The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily retold

Dave Monroe, August 19, 2016 

Why a retelling of Goethe’s fairy tale?

Lilly talking to SnakeGoethe’s fairy tale was intended to make the need for, and the attainment of, conscious awareness more accessible to the wider populace of his country.  This fairy tale was conceived by Goethe after reading his good friend Schiller’s new essay (On the Acsethetic Education of Man) on achieving conscious awareness.  Couching philosophical concepts within a fairy tale would assure a better understanding of his and Schiller’s views on leading a moral life and finding contact with one’s spiritual self.

This retelling is intended to support an astrological examination of the fairytale and of Goethe’s charts for his attaining conscious awareness and spiritual contact with his soul-self.

The Fairy Tale

■  Scene One;  A fine start to the morn.  An unpaid debt.

The twice-high Giant was laying on his side, under a tall pine behind a farmer’s shed.  Covered with his heavy cloak, he was ignoring the dew-drips from the branches above him. A half-filled grain bag was under his shaggy head.  He squinted through one eye and noted a hint of dawn showing over the nearby river.  Before he could drift back into a full sleep he heard leaves being brushed aside.  Then a barrel tumbled over, knocking a pole fence down.  With a roar of still-wanting-to-sleep, the Giant rolled over into a crouch.  “Go away, fool.  You know not who you disturb.” hissed the Giant.  Noises of an animal moving through the brush floated back on the quiet air.  The faint scent of a bear touched the Giant’s nose.

The farmer and his son’s shouted from their windows, “Who is there?  Here come the dogs.” The twice-high Giant heard the dogs.  They were bothersome but not a danger to him.  It was best he moved.  Food would be found later, some where else.  Sleep would wait until the next evening.

Across the river another unusual figure trod a night-wet dark path.  His small, hatted head, the large rounded body, skinny legs, and faint flames that rolled up over his belly and chest identified him as a Wisp.  In fact, he was Will-of-the-Wisps, an occasional traveler in this area. His memory helped him pick his way through the shadows along the river and up a small hill where he knew a hut stood beneath a large oak.  His flames shed just enough glow to guide his feet through the rocks on the path.

“Awake, awake,” cried the voice outside the Ferryman’s hut.  The Ferryman awoke, struggled from his bed.  Through tired eyes, he sees a Wisp outside his window.  Although the dawn has not yet arrived, the Wisp represents a fee, a fee consisting of some vegetables for his next meal. Opening the door, he notes the Wisp’s short, round stature, hazy to the eye because of the flames that form around him.  The flames are brighter in this darkness then when the Ferryman had last seen a Wisp in the day’s full sunlight.  “Sire, take me now across this river as I must tarry not,” twittered the Wisp in his squeaky voice.

Ferryman and Wisp-JThe Wisp bounced along behind the still-sleepy and shuffling Ferryman towards the dock and boat.  From across the river a faint roaring sound, crashing and dog yelps could be heard. “Are there bandits in the area?” queried the Wisp.  The Ferryman stopped, listened, and then continued to plod towards the dock without answering.  They both stepped into the boat, ducking under the pull rope.  “Pray, sit, you Wisp,” commanded the Ferryman.  “The river waters will not treat you and your flames well[D1]  if you fall in.”  The Wisp turned, tipped forward as his flames increased in height, saying “I am Will, Will-of-the-Wisp, thank you.”  He remained upright, prancing from foot to foot and making the boat rock a bit.  They reached the far side of the river as the water[D2]  was calm about the rocking boat.  Said the Ferryman, “My fee, Will-of-the-Wisp.  Three Cabbages, three Artichokes and three large Onions are due me.”  “Oh,” twittered the Wisp, “gold is better.”  So saying he bounced about.  Gold nuggets fell from his flames and[D3]  spilled about the boat.

Alarmed, the Ferry Man gathered the nuggets.  “I can’t eat gold.  And, the gold cannot touch the river water lest the river  rise in a great crest and smash the boat and us,” cried the Ferryman.  “My vegetables, now.”  The glib Wisp bounced away, “I cannot take back what has fallen from me.  That’s the way it is.”  On uttering this denial to pay, the Wisp found that his feet refused to move.  They were rooted to the ground.  Try as he might, he was going nowhere. “Pay, you must,” replied the Ferryman. “I need that which is a fruit of the Earth.” The Wisp, now alarmed by not being able to hurry away as planned, earnestly replied, “I’ll pay you this day on my return.”  His feet, now free, spun his round body about and he skipped off around the bend of the road.  Foolish old man, he thought.  Gold was quite satisfactory for a boat fee.

The Ferry Man carried the useless gold nuggets in his empty vegetable sack up the hill away from the river and tossed them into a crevice at the top of the hill.  They will be safe there, far from the river’s waters. Perhaps another fare would come by, bringing him food for his table.

 Scene Two.  A surprise from above.

Plunk. Tink. Rattle, Jingle.  The Snake felt falling objects falling on and about her.  They glowed softly in the dark of the chasm.  Perhaps they were good to eat!  Yes, thought the Snake, they were quite tasty.  As she ate, a golden glow grew about her long and slithering shape.  The[D5]  glow revealed the walls of the chasm.  Stones, veins of metal glinted from the walls.  An exploration revealed no one who could admire her glowing form.  Turning a corner, the Snake sees an opening revealing the just-breaking dawn.  A predawn glow reflected off the opening’s rock sides.

Wisp and Snake-JCreeping to the opening, looking out, the Green Snake spots a strange fellow sitting on a rock, rubbing his feet.  Fiery wisps of light curl about his shadowy form, giving him a glow.  He must be a relative, thought the Snake.  Both the strange fellow and the Snake were exuding a golden glow.  “Are you my Uncle?,” cried the Snake.  The fiery one turned where he sat.  “You are one with a horizontal form,” he replied, “but I have a vertical form.”  As he spoke these words he stood up.  While as round as he was tall, the fiery one appeared taller as the flames fanned upward to a point above his hat.  “I am Will, of the Wisp,” said he.  “And, you are a beautiful Green Snake,” he added, advancing to stand before the Snake.  “And, you glow so nicely.”

