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Chalice and Cauldron

(a poem and a prose piece posted in the spirit of dialogue.)

A Bedtime Story

"Makes you lonely and cold
standing on the shoulder.
But you've come too far to go back home,
so you're walking on a nowhere road."
           Walon and Willy

One rider in winter, wasted,
caught in thorn of thicket and
walking his exhausted horse;
who comes to clearing, who sees
white mansion. Bones of those
who came before spread across
perimeter of father ground,
who tested, feared the fall, and so fell.

And the door, the tower door,
with secret clasp that needs the key,
just one more name for right word,
for spoken touch to unlock the thing.
And door that opens, and his constant
horse led away, gentled, taken to rest.

With outrider here, I saw him straight,
shown inside the chambers, through
successive rooms, again the doors, again
the trials, again the litter of bones;
when finally the last door unlocks
and all it takes is true color of breath.

The inside room. How, sweet friend,
to picture the brilliance of that place?

Sun is yellow star they say. Moon white
moves the metric warmth they say again.
In center spin system molts and Milky Way births.
In fertile life there is death. In death, life.

And still the carnage of failure to step across,
to see and hear and clear the way,
as he does the thing, as he steps up since
it is the only worth and start of sunburst.

On hinge of stone and central to
this largest room stands the source.
The cup, the chalice, the golden bowl
whose last step, or so we hope, is close
when journey soldier must do his best,
take the chance, scald his senses, and
look inside to focus find what's there.

All the greens imagined in that cauldron,
all the shades, moist to cool, all
the interlock of vine, skin bark, and
grove oak boughs spread to open;
or until the fall occurs, and he
standing in the garden, the enclosure, in
patio surround, nimbus of wet light,
in songbird sound and cover uncovered.

One fountain. One sip of water. And Her.


For the ancient Celts, the cauldron was a symbol for the sources of life, death, and rebirth. In it was brewed the healing potion made of medicinals and charms. Ingested incorrectly, however, the potion could spell death. And the cauldron's third property was in the inspirational drink it offered, which was the drink of memory, of mystical knowledge, and of the renewal whereby the old year's spirit was made new again. The potion's recipe was, of course, hidden from all. It was hidden by the wise women who tended to the concoction, who kept the cauldron's underneath fires burning through out the year, and who saw all of what transpired through out the surrounding territory for which they were responsible. One of their members, in fact, was the Territorial Queen. Her name was Sovereignty. And it was she who chose from the territory the special one who, once a year, would drink from the cauldron. She would mount her white horse, cross over the bridge, and she would bring back with her the one she had elected to stand as surety for the folk. She would set him on her steed and she would lead by the reins. And the chosen one it was who would sip from the potion without knowing if it meant life, death, or rebirth. Apparently, no one else knew either what the issue would be, not even the mothers who knew everything. What everyone did know, however, and with the sharpness of young eyes, is that someone had to do it. Someone had to be favored by the Queen and drink from the cauldron of experience. Someone who knew that it could mean death, but that it could also mean new life. And until such a one succeeded, which did not happen every year, the fields would grow sere, the lakes become unpeopled of fish, the forests grow dark and gameless, and the village arts would go wrong no matter the efforts. Sometimes there were many who tried, year after year, and who failed. Those were the bad years when the folk became strangers to each other, when the children were left outside, when lovers quarreled, when the Great Migrations occurred, and when the Queen's white mare became a nightmare. But still the mothers would keep the fires going and keep the cauldron brewing, since, they knew everything. The oddest part about the story is that even when the folk went seeking out other lands, they knew there were no lands where the Queen did not reside. She was, after all, the Territorial Queen, and her village was the beehive where there was always the home-feeling. And so when the time of the year came for the selected one to drink from the cauldron, the mothers who were present and the villagers who waited all knew when the serious business had been accomplished. They knew this because when the potion gave replenishment, it also gave the wisdom of the familiar, the memory in the earth, plant and sky, and the inspiration of waters. Soon surety would cross back over the bridge, the territory dance a jig, the Queen would return to her replenished places, and the chatty mothers would turn to tending their fires again. One last note. No one was a stranger anymore, at least for another year.


Last edited by Terreson, Mar/6/2011, 5:23 pm
Mar/6/2011, 4:49 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
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Re: Chalice and Cauldron

You know? I meant this thread as a reply to something Libra is chasing down. I had mostly forgotten about the prose piece, written almost exactly 20 years ago. I read it differently this year. Reads like a parable of our times to me.

Mar/6/2011, 6:26 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
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Re: Chalice and Cauldron

"Sovereignty" -- a distaff Grail Queen tale?

Something of the King for comparison:

Old King's Cold/Grail King

And the old King dies.
Sends out his mortal ghost
to dance on Olympian plains.
I am the mighty he;
ruled wisely while I was allowed;
sold my soul to please the crowd;
withered on the vine divine.
There is no more of me.
Drink from the golden Grail,
Oh New Found King.
You are triumphant.
A bright dawn upon the kingdom
offers sparkling hope,
new dreams aborning.
Don't despair old peasant folk,
though you think despair all you
can cling to.
The Fisher King has returned
from his desert adventures.
He brings the tides to
slake the thirst
of this arid land.
I beg you yet again
to take a stand.
Take harness, plow your pastures.
Believe that the seed will take hold.
Listen to the heralds
shouting lines in the sand.
They know a flood is coming
after many a hard rain --
but don't despair!
It is a flood of fertility,
a harbinger promising carpets of grain
and lush vegetation.
All this is promised if you
do your part.
The old King, so long dying of his
festering wounds, has poisoned you
with ill-fated rule.
Cast out the poison from your hearts.
Tend your fields with a will
and a song.
Never forget you are free.
Never forget that responsibility.

