The hut was dark, save for the smoking lamp, shadows danced around her, drawing her into vision. She sat, silent and still, waiting for what would come, opening herself to the now familiar shift.
A strange perfume filled the air, herbs and sap, burning like a fire of pine logs, but concentrated, more fragrant. Candles lit the furthermost end of the hut, which was no longer the familiar wattle and daub, but made of stone, squared and painted with tall figures in red ochre, yellow and black. They seemed almost alive in the flickering light, painted stories of strange beings, dragons and men. She knew not of what they spoke, but sensed their import and sanctity to those who had wrought them.
Looking down at herself, she saw no longer the simple shift, but a thick woollen gown, undyed and unadorned, tied by a leather belt. On her feet were sandals, not dissimilar to those she knew. Her hand flew up to the feather at her neck, but encountered only beads and a wooden pendant shaped like a crossing of roads. Her long, lustrous hair was covered by a veil, tied tightly around her head. Yet her eyes felt her own as she looked down the length of this holy place, with its high ceiling and unfamiliar scents.
Shifting her inner vision, she recognised the rainbow of light that was the signature of her home, the enclosure shared with the sisterhood. Here were the blues and greens, the gold and pinks of the sacred light that she knew. The building was strange, but the land was not.
She began to wonder about time and place, but a movement in the shadows caught her eye. In the lighted end of the church, beyond the darkness where she sat, two figures had moved from behind a great arched doorway. A man and a woman, not unfamiliar. She had seen them before. He was the man-child, she the priestess.
They were not young, but nor were they old. There was that strange agelessness about them that seems to come with working with Light. He was taller than the woman, slim with dark hair streaked with silver, catching the candlelight. He wore something over his eyes that gleamed like ice. She did not understand, but it seemed that he too worked with sight.
He was dressed in that strange garb she had seen before, all in black. She liked his face, warm and attractive. The eyes full of quick intellect and Knowing. He held himself well, his back was straight though there was a hesitancy, perhaps, in the way he carried his shoulders. His hands were beautiful, as if carved from bone and eloquent as he spoke.
Yet his eyes spoke more, sharing mischief and complicit laughter with his companion, even in the seriousness of the moment. She could see something between them, that kinship of the soul born of friendship and shared purpose.
The woman was small, as small as one of the Old People. Her hair as red as the feather. She too held herself well, a trait of the priesthood perhaps? Her eyes laughed, but there too was Knowing.
With her fragmented vision she saw them come to stand before what she took to be the altar. The rainbow colours responding to their presence and reverence. They placed things upon the altar… she could not see, but thought she caught the sparkle of crystal.
The woman stood behind the man, speaking something incomprehensible in a low voice.
He responded, chanting sacred words into the soft light. Part of her soul found them familiar, but not yet…the she who sat there knew, but she who looked through her eyes did not understand.
The pair moved around the sacred space, repeating the process, the unseen light responding and rising in a blue mist. She did not understand, but could see the purity and hope in their actions.
Her inner vision reached out into the landscape… following the lines of light between the sacred places. Yes, now she understood… they were trying to cleanse and heal the connections. This was her work, this she knew.
She added her will to theirs. Three … it was always better with three…
She watched as their clumsy, untutored attempt took effect, saw as she directed the energy they had called to the weakened places. It was strange, she could see the lines as they should be, as they were under her care. But they were weaker in this now. Blocked, diminished, interrupted by the works of man. They seemed forlorn and forgotten and she was saddened by their neglect, pleased that these two had seen and chosen to act in healing.
The two separated, sitting either side of the altar, deep in prayer or meditation… she joined them in thought, touching each mind with her own, giving them the blessing of the feathered seer.
Extract from The Initiate