The room is darkened, with only a single candle burning upon my altar.
I close my eyes.
My breathing deepens and slows.
I allow the unruly thoughts of a busy mind to drift away like leaves in a stream.
The flow of the stream is gentle, the water almost silent as it glides past.
And in that silence, there is distant birdsong and the whine of passing insects.
In a room, in the dark, my eyes remain closed, my body relaxed.
In another place my eyes are open and my body is in motion.
I know this stream, this river. I have walked here before.
The water swirls past me, downstream, as I walk carefully toward the source.
The ground along the riverbank is rough in places, and I want to be careful.
The least misstep could tumble me out of this quiet meditation.
I hold my worries out and drop them like pebbles into the calm water as I pass.
The ripples expand across the surface of the water.
They dissipate and vanish behind me.
The walk is going well.
More often than not, I topple and wake.
Or I falter under the weight of thoughts and concerns I could not leave behind.
Tonight I stroll along the riverbank and my pace is steady and true.
I breathe and I walk.
Following the river back through time and memory brings me to the well.
And now I stand on the outside of a ring of trees.
Nine mighty hazelnut trees have stood sentry here since before time began.
Finding the space to slip between these great trunks is no easy task.
Root and bough, they bar my way.
Frustration threatens to cast me back into darkness.
I gaze up into the sunlight which passes through the towering cage of branches.
That’s the key – become the light!
I pass through the boundaries between ignorance and knowing.
And find myself standing, at last, on the edge of the well.
This is the center, the beginning, the source of life and truth.
I look deep into those dark waters and there is movement within.
The Salmon of Knowledge is feeding again.
I crouch at the edge of that sacred pool.
I reach out…,
And there is a flash of metal on the mirrored surface.
A silver hand, gestures in warning, waving me away from the water.
I should have remembered.
Among even the gods, only Nuada and his cupbearers may visit this well.
Nuada, the first and fallen king of the Tuatha Dé Danann…,
Disfigured and made whole again, with an arm of pure silver…,
And maybe that is why he alone may touch these waters.
Not with flesh, but with the silver hand.
I can feel myself slipping now.
My journey has been for naught, a fools errand.
The wisdom held in this pool is not for me to have.
The vision is slipping away now.
I bow my head in despair, holding my face in my hands.
And in the moment before I wake, I feel cool metal resting against my cheek.
I open my eyes and the room is dark.
A single candle burns upon my altar.
In the dim circle of light it casts, I see an empty place that needs filling.
I will be looking for a new token to hold his place among the gods I honor.
I will be looking for the Silver Hand.