(c) November 16, 2008 Laurie Corzett/libramoon

and the hero's tale:


Pearls from the Sun
Diamonds from the Moon
Gold-dusted silks from
exotic worlds
Valued in danger, adventure
from there to here.
Fine old wood
mellowed with wisdom
tasting of Earth
silently regales with tales
old and pure.

Young Percival took knighthood seriously. To protect and to serve King and country.
The old King sickening, perhaps dying, soul sickness they said.
Crops failed. Floods and droughts, inopportune times. The peasants too sickened,
died, lived in dreadful poverty and despair.
In a dream, the young knight was shown the Grail -- shiny jewels upon a golden cup
self-generating elixir of immortality.
On awakening, he took off in the direction of adventure. He left the dying kingdom
to its own devices, in search of a promised land of magical curative power. He was
not thinking of King or country, but of a delicious ecstatic pounding he knew to be
his own heart.

Where do you ride, fair Percival?
Off to find the dreamer's Grail?
Learn your song and tell your tale.
Become a son of Sky and Earth
and rain
to return with all you gain
some wondrous day.
Break the spell.
Release the kingdom's pain.

He learned the ways of seers, demons, subtle sorceries and charms. Growing ever
stronger with healthy exercise and happy purpose, he made his way. Trial by
treacherous trial, he ever more closely approaches his prize.
These trials are the key. They test mettle while bestowing grace, confidence,
skill acquisition, glimmerings of wisdom. The prize glitters, shines, glows
brilliantly in the distance to maintain focus, a clear point, fixed star to contemplate
through twisting, turning, misty mythic pathways.
Sometimes the brick is yellow. Some paths are more intuitive, steps in the dark,
brambly forest.
Percival knows what a hero does. A hero perseveres. A hero scales the tower to free
the enchanted maiden, goes where others dare not because fear is a solid companion.
Daring, fighting, sometimes dazed, momentarily forgetting his cause, he perseveres.
He need but think to look to see his Grail shining, calling him forward.
Of course, he reaches the Grail, discovers the codes, incantations, disarms dragons,
ensorcels giants, generally blazes through to capture his dream.
Returning triumphant, he fixes the kingdom, drop-kicks the curse, cures the old King
of his soul malady, takes the throne to wisely guide into times of prosperity.
So the story goes.

(c) June 14, 2008 Laurie Corzett/libramoon

Fairy tales
Crafting charismatic archetypes
To sing the ancient ballads that
carried the dreamer
Moonless, yet lit by reflection

Fairy Tale
A memory of haunting nostalgia
I cannot not touch it, taste it, hold it, know it, breathe it
Still it picques me at the corner of my eye, below the level of perception.
The words escape me.
One must be very careful of words.
They hold great power, mystic and legal and personal.
Words can weave a whole world, a whirl of worlds, a wild wind of words
They can create reality for those who get caught up in them.
The right word at the right time can catalyze miracles.
The right word at the wrong time can destroy the eternal.
How might I find the words to capture my dream, my destiny?
Enter the Fool upon the Precipice, prattling ditties of the daily airwaves.
She is whirling blithely, eyes upon a distant rainbow, breathing in clouds
Breathing out daisies and daffodils and a brilliance of pansies.
She is dancing to her own symphony, entranced in her deepest essence.
Without thought, without prayer, without a government authorized identity
There are no guarantees, no happy ending.
There is a tale I try to tell.
Its point escapes me, withering into fairydust.
I breathe in the poisoned air, drink the poisoned water, eat the poisoned food
Like a desperately swimming fish in a polluted bowl, like a creature of the streets eating garbage,
Like a child.
The pattern is corrupted, but I follow it as best I can.
I have been told that if I can properly put the pieces in place
All will be revealed; all will be peace and beauty and love.
The pieces of my shattered heart.

Mar/6/2011, 10:55 pm Link to this post Send Email to libramoon   Send PM to libramoon Blog
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Re: Chalice and Cauldron

There are two takes on the case of Merlin and Vivian. First has it the wizard got seduced by the sorcerress. Once she got the last of his secrets she trapped him in crystal. Second take says Merlin, so loved by the last High Priestess to the Goddess, was encased in crystal to save him from death.

Merlin to Vivian
(maybe just before she encases him in crystal)

I see you best

when you push me in my steps,
when yours becomes the way,

and your body tilts the ocean,
and you meet your touch to fires you crave;

when you stop yourself from killing boredom's hurt,
when you keep yourself sane,

and you show the world your naked luster,
and you show us all grace in the gloom;

when your breath touches me, when you trust,
when you tell the policeman I'm yours to keep,

and the baby you bloom is yours alone,
and the smell you smell is yours alone;

when the night you wake to is your friend,
when I am not the enemy,

and your belly's need pulls on love,
and your belly need calls on death;

when you no longer care to know yourself,
when you stare clean through the stars;
and the cave you keep is your home again,
and you are what grounds me in the way you do.

Mar/7/2011, 12:46 am Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson

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