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Hailey in a black floor length dress, the neckband, hem and sleeves were embroidered with floral pattern, leaned forward, elbows on knees she whispered, “So tell me what happened between you and Cole?”
Avril’s eyes crinkled in amusement remembering with clarity. “I didn’t imagine this could happen. I wasn’t looking for anybody,” she said quietly.
Hailey appeared amused. “Tell me more, what do you think of him?”
Avril was silent for a moment. “I don’t know it’s new. I defiantly want to see him again.”
Hailey shuffled herself closer to her. “I don’t remember seeing him before Ostara, what brings him here?” she whispered.
Avril leaned close to her. “He told me he and his mother moved to her family’s farm just after his father left for the tracking season,” she said quietly.
“He seemed to want to establish a relationship with you,” she said casually.
Avril couldn’t help giggling. “He wants more than my friendship,” she said, her face slightly pink.
“He seeks something deeper!”
“Cole talked about his friends, family and school life. He made me feel like I’m part of his life and he is devoted to me.”
Hailey studied her, then asked, “Seriously?!”
Avril smiled at her. “He wants a committed relationship,” she crooned.
Hailey straightened her shoulders. “Well, from what I saw he seemed to have some pretty good qualities,” she said with certainty.
Avril glanced at the hardwood floor, and then back at Hailey. “The thing is I am happy, but I am also sad,” she murmured. “I won’t see him again until Autumn Equinox.”
“Don’t dwell on that! I’m sure you are always in his thoughts,” Hailey said encouragingly.
Avril and Hailey went silent when they saw Priestess Angelica in a moss green floor length dress with empire waist enter the learning space. “Merry we meet,” she said, commanding her student’s full attention. She lit the frankincense incense and the humanitarian candle. “I hope all of you had a wonderful time at the Lughnasdha festival. Now it is time to get down to work. Would you please open your grimoire to the eighth month, August 5 to September 1st.
Avril held the unblemished book in her hands. The smell from the black leather cover was delightful. The upright gold pentacle embedded dazzled. She skimmed her fingers over the page.
The Priestess sat on a stool close to the fire place and silently reviewed her notes. Avril glanced around the room and saw the blessed candles flickered. Her sister-friends were stretched out comfortable. Well, all but one classmate. She observed Lilith tear a corner of paper off her book, pop it in her mouth and chew. Lilith removed something from her skirt pocket and quickly rose what appeared to be a tiny hollowed out stick to her lips. She took aim. A spit ball stuck in Corrina’s long, straight chocolate hair.
Lilith ripped off a small piece and put it in her mouth and chewed. She lifted into the air the projectile weapon. She tipped up the shooter to her lips, took a deep breath, aimed at Corrina and then blew hard. The spit ball went flying out of the tube. Corrina looked puzzled rubbing the back of her head.
Avril stared silent as Lilith raised her weapon, pointed it toward her target and spat the spit ball in Corrina’s hair again. Then Lilith simply placed the shooter in her skirt pocket.
Corrina shifted uncomfortably running her fingers in her hair.
Avril observing Lilith with a serious expression was astonished at her spitting spit balls at Corrina. She glanced from Corrina back to Lilith. Lilith seemed quite pleased with her self.
Avril looked at Lilith with strong disapproval and coolly lipped the words, “Leave her be!”
Lilith rolled her eyes at her. She tore a piece off her book paper, popped it in her mouth and chewed. She took a deep breath and aimed for intended target. Suddenly, a spit ball whizzed past Corrina’s head.
Corrina was startled, trying to absorb what was happening. She glanced down at the spit balls on the floor. She frowned as she looked at Lilith. Lilith had intimidation on her face as she glared at Corrina. Corrina turned around and gave Lilith, her back to face Priestess Angelica, shaking her hair with her hands quickly.
Avril thinking about the situation could feel the tension between them. Irritated, she had a momentary lapse in judgment. She decided to recite a counter-spell of her own. She concentrated on what she was saying under her breath, “Three bitters hast thou bitten the heart, ill eye, ill tongue, ill intent. A bitter shall be thy Boote. So shall it be.” And with her thumb and first finger tip she flicked the negative energy back at Lilith.
Lilith raised the tiny hollowed out stick, took a deep breath and aimed for Corrina. She hesitated, and then she choked as she tried to breathe in and out, coughing in her hand. After a few minutes, out flew a spitball, and then her cough subsided.
Avril satisfied by the outcome smiled to her self.