The Snake blushed at the compliment.  “Glowing stones fell within the chasm.  I have eaten them and now glow all along my body.   I can explore my place,” replied the Snake.  “Then enjoy some more,” said the Wisp, twirling about and dancing on his toes.  Gold fell from his flames, which the Snake devoured as soon as they landed.  “My thanks,” the Snake said to the Wisp.

“Perhaps you can point out the way to a beautiful maiden called Lilly,” replied the Wisp, “for I have just crossed the river from the land of dreams and spirit to seek her out.”  “Oh, no,” cried the Snake, “you have erred in your journey, Fiery Wisp.  Lilly dwells on the other side of the river from whence you came.”  “No,” wailed the Wisp as his flames leaped high, and then died down, depicting his despair.  The Snake, alarmed over the fast changing Wisp, backs away.

■  Scene Three.  Seeking Help. 

“Oh, fair Snake, help me,” cried the Wisp.  “We who glow must comfort each other.”  The Snake doubted the sincerity of these words, but the Wisp was a source of delicious gold that helped her glow.  “The Ferryman cannot carry you back across the river.  He can only ferry travelers in one direction, to this side,” explained the Snake.  “How does one travel to the other side?” inquired the Wisp, his flames flickering to a low point, matching his disappointed spirit.

“I can take you on my back over the river at high noon or at midnight,” replied the Snake.  “The  twice-high Giant casts a long shadow at dawn and dusk.  His shadow can carry you across the narrow part of the river.”  “Where is this Giant?  It is dawn and I can cross,” declared the Wisp.  “He must first be found. Dawn is already here and the shadows will soon be short.” explained the Snake.  “He is quite difficult to be near,” said the Snake, “He does only what he wishes to do and is not always cooperative.”

The Wisp perked up at hearing that he had choices.  “I like choices, even if I have to wait a bit,” said he of the vertical form.  His flames peaked again.  A bit more gold fell about his feet.  “Then come into the shadow of these rocks while we wait,” said the Snake as she politely gathered the gold that had fallen.

After eating the gold fallen from the Wisp, curiosity prompted the Snake to ask a question. “What is the purpose of your journey, esteemed Wisp?”  The Wisp turned to the Snake, his flames quieting down and becoming almost invisible.  Pursing the lips of his pale face, he said, “The purpose of myself, of any Wisp, is to seek and cause change[D6] .”  The Snake considered this statement.  The Wisp continued, “I seek this Lilly because she is nearby but is not part of this world.  Those who have somehow had contact with her report a great peace, love and sort of beautiful light about her.  We Wisps have light, in the form of flames, about us, but others tell us that it is not the same as the light of the fair Lilly.  I seek to see how she is different from myself.” finished the Wisp. “Perhaps, in addition to bringing change to others, I may experience change, myself[D7] .”

The Snake thanked the Wisp and retreated into the shadows of the cavern out of the direct Sun.  “At noon, Wisp, meet me near the river where it narrows if you still wish to cross.” called out the Snake.  “The spot is close by.”

■  Scene Four.  Discovery of the Kings.

snake-in-cave-jThe Snake slithered along the chasm floor, past pebbles and fallen rocks.  The walls had veins of glittering metal here and there.  One rock was smooth, had corners.  The Snake lifted her head and saw feet, then the legs and body of a man shaped out of a golden material.  The figure moved, looked down, and said, “Where do you come from?”  “Where the gold has fallen from above,” replies the Snake, thinking of only of the past few minutes.  A dialog commenced.  Said the King, “What is grander than gold?”  “Light,” replied the Snake.  “And what refreshes’ more than light,” asked the King.  “Speech,” was the Snake’s answer.  While speaking with the King, the Snake noticed another King, silver in color.  This silver King began to glow, lighting up the whole chasm which was now clearly seen as a portion of a temple.  The Snake could now observe a third King’s figure of bronze.  As  the Snake looked about the temple, another King could be discerned much further away.  That King was sitting.

Man Snake Kings-JBefore the Snake could fully consider this sitting King an Old Man with a Lamp entered the chamber.  His simple dress was noted, a hand-woven robe that reached his sandaled feet.  His face was both heavy and bearded, yet young at same time without a wrinkle.  His stance was very erect, his demeanor assured.  But, the Lamp he carried was the most curious thing.  The small flame seemed to light everything up, yet it cast no shadows . As the Man with the Lamp approached, the Kings lost their statue-like qualities and took on an image of clothed, life-like people.

Asked the gold King, “Why do you come with your Lamp?  We have light already.”  Replied the Old Man, “You know very well that my Lamp cannot cast light in the dark.”  Apparently these two knew each other and were merely word playing like old friends do.  The silver King asked, “Will my Kingdom end?”  “Late, or perhaps never,” said the Old Man in a teasing manner.  And, in a booming voice came a question from the bronze King, “When shall I arise?”  “Soon,” said the Old Man, tiring of these questions.  The Snake was exploring while the talking ensued.  The fourth King was a bit apart from the others, its form was less precise and it appeared to be made from a mixture of the other King’s metals .

The glow of the Snake, which infused her whole body with both light and warmth seemed to have also sharpened her mind and curiosity. The Snake’s attention returned to the conversation.  “How many secrets do you know?” asked the gold King.  “Three,” was the Old Man’s prompt reply, “And, the open secret is the most important,” he added.  “Will you share it with us?” asked the bronze King.  “When I know the fourth,” was the abrupt answer from the Old Man.

Man Snake Secret-JThe Snake immediately found her mind focusing on this last part of the conversation.  “I know the fourth secret,” interjected the Snake as she slithered up to the Old Man’s ear.  Listening, the old man smiled, the lamp shown a bit brighter.  “The time has come,” cried the Old Man.  He turned and hurried away.  The Snake also turned the other way and left the temple with great speed.  The Kings were left wondering what had been said and what prompted the departure of their visitors.

