Well, I named the blog “Three Different Ways”, so I suppose it should be no surprise that it takes a lesson to appear in three different forms to get my attention. I only wish I knew for sure what I was being initiated into.
The Tarot Spread:
“Horseshoe” Spread, as I learned from the Hanson and Roberts tarot deck. Used the Legacy of the Divine deck, no reversals. As this was Midsummer’s Eve, why not see what I am to learn this Summer Solstice?
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 Recent Past (The Setup) : Page of Cups
Tumultuous, emotional, yet educational and the waters that feed the growing tree. I will always have a deep emotional well from which to drink the waters of life, but I must leave the immaturity of youth behind. I can no longer indulge in careless rapture.
 Present (The Here and Now) : The Moon (XVIII)
Am I descending into more madness, or ascending into the vividness of the fullness of life? I am surrounded by illusions, false shadows, and false light. The time of preparation is over, this is the time to walk through the Valley of Shadows. If I give in to fear, I am lost.
 Internal influence(s) (From Within) : 8 of Wands
I have more internal strength, power, and will than I think. If only I get out of my own way, and allow that power to rise. The bow I thought surrendered, never left me after all.
 External influence(s) (From Without) : 2 of Swords
My life has been one of forced compromises from the very beginning. And the pain of split duality continues down even to my appearances. I must be one way in private, and another way in public. Every step is measured to maintain this bleeding edge balance. It is tempting to think I will be continuing this balancing act for the rest of my life. Such stasis, is an illusion, and a death. Be prepared for the compromise to end.
 The Challenge and/or Lesson (The Gate) : The Hermit (IX)
The lessons I need to learn will not be found in a book, or on a website. The people I confide in may help point the way, but ultimately, I must walk this alone. I have to work out who (what) Keri is for myself. What I find out may not be able to come back with me when (if) I return to “the city”, but it will change me. Not everyone will be pleased with the Keri that emerges, but then I must do this for myself or it is only another illusion, another madness.
 Near Future (First Repercussion) : The Devil (XV)
Sorely tempting to say the equivalent of “The devil made me do it!”. So easy to be ecstatically drunk with the everything of living that I am distracted from the long term goals. How can I get anything done, when the devil has all the tools I need? (See card image.) I must stand up for myself, and take back those tools. Leave not one behind. Every step I take into the wilderness, I will be hounded by my fears trying to steal my work away. The hounds of despair will come. I must not give in.
 Far Future (Second Repercussion) : 7 of Wands
I know this card refers to being assaulted in mass, by people or by circumstances. But in this particular deck, with this particular imagery, I see another meaning. I see the Initiate taking the first steps through the Gate. Facing the new challenges that await him in the guardians that would beat him back through that same gate he just entered through. The Hermit has finished one stage of his journey. He now begins the next.
So, in answer to the question I posed, “what I am to learn this Solstice?”, the answer is simple. “It’s time to step forward. Begin.”
I’m helping Elbrand with his computers. He’s in the middle of moving his pet website from one hoster to another. It was my job to assist in backing up the data and make sure nothing of value was lost. The large backup file was already in the process of downloading to his local system. As I kept an eye on the screen, he poured me a cup of coffee and handed it to me as he sipped his own.
There was nothing to indicate I was dreaming. All around me was behaving as it should. The chair squeaked as I sat down. The echo of his voice off the walls was as expected. We were discussing what to do with the options the new hosters had opened for him. I was dressed in normal “tech” clothes. A nice enough shirt, but with jeans in case I had to chase cables again. He was dressed in the uniform for his store, as the store was open at the time.
Idle chit chat filled the air. We were discussing different forum platforms when one of his employees opened the office door and interrupted us.
“Hey, Elbrand. Sorry to interrupt, but there’s a weird character out front and I don’t know what she’s asking for.”
Elbrand looked up from his coffee. In the distance I heard a heavily accented female voice talking with another employee. “What is she asking for?”
“She’s asking if a particular woman works here, but it’s a name I’ve never heard before. I’ve told her no one works here with that name, but she is adamant about it.” I felt a slight chill of fear. I said nothing, though, and continued sipping my coffee.
Elbrand took another swig of coffee. “Well, what’s the name?” The employee told him. Elbrand and I almost drop our coffee. The name is a moniker, a pseudonym, that I use on the internet and only on the internet. Elbrand knows the name, but none of the employees do, as I prefer to keep them out of my online life. He and I look at each other in alarm. “Daniel, are you sure that’s the name she’s looking for and that she’s sure that woman is here?”