The Priestess glanced over at Avril, Corena, and back at Lilith, shaking her head at their behavior. “I suggest you use your spiritual power to overcome this difficult situation,” she said. “In the light…devote more time to find your divine center. With behavior change, comes energy change.” Lilith didn’t stress over it. She shot Corrina a hard look. Corrina suffered in silence. Avril switched to submissive mode and put her head down knowing the Priestess knew what had just taken place between them.
“In the Battle of the Trees, the Cad Gaddeu, the Hazel was ranked as a shrub whose personality was both generous and deceptive. The tree symbolizes fertility and immortality.
THE HAZEL WAS THE ARBITER
AT THIS CHARMED TIME
“In God form, the Hazel tree represents Branwen, a Welsh Goddess of love and beauty who tried to communicate peace and live up to her duties. As a queen she lived in misery. Due to a war that was no fault of her own, her two brothers were killed. Her only child is sacrificed and the love of her husband is taken away. Her brother, King Bran, was a hero and the God of poetry. He is honored between March 18 and April 14 on the Celtic calendar.”
Angelica turned to face Cortney, and asked, “Which tree on the Celtic calendar symbolizes Bran?”
“The Alder tree,” she quickly answered correctly.
Angelica paused then asked Corena, “In the Battle of the Trees, what was he ranked?”
Proud to know the answer, Corena replied, “Second from the top - Chieftain.”
The Priestess turned her head to look at Marley. “In the Tarot Deck, what card represented the Alder Tree – Bran?”
“Strength,” she answered.
The Priestess glanced at Shanna. “Would you give a definition for strength?”
Shanna nodded, knowingly. “Strength represents rulership and control of one’s self. It means to have courage in life to move forward with patience and perseverance. It’s exercising our personal power without being judgmental. It’s attempting to understand a person or situation without pity or anger,” she explained.
“I am so pleased that past lessons haven’t fallen on deaf ears,” Angelica said impressed. “The role of myths and legends is to relive old memories, restore old traditions and to allow the past to become a tangible reality. The stories allow us to gain wisdom from the experience. Even when things go wrong we can learn from the experience.” Angelica turn toward Hannah and asked, “Would you re-tell the myth of Branwen’s tortured life?”
Hannah looked at Angelica. “If I remember correctly,” she said. “The Goddess Branwen was the daughter of Llyr. She had four brothers, Bran, Nissyen, Manawydan, and Evnissyen. Bran became King of the Island of the Mighty, Britain. He was the Keeper of the Cauldron of Re-birth. Manawydan was respectful and an aristocrat. Nissyen was brotherly and known to make decisions for the good of all. Evnissyen was known as an unruly trickster, the personification of a malicious mischief-maker.
Matholwch, the King of Ireland, decided to take Branwen as his bride when she was of marriageable age. He sailed to Britain where he asked King Bran for his sister, Branwen’s hand in holy matrimony. King Bran discussed the proposal with Manawydan and Nissyen. They all agreed the union would be beneficial for both kingdoms. The couple, the countries and the people happily joined together. Large tents held plenty of food, drink and music. The reception went on into the wee hours of the morning. Quietly, Branwen and Matholwch retired to their chambers and consummated their union. Next morning, Branwen’s brother, Evnissyen, returned from his travels. He noticed that there were horses that he had never seen before resting in the stalls in the barn. The caretaker told him of his sister’s wedding to the King of Ireland. Evnissyen felt that such an important decision should not have been made without his input. Enraged, he slaughtered Matholwch’s horses with his blade. The tale of the gruesome deed spread quickly.
Kingt Matholwch and Queen Branwen prepared to leave Britain’s shore immediately. Bran discovered it was his own brother who had gravely insulted the union. King Bran offered to replace the horses as well as a handsome amount of silver and gold. Matholwch declined. Bran sends his men to ask Matholwch what it would take for forgiveness. As only the grandest gift would do, Bran compensated Matholwch with the Cauldron of Re-birth. The Cauldron was very magical. It had the power to transform anything that was tossed into it and the power to bring back to life anything that was dead. If something was thrown into the Cauldron it would not perish but would loop inside and come out reborn.
When the newlyweds returned to Ireland the people fell in love with Queen Branwen. They were in awe of her beauty and fairness. Branwen gave the kingdom a future king named Gwen. Branwen’s popularity soared. Matholwch’s advisers and close associates schemed behind the new mother’s back. Over time they convinced her husband, the King that she also needed to pay for her brother’s offense to their royal property. Branwen was stripped of her comforts. She was forced to cook for the entire court. At night she slept alone, forbidden to see her husband and son. The punishment went further when none of the ships from her homeland were allowed to dock. Branwen complied and suffered for three long years. Finally, she could bear no more.