All of the rock passages that the Old Man with the Lamp passed through became lined with veins of gold.  The Lamp had the property of changing stone to gold, wood to silver, dead animals to precious stone.  To display this power the Lamp had to shine alone, in the dark. Among other light sources, the Lamp only cast its own brightness, refreshing all living things.  As the Snake slithered out another narrow crevice leading to the river road, several sea shells were seen lying in the grass.  Stopping, the Snake observed that the shells were joined by a thin string of twisted yarn.  As a necklace, these shells would complement her new glowing body.  Oh, what a pleasant day this was turning out to be.  She continued on her way, the shell necklace dangling around her neck.

■  Scene Five.  The Old Man’s Wife.

The Old Man returned to his own cottage upon the hill that covered the temple in the rocks far below.   His wife was sitting before the fire, her head in her hands, crying softly.  “Ask me how unhappy I am”, she moaned.  “I told you that I foresaw trouble, yet you left.”  “So, what has happened” replied the Old Man, kneeling beside his wife and seeking to hold her shaking hand.  “Shortly after you left a noisy traveler arrived at the door, his clothes were nice but soft flames seemed to surround him.  I assumed he was a Wisp.  Indeed, he introduced himself as Will, of the Wisps,” said the Woman.  “And,” said the Old Man, “You let this guest enter, did you not?”  “Oh, yes,” replied the Woman, “That is our way with strangers. We welcome them all.”

comforting wifeShe continued.  “This Wisp gentleman entered, complimented me on the pretty stones of the cottage walls, then made very forward comments about my person.  I was very uncomfortable.”

“Oh,” said the Old Man, “He was probably jesting, considering thy age.  A little conversation to make you feel special.”  “Age, what age,” cried the Woman.  “Who are you to be talking about my age.  I know my age, I know your age.  That is not important.  Look around, look at the walls.  Do you see gold?  I see only stones which I have not seen in these last three hundred years. That is what this Wisp gentleman did, he licked all of the gold away.”

“Oh, my” exclaimed the Old Man, looking about.  “He had the nerve to compliment me on how superior the gold tasted compared to common gold, ” wailed the Woman.  “He was in high spirits after his eating of the gold.  He began to pat me, then he danced about.  As he danced, gold fell from his flames.  It is all about the floor.”  The Old Man looked.  It was as she said.  Gold nuggets were scattered beneath the table and chairs, even among the wood piled near the fireplace.

“Mopes, our puppy ate one of the smaller nuggets and now he lies dead in the corner.  If I had noticed him before the Wisp left, I would never have promised to pay the Ferry Man on his behalf,” said the Woman.  The Old Man replied, “What is owed to the Ferry Man?”  “Three cabbages, three artichokes and three large onions” replied his wife, “simple things that I can gather from our own garden, things a stranger in this land could not easily find.”

“You should honor that agreement” said the Old Man, “even given the actions of this Wisp and the loss of Mopes.  This Wisp is likely to be of use to us in the future, I am sure.”  The Old Man covered the fire and closed the windows to darken the cottage from the growing daylight. The Lamp glowed alone.  The walls again took on a covering of gold, Mopes became a small Onyx crystal of muted brown and black swirls, making it a most curious-looking and unique jewel.  The Old Man then became quiet and turned his attention to the Lamp.  He looked into the small flame, concentrating on its center brightness.  His head nodded in response to his thoughts.  He sighed and turned from the flame to look at the Woman.

“Take your basket with the Onyx in it.  Gather the vegetables for the Ferry Man, then take the Onyx across the river at noon to Lilly.  She will touch the Onyx and make it alive again.  She will have a fine companion.  Then, give her this message from the Lamp.  Do not mourn, Lilly, for the time is at hand.”  These instructions took a minute to take in, they were not to be questioned due to the firmness of her husband’s manner.

■  Scene Six.  Some good deeds fail to be of help.

The woman took her basket, the onyx jewel, and gathered the required vegetables from the garden.  It was now early morning, the Sun’s warmth was already being felt through the trees.  She walked down the path, past the several houses in the village closer to the river, then turned towards the Ferry Man’s boat landing near the river.  “What was her husband talking about, the time is at hand?” she thought.  “Why was he so calm about the antics of the Wisp and the Wisp’s possible usefulness in the future?”

These thoughts engaged her mind, smothering her alertness to the appearance of the twice-high Giant ahead at the side of the river.  The Giant was sitting, a grumpy air about him.  His shadow touched and spread out across the water and a small boy stood upon the shadow, fishing.  This was a common occurrence for the Giant.  His shadow, in this season and time of day, was more solid than his own body.  The lads in the area used his shadow to gain access to good fishing in the deeper part of the river.  They gladly shared the catch with the Giant.  At the moment, there were no fish lying on the bank.   The Woman tried to slip under the overhanging tree branches, but to no avail.  She had been spotted.  The twice-high Giant turned and with two long strides, pushed aside the tree limbs over her.  The boy scrambled for the bank as the Giant’s shadow moved away from the water.  Wet to his knees, he cast a dour look towards the Giant.  There was nothing to do.  The Giant did as he wanted and answered to no others.

Woman and GiantLooking down at the Woman and her basket, the Giant knew he had found his breakfast.  Up close, his frightening size did not hide the smoke-like nature of his body.  The solidness of his frame from afar was more sponge-like when viewed up close.  As he reached into her basked and removed one each of the vegetables, his large fingers molded to their shape.  Not only did the Giant not have strength or much substance, he was as much like smoke as he was flesh.  In spite of being half-physical, he was still a formidable figure.  It was hard to understand how his shadow could be so solid that others could walk and stand upon it.  He strode off, enjoying his breakfast.  She thought, “Another problem on this unhappy day.  Maybe the Ferryman will be happy with only two each instead of three each of his required vegetables.”  That would be preferable to walking back up the long hill.  She could see the dock ahead and the Ferryman’s boat in the distance, ahead of her.

