THE LEGEND OF WATERWOMAN
Dear Friends, this month we return to an old legend. The version of it you will read here is my telling of it and does not follow exactly any of the originals. Read it, and feel the power of legend and story. Meditate with it; there is much in it to contemplate. Dear friends in Luxembourg introduced me to this story and I am grateful to them for sharing it with me.
The next new message will be posted July 15. In the meantime, if you are seeking encouragement or affirmation, please look through the list of past messages. They continue to be timely. May 2001, "The Labyrinth," is well worth re-reading at the present time.
This spring I wish you joy in the celebration of life, the constant renewal of life, even in the midst of the suffering that continues in our world. I wish you the strength and courage, compassion and awareness our world increasingly demands....Donna
This story is an interpretation, of an ancient legend found in Luxembourg, Germany, France, and in one form or another, in many other countries. At one time human, spirit, animal, bird and earth were deeply connected, even interchangeable. There was magic in the everyday, and magic was not something forbidden or fearful, esoteric and occult. Magic was simply the state in which people lived. Many of the old legends speak of enchanted kingdoms. The earth is an enchanted kingdom full of magic. As people lost their right relationship to the earth, as they turned their eyes and hearts to a distant heaven, a faraway god, they lost the key to the magic kingdom. For many centuries the enchanted kingdoms continued to exist. They are glimpsed in the legends of Avalon and the fairy realms. Legends are beyond truth and fiction. They have a truth, but it is not the truth as we know it today. They tell of experience that once was ours, that we no longer know except in our dreams and visions and our longing.
So come now to a world that was and is and will be, the enchanted kingdom that dwells always at the heart of the material world, the enchanted kingdom where we can still experience magic. There is a great wisdom in the ancient legends: as the human being has become separated from spirit, bird, animal, earth, so pride and arrogance have developed. This pride and arrogance cause much suffering in the world. When we experience our connection to, our oneness with, spirit, animal, bird and earth, we lose our arrogance and our pride. We take our place in the great community.
So hear now the story of Waterwoman.
Once upon a time those men they call the Romans came to an enchanted kingdom, full of forests and rivers, hidden in mists. They came bearing the cross. This cross was new to them also, and they did not understand its true nature, its deep meaning. They wielded it as they would a sword. They took the cross, which was meant to carry the message of love and peace, and made of it a weapon. As they marched through the enchanted kingdoms they used the cross to banish the spirits, so they could better take possession of the land and the people. They built churches upon the holy places. They planted crosses. The gentle spirits of trees and spring, river and lake, even the fierce spirits of wind and rock and fire came to fear that cross. And so, when the spirits saw the cross, they fled, deep into the earth, far away from human eyes. Deep into the underground springs and caverns the spirits retreated.
As they went, the legends grew. You must understand, the spirits of the trees missed their trees and were called to their trees, to tend them. The spirits of the springs and lakes and rivers missed their springs and lakes and rivers, and were called to them, to attend to them. So the spirits came at night. They learned to hide, to go in great care when they sensed the presence of a human being. Once upon a time the spirit and the human being had been companions, now they became enemies. The gentle spirits, the fierce spirits, all began to view the human being with doubt, and when they say the cross they fled in terror. The spirits learned they could manifest in human form, and in that way come more safely into the world.
And so one day long ago, in this time of great transition, as the spirits retreated and the order of the world was changing, a man who was not a Roman, but who had joined with them, went out riding with his soldiers. He was born in the enchanted kingdom. His people had dwelled on the land for centuries. Now he wore the cross around his neck but deep in his body he carried the memories of the ancient gods, the native spirits. He felt the heaviness of the cross against his heart as he rode through the timeless forest. That heaviness grew in him. He desired to sleep. The ancient memory, the ancient dream, stirred in him. "Go ahead" he said to his men, "I will find you."
