered my digital camera and began recording pictures. Talking to Grandma, I put the camera away back in my bag and, looking at the wonder of colored light and mist I stood up, taking my bag with me.

    "Ready Grandma, to find out what's on the opposite side?" Taking a deep breath and closing my eyes, I stretched forth my right hand and walked through the rainbow's curtain...

  • Through the Front door - Leonie

    Imagine my surprise when I passed through the door to see a little girl awaiting. At first I noticed her beautiful friendly smile. Her hair hung loosely around her shoulders, and her dress, which was a beautiful red colour, hung in tatters around her knees.

    As I walked towards my room she skipped along beside me, chattering all the while. Her spark and enthusiasm rubbed off onto me and I suddenly knew that I was going to enjoy this time away in the Grotto.

    I walked into my room and felt a cosy warm feeling. Through the french windows I could see the beautiful gardens, overlooking the lake. The sun was gently sinking to the west and I knew that I was going to sleep well this night.

    Vistas - Heather Blakey

    I stand looking tentatively at the sealed cellar door that leads deep within, to a place I have been reluctant to enter alone. Others have bravely opened their tailor made doors, but this one has been haunting me for many years. I have seen it in there, amid the parched arid terrain, tightly, heavily closed and I have felt an overpowering apprehension. The fate of Pandora and her box has been well and truly etched into my psyche and I have dreaded the thought of opening it, only to release winged terrors.

    Right at this moment something is very different. As I stand looking I can hear sounds that I have never heard before, soft voices calling me to explore the expansive chamber below. Intuitively I know that this will not be the last seal to break but I have been released from a stressful work-place and feel a little stronger, more able to cope and those voices are haunting me.

    It has been a long day and I am weary. I am standing in harsh, flat, scrubby plains that have little appeal. I am confused! The Sibyl's Grotto is supposed to be in Umbria, Italy and this landscape most certainly is not Umbrian. The enchantress is not going to be impressed when she cannot find me at the appointed spot.

    The voices become louder, urging me to lift open this door, at the bottom of stone steps. The steps remind me of an abandoned factory where I played, alone, as a child. At the end of those stairs there was a sealed door and I spent hours imagining what lay beyond. Curious!

    With a strident, unfamiliar self confidence I grab the steel handle and pull it towards me. The hinges had appeared to be rusted but the door opens without so much as a creak. Relief washes over me as I pass through the doorway into refreshingly cool darkness. I lightly touch the chilled, stone ledge and make my way down into what feels like a vast chamber. It is the sounds, the smell that reveal the dimension of this place that I have entered. I sense that this is an enchanted, mystical , spiritual place that I have stumbled upon and stand quite still, adjusting my eyes to the light.

    A warm hand grabs mine and as my guides flashlight hits the walls I gasp. All around us is exquisite, sacred art, art that is calling up my past. The rocky overhangs have been transformed into magnificent galleries, adorned with hand stencilled images, painted with striking red ochres and yellow clay paint. A thousand eyes turn to look at me, eyes that had been motionless until I made my entrance. Figures turned in recognition, figures longing for life to be infused into them.

    What artist painted these halls; carved these figures, shaped the towering rocky overhangs?

    My guide turns, looks at me and smiles. I know her immediately to be the Enchantress that had said we were going to Umbria. "This has been a place of celebration and ceremony for thousands of years. These are to be your quarters for the coming months!" she tells me and before I can respond she has vanished.

    Still holding my empty suitcase I look around. No longer dark or gloomy the cavern is filtered with a radiant luminosity. This hauntingly sacred place, so full of atmospheric secrecy, has no sign of permanent occupation. It is pristine, the ultimate refuge. Nearby are deep, dark, still pools, filled with reflections and memories by Mnemosyne, Goddess of Memory.

    I put my suitcase on a ledge, leaving it open, ready to store the stories, images, artefacts and look for a place to rest. I am suddenly beyond weary. I yearn to sleep. The Enchantress is gone, riding, galloping towards the Lemurian Abbey. A night rider, dressed in black she is sure to return, eventually. I have faith that she will return.