It was not to be.  “My fee is my fee,” cried the Ferryman.  “My table, my appetite is what it is.”  I am owed three each of a cabbage, artichoke, and large onion, not two.  If you have taken on the Wisp’s promise, then that is fine.  But, you must now make a promise to the river.”  The woman was aghast.  This whole thing was becoming more difficult by the hour.  She was determined not to climb the hill back to the garden.  A silly promise to a river seemed a small price to pay for avoiding a warm walk and hill climb and then a repeat journey back to the Ferryman on her 300 year-old legs.  Since dawn she had fed the animals, been visited by the Wisp, been given instructions by the Old Man, picked vegetables for the Ferryman, been assaulted by the Giant, and now was making promises to the river.  Noon would soon be close by and so was the crossing point where the Snake’s bridge would be.  Her husband’s firm instructions made the choice easy.  A promise to the river it would be.

The Ferry Man gave her instructions.  “I will take the six vegetables.  You will pledge to the river to provide the remainder.  Put your hand in the stream and promise that within a day’s time you will repay the missing fruit of the land.”  The Woman did as she was commanded.  Upon taking her hand from the water she found it to be as black as a lump of coal.  She yelled at the Ferry Man, “What is this.  My hand has always been fair white.  Look at it.  Not only is it black, but I can feel it starting to shrink smaller.”  Replied the Ferry Man, “it appears so, and will be so if you don’t keep your word.  It’s appearance will change, yet you will have the use of it as it always was.  It will only appear to be changing.”

“Oh, no,” cried the Woman, “I would rather have it appear right and not be able to use it.  Others would not know of my problem.  Now, I will be laughed at.”  Her pride[D17]  and convenience were important to her.  “I will keep my promise and be rid of this black hand,” she exclaimed.  She hurried on her way.  With her hurried stride, she soon overtook a youth who had just before arrived on the Ferry from the other side of the river.  She fell into a matching stride with him.

■   Scene Seven.  Misery loves company.

“Hold on, Sir.  Where do you travel to?” pleaded the Woman.  She turned onto the path the youth was walking on from the dock and along the river path.  As they walked along the river, the youth chose not to fully answer her, only grunts and murmurings came as a reply.  “You talk little, Sir” she said. “Are you in need of directions?”  I myself have to make my passage over the river bridge to find the fair Lilly,” exclaimed the Woman.  The youth suddenly stopped, becoming more awake and talkative, “You are going to see Lilly?  Why then did I come this way with the Ferryman when I was already on the other side? asked the youth.  “I will journey with you.”  The Woman showed the onyx dog figure to the youth, “I take this to the fair Lilly, hoping her touch will bring it back to life.”

Woman and Youth-JSaid the youth, “I have visited Lilly in my dreams.  I have come to love her and was told this as I held her in my arms.”  As they talked of Lilly, the youth’s manner improved, his bearing became more erect, even is clothes seemed smoother, more colorful, and had a refinement of texture and trim that she had not noticeable before.  Listening, the Woman said, “I am going to visit Lilly across the river. There, her very touch will revive my little dog, as her touch enlivens that which is dead, and kills that which is alive.”

At this pronouncement, the youth burst into tears.  “How can that be. I have held her in my arms, seen her in my dreams.  I have left my own land and pursued her.”  Said the Woman, “many visit the other side in their dreams.  To visit the other side consciously is another thing altogether.  To touch Lilly is to die if you live, to live again if you are dead.”  The Youth slumped, fell to his knees and looked with dismay upon the Woman.   “If what you say is true, then I may never be able to claim Lilly for my own.  To touch her is to lose her.”  His wailing became quite dismal.  “I have lost my crown, my sword, my kingdom, my fine clothes, the trust of the people in their Prince, and now the fair Lilly is to be denied to me.  I have lost everything.”  He began to wail and sob in a most unbecoming manner.

The Woman had a hand that was turning black, with  no clear remedy in sight.  The youth had a future that had suddenly turned black, he was lost within his own deepening despair.  They waited together by the river, each miserable within their own dilemmas.

■  Scene Eight.  A bridge to the land of Spirit.

As the mid-day arrived they could see a  strange bridge of green and other colors arching across the river, sometimes solid, at other moments it seemed misty.   The Woman had never seen the Snake’s bridge appear so fine and magnificent.  “What a strange bridge, “ said the Youth.  “Do you think it safe to walk across?”  They approached the strange bridge.

woman-youth-at-bridge-jThe bridge was mostly green, garnished with sea shells along its railing.  It was wide enough to permit two people to pass across side by side.  The bridge arched up as it spanned the middle of the river and then sloped down to the far bank.  The sides of the bridge reflected sunlight from the river’s surface, giving it a strange golden glow although its color seemed to be green.

As they reached the crest of the Snake’s bridge, they both stopped.  The  youth gasped in awe.  Trees lined the river bank, beyond the trees several distant vistas were visible.  To the left, towards the Ferryman’s crossing, could be seen dark clouds.  To the far right, where a riverbank path led, was a small temple dome peeking among the forest.  It was softly glowing.  Between, at various distances were several wondrous city towers stretching to the horizon.  “Is this the spirit world?” asked the Youth.  “It is what you need and expect to see,” replied the Woman.  Those dark clouds are likely your dream world which is now so despairing to you.  The cities and forest may be what you have left behind.  The temple dome over there is where Lilly dwells.  The spirit world presents you with what you need to know.”

The bridge began to tremble.  “Come, we must pass over quickly.  Noon is passing,” cried the Woman, “The bridge will vanish.”  The Youth’s black outlook had been replaced with a radiant face. “it is so beautiful, I know that it will all work out perfectly now that I am here,” said the Youth.  “Oh, with Lilly’s dwelling so close, my dream has come true.  I will claim her love for my own.”  The Woman cast a dour look at him.  “Little has changed,” she noted.  “You saw her in the land of dreams where you experienced what you wanted to experience.  Here, you are only a visitor.  You may look and learn, but you are not fully conscious of who you are and what you may accomplish,” reminded the Woman.  “Oh, no,” cried the Prince, “I can see and feel the difference of this place.  The Land of Dreams was so different.  Look at the aliveness of the trees, the grass, even the air.  I can almost hear music on the breeze.”

