Finding Gawain – Act Two
Gawain staggers from the castle of Camelot, the memory of the Green Knight’s bloody axe vivid in his mind as though the mere dropping of it onto the temple floor carried no significance, and its dark presence remains with him, still.
Across the land he strides, stumbling and falling in the darkness, mouthing unintelligible noises as the full horror of what has happened fills his head. The path ahead gets ever darker, blocking out even the meagre light of the moon, veiled behind silver clouds, with just the odd moment of brightness.
His failing limbs work for hope, but in the heart that propelled the flesh to defend his King, there is only despair. He falls, once more, and stays on the ground, too tired to rise. He pushes himself as far as his hands and knees and is startled when three silvery animals run past him, pointing the way into the depths of the forest. They are a Stag, a Boar and a Fox. Each one, passing his kneeling form, glares at him with merciless eyes.
He does not know how long he has been asleep, beside that silvery stream, lying on rocks covered in dark green moss. But the depths of the forest have taken him into the fabric of their heart. Overhead, the silver moon breaks through the cloudy sky and the glade in which he lies comes alive.
His body is now clothed in a second skin of pure white. Around that and keeping out the bitter cold is a thick white cloak, ornamented at hood and neck by layers of warm cloth whose colours are those of the moss and the dark bark of the ancient trees. An inner voice tells him to stand and bear witness to what is needed. He gazes up at the moon, which seems to be growing in size each second. The moon tells him that, through his choice in defending Arthur, he has become the Guardian of the Hart, the mysterious and sacred male white deer that only few ever see, but which is hunted, mercilessly, for its magical properties. The moon tells him that the ways of man and the ways of the forest are at a crossroads and must be resolved.
Beneath his cloak, his arms wrap around the new lithe body, and he discovers that he bears a short but deadly sword. He slides it from his scabbard and holds it up to the moon. The light in the sky brightens and a silver ray comes down from the orb and touches the end of the sword’s metal, reflecting into the staring eyes of the new Guardian in nine rays of expectation.
“Defend the Hart,” says the voice. “Be true…”
And then he sleeps again, as the voice instructs him. And in that deeper sleep there are no more dreams, as the healing forces of the forest fill his heart and swell his lungs, charging his body with green power…
The dawn is golden, and fills his eyes with a new vision: that of the hidden pathways around him in the Enchanted Forest. The Guardian of the Hart rises, full of power and purpose, one of them, now, and listens to the sounds from below; sounds of men hunting in the forest. He smiles, knowing his purpose and his power.
As the moon promised, the magic of the forest separates one of the hunters from the rest. Unseen, the bright inner winds push and pull him until he stands in a place not known by man. There he looks around, confused, staring at the mighty oak, whose very form has been evolved to home the magical body of the Guardian of the Hart.
For a while, the Guardian enjoys the unease of the hunter, listening to the frantic sounds of the lost man. Intent on playing out the forest’s retribution on this interloper, he steps from within the ancient oak and raises his bowed head.
Both figures are startled…
There are two Gawains in the clearing. The one newly arrived is the form of a Gawain who spent a comfortable night in the castle, brooding on his fate, but not deeply troubled by his distant destiny. The other is that which has become the Guardian, lovingly forged by the Enchanted Forest for its purposes. Now more than human… Now more than hunter…
The insurgent Gawain spies the white Guardian and, knowing that there stands before him an otherwordly figure, charges through the undergrowth towards him. But, as he does this, the white Guardian moves in a different way, along the inner paths of the forest, unreachable by the mortal pursuer. Hunter Gawain blunders on, before looking up again and realising that the Guardian is moving along a path he cannot see. Snarling his frustration, he stops and moves in a great circle to try to intersect his foe. The Guardian smiles, as does the forest, as Gawain the hunter is drawn deeper into their labyrinth.
For eight passes, the white Guardian leads his prey around, until, with a knowledge not born of logic, he steps deliberately off the inner pathways and reveals a place of intersection that the hunter can attain.
The Hunter Gawain sees his chance and charges on his prey, who has assumed a stance of inner meditation, the great white cloak wrapped around his body, his head bowed as in prayer. In seconds the pursuer has gained the distance and seizes the neck of the cloak, tearing it from the coiled body of the Guardian.
In slow motion, the Guardian raises his half-lidded eyes and smiles into the face of the man who now knows the trap set for him; knows from the white knight’s revealed body and belted sword that his actions in tearing off the cloak have laid him open to the prepared attack. In horror he watches as the silver sword is drawn, faster than he can even think, and placed at his throat.
“Shall we kill you?” toys the magical forest, through the lips of their Guardian of the Hart. “Perhaps we will play with you some more, before death, for such would be fitting fate for one who takes on the debt of those who have long plagued these inner pathways of the Green Life…”
Hunter Gawain stands mute, his skin taut on the blade, one move away from a grisly death on that sharp edge, nodding assent with his eyes. After all, he is already doomed…perhaps this strange encounter can, in some way, exchange his deadly destiny, a year hence, for another…
“A riddle then,” smiles the Guardian of the Hart, “Yes?”
As much as the point of the deadly blade will allow, Hunter Gawain nods his assent. The blade is withdrawn. The Guardian stoops to gather up his fallen cloak, then turns to step back into the body of the sacred oak which awaits his return to the Green Life. As his foot enters the bark and passes into the wood, he turns, displaying a deadly smile.
“What is it that woman most desires?” he asks, laughing and disappearing into the mighty trunk.
He leaves behind a trembling and bewildered human, who, as he stumbles out of the forest to rejoin his worried fellow Knights, clings to the thin hope that a way to salvation may have been found… By the time he reaches their reassuring company, he has already forgotten all but the riddle that may save his life…
The Silent Eye uses a combination of magical ritual and psycho-drama to illustrate its teachings on the journey to the Soul.
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Details of next year’s workshop (April 2017), The Feathered Seer, will shortly be published on our website events page. Everyone is welcome, all you need to bring is your self…