Dropping into trance the evening before a Full Moon, I went to a place between dimensions, between elements, the coastline. Where the sea meets the earth is the domain of both Earth and Water. In spirit-body, I walked along for a while, feeling the cold of damp sand under my feet, seeing the stones, dying seaweed and broken shells on the sand.
At the top of the dunes, Earth and Water meet Air, so I climbed the crumbling sandy mountains punctuated with that dry salt-resistant sand-grass that characterises many of our beaches, and walked along the ever-changing crest of sand.
Half-buried in the sand, I saw an iron-bound wooden classically styled "pirate chest", one corner pointing to the sky. I pulled it further out of the sand, so that I could open its simple hook-latch. It was full of golden coins, large and heavy. I dug around in them, and close to the bottom found the real treasure, a solid mass of deep-pink rose quartz probably almