In the spring, one should be suspicious of witches disguised as hares—at least that’s what the woman, who had lost faith in herself long ago, had read once in a book about faerie creatures. And this is what she thought when she spied a curious rabbit nibbling at the lettuce in her garden one morning when the birds sang so gloriously that the clatter woke her from the strange dream she’d been having every night for an entire week. The dream was of a faerie queen emerging from the water with a sword raised high in the air. And every time the queen spied the woman watching from the willows, the woman would awake with a start. Now she wiggled her toes in the loamy soil and thought about her dream as she shooed the wee rabbit back to the hedgerow and gathered radishes, asparagus, and spinach for her lunch later in the day.
But that rabbit kept appearing. It was nibbling on dandelions as she turned garden beds and planted her window boxes after breakfast. It rested under the rose trellis as she hung laundry just before lunch. So when she saw the rabbit again while sipping tea on the porch at twilight, when the veil between the worlds thins and allows one to see the realm of the fae, she decided she would follow the creature.
Maybe the hare was indeed a witch, the woman thought. The rabbit seemed to sense she was there and quickly took off down a path that seemed carved through the bramble. And just when the woman thought she lost sight of it, the hare would reappear as if it were waiting for her to catch up.
“There you are silly rabbit,” she would say and take off after it again. Deep down she knew this was an act of a senseless human, but following the rabbit had ignited a long-lost curiosity in her.
As the path twisted and turned through a forest of white birch and sweetly scented poplar trees, the woman began to feel a strange familiarity with the area, though she knew she had never explored it before. But as an opening through the trees exposed a small lake, she realized this was the area she had been dreaming of that past week. A breezed picked up, stirring the willow trees and drawing her further to the lake’s silky shoreline.
The hare slipped into the surrounding shrubs, and the woman’s heart quickened when she heard a splash near the water’s edge. She turned, half expecting to see the faerie queen who ruled the lake rise from the water. But the water remained still, and the woman chuckled because everyone knows dreams don’t really come true, especially those that haunt you at night. A loud rustle in the shrubs startled her. She clutched her chest and stumbled toward the water as a woman, even older than she, rose from the shrubs.
“I didn’t mean to frighten you, Miss,” the strange old crone said.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t notice you there,” the woman replied. “I was lost in a dream, I suppose.” She smiled at the frail woman. “A dream you say?”
The woman felt silly but explained, “I have been dreaming of a beautiful faerie queen who presented me with a sword from this very lake. And when the rabbit led me here … Well …” She blushed, as it really did sound silly. “Never mind.”
The old woman smiled and then pointed to the water that glistened under a rising moon. “Was that the sword in your dream?” she asked.
“Why, yes.” The woman couldn’t believe what she was seeing and pinched her arm to make certain that she was truly awake.
“You’re not dreaming, my queen,” the crone said. “Take up your sword.”
But the woman was confused because that was not how the dream went. And besides, she was no queen. She reluctantly picked up the sword and held it, as the woman had instructed, high above her head. A tear streamed down her face as the weight of the sword reminded her of her unworthiness. “I have done nothing to deserve this. I am not young, and I am not strong, neither physically nor emotionally. I am not accomplished at anything. I am no queen. You have made a mistake.”
The crone nodded. “Look into the water and tell me what you see.”
The woman looked to the water and watched as her wavering reflection settled in a pool of moonlight. What reflected back was the faerie queen from her dream—strong and confidant in her manner. A being who forgave herself for past mistakes and who acknowledged her own self-worth. And as she gazed into the water, all the pain and self-loathing suddenly rippled away.
“Not accomplished at anything. Not strong.” The crone clucked her tongue. “Shame on you.” The woman lowered her sword. “I see now.” She smiled. The crone motioned for her to kneel and then placed a circlet as silver as the streaks of moonlight atop her head.
“And what shall my duties be?” the woman asked.
The old woman smiled. “To honor yourself above all, my dear, and to be a light unto others who have lost sight of their own self-worth. Weave your message into their dreams and leave the rest to me.” The crone winked.
When the woman stood, the crone was gone, and in her place, a rabbit was nibbling on tufts of spring grass. The woman straightened her crown and walked home along a trail speckled with moonglow.
A RITUAL FOR REDISCOVERING SELF-LOVE
One day when the sky was warm and the riverside beckoned, I went to the body of water that knows me best. I went, robed, and with a long sword I used in ritual at times, to the Sauk River where I have drawn down the moon and danced on her banks. That place where I had gathered with my family and friends and where laughter and love have permeated the landscaped for over twenty years. I dropped my robe, revealing to the river the reflection of a woman whose lined face told the story of the hard work, laughter, and tears that have shaped her into a strong multifaceted human being. The glistening water reflected back a particularly deep cesarean scar carved into her abdomen—the battle scar of the bearing of her precious children. Every fold and lump and every line and crease were taken in and relished that day. I was reminded of my strength and capabilities and of the unique splendor that is me.
It was that day that I ritually took the sword and raised it up as a symbol of my shift in self-perception. I am beautiful, I have worth, I am strong, and I am capable of creating positive change. I am a warrior queen, I am divine.
Now it’s your turn. What is it that you see when you look into that mirror? Remember, to be beautiful doesn’t mean you have to look like a supermodel. And if you’re older, it doesn’t mean trying to recapture how you looked at eighteen. Being beautiful is accepting yourself as you are now. Never mind how others think of you, never mind what the latest trends are, never mind what your status is. This ritual is designed for you to see yourself with fresh eyes as the beautiful warrior queen you are. And in turn, you can be the light for others to do the same.
For this ritual you will need:
• A full-length mirror (if you don’t have private access to a body of water)
• Decorated staff (directions below) or sword (if you happen to have one)
If you can perform this ritual at a body of water (lake, stream, ocean, river, pool, tub, etc.), that would be great, but you can always do it in front of a mirror. Begin with a few moments of meditation outdoors, if possible. Use this quiet time to focus on forgiveness. Forgive yourself for judging yourself for so many years. When you are ready, stand in front of the mirror (or body of water) and disrobe. Look closely at your beautiful form and thank your body for its strength and wholeness. Thank your body for honoring you. When you feel ready, raise your staff or sword high into the air and in your own words take back your sovereignty. You are a warrior queen and no one (not even yourself) can make you believe that you are not worthy, strong, or beautiful.
A DECORATED STAFF OF POWER
This is a great representation of your own self-worth. After you use it in ritual, place it somewhere you will see it daily as a reminder of your warrior queen spirit.
You will need:
A four-to-five-foot stick or branch that you found or was given to you, or a piece of straight driftwood, or even a wooden dowel from a DIY store
Permanent markers or craft paint (your choice of colors)
Ribbons, yarn, or decorative lace (in a color that is empowering to you)
Wood-burning tool (to burn symbols into the wood)
First, prepare your staff for paint by removing any loose bark and wiping the wood down with a damp cloth. If you have a wood-burning tool, you’ll want to burn words or symbols of power on before adding paint. If you choose, paint your staff with colors that are an expression of you. After the paint dries, use the permanent marker to write words of empowerment and to draw symbols that have meaning to you on your staff. Wrap ribbon, yarn, or lace around the top of your staff and tie off, leaving twelve to fourteen inches to hang freely.