    On the other side - Gail Kavanagh

    The corridor is oddly shaped; the walls slope in to a roof narrower than the floor. Pools of soft yellow light fall at intervals along the length of the corridor. That comforts me. I thought a cave would be dark and damp, and I don't flourish out of the light. I've taken off my shoes and stuffed them in the huge pocket of my Mad Old Lady Artist jacket. A coat of many colors, I found it at the Chinatown market in Brisbane. How far away that day of cherry blossom and dancing dogs seems now. I'm still hesitating on the threshold when I hear someone approaching.
    It's a young girl in a long loose blue robe and sandaled feet. She seems familiar - perhaps she reminds me of one of my daughters. On one arm, a sliver snake winds from wrist to elbow.``Welcome," she says. ``I've been waiting for you."I follow her down the light dappled corridor, catching glimpses of flowers, fountains and flocks of brightly coloured birds.The girl tells me her name is Ilona. I know it means light - I have two daughters named for light, Lucia and Elena, and the feeling that I know this young woman is strengthened. The corridor widens out into a light filled vestibule. There are stairs and corridors leading off in all directions, but Ilona guides me down a corridor to the left, which ends in a beautiful room carved out of the honey coloured rock. At the far end of the room, glass doors open out onto a terrace like the ones I glimpsed before, with massed flowers, a small fountain set into the wall, a flock of birds feeding from a stone bowl. There are other rooms leading off the main one - through one door I glimpse blue marble tiles.There are no shelves in the room, but niches carved into the walls holding books, lamps and bowls of flowers. One niche holds a smiling Kwan Yin and a few sticks of incense. The floor is piled with richly embroidered rugs and cushions and on a low table there is a bowl of fruit, a loaf of bread and some crumbly yellow cheese. Incongruously, there is also a box of chocolates.``These rooms are yours while you remain with us," Ilona said. ``I will not be far away, if you need anything just call me."She glides away on her sandaled feet, and I put down my bag and go out through the glass doors onto the terrace. I breath in the richly scented air.

    Thru the Door - Karen

    As I sat idly in my armchair, staring at the dapple of leaves and sun on the floor below, I heard a knock at the door. I went to it at once, and opened it to find a woman standing in the dark. She was quite tall, and quite old, though not a bit bent, and she wore a gown of vivid crimson. In her hand she carried a staff, a sturdy rod of dark wood, topped with a cluster of quartz crystals which gave off a thin silver light.

    "Mistress," she said, inclining her head toward me.I peered past her into the darkness. I could see a faint sparkling, sense a subtle movement of air. "Hello, Old Mother," I said. "How kind of you to guideme tonight."

    I picked up my bag and said, briskly, "Shall we go?" Imotioned with my hand to Katy, who sprang to my side, tail wagging, dog smile shining toward the crone."Come, child," she said, and turned to walk away. I took one last look at my little cottage, the sunlight shimmering through the windows, throwing prisms on all of my beloved objects. It was the last I would see of it for three months. I stepped over the threshold into the darkness.

    Immediately I tripped over something. I stooped to feel for it, and found myself holding a large geode. I tossed it into my bag for later study.

    We wound our way through tunnels, small rooms filled with stalactites and stalagmites, caverns with the sound of dripping water, through iron gates and crystal doors, through rooms lit by phosphorescent lichen, and past a singularly magnificent room, penetrated by a single shaft of light falling on a small pool ringed with pink lotus blossoms. After some time, we stopped to rest and dip water from a shallow depression in the rock to our mouths. "Not all are called to the Grotto, Mistress," my guide said. As she faced me I noticed that her skin was firmer, her eyes brighter, her hair less silvery. She looked familiar. "Those whoare called must make use of the gift, or be lost." She pointed herstaff at me. "You could be lost, Mistress. Take care."As I pondered her words, we passed through what was to be the final gate, entering a central atrium of sorts, a cathedral-shaped cavern with a central pool, a small waterfall, and a statue of a dark goddess, a goddess I had not seen before. Instinctively, I knelt before her countenance. The crone laughed with delight, and I looked up to see her shed her gown and frolic naked around the pool. She was young as a girl, firm-skinned and silken-haired, and she danced lightly. I gasped.

    "Welcome to the Grotto della Sibilla," she said, and danced down an adjoining tunnel. Her laughter echoed in the chamber. I approached the pool, from which Katy was drinking, and looked into its depths. I saw within it a young girl, the girl I was at age 10 or 11, fearless, creative.wild. I touched my face; it still borethe wrinkles and roughness of my forty years, but within the heart of the pool, I was reborn. A lotus blossom unfurled near my reflection. In its center was a shimmering jade-green snake. It uncoiled itself in a leisurely manner, glanced at me with a knowing look, and slid onto the cave floor. It proceeded along a corridor, and it was clear I was meant to follow. After some length of time, we reached a bright blue door with a raven painted on it. The snake slithered up the door and wrapped itself around the knob, waiting.I opened the door and my guide silently slithered away. I was in a chamber, comfortable and cozy, hung about with vivid tapestries and silks. There was a downy bed laid with pillows and a soft robe, a glowing lantern next to it, and a great expansive length of table set with a simple plate and cup. Fruit, cheese and bread waited. A small alcove in the wall was carved with the words "il desiderio del cuore" (the heart's desire). Iwould explore this later. Tired from my journey, I lay on the bed, and within minutes, my eyes closed. I was at rest.