He slid from his horse, barely able to stand. He made his way to a great oak by the bank of the river, stumbling a little. He lay down to sleep. This man was the son of the king who befriended the Emperor Constantine, the king who helped to build the great cathedral that rose above the ancient temple, down the river, over the hill. This man could have been named Sigfried. Imagine that he was. He slept and dreamed and in the dream he heard a song, a beautiful secret song of spirit. Slowly he emerged from his dream. He opened his eyes and saw the green leaves above him. He felt the earth and the grass below. He heard the river flowing by. And he realized in the sound of the river he heard still the song of his dream, carried through the spring air, soft, caressing, inviting. He sat up and opened his eyes, and there beside the river was a young woman, dark of hair, dressed in white, and she sang that lovely, haunting dream song. Sigfried felt a great longing arise in his heart, and he closed his eyes again, just for a moment. When he opened them, she was gone and so was the song. Did he dream? He shook his head, closed his eyes and opened them again. She was not there. And yet, he said to himself, it was no dream...I must find her. Who is she?
It was a Saturday, and so the next Saturday he came to the river. He came alone and on foot. He felt his eyes and heart and mind grow heavy and sleepy, and he felt as though he were being pulled into the river. He made his way to the river, and slept. He dreamed the same dream, heard the same song. Once again he opened his eyes, and there she was. The woman turned and looked at Sigfried. Her eyes were the green of deep, dark river water. She glimmered with the light of the sun. She sang her song looking at him. He moved towards her. She saw him, the sun behind him. Golden he was, and blue of eye, the blue of the springtime sky. He too began to sing, following her melody, and they sang together, gold and silver, blue and green, dark and light, woman and man, water and fire. He sat beside her and they sang for a long time before they spoke. He took her hand. She did not resist. He said, "Will you be my wife?" She answered, "Yes, I will be your wife." She kissed him, a kiss of sweetness, tenderness, a kiss that awakened in him a longing so deep he could not bear it, and he began to weep. "It is all right," she said. "As long as we are together, no harm can come to this earth. As long as we are together, the people will be well and will live in harmony with each other, and with earth and sky. That is why I have come to you."
He did not understand, and yet his heart did, and was full of joy. "However," she said, "Today is Saturday. Every Saturday, on the day that I have come to you, I must go away. I will have myself a room built in your castle with a great heavy door and a golden key. That key I will always keep. I will wear it around my neck as you wear your cross. Should you in any way try to breach that door, or find out what I do in that room, it will not only be the end of our marriage, it will be the end of the peace and harmony in this realm. It will bring great sorrow. One day I may give you that golden key. I may invite you to join me."
She looked deep into his eyes. "But only when you are ready to understand. And you are not ready."
Sigfried bowed before her. "My love," he said, "I will do as you say. And I will do whatever I may to become ready."
"When you give up war, then you will be ready. When you refuse to fight you will be ready."
She pointed to the great golden cross around his neck. "When you understand the true meaning of that, you will be ready."
She pointed to his armor. "When you take that off, you will be ready."
He laughed his great laugh. "Then, my love, you must have your room and your key. I must make war, I must carry the cross whether I understand it or not, and I must defend and protect not only myself but others."
"Yes," she said, "I know, and so I will keep the key, and I will have my room, where I retreat and leave you to your war, your cross, and your armor."
She gave him her hand and said, "I am Melusina." They went together from the bank of the river and Melusina did not look back, even once.
She returned with him to the city, where they were wed, and lived together in great happiness. Melusina wore the golden key always around her neck, to remind her of the place that was her own, of her home, of her true self, which no man knew. Six days of the week they shared almost everything, except on Sunday morning when it was time to go mass, to the great stone cathedral, Melusina would not go. The Bishop from Rome who was the king's friend, and a great power in the church, did not like this. After a while he began to talk to Sigfried after mass. "What is that she does on Saturdays? You know the church says the wife must obey her husband. How will you be king if you cannot command your wife? It is not seemly. It is not fit. Perhaps she leaves by a secret door. Perhaps she meets another man. Perhaps she practices strange magic behind those doors."