Branwen accessed her wise woman’s powers and shape-shifts into a starling, her token bird for protection, hope, family unity, and communication. She flew back to Britain and communicated her fate to her brother. She then returned to Ireland in fear of the wrath of her husband’s advisers, but with hope that she would be rescued.
King Bran gathered his armies and traveled to Ireland leaving seven of his most trusted men behind in charge of Britain. Legend states that King Bran carried his men, ships and cargo on his back through the open sea. Matholwch moved his army across the River Shannon then burned the bridge. King Bran and his faithful men reached the river’s edge. He was determined to save his sister. Bran said, “He who will be chief, let him be the bridge.” He then lay down and stretched his enormous body from side to side of the River Shannon. King Bran’s armies marched safely to the other side. King Matholwch was defeated. In order to bring peace he declared that he would no longer mistreat Queen Branwen and he would offer his son the kingship.
To please King Bran, Matholwch promised to build a castle large enough to house Bran’s immense frame. Bran’s ego was sufficiently fed and he agreed to drop his battle swords. The Irish built the huge building with hidden motives. Secretly, they had planned to attack King Bran. In different corners of each room they had tied leather bags on wooden pegs. Each bag hid a warrior, covered with flour, waiting to fight. Evnissyen decided to inspect the construction of the rooms. Curious, he opened the leather bags and uncovered the Irish plot against his brother. One by one, he squeezed the head of each warrior until they burst. Evnissyen, still suspicious of Matholwch’s motives, tossed Gwen into the fire during his kingship. Branwen dove into the fire to save her son but was stopped. A battle broke out between the two kings and their people. King Matholwch was determined to win. He commanded that his dead soldiers be tossed into the Cauldron of Re-birth. Each one came back to life. Bran’s army became outnumbered. Evnissyen gave his life in an attempt to stop the slaughter. He snuck into the Cauldron of Re-birth and stretched his frame outward until the magical pot cracked and broke open. It was too late to save Bran’s life. He had become mortally wounded in his heel by a poisonous spear.
Branwen accompanied Bran’s seven trusted men to his burial. On their travels to London Bran’s skull relayed the secret knowledge. Branwen could not overcome the sadness of losing her two brothers, her child and the love of her husband. She died of a broken heart shortly after Bran’s death. Matholwch, unskilled, abuses the powers of the Cauldron of Re-birth. He, too, is killed and his land was left barren.”
“Congratulation Hannah on your story-telling skills,” Angelica said. “The stories of the Goddess and God are re-told because their relationship affects the fruitfulness of their land and people.”
Lilith interrupted Angelica’s lesson. “Tell me,” she said. “Why Branwen did not access her magical powers and right the wrong for herself?” The topic became a class discussion.
“I believe it was out of wifely duty,” Marley protested.
“I – think Branwen might have complied because her brothers, Bran, Nissyen and Manawydan felt it was best thing to do,” Hailey countered.
“We can learn from and gain wisdom, from Branwen’s experience. The myth contains a message for growth. When one comes under great pressure and hardship,” Angelica tried to explain. “It is human not to think in a straight line because our emotions play a large role in our decisions. Most of the time we try to please everyone and, in the end, we please none. The events, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn. Whatever action we take is necessary to reach the places we’ve chosen to go. Millions of decisions lead us there. Wisdom decides the journey.”
Angelica adjusted her position slightly. “Wisdom is having or showing good judgments,” she said. “It’s about being sensible, sound, prudent, and aware of what’s going on around you. Knowledge is something learned and kept in the mind. It is understanding gained by actual experience and a clear perception of the truth. Knowledge is being informed and wisdom is accumulated learning. Wisdom is the realization through knowledge and experience that what is of concern today may not be as important tomorrow, and when a mistake is made we can learn from the experience. If and when we are standing at the threshold of a similar mistake, the situation can be improved when wisdom is applied.”
“No matter what the reason was, poor choices were made all around. Branwen should not have relinquished all her will to others,” Cortney added.
“In Branwen’s day and time women had few rights. There was no choice of individual style. Females took what was offered and learned how to conform. Today, we have the choice to take responsibility for our lives. You can try to be anything you want to be.”
Obligingly, Avril bent over her book, writing the words spoken by Angelica.