    Beyond the Door : Cave Diving - Lisa Phoenix

    Sheer adrenaline has carried me this far, but now at the threshold i hesitate. Tendrils of loss and longing tug at me, and i tell myself i cannot go forward.

    At times like this i've reached for my touchstone: learning to skydive; swinging myself out into the wind, hanging on... letting go. Trusting the sky to support me, learning again that i am not alone. A smile at memories of trying to catch my breath before the rush snatched it right out of my lungs, of the bright darkness of the fall, of relaxing into the vast embrace of the air... flying!

    You'd think, if i could voluntarily jump out of an airplane, find the joy in it, i'd never be afraid of anything again, right?


    i am always afraid. The blank page is a wilder dive than any i've ever done...

    ...i try to make out what might be awaiting me within the cave, beyond the green fringes of spanish moss and lichens dressing salt-and-pepper granite warming in the sun, but there is only silent darkness. i wonder again if i'm in the right place.

    i feel something brush lightly past and see my dog Wiley skirting ahead. At the edge of darkness she pauses for only the briefest of moments to smile at me over her shoulder, and then disappears into the unknown within.

    What can i do but follow?

    Inside it is very cool, and black as pitch: i cannot see my hand held before my face. Confused, i turn, looking for the entrance, but somehow the cave has closed it's mouth, without so much as a clash of it's granite teeth, and is now in the process of swallowing me. i call softly to Wiley and am encircled by echoes; my voice returned to me sounds small and unsteady; my dog does not come back.

    i stand still, not knowing what to do. i smell earth, and stone, and i feel my heart beating in my chest, thrumming in my ears.

    Then i see a tiny light. A firefly, a dancing ember. The light approaches and hovers before me, no bigger up close than a single candle flame, radiating no heat and clearly alive. i try to see the form within the tiny but brilliant nimbus but it's too bright. The light moves slowly away and i follow.

    i find i am walking through space: surrounded by shining spiral galaxies and novae, multi-colored clouds lit from within. i see stars being born and dying.

    My companion and i turn deeper into the earth and i am no longer conscious of walking, but rather floating. Swimming around me are translucent, luminous jellyfish, majestically revolving as the galaxies before them.

    From somewhere deeper still i hear voices and laughter; my guide and i turn in the direction of these sounds and glide onward toward them...

    i whisper supplications to myself:

    i am not alone.
    The depths of earth will shelter me.
    The Muse smiles on those who embrace mystery, and blesses those who step into the unknown.

    but i'm no longer afraid: i can feel the warmth of the welcome coming to meet me.

    Vista Beyond the Door

    So you came through the door! I weighed your responses and deemed them to be honest. A number of voices were deliciously familiar.

    What do you see as you stand in the open doorway - that leads to the cave? We need details? Is there anyone with you as you emerge?

    Someone has come to greet you and take you to your quarters. Who is it? What are the quarters like? Tell us everything.

    The Enchantress

    Luna's Door

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    the door

    The journey is quicker than I thought.
    I find my way onto a gravel path,
    that leads to a giant tree.
    I circle around
    and find a funny shaped doorknob.
    Pounding on this door is not the way.
    I wait for something,
    but nothing happens.
    My journal calls to me.
    I write and speak aloud my truth,
    and with a tiny click, it opens.
    Through a small doorway
    down the hollow,
    I enter a cave.
    And there are thirteen doors waiting,
    with one for me.

    A golden door beckons to me,
    I slip inside.
    I find a simple room.
    It vibrates with anticipation.
    The things I need, I find with a thought
    Yet, what I sought was not there a moment ago.

    After joining you on the bus - Fran Sbrocchi

    I've walked the pathways
    lost an hour dreaming by the waterway
    launched my winged canoe
    and floated past the great white mountain
    flown across the sea
    and painted a few dolphins during flight
    when this morning I reached the silence of Umbria
    I knew I could not go
    into the cavern, or any place beneath the ground
    unless I was allowed to take the sunshine with me

    Now I have made my gate
    and posted it twice
    I can press it's magic bell
    and hope that the enchantress will let me in
    with my box and hope that she will let me keep the light
    as I wander the strange labyrinth
    and seek direction from strangers

    Reaching My Door - Lisa J

    I apologise that my account of this stage of our journey is so long winded, but I wanted to capture every detail!!

