|Join me atop the Sacred Rock, for here the All Thing resides.|
Then the Young Adventurer ascended the mountain and came upon the Law Stone, which stood within an open meadow. Atop the Stone sat Queen Alice, thrice-exalted usurper and Lady of the Green, her legs folded in the manner of a Lotus, her head adorned with a Crown of deep red flowers. In front of her lay a succession of objects, perfectly arranged in a row. It was known by all that Queen Alice was to be consulted at this juncture, and so the Young Adventurer approached her forthwith.
“My Lady, I have journeyed long and travelled far and I must now seek your counsel. I wish to partake of your wisdom and experience so that I may deepen my knowledge of the Way of the Sword and Shield.”
“You needn't try and explain yourself so,” replied the Queen “For I know your true purpose. You approach me clad in green, or violet, or crimson, or blue or in cold metal or in a mighty helm of brilliant flame. You shall carry on doing so, and you will do so in the hereafter and times long passed. Your intent is surely clear enough; it's your meaning I don't follow.”
“I require training in the martial arts,” the Young Adventurer said “Or, barring that, some formidable tool of honour and power that will aid me on my quest. Is that not the purpose of this assortment of items between us?”
“What you see in front of you is what you wish to see” Queen Alice said “Or perhaps,” she hastily added “What you expect to see. I appear to you in this manner because I am expected to and am thus invoked, though I appear in this form because it rather suits me. We have met this way before and we shall continue to meet this way time and time again until the world grows dark and the land grows cold.”
Confused, the Young Adventurer countered “I see what I see in front of me because it is there and it was there before I climbed this summit. How can it be otherwise?”
Alice responded “What you see are half-truths; between us stands an impenetrable wall of nothingness. You bear witness to the simulacra of meaning and virtue.”
“Is a Thing Not-A-Thing? What I desire and what I am presented with have no correlation, as you are right now effectively demonstrating.”
“A Thing ca'n't be without its symbol.” Alice gestured to her collection of objects “I could give you this this canoe (which is the world) this book (which is the link in the chain), this ball (which is the aspect of thunder and lightning), this skateboard (which is the door and the eye), this cobra (which is the voice of the dragon) or this wheel (which is the tower) and each would be useless to you stripped of their subject. Furthermore I daresay they mayn’t even exist if you wished it.”
The Young Adventurer was now thoroughly confused, and asked of Queen Alice “What is the purpose of all these riddles and symbols? This is getting me nowhere! I've come all this way and I should like to have some answers to all of this.”
“They get you nowhere because you choose not to follow them, of course,” said Alice. “The secrets of which you speak and seek are spelled out before you; answers written in words carved out of summer's clear sky. Pick a path and follow it, for it shall lead you towards divinity.”
The Young Adventurer was growing angry and proceeded to criticize Queen Alice “Will you not give me what I seek, or are you simply incapable of giving it? Is a Queen not a Queen if I wish her not to be? For in you I see the simulacrum of a regent. Does a Queen not sit on a throne and preside over her land and people? Pray, tell me: Where do you rule and who are your subjects?” The Young Adventurer said this, for it seemed Queen Alice possessed none of these Things, then added one final question: “What Are You?”
“Is the answer to your question not already clear? Do the words not appear before you, though you are unwilling to read them?” Alice replied “I am the Queen without a throne, for my throne is the field of scented rushes. I am the Queen without a queendom for my queendom is the Earth, the Ocean, the Sky and the space beyond and between. I am ruler of everything and nobody. I am the third of two Queens of Dreaming and have no predecessor or heir for my apotheosis was my will. I am Woman-Become-Goddess and Goddess-Become-Woman. I am the form to which you must aspire.”
To this the Young Adventurer had no response, so Queen Alice thus continued “Do you not see some reflection of yourself in me? Is that not this reason you have come yearning for my company and guidance at this moment in time?” Alice paused for a moment, than continued “You seek wisdom and meaning. These are not Things I can give you, but things which you must discover yourself and absorb into your aspect. But you also seek knowledge of topics with which I have a particular experience. Such knowledge is the beginning of a path, so this I will tell you.”
The Young Adventurer raised no objection to this, for the quest must continue, thus there was no objection that could be raised. “Talk with me then about The Path.”
“There is not one Path, but many paths. The road and the destination can remain the same, but should the trees change colour or the cobblestones be re-layed, the path will likewise change.”