They walked along, the Youth and the Woman.  The bridge began to tremble, heave and become misty again.  A bit later, the Green Snake joined them along the river’s edge path.  The Snake was quite coy, tossing her head about and making the shells of her discovered necklace clink together.  “What a pretty necklace,” exclaimed the Woman.  It was obvious that the Snake wanted some praise on her appearance.  “Oh, yes, it is one of my favorites,” answered the Snake.  The youth ignored the conversation, his eyes looking down the path, his mind focused on his expected meeting with Lilly.

As they reached a turn in the path the Snake excused herself and ventured over to some bushes.  They waited while she attended to her business.  There was a trembling in the air, and a hissing sound intermixed with some squeaky sounds near the trees that crowded the path.  . The Green Snake, somewhat hidden by the bushes,  hissed his words toward the glowing figure deeper among the trees.  “I will be there by nightfall,” said the other.  The short conversation with the unseen person ended and the Snake returned to the path.  The Green Snake then turned his attention to the woman and the youth.  “Lilly lives a short distance away.  Follow me.”  She led them along a shady path through a wooded area.

As they advanced the Youth grew more and more excited.  He was actually skipping along the path in his joy and anticipation of again meeting the beautiful Lilly.  While the atmosphere of the Spirit World had greatly improved the Woman’s outlook, she knew that help for her black hand might not be found here.  She also wondered how the Youth would feel if his hopes were not answered here.

■   Scene Nine.  The visit with the Beautiful Lilly.

Different trees made up a pleasant woodland, no brush grew beneath their branches.  Grassy lawns spread into the distance as if part of an estate’s groomed woods.  They came in time to a garden area of formerly arranged trees and bushes, walkways and terraces, and a fountain in the middle of a patio half surrounded by columns and covered rooms.  The glowing dome they had seen from the Snake’s Bridge was nearby, topping a small building of Silver and Ivory lattice work.  They found a beautiful lady playing a most wondrous harp, singing gently with words and notes that pleased the ear and melted the heart. It was obvious that they had found the beautiful Lilly.

The Old Woman approached first, offering praise over her singing and asking for her indulgence.  Lilly cut off her admiring chatter, “Do not offer these words to me.  Do you not see my poor bird, lying at my feet,”  wailed the distraught Lilly.  “My dear bird flew about, tweeting with great joy, when it was frightened by a hawk.  The bird brushed my hand, and immediately died, landing at my feet,” said Lilly in a now quiet voice.  “My dear canary bird companion is no more.  I am missing her most terribly.”  The Woman and the Youth could clearly see the small bird now that Lilly had called their attention to it.  It was lying there quite still.  Lilly’s tears fell nearby.

meeting-lily-j“Dear Lilly,” said the Woman, stepping forward with her basket.  “Permit me to offer my small dog as a replacement.  He had licked some gold left by a Wisp.  Upon doing so, he expired.  You may touch him, he will then live, and you shall have a delightful companion again.”  Lilly was quite touched by this offer.  She leaned forward and touched the small onyx figure in the basket. Out jumped a puppy, running in circles about the garden.  “How wonderful and happy this new puppy is,” cried Lilly.  “He will be my new companion.”  Lilly laughed and invited the Woman, the Youth and the Green Snake to share in her happiness.  She picked up her Harp and let her happiness dance upon the notes that filled the garden.

The Woman pushed forward, seeking Lilly’s help while she was in this now-happy mood, complaining, “Dear Lilly, please help me in return, for this day I have had several misfortunes.  The Giant has stolen vegetables for the Ferryman, the Ferryman has demanded his full allotment of Cabbages, Onions and Artichokes which I have not,  I had to pledge to the river to fulfill the Ferry Man’s needs, and now my hand is both black and shrinking.”  Taken aback at this diatribe, the startled Lilly replied, “Thou may take what is needed, but know that no flowering artichokes are to be found here, only cabbages and onions which do not flower.”  The Woman looked about at the trees, bushes, grasses.  There were no flowers.  Only Lily’s garments had flowers sewn upon them.  None at all.  Her solution was not here.  She had expected more from the place of spirit.

“No flowering plants?  Is this not the world of spirit where all is possible,” asked the Woman.  “This is a special place where one has to recognize that what is possible may yet not be evident, but has to be given time and faith,” replied Lilly.  “There is a tinge of possibility but not certainty.  Each of us who reside here has to both exercise faith and patience.”  This repetition was lost on the Youth as could be seen by the expression on his face.  The Woman did understand Lilly’s words.  “Dear Lilly, thank you for your offer to help to the extent you can.  Know that the Old Man has given me a message for you,” said the Woman.  “The time is at hand.”

Lilly was very thoughtful.  “There are many signs about, this day.”  “What signs?” asked the Woman.  “Thy blackened hand, my dear bird’s death, the little onyx dog that now cheers me, and you all coming with the Lamp’s message,” replied Lilly.  “How do you know of the Lamp’s command?” asked the Woman.  Lilly replied, “The Lamp represents the power of the Old Man’s mind and faith.  That intent, his plan, carries the Lamp’s glow.  This glow is about you and the basket which I can discern.”  She continued, “Of course, there are other signs that are not yet evident such as a lack of a great bridge between this world and that on the other side of the river.  And the temple, there is no temple at the river’s edge.”

The Woman listened, understanding not the fair Lilly’s comments.   “Nay,” exclaimed the Snake, “You may ask this Woman about the bridge we have just crossed.”  “And, I say nay to you, charming Snake,” replied Lilly, “No great pillars support the bridge, only a few foot passengers may cross.  No, the prophecy is not yet filled.”  The Old Woman, tiring of this conversation and deeply concerned over her own needs, made to leave.  Nobody cared about her blackened and shrinking hand.

“Wait,” said Lilly, “I want you to take my poor canary bird with you.  Bid the Lamp to turn it to topaz so that I may at some time be able to again enliven it.”  The Snake again interjected herself into the conversation, “The temple is built, it is just not at the river yet.  The Man with the Lamp has seen the temple.  And, so have I.”  “When will the temple and the Kings arise, then?” asked Lilly.  Replied the Snake, “I have heard in the temple the words that the time has come.  These words were said to the Kings.”  “Yes,” said the Woman, “that is the message from my husband, the Old Man with the Lamp,” repeated the Woman.