    Well my excitement and anticipation has been replaced by a happy exhaustion! We have finally arrived at the Cave of Sybil!! The bus ride was uneventful - you could feel the excitement of beginning a journey tingling in the air, quiet chatter as we scooted past fields and mountains and rivers.

    Winnie cruised along in her little car behind us - I hope she wasn't so busy concentrating on driving that she missed the picturesque landscape we were passing through. We stopped in the cutest little town to have a quick lunch - the street was lined with small shops selling just about anything and everything. I wolfed down a sandwich as quickly as I could and went for a quick explore. There was one store that was selling beautful handmade soaps and things - I bought a bar that smells like jasmine and lavender, a bottle of body lotion and a couple of lip balms (I already have about 12 in my pockets and carry bag - but you can never have enough lip balm!) I would have loved to explore some more of the little stores, but before you could say "impulse spending" i would have used all my money, so the bus loading back up saved me!!

    I settled back into my seat and pulled out my mp3 player and headphones and spent the next little while watching sun drenched fields and trees roll by, my ears filled with my favourite music from Carla Bruni. The whole album is accoustic, and in french. I don't speak french, so I have absolutely no idea what she is singing about, but I lay there daydreaming and imagining who she is singing to and make my own story for each song. Not too long after, we stop apparently in the middle of nowhere.

    We have came down a small dirt road that weaved through the forest and has suddenly come to an end. Sybil Enchantress informs us (almost a little too gleefully!) that it's on foot to the caves from here, but not far. There are a few groans at this news, but I'm actually quite happy about it - a stroll through the forest will be quite nice. Surprisingly though, we aren't going to the caves as a group. we could, but we would have to take the old path, which is steep and rocky and dangerous, not to mention takes several days (if you're lucky) to get to the entrance of the caves. There is a shorter way - a path for each of us. We must look through the forest for our path - I'm a little concerned I'm going to accidentally follow a trail not meant for me and get lost, but Sybil assures me that that is not possible and I will most definately know my path when I come across it. Once we find our path, we must follow it and it will lead us to the entrance of the caves.

    Everyone has loaded up their gear (I've offered to help Winnie carry some of hers!) and is heading off in different directions. I choose to stroll towards the gap between two giant trees, that have great boughs reaching out across each other forming a kind of archway. They look like ancient old lovers holding hands. I pause and gently lay a hand on the trunk of one of the old trees. My hand looks tiny on it's huge trunk, and it tingles. I can almost hear what the trees are whispering to each other, but not quite. I continue on and pick my way through the shrubbery. I hit a thick patch of brambles at one point, much too deep to go through, so I decide to try and go around them and turn south and follow them downwards. After walking for about an hour, i spot a small hillock and climb it to see how much further I have got to go. Much to my dismay, the trail of thorny bushes seems to go on forever. I turn back northward and decide to try the other direction, only to find the same thing - they are seemingly endless.

    Suddenly I begin to panic - I am out in the middle of a forest, alone, seemingly lost and stuck. It will get dark soon and then what do I do? Breathe, keep calm. You can remember the solution to this problem. I need a better view - surely these things must stop somewhere!! I look around frantically for a tree and spot the perfect one. It's branches hang low and it will be easy to climb. Dropping my rucksack, I scramble up the tree. After much grunting and a few scrapes I am almost up the top of the tree. I straddle the branch I am sitting on and cautiously move out towards the edge of the limb. As the foliage parts before me I gasp in astonishment. I am high above the forest, and an ocean of green spreads out before me in every direction.

    Mountains rise up into the distance, their rocky peaks pointing accusing fingers at the sky. I scan the forest, and see very nearby a clearing amongst the trees. There is a large rock in the centre of it, and a small deer grazes nearby. I try to find the path to the clearing and groan with the realisation that it is through the brambles. I have to go through. Well, no-one said it would be easy. I climb down the tree and pause before I go to thank it for it's help. I don't know why I do this, it's just an impulse - I feel it would be rude to leave without showing some gratitude. I move north still, figuring I'll get even with the clearing then go straight across. I come to the place where I plan to push through and decide to have a quick break before I undertake the task I am so dreading. Sitting on a large rock, i sip at my water and ponder the best way to do this.

    Then, there is a deer in front of me. I swear it wasn't there a moment before, and blink to check my vision isn't tricking me. Perhaps I scratched myself on some poisonous bush and I'm hallucinating? Again, I am taken by the idea that the deer can understand me, just as the tree could. I put my water away, move to within a few steps and drop to one knee. "Hello" I say, solemnly, inclining my head slightly. "Oh what a stupid thing to say!" I think. I feel I should be more formal somehow. I suddenly jerk my head up and stare at the deer. It looks back at me with it's huge, dark, trusting eyes. It is telling me that hello is fine. It is telling me that it has been waiting for me and will show me the way. I have no idea how it is communicating to me - it is not out loud, not in sentences, somehow I just seem to understand. "thank you" i reply sincerely and stand and gather my things. The deer turns and leads me a little further northward, glancing back over it's shoulder at me every now and then to make sure I haven't fallen behind.

