Here is a story about the old ways. I could give you a historical explanation of its origin, classifying it as myth (The folk story of the blue faerie hag heralds from the Scots. She was believed to emerge from the underworld on All Hallow’s Eve, etc.). I could detail how the old myths mingle with our collective psyche and bring healing and renewal, etc. (Blah, blah, shamanism, blah.) But then it would make it all sound not so true. Like it’s just a story or something. And it’s all much truer than we care to admit. So pour yourself a cup, and simply open your heart and read.
Once a girl was, yet she was tender. She wandered the woods near her grandmother’s house and felt her own tenderness with great pleasure and innocence. The eyes and creatures of the woods were on her in hushed respect. The trees whispered and marveled, “her countenance…” The stones sounded silently of her beingness. Sometimes she would sit by the stream and make ‘paint’ of crushed berries and leaves to adorn the rocks. Always she would hold the rocks to her cheek first. Feeling their alliance. She was tender and could feel and sense like this.
As years the years passed she was a woman, and she was yet tender. But, yet, not so tender as before when she was young. Things happened, not always nice things, as life goes, and the tenderness receded. The woods were far away and lost to her. Then all tenderness was lost.
She wondered, “Where did the tenderness go?” Then she forgot. She forgot about the tenderness she felt. She slipped into the dreamless, sleepless amnesia of the forgotten trees and stones.
The trees and stones did not forget though. They never do. They may not yearn as human creatures do. Yearning for what is gone or cannot be, but forget? No. Especially the stones.
One autumn day a mysterious task of the ‘no room for tenderness’ variety appeared on her list of to-do’s and she found herself near her old woods.
She walked into the welcoming hushed admiration of her woods. Sitting by the river she picked up a stone. It was cold and smooth. Bluish, grey. She held it to her forehead and cheek to feel it’s smoothness and then her lips and nose, to smell its dank fortitude. She drank it with her being.
She put the stone to her ear because the stone began to tap and sound. Rattling and knocking. It grew outside of the stone, all around her in a rhythm. It rumbled onto and into her chest like a thousand beating hearts.
Before her, (or maybe in her mind’s eye, or maybe in the corner of her eye), (oh, just, never mind) before her appeared an old hag. Her aged stone-like skin was blue with cold. Her hair was brittle with frost and her cloak the color of withered foliage and death. She bore a basket and a staff with the skull of a raven. But her eyes, you guessed it, her eyes, were tender.
The stone song grew and in an instant she knew inside her was a massive urn filled with the stones. Each stone heavy with the weight of all those ‘not nice things of life.’ The urn too weighty to bear or shift it pressed the tenderless woman down. Without words the blue faerie hag directed her staff at the urn, shaking it open with a massive soul quake, spilling the stones.
The stones danced into the air. The stones rattled and knocked into her basket. Every last one of them. And then the old hag just sauntered off into a mist. Cause that’s how those magical faerie things end.
It was now winter. The woman felt empty and alone without her urn of stones. But it was a good kind of empty. And a good sort of alone. She grew to enjoy it. For she discovered there was, in the emptiness, yet a tenderness. And she could rest in this void for a time whilst preparing for spring.
And she a woman was; yet she too was tender.
And may you rest deeply in the arms of the blue hag,
the Cailleach Bheur
Me in the primeval forest.
The tender and primeval, Missy.