Daniel nodded vigorously, his ponytail bouncing along in agreement. “She’s sure this woman either works here or hangs out here, but she can’t describe how she looks. But, you’ve got to see this woman, Elbrand. Not only does she have an interpreter, she has a crown!”
Elbrand and I both get up, but he places a hand on my shoulder. “Keri, I don’t know what this is about. I’d rather you stay back here until I get to the bottom of this.” He pushes me slightly. I drop back into my chair. As he leaves he tells Daniel to sit with me and make sure I stay out of harm’s way. For once, Daniel has no wisecrack answer.
Elbrand closes the office door behind him, but not completely. Daniel and I are able to hear the conversation with ease. “Hello and welcome, ladies!” His voice is smooth and jovial, as if he had expected them to come. “My employee tells me you’re looking for someone. Perhaps I can be of assistance.”
I hear a woman’s voice, but she is speaking something like Spanish. No, it’s something like French. The speaker stops and the deeply accented second voice speaks, in English. A translator. I hear the foreign language again, and realize it’s Italian. The women are explaining they have tracked a person known only by her internet pseudonym to Elbrand’s store. If the woman they seek don’t work here, then she is spending much time there. As Elbrand explains the level of privacy the woman are attempting to breach, my mind is working on the few clues I have been given.
The two women speak Italian. One of them, wears a crown. I hear them mention online acquaintances of mine that share a connection with them, no matter how thin. My face blanches at the sole conclusion the clues are racing towards. Daniel looks at me and asks if I know who the women are. “I think so, and if I’m right, Elbrand better not piss them off.” I stand up and swiftly head for the door.
Of course, right then, I hear him say in severe tones, “I think you better tell me who you are before I say anything else about my friend.” There is a tense silence. The Italian speaks a short burst of syllables. The translator echoes in English. “All she needs to know, is I am Lady Diana…”
Before she can finish, I burst through the door and finish the words for her. “… of the Strega. Madam, I am the one you seek, but my name is Kerian Nox.” I bow slightly as I introduce myself.
Elbrand looks at me crossly. I return the glare. He mutters, “This woman can’t possibly be her. Where’s her entourage? Her last appearance was a media event, not two women with a silly tin cap.” He starts to continue, but my icy glare encourages him to finish. “You don’t leave this store with them. I will have Daniel tie your ass up if you try.”
“Your concern for your friend is overwhelming, Sir. The Lady only wishes to speak with Ms. Nox, not carry her away.” The translator is audibly cross with Elbrand, but Lady Diana is patient and waiting. As if she expected Elbrand to get in the way.
“My friend, may I borrow a side room for a moment?” My words were pleading, my tone was commanding. Elbrand stiffened for a moment, eyed Lady Diana warily, then began to call for Daniel. As soon as he took the breath to speak, Daniel came out of the side room, “Keri, the table and chairs are set up for you.” Daniel took my arm and squeezed gently. “I’m right outside if you need help.”
Daniel held the door open for Lady Diana and me. There were three folding chairs set up inside. Two on one side of the cloth covered table, one on the other. Lady Diana smoothed out the stars, moon, and sun printed fabric as I sat across from her. She looked up at me in askance.
“The store offers tarot readings. They’re done at this table.” I realized there was supposed to be a third person, but I was suddenly hard pressed to remember who else was to join us. I stared at the empty chair beside her, trying to remember.
She just nods in comprehension, and follows my gaze. In a smooth, almost syrupy voice, she says clearly, “We won’t be needing this.” She touches the folding chair and it dissolves into nothing. I feel a shift in the perception of reality around me. I know that I’m not in a normal world, but I don’t realize I’m dreaming.
“You tried very hard to hide one world from another, Kerian. But I’ve been watching. Not only myself, but others. It was very trivial to track you down.” Her mastery of English is complete, the Italian accent smoothing over the hard consonants into a caramel tone. Strangely, I was not surprised to hear her speak thus.
“I understand you have been searching for something. You have come very close in your solitary travels. But you have reached a limit to your excursions. While you could continue forward, your pace would be very limited. I would like to offer you something, something special and rare. A treasure.” As she spoke, the shelves on the walls in the small room shimmered. At first only the items on the shelves dissolved into a neutral gray, but soon the shelves and even the walls themselves dissolved into an expanse of gray. So that there was only Lady Diana (or what I perceived to be Lady Diana), the chairs we sat on, and the cloth covered table we sat at. It was at this point, that I realized I was dreaming. But I did not attempt to change the course of the dream.