    Suddenly it veers left and disappears into the brambles. As I reach the place where it vanished, I discover a tunnell through the thick growth! I laugh out loud and enter. The deer seems to be smiling at me, then suddenly we are running. The bell on my wrist jingles as the edges fo the tunnell flash past me. The deer prances ahead of me and i am chasing it - i never knew I could run so fast!! Then i burst out into the open clearing I had seen from the tree. I laugh again and collapse on the large rock. I feel the deer nuzzling my hand and gently stroke it's head. Its fur is so soft! I gently pet the deer, thanking it, then start just chatting to it. It still isn't dark yet - I can't believe it's only been a few hours!! It feels like a week! - but the sun is just beginning to set.

    I rest for a little, then feel the deer nudge me - it wants to play. It wants to dance. I smile as it begins prancing round in circles, calling for me to join it, then start to sing out loud as I do join in. My voice rings clear and loud through the forest as we dance. I spin round and round until I am dizzy and have to sit down before I fall over, and collapse in a heap on the lush grass, laughing again.

    When I sit up I notice, with some surprise, a door!! It is just, well, there!! It's not attached to anything, there are no walls either side of it, it's just there! I grab my rucksack and approach it. It is a big door, and made of dark wood. It has intricate carvings, and intruiged, I reach out and trace the beautiful patterns with my fingertips. Like the tree as I left the bus, my hand tingles and I can once again almost hear what the trees are whispering to each other. I wonder whether the trees I felt first, and along the way, were telling me I was going the right direction? There are a myriad of shapes carved into the door, with no apparent pattern, but all fitting together perfectly. There are straight lines, spirals, waves, all sorts of shapes.

    As i follow the path of them, the door gently swings ajar. it's then I realise that it doesn't actually have a handle on it. I gape at the door, then stare at the deer, then back at the door. The deer tells me there is no handle on the door so that it cannot be opened by anyone else. It opens to my touch only. I nod and look at it again. I turn to the deer and kneel once more, I thank it for its help. It prances a little circle - it is proud of itself. It has been waiting for me. It's task was to guide me, and it is full of pride that it has done it's task well. It tells me we will meet again, but for now it must go run through the fields. I wish it well until then, and turn back towards my door. I push it all the way open and am surprised that it is almost weightless.

    There is a hall beyond it, a hall of stone. There are torches flickering at intervals along the walls. I step inside and the door gently closes behind me. All bemused at the events of the afternoon, I give a shrug and start moving down the hall. I stroll along, often touching the stone. The hall winds this way and that, then suddenly stops at another door. Seemingly the first door has just moved to this spot, because it is exactly the same, no handle and all. I reach out and touch it and again it swings open. As i touch it I have the understanding that this is not the same door - it is a different one, with a slightly different working. Anyone can open this door by touching it - anyone except a person who intends me harm of any sort, be it physical or emotional. That knowledge makes me feel incredibly safe.

    I step into the room and look around. There is a massive canopied bed. The fire is already going and there is a hot meal steaming on a small table - my favourite pasta in fact - with a glass already poured from a bottle of my favourite red wine. I sit down and wolf down the food and then relax for a moment, enjoying the wine. The bed is covered in thick blankets and I'm tempted to crawl into it right away! Instead I explore the room a little more - there is a huge bathroom off to one side. It has a double shower with multiple jets, and a massive bath that appears to be carved into the stone floor. It is full of steaming water, yet there are no taps. A hot spring! that's it! Without a second to waste I strip off and dive into the bath, the hot water relaxing my aching muscles and cleansing me. I clean myself with the soap I bought today (which seems a lifetime ago!) and just relax. "aahhhh" I think, sipping my wine, "heaven!!!". I had been expecting a guide to lead me to my room and wondered what had happened to them.

    Then it struck me - a guide had lead me to my room. The hall I followed led directly from my door into the caves to my room, there were no intersections of forks the whole way. The earth itself had been my guide. I reluctantly climb out of the bath and wrap myself in the massive fluffy bathrobe and slippers hanging in the bathroom. I refill my glass and settle into the huge armchair in front of the fire and wonder how all the others went, how they managed to get to their rooms and what their doors were like. I certainly hope it was easier than my trip! I will go find them soon and find out, but in the meantime I am hypnotised by the fire, so I sit quietly.