Angelica raised the tarot card the High Priestess. “The Hazel tree is connected to the High Priestess in the Tarot deck which symbolizes the law of inherent wisdom,” she explained. “The tarot card represents the intuitive, often hidden, knowledge linked to the moon. In a reading, the High Priestess represents having faith in the power of one’s own intuition and inner knowledge to gain wisdom and move forward.”
Avril eyes turned on the tarot card Angelica held in her hand and studied the pictured symbols; she looked down and went on writing the words she heard.
“The High Priestess is a woman who wears a long, elegant, light blue robe, sitting on a stone slab,” Angelica lectured. “A vestment of flowing fabric behind her is a symbol to allow freedom from all excesses. The fronds with pointed leaves represent the male principle and the pomegranates are the symbol for the female aspect; the fruitfulness of reproduction adorned the material. A thick, black pillar with the capital B (Boaz) to her left and a thick, white pillar with a capital J (Jachin) to her right, stand solid. The black pillar, the negation of activity, infers darkness, female intuition, and sacred knowledge. The white pillar, the positive aspect of life, polarity of darkness, established the principle inherent to all things light.”
None looked up from their page as they, wrote out Angelica’s words. “The hem of her gown cascades over a crescent moon which represents the stream of consciousness from the unknown - a new beginning. The yellow floor symbolizes that her intellect, knowledge and communication which are built on firm foundations. She partly covers the Tora-Rota, which indicates hidden knowledge, with her right hand. Her actions symbolize the information is not for all eyes to see, it is secret information found within an individual’s heart to further growth. On the center of her chest is a Solar Cross with equal arms - the vertical distinguishes female energy and the horizontal represents male energy or the union with Goddess and God. This is the union of negative and positive elements of the four quarters and feminine and masculine energies. The polarity matter signifies re-birth and reproduction.
“The High Priestess wears a Moon crown. The rich band worn on her head shows two crescent moons on the side of a full moon and a veil covers the mysteries of her brain. The waning and waxing of the moon, with a full moon in the middle, represents cycles and her intuition. The ability of knowing is implied, good or bad. The blue background represents understanding and attainment of a peaceful, intuitive life.”
Angelica shifted her gaze to Marley and asked, “What does the High Priestess tarot card mean to you?”
Marley sat on the floor, looked up from her writing and stared at the tarot card. “Mystery and suspense that can take you high or take you low,” she said.
There was an uncomfortable silence. Marley glanced down at her notes, and then raised her head from the page. “I’m unable to define the card any further,” she admitted.
“Defiantly a simplified interpretation, but you’re right, you know?”
Angelica glanced at Shanna and asked politely, “What is the influence of the High Priestess tarot card?”
Shanna took a moment to study the card, looked at her and said, “The High Priestess indicates it is time to rely on intuition rather than logic because hidden influences are at work. It is to recall the vastness of potential and remember the unlimited possibilities. The High Priestess is opening up to what can be, looking beyond the obvious while sensing the secret and hidden.”
Hannah had studied the picture-symbols on the tarot card. She glanced over at Shanna and added, “The High Priestess withdraws from involvement and allows events to proceed without intervention. She becomes calm and passive while she waits patiently, aware of the larger reality by using her intuition. She trusts her inner voice as she opens to the unknown. The High Priestess looks beyond the obvious surface situation and knows what’s hidden and obscure then applies her wisdom. The scroll she holds in her hand is the memory we all carry within us of our past, present and future. The High Priestess sits at the doorway of a temple. She is ready and willing to allow all aspiring students entry. The key words for the High Priestess are I know.”
Angelica smiled her approval, and then asked Avril, “How would you interpret the High Priestess if the Tarot card came up in a reading you are giving?”
Avril looked at the tarot card and then back at Angelica. “The High Priestess poses a challenge for one to go deeper within themselves and look beyond the obvious. There are things that are hidden and obscure in the situation,” she answered.
Angelica turned to face Corenea. “Give your own version of the High Priestess,” she said, gesturing at the tarot card.
Corenea took some time concentrating on the tarot card. “Know yourself well enough to understand your own shortcomings,” she said “Honestly assess weakness - moral bravado - generous, ego gratification - deception. Knowledge is an important part of wisdom.
Angelica nodded her head in agreement.
The lunch bell tolled. Angelica put down the tarot card and stood up. “You’re excused,” she said.
Everyone rose to their feet, and then left the learning space to enjoy lunch.
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