And Sigfried began to doubt, and wonder, and to be afraid. One day Sigfried could stand it no longer. In the door was a keyhole. Melusina made no effort to block that keyhole because she knew that only Sigfried could uphold his promise. She could not save him from himself. One Saturday Sigfried awoke heavy with dream. He had heard again the song of the river, the haunting, secret song. He was heavy also with drink from the night before, and the Bishop's whispers, all the evening, wearing him down, filling him with jealousy, and fear, and pride. He groaned, and lifted himself from the bed. Melusina was long gone, away behind her closed door. He dressed, and paced up and down his chamber, and struggled with himself. The Bishop's voice grew louder, and he no longer heard the song. Finally, driven by his fears, tormented by his doubts, he went down deep into the castle, stumbling on the stone stairs, arguing still with himself, unable to stop himself. He came to the great heavy door, and he knelt before the keyhole. What would he see? What shameful act, what terrible betrayal would reveal itself to him? Oh, Melusina, he thought, why must you do this to me? He did not think to question, Oh, Sigfried, why must you do this to yourself?
His worst fears were instantly realized. The room was painted with pictures of fish, water and waves, dolphins and whales, sea and seals. In the center of the room was a deep well, and the water from the well bubbled out and filled the room. His wife Melusina bathed herself in the flowing water. He looked upon her beautiful body, so familiar to him, and yet, there, emerging from the water were the green and glistening scales of a water serpent. . She had no legs. Her scales glowed, and the light blinded him. From her back grew great white wings of light.
Imagine now the scene: Melusina floats, her wings spread and glimmering with light, her serpent tail undulating. She senses his presence. Slowly she turns her head and looks directly at the keyhole. He can see the golden key around her neck. She says nothing. She makes no sound. She looks at him for a long time. He remains at the door, mesmerized unable to move. A great tear from her eye. She stretches her wings and rises from the water. He is over come by her beauty, her light, the power of her presence. She bows her head and folds her wings. She turns from him, and slowly disappears down, down into the water, down the well, out of his sight. His last glimpse of her is a great green tail rising briefly from the water. It too disappears.
Down she went, into the well, into the underground spring, away from the world of the human, back to the world of spirit, into legend, beyond time, beyond place.
Sigfried arose and was seized by a great anger. He threw himself against the door and in his rage he broke it into little pieces. When he came into the room there was nothing there, no paintings, no Melusina, not even any room. Only the bubbling well, on the edge of a high cliff. He threw himself down beside the well and called her name. His call echoed into the silence. He heard, ever so faintly, for a moment, her song. And then there was only silence. She was gone.
She never returned. He broke his vow; he betrayed her trust. He brought sorrow on himself and her and the land. War increased, peasants were bound to the land, witches were burned, plagues broke out. She took the golden key, that was to have been given to him when he was ready, when he took off his armor, when he gave up his war, when he understood the true meaning of the cross.
The Bishop came to Sigfried, and Sigfried in his anger and grief listened to the Bishop. You see, he said, in the future you must only marry a woman who will wear the cross. In the future you must deny the woman her room. In the future the woman must obey you. In his anger and grief Sigfried agreed. And yet every seven years, on a Saturday in spring, he would awaken from a dream, hearing the song of Melusina by the river, singing the song of Melusina by the river.
Legend has it that every seven years she appears, she rises from the depths, her song bubbles forth from the old well. She comes to see if Sigfried is yet ready, if he has abandoned war and armor, and understood the true meaning of the cross he wears. Every seven years she reappears longing for that time when they can live together again in harmony, human and spirit, at peace. She appears and reappears and still he is not ready.
One day a young man of the city will hear her song. One day a young man of the city will come, understanding the true meaning of the cross he wears, understanding its message of love and peace. One day a young man of the city will come with no armor. One day a young man of the city will come, having abandoned war, and she will kiss him and in that kiss she will give him the golden key, so that he may unlock the door where her spirit dwells and see her in her full beauty and power. And then, as they are reunited, the illusory city built on foundations of fear and greed will disappear and the true city, built on foundations of love, wisdom, and unity, will arise. So it has been said, and is said again now.
May all beings dwell together in peace and harmony, in the true world of love, wisdom and unity.
Copyright 2003 by Donna Leslie Thomson
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Every Thursday evening we have a prayer circle here at my home in New Mexico at 8 pm Mountain Standard Time. That’s 10pm Eastern time, 8pm Central time, and 7pm Pacific time in the USA. Please join us if you wish. Take a few minutes to tune in and connect with the light in yourself, to join us in that great collective web of consciousness. Say a prayer for peace, for all beings, for yourself, for your loved ones….whatever you need. It is 4 in the morning in Europe but…join us in dreamtime.
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