Lilly smiled, pleased, and said, “This is the second time I have heard these happy words today.  When will the time come when I hear them three times?  Only then will I know that the time has truly come.”

■  Scene Ten.  Despair, demands, consequences.

Finally the Youth hurried forward, eager to address his own needs, full of exuberance at his meeting Lilly again.  “Dear Lilly, I have visited you and professed my love.  Do you not remember me?”  “Dear Prince,” replied Lilly, “many dreamers visit here from time to time.  I remember you well and with great favor.  However, you and the other dreamers are much the same in that they are here but they are also not here.  While we converse, there is no actual presence, just the appearance of such.  Do you not understand that?”

Wailed the Youth whom Lilly had just called a Prince,   “Yet, I am here now, and not as one who is dreaming.  Do you not love me in return?” pleaded the Youth, still fidgeting with his glowing excitement.  Lilly replied, “Oh yes, Prince, more than you can know, but the time is not yet ripe for you to permanently be here.  And, our time together will not be in this place.”

Lilly patiently continued, “The Snake and the Woman have brought you, as a visitor, not a dreamer, but you are not of this place.  You are not really aware of this place and how it is truly different and wonderful. We cannot yet be as one, and certainly we cannot be together here.”  The Youth was deeply hurt and confused by this.  He started again to wail in great despair as talk of the prophecy resumed between the Woman, the Snake and Lilly.

As the talk of the prophecy continued, and the Old Woman prepared to take her leave, the Youth considered what Lilly had previously said.  “I cannot understand this.  I am here.  You are here, and you have affirmed our love,” cried the Youth.  He was fatigued from his day’s journey and was very pale.  “You have only yourself to blame for the loss of your canary bird, and of my woe,” said the Youth.  He watched as Lilly dallied with her new little dog.  He continued, “Must I remain half alive, without the joy and energy I had before meeting you?”

Replied Lilly, again, patiently, “I again say that what you wish for is not for this place and not for this time.  Only in another place and time, perhaps soon to come, can what you wish for be made so.  Here, you have found me.  Here, we are together.  But, your presence is not like my presence, and we remain different within this same place and moment.  Have patience.”  With these words, Will, of the Wisps, appeared.  He sensed changes in the air.

“Dear Lilly,” the Wisp declared.  “I have come to learn about how lives are changed in various ways.  I leave gold for people to find and use as they see fit to change their lives.  You are said to bring change to people with words.  I wish to learn about this.”  “Then sit and we shall talk,” said Lilly.

prince-dies-jThe Prince was now confused by his own desires and by the words he heard but took no time to fully grasp them.  He was also overly impatient and had given no heed to Lilly’s patient explanation. Ignoring the conversation between Lilly and the Wisp, he rushed towards Lilly, “If thy touch truly kills that which is alive, then I will  die by your hand.”  Lilly tried to jump away, to little avail.  The Youth touched her face, then sank to ground where he laid, unmoving.

Lilly did not look about for help.  There was no help, as she well knew.  Without tears she looked down at the fallen Youth.   He had paid no attention to her words that the time was not yet here but that it might soon be.  The Snake, however, became a bundle of energy and purpose, forming a circle about the body, taking her tail within its mouth.  She lay quite still, the Youth’s body within her circle.

Lilly’s maidens gathered about, one bringing the harp, another a chair, another a fire-colored veil which she covered Lilly’s head with.  A mirror was held before Lilly so that she could see her own beauty and appearance.  She stroked the harp and gentle notes filled the air.  The music gave her thoughts a bridge from her surprise at the Prince’s action and her vision of a future with the Prince.  She wondered how this could satisfactorily evolve now that the Prince had made the situation more complex.

“Who summons the Old Man with the Lamp before the Sun sets?” hissed the Snake, angry at the lack of concern for the Youth and for Lilly’s attention to her own affairs.  “And, what of my hand?” interjected the Woman. “Forget your hand,” replied the Snake, “Just bring help here, quickly.  Find the Lamp.  Perhaps your hand will find its cure, later.”  “I will accompany her for it will soon turn dark,” said the Wisp.  Events had changed each of those present.  None of his gold was involved.  Change, it seemed, could spring from anywhere.  Answers would have to wait.

The Woman hurried off, unhappy about her hand, but accepting her task.   The Wisp strode by her side.  The Sun was dropping low in the sky, only the tree tops remained within its light.  Lilly finally forgot her distractions and turned her attention to those about her and to the Snake.   As the twilight darkened, the Old Man with the Lamp was seen approaching them through the garden.  “My Lamp sparkles when needed, I am here to help.”  The glowing Snake, the Old Man’s lamp, and even Lilly’s veil, spread a soft light about the group and the fallen youth in the gathering darkness.   “Bring the canary bird forward, lay it in the circle,” commanded the Old Man with the Lamp.  They all gathered quietly about the circle.   The Woman returned and, along with the Wisp, joined the circle about the Snake.

■   Scene Eleven.  A precession back across the river.

As the darkness grew and the forest sounds continued, the Old Man patiently stood by.  The Moon rose, visible through the trees.  When the midnight hour was near he said, “We now each and all have tasks to perform.”  Summoning a hawk, he instructed the bird to take Lilly’s mirror up above the trees to catch the early morning’s sun and direct it down toward the river near the Ferry Man’s hut as dawn arrived.  “We will need all of the light we can find as soon as it is available,” he declared.

The Snake stirred, unfolded herself from the encirclement of the Youth, and headed for the river.  Will, of the Wisp, followed the Snake.  The Old Man and Woman followed, carrying the Youth in a tightly woven basket which had lengthened to accommodate his body and the dead bird.  The basket then floated behind them, requiring no effort on their part to carry the Youth and canary bird.  Lilly followed, along with the maidens.  The Lamp, Lilly’s veil, and the Moon illuminated their progress through the moon-lit wood as they hurried toward the river.

forest-parade-jThe Woman led the floating basket along the trail, wondering how her hand could be restored in time before the morrow’s mid-morning.  Lilly, unconcerned about the limitations of Earthly life and thought, was caught up in the Old Man’s plan, curious to see how the Prince’s life was to be saved, how the Bridge to the Earthly land was to be completed, how the Temple was to appear, and how the Prince and herself would find a life together.  He was so typically impatient for a Earth-bound man, but he would learn.  The promise of that was in the air.

■  Scene Twelve.  The land of physical life.

The procession approached the river and beheld a wondrous bridge glowing in the night’s darkness.  It appeared more beautiful and jeweled at night than during the passage at noon, more beautiful than the moonlight flickering off of the river’s swirls and surface.  They all crossed the bridge, Lilly going slow to examine its size and strength.  After the crossing was complete, the Snake appeared from the collapsing bridge and again made a circle within the basket, enclosing the Youth and canary-bird.  The Old Man asked the Snake, “What will you do next?”  Answered the Snake, “I will sacrifice myself.  Promise[  that you will leave no jewels and stones on the ground?” pleaded the Snake.  The Old Man so promised.

“Lilly, touch the Snake with thy left hand, the Youth, your lover, with the right,” commanded the Old Man.  Lilly knelt on the damp grass beside the basket and did as she was instructed.  The Youth stirred, as did the bird.  The Old Man restrained Lilly from touching either of them further, instead he helped the Youth to stand.  There was life in his eyes but not yet intent and purpose.  Meanwhile the Snake lost its body shape to be replaced with innumerable jewels and glowing stones.  The Old Man knelt and gathered the jewels, assisted by the Woman, placing the jewels in the basket.  Then they carried to basket to the river and emptied it into the water.  The jewels floated[D27]  down the river, slowly sinking beneath the water’s surface.

will-at-door-jThe group proceeded directly to the hill side beside the river, the Old Man guiding the Prince along a faint path.  The path ended at a steep slope.  Summoning the Wisp, the Old Man instructed him to open a door which could be seen in the hillside before them.  “Only you can open this door, so please do so now,” instructed the Old Man.  The Wisp licked the locks upon the door, removing the metal from them, and allowing the door to be opened.  The Old Man proceeded through the door with the Prince in tow, followed by the others.  The Woman kept her hand held high and forward, catching as much light as was possible.  Nobody had yet tried to address her problem.

Arriving at another door with a metal lock, the Wisp was again summoned forward.  Licking the metal lock, the door soon was loosened and could be pulled open.  The Old Man and his Lamp led the Prince through the doorway, followed by the Woman, Lilly’s hand-first-temple-with-kings-jmaidens, Lilly, and the Wisp.  The Kings were revealed inside, lit by the lights from the small precession.  The gold King spoke first, “Wisp, keep thyself apart from myself lest thou devour my entire shape.”  Then the King addressed the group.  “Whence come ye?”  “From the World,” came the answer.  “Where do you go?”  “Into the World,” came the second answer.  “What do you wish from us?” asked the Bronze King.  “To accompany you” was his answer.

■  Scene Thirteen.  The time has come.

With the King’s welcome, the group clustered about the chamber’s center.  The mixed metal chunky King looked up and asked, in a broken voice, “Who will govern the World?”  “He who stands upon his feet,” relied the Old Man.  “I am he,” replied the mixed King.  “We shall see, “ said the Old Man, “For the time is at hand.”   Lilly rushed forward, hugging the Old Man.  “Old Sage, this is the third time today I have heard that this is the time.  “Thank you, thank you,” she cried.  The Wisp watched this display of emotion which contrasted with Lilly’s aloofness when she was on the other side of the river in her wooded garden.  What had changed?  At this point the ground beneath them began to shake.

temple-collapsejThe small group sought to hold each other steady, unsure as to why the ground seemed to be shifting under their feet.  Only the Wisp seemed unconcerned.  It became apparent that the whole temple was in motion even though no outside scene was visible to act as a reference point.  Nothing hindered its motion, although its direction could not be discerned.  The motion shifted in some manner, still moving, but the direction remained unclear.  A strange rumbling came from above.  The Old Man clasped Lilly close to him, saying, “We are now beneath the river, we shall soon be at the mark.”  Seconds later, glimpses of stars could be seen, then came stones and timber upon them, followed by a table and chairs.  As the temple ascended to the surface, the Ferry Man’s cottage was seen collapsing upon the temple floor.  The  Old Man and the Youth were hidden by the rubble.  Lilly strode to the fallen cottage door half buried in the rubble and pounded upon it.  There was no answer.  What had happened to her Prince?

Because of the Lamp, the cottage stones turned to Silver.  Then, the cottage shape altered itself, becoming a highly decorative alter with scroll work ascending along a small stair to a raised landing.  Soon, a completed and elegant alter stood before them.  The Youth appeared near the top of the little alter, having ascending some inner steps behind the decorative front panels.  Behind him came another figure, now clad in a white robe, the Ferry Man who had occupied the cottage-now-turned alter. Lilly mounted the outer steps, followed by the Wisp.   The Old Woman watched all of this, holding her changing hand.  “Am I to be left without aid amongst these miracles?” she cried.

“Look, Woman.  The day is breaking.  Hurry to the river and bath your hand, “ commanded the Old Man.  “What advice is this?  The river will only hasten the loss of my hand,” said the Woman.  “My debt is not paid, and it is now another day.”  The Old Man shouted at her, “All debts are paid,  do as I have said.”  The Woman hurried away, surprised at the Old Man’s forceful words, following the brightening light to a now-open portal.  The Sun was about to rise over the tree line.  The hawk was high in the sky, reflecting the first of the day’s sunlight into the now-open cleft above the alter and temple.

■  Scene Fourteen.  Instructions and wisdom.

sketch-alter-jThe Old Man climbed the steps, placing himself between the Youth and Lilly at the top of the small silver alter.  He did not speak for several moments.  All in the small group waited, not sure what was to happen.  Then, with a scanning glance at each of them, he said in a loud and serious voice, “There are three which have rule on Earth.  They are Wisdom, Appearance and Strength.’  The Old Man waited without speaking.  Then, he again repeated his words.  At  that, the Old Man directed Lilly down the stairs, he followed, and the Youth came after him.  Apparently the Old Man’s short proclamation was an important part of the amazing transformations taking place.

The Old Man bade Lilly to wait in front of the alter while he led the Youth to the Gold King where he repeated the word, “Wisdom.”  At that first word the Gold King arose.

The Silver King arose at the second word repeated by the Old Man, ‘Appearance.’

The Bronze King stood up as they approached, waiting for the third word, ‘Strength.’

The mixed King just plumped down.  Any who might have noticed him might have laughed as he wasn’t standing, leaning or sitting.  He was just slumped down, half shapeless.  The Wisp stood nearby, well fed, but appearing very pale in the growing morning light.  It was noticeable to any who might have looked that his plump appearance and large flames stood in contrast to the collapsed mixed-material King whose form showed a distinct lack of gold metal in his body’s form.

prince-bronze-king-jThe Old Man with the Lamp stopped with the Youth before where the Bronze King stood.  “Keep this sword on the left, your right hand free,” commanded the King as he handed over the sword.  The Youth fixed the sword in his belt on the left side.  “This represents your strength,” instructed the Old Man with the Lamp.

prince-silver-king-jThey next visited the Silver King, who placed his scepter in the Youth’s left hand, saying, “Feed the sheep!”  The Old Man said, “The Scepter shows all that you are the one who rules.”

prince-gold-king-jOn reaching the gold King, the oaken garland was removed from the kingly head and placed upon the Youth’s head with firm advice to “Understand what is highest.”   The Old Man spoke to the Prince who was now very observant, “Kings need to exercise patience and wisdom so as to do the best for those who depend upon them.”

 

The Old Man had carefully observed the Youth as these three steps were taken.  With the sword, the Youth’s breast swelled and his stride was much firmer. The receipt of the silver King’s scepter caused his strength to be more evident.  With the oaken garland, his eyes lit up, a smile came to his lips and his whole form became ‘Princely.’  “Lilly,” was his first spoken word as he turned to face her.

lily-prince-wisp-jLilly had observed his changing demeanor and had moved before the Kings to be closer to him, standing near the Wisp. “Oh, my friends,” said the Prince, “You have forgotten the fourth power which rules the World, Love.”  “Dear Wisp,” said Lilly, “pray spread your flames such that they encompass the Prince and myself.  They can bring the wisdom of both worlds so that we may share a complete understanding of each other.”  The Prince grasped Lilly to him, kissing her neck.  The Wisp’s flame gently flared up, encompassing the couple.  He could sense the depth of feeling and caring that each was radiating toward the other.  He had never felt this way when dispensing gold nuggets to the delight of those who sought to gather the fallen gold.

Did people have strong feelings about how the gold would change them, their life?   The Old Man said, with a smile, “Love does not rule, but it trains, and that is more!”  As they wondered about this mild rebuke, all noticed that the daylight had increased greatly.  Lilly and the Prince took a few dance steps, twirling about before the Kings, merry in the realization that their world had just changed about them.  With the spreading daylight, all noticed that the front of the Temple had opened.

■  Scene Fifteen.  The unveiling of the temple.

temple-on-hill-jA pillared courtyard could be seen framing the daylight, a long straight road led to a stately bridge, supported by many arches, that spanned the river.  Many were traversing the bridge in both directions.  “Remember the Snake with honor,” admonished the Old Man,  “you owe your life to her sacrifice.”  As this was said, several lovely maidens entered the temple, carrying the harp, parasol and a folding stool.  These were the three maids that had been attending Lilly.  But a fourth maid was also present.

As this maid approached, the Old Man stepped forward, saying, “Will you now trust me in another time and circumstance, good wife?” said he.  “Well for thee and every living thing that bathes in the river.”  The fair maid embraced the Old Man.  He continued, “If I am too elderly for you then you may choose another husband today.”  “Do you not realize,” she replied, “that you also have shed your years?”  “I delight that you see me as young through your eyes,” said the Man.  “I am content to share another thousand years with you.”  The now very faint flames of the Wisp seemed to briefly reach out and touch them also before he departed towards the river.  He had fanned the flames of love in others this day, a pleasing, rewarding experience.

As their happy group looked about the temple courtyard with it columns, hanging flowers and seating about the fountain they again noticed the bridge across the river.  Its many arches were supported by marble columns, the sides of this magnificent roadway across the river were gleaming with colors, seashells and jewels reflecting the rising Sun.  Although still early, some carriages and people on foot were already making their way over the beautiful bridge.  Some passed by the bridge as if it didn’t exist, never noticing that others disappeared from view as they stepped onto the bridge.  Others were streaming toward the temple courtyard to view this new attraction.

giant-as-a-sundial-jThese happy scenes were interrupted.  The twice-high Giant appeared, still hungry and grouchy, stumbling about and causing alarm about him.  Those approaching the temple took refuge behind the courtyard columns. The new Prince looked at his sword, then his scepter, and then just watched the now less-than-twice-high Giant, perplexed as to how to best handle this situation.  Said the Man with the Lamp, “Calm yourself, this will be his last mischief making.”  He whispered to the Prince who then rushed forward toward the Giant.  Seizing a large bread and cheese from one of the visitors, the Prince held them up as an offering.  The now smaller than twice-high Giant approached the center of the courtyard and reached out for the food.  There, he froze. His form took on the nature of a reddish metal, and, from that day forward, his extended hand cast a shadow, pointing out the daylight hours.  As the populace admired the courtyard, the now non-threatening Giant, and the temple, a shower of gold fell from the Wisp as he left for other adventures.  This gold had come from the fourth King of mixed metal.  As he departed a smile was on his face.  He could feel the excitement and pleasure of those who scooped up the gold.

So ends this tale of discovery and renewal.