“Surely The Path remains the same? The Road still stretches across the same piece of land and it still ends up at the same place.”
“A road is only a Thing if you perceive it to be such. A road becomes a path when a Master perceives it to be one. Or perhaps rather, the path is the way to become a Master, but only a Master can recognise it as such. Either or both. The path is the Endeavour.”
Queen Alice knew this puzzled the Young Adventurer, for she had seen a vision of it doing so before the words left her lips, so she shared a story. This was that story.
“It is a truth that in the days when I walked alongside my foster-father I was a warrior, much as you are presently. A Warrior Queen assumes her mantle through combat, and I am coronated through the slaying of the High King: I slew him once in the Hills of Erin upon the raven’s wings, once in the House of False Love, once in the Mead Halls of the Gods and again atop the City of Fire. I likewise felled him amongst the Missing-Birds of Aetherius and in Darkness and in Sadness and then in the Dreaming, which is all places and all moments. The clashing of our swords echoes back to the dawn of time and forward to the End of All Things.”
Alice continued “My infinite victories win me only my self, which is nothing, yet everything. This is true inasmuch as it happened, I exist, and therefore this must have happened. But it is also a truth that in those days I wore the Storm Crown and thus did righteously slay the High King, for he knew not Love, and had I not the world would become Poison and I should cease to be.”
“So one becomes a Master by finding a path, following that path, and slaying he who resides at the end of the path.” The Young Adventurer offered.
“It is a truth that heaven may be reached by violence,” Alice responded “But I slay kings with Love myself. They are not such disparate forces, you know. The House falls for it promises Love where there is none. A real Master knows the value and power in this.”
“What more must a Master know?”
“That a Master is not a Master until The Name is both spoken and forgotten. Only then can Masters recognise themselves and attain liberation, wisdom and power, which are the same. I am Alice and I am Not, but I Am. This is the true purpose of the path, for the path is the Endeavour. One needn't worry so much about the end of a road, it's the walking that's important. After all, one ca'n't go around slaying kings all the time, now can one? Bearing the Sun Crown I travel where I may; my processional train the daylight of summer itself.”
“But the warmth of a summer's day can turn just as quickly to the fury of thunderstorm...” the Young Adventurer almost hesitated to point out.
Queen Alice smiled warmly and said “I was born in both and exist in both. Always and forever.” for she was not at all ashamed to admit this.
The Young Adventurer thought about that for a time, and then asked Queen Alice “Pray, My Lady. Please tell me about The Dreaming.”
“The Dreaming is part of everyone and everything, and everyone and everything is also part of The Dreaming. It is shared between all, yet it is also the domain that no two people may ever truly share. It is above and beyond and deep within. It existed long before this moment and shall carry on forever after it.”
“But which dreamt it, then? Whose dream?”
“The Dream is the Dreamer, and the Dreamer the Dream.”
“But,” the Young Adventurer cried out “If I am nothing but a Dream than nothing I do shall ever amount to anything and I have wasted all these many hours!”
“Hush now,” Alice spoke softly and gently “There's no need for that sort of talk. For the true mark of a Master is learning the secret and one true purpose of The Dreaming: A Dream may Dream as Dreamers do. The Dream remains and is reborn again. Eternally.”
While this wasn't entirely comforting, the Young Adventurer said nothing, but continued to listen to Queen Alice with rapt attention, so she went on. “We all leave our mark on The Dreaming, don't you see? It is always around us and we always feel its presence, though we may not be able to reach back to it. A Master may do so, for a Master walks both in the land of the Dreamtime and in that of the Waking Dream. That is the true purpose of the path.”
After some thought, the Young Adventurer finally spoke, saying this: “I believe what you say is a truth, though I also believe I mayn't see it quite the same way. But I shall heed these things you have told me, for I must continue my quest.” Queen Alice knew this would be the answer, for she had foreseen it far into the future.
“Come now,” she said, her elfin sun-smile once again crossing her lips “Sit with me for a time upon the meadow of flowers. Cast your gaze to the valleys in bloom, the river which flows ever on to the sea and the mountains of snow from whose summits you can touch the sky. Meditate on these Words I have given you, for hidden within them is the secret of the Endeavour.”
You shall learn to Dream with the dawning of the sun on a brighter day. Your path lies before you.