As “Lady Diana” finished explaining what she was offering to me, my manner of dress changed from the normal everyday wear, to the black coat et al., of my “magic robes”. My opal felt snug against my chest as I tried to see around the glamour of the “person” before me. But she remained as Lady Diana of the Strega, and she was offering me, an outsider to her world if there ever was one, initiation into her world.
I turned over her words end over end and side over side, trying to see where the double meaning was evident. But try as I could, I was only able to parse them at face value. If I needed confirmation that I was dreaming, the impossibility of what was being offered to me would be it. She sat there, patiently, waiting for an answer.
“Lady Diana.” I measured my words carefully. Despite knowing I’m dreaming, I was still at the dream’s mercy. And there was a quality to this dream, a vividness far beyond mere lucidity, that made me very cautious. “Lady Diana, I will not lie, your offer intrigues and pulls at me. But I am a rebellious and untameable creature. The mere presence of leash will cause me to buck. I do not think I would be able to adapt to the type of solidarity a coven requires.”
She smiles. “Dear Kerian, it is precisely that same rebelliousness that is what I am looking for. You would bring to us, a sharp infusion of fresh blood, so to speak. And in return, we will teach you the discipline and inclusion you have been looking for.” I licked my lips in unspoken want. I took a deep breath, and said my peace.
“Lady Diana, I am spoken for. I am in service to a godform already.” She interjected that she knew of my service to Loki already, and had taken that into account. Undaunted, I continued. “I can not serve two masters, I tried that for several years and I still suffer the repercussions from it. Either I break my sworn oath to Loki and devote myself to the Strega, or I betray the Strega at the command of Loki. Either way, there will be blood, tears, and anguish, and not all of it will be mine.”
“Yes, Lady Diana, I do want to be a part of something larger than myself, but this is not the time for that. Respectfully, and lamentably, Lady Diana, I must decline and refuse your offer of initiation.”
Lady Diana had her right hand resting on the table cloth the entire time I was speaking. When I finished, she raised her hand off the table and brought it up to her side almost in a gesture of blessing. (Or invocation.) As her hand lifted, the stars, moons, and suns that were printed onto the table cloth also raised into the air. Multiplying and brightening, the celestial objects filled the space between us and surrounded us so that the air was filled with their brilliance.
Her voice smoothed into what I thought the voice of the Empress (card) would be. “Too late, Kerian Nox. Too late to turn back now. You see, your initiation has already begun.” The celestial objects flared in unbelievable brightness and overwhelmed my senses.
The transfer from dreaming to waking was smooth. I woke gently in my bed, flashes of light swirling in my eyes. I looked over to see the first glimmers of sunlight sneaking into my window. Dawn of the Solstice was upon me.
The cell phone buzzed twice before dancing in energetic tones. I recognized the number as one of my closest friends. “Hello, my dear, I know you hate leaving messages so I don’t want to leave you destitute, but I only have a few minutes to talk.” We greet and tease and cajole and comfort each other.
Then he chills the warming day with icy shock. “I have a book for you, Kerian. It’s a book that I know you need right now. You can say, it’s an “esoteric initiation” of sorts.” Oh. Hell. There’s that word again.
He goes on to tell me teasing bits about the book, but every time he comes back to the same drumbeat. The book, no matter how much he delights in it himself, is meant for me, and is meant to be an initiatory event for me. He’s calling for an address to mail it to, as he has made it his Will to send it to me at once. He assures me, when I receive the book, I’ll understand why he’s being coy about it, and why he feels so strongly about it. Today is Tuesday, the book is scheduled to arrive on Friday.
At first I dismissed the dream as an echo of the tarot reading that I had not finished interpreting last night. (Random house is random.) But after having the word “initiation” all but slapped upside my head in the morning, I decided to give both dream and tarot reading a closer look.
I’m always hesitant to post tarot readings online. Show the same Celtic Cross throw to fifty tarot readers, you’ll get a hundred different interpretations. I’m really nervous when my friends post readings I’ve done for them. I might have a fear of rejection. But this is one I haven’t been able to shake, and with the dream and call that followed, it had to be presented.
Who knows, maybe you’ll see something I missed.
I have a lot of thinking (and doing) to do. I thought at first the tarot spread was laying out what was in store. But as “Lady Diana” said, I’ve already started. I’ve already set out on the path. And I’ve already started to be confronted by distractions. But I want to step through that gate. I want to see what I become. I will not be daunted.
Make of that, what you may.