Today I’m joined by British author and shaman Gary Plunkett. In his own words, he not only writes about ancient wizards, some even say he is one. Look out for his forthcoming inspiring first novel of a trilogy, set in a picturesque British village pub: The Wizard Who Bought a Round, coming soon on Amazon in the New Year. There is even a free bonus workbook for those who want to use the book to kick start their own lives, too.
Gary says, “Imagine how a wizard or two could help modern people deal with every day tragedies and difficulties of being overworked and over stressed? Or of feeling fed up or depressed, angry, stuck, lack of self-esteem, not really having a purpose to life? Not just by creating magic around them, but helping them to build up their own abilities to cope, to deal with life’s bumps in the roads and to become and stay strong when life’s difficulties would otherwise feel overwhelming? What if a wizard or two could inspire and motivate people to achieve their dreams and more?”
Following is the a short, Arthurian inspired story he has written for us for the Winter Solstice.
Arthur jumped down from his horse, Excalibur slapping him on the leg as he did so.
“You’ll trip over that one day” scowled Merlin.
Arthur laughed easily, scratching his chin which was showing signs of a youthful beard.
“Oh you’re such an old fusspot, Merlin. More importantly I want to know why you’ve dragged me from my serving maid’s bed in the middle of the night?
At least I was warm. I am completely frozen now despite my furs. By Our Lady! What can be so urgent it can’t wait until sunrise?”
“Isn’t it obvious? You are here to meet yourself walking backwards!” grinned Merlin.
“What are you up to you sly old fox? Is this another of your riddling contests? Could we not do this in my Lord’s castle with warm mead and hot fires?” Arthur’s forehead wrinkled. He hated it when Merlin made him think.
“Come, come, we must not tarry, the sun will soon be up and that will not do” muttered Merlin as he marched off into the starlit gloom.
The moon had long since set so the stars were easy to see. Arthur frowned and as he trudged after the old wizard, he began to recall the star-lore Merlin had taught him over the years. For some reason Merlin insisted on teaching him ‘the wisdom of the Magi’, mostly at the dead of night.
None of the other squires were given this training and Arthur was becoming concerned that Merlin wanted him for a scribe, instead of the knight he had trained so hard to be.
Arthur looked up and was startled to see a long line of torches suddenly alight ahead. He saw shapes moving in the shadows and faint voices murmuring.
He drew Excalibur and dashed after the old man. “Merlin! Where are you? Are you safe?”
“Put that away boy, you’ll hurt yourself!” shouted Merlin from behind. Arthur did as he was bidden. How had he got there? It was all so confusing.
“Do you know where we are boy?”
Arthur looked around once more, this time more carefully. He looked at the stars and worked out north, and got his bearings.
“The Giants Stones?”
“More properly known as … hurry up boy, or we’ll be late.”
“The Stones of Brutus”.
“And they are important because?”
“The great Captain of Troy, Brutus, had them brought here from under the noses of the Greeks.”
“No, no, no! Where on earth did you get that nonsense from? Never mind. What is their connection to stars and sky?”
“Oh that’s easy, the Stones align to the Winter Solstice Sunset.”
“Very good. And what else?”
Arthur looked up at the sky for inspiration. “The Summer Solstice Sunrise?” he asked, hesitantly.
“Yes indeed. Well calculated. I did not tell you that so I am glad you were able to work it out.”
“But that still doesn’t explain why we are here so early? And who are all these people?” he gestured to the torch bearers, who he could now see were all wearing long robes with hoods. But were they old traditional druids or were they the new religion’s monks? He could not tell yet in the half light. Dawn was not far away.
“Them? Oh no matter” Merlin waved his arm dismissively and spoke quickly pointing into the night sky.
“Can you make out the star system Ursa Major?”
“Of course, the Great Bear.”
“And which star leads it, and acts as guardian?”
“Which is Latin. What would it be in our British language?”
“Err … Arthur!” Arthur frowned “So what does this mean Merlin?”
“It means young Arthur, that you are named, after a star!”
“Not a fierce fighting bear, as I was told when a child?”
“Well, yes and no. You are named after a bear, but not an earthly one. You were named after the Great Bear of the night sky which points the way home to all travellers, friend and foe.”
“A star bear? Now that is strange. What kind of omen is that? Is it a good omen or ill?”
“A very auspicious one, or it will be if we hurry. We have an ancient ritual to perform, quickly come with me”, and he took hold of Arthur’s arm and marched him into the centre of the giant stones. The south-eastern sky was quickly turning from night black to morning grey.
The strange symbols carved and painted onto the stone enclosure flickered in the torchlight as the hooded men followed them into the centre of the stone ring, open at one end.
“Quickly! Drink this, all of it!” Merlin demanded, handing him a goblet. Arthur looked dubiously at the cup and sniffed it cautiously. Wine from Frankia. He drank it down, allowing the warm feeling to envelop him. He smiled and examined the cup’s intricate flowing engravings. Old work. Very old work.
His mind swam. Not just wine, herbs too, but what, and why?
The druids were chanting now. He knew they were druids, their words in the old language known only to themselves. And him too, because Merlin had secretly taught him. “Tell no-one” the old sage had said. He never had.
He listened carefully, head still wobbly. A chant about light? Something about bringing light to earth. And now new voices. Latin. He knew that too. Lux. Light. Bringing light to earth. Renewing the light. The voices of the old words and the new words mingled. Arcturus Lux. Alban Arthur. The Light of Arthur! But what did it all mean?
He closed his eyes, yet bright lights shone? From where? How?
Two shooting stars, bright as the sun rushing towards him! Somehow he knew these were the lights of the ancients. The wisdom of the westerners who had first settled these isles after the Long Winter, and the Great Flood. And the new light. The light of the new wisdom of the east. Meeting together in him. He felt hands caress him, but knew they were not the hands of men. And they were gone. The light faded. He opened his eyes. The sky whirled around his head, he gulped and breathed in, slowly.
“It is done.” Announced Merlin..
The pink glow of the sun emerged over the horizon, and then gold. It was warmer. But not by much.
The druid and monk torchbearers extinguished their flames and walked off in opposite directions, the monks to their monastery and the druids to their oaken grove.
Arthur stood and watched. He felt different. Somehow calmer, more relaxed, and yet with an inner strength.
Merlin smiled. “Shall we visit the mead hall?”
“You read my mind” smiled Arthur walking to his horse.
Gary Plunkett © 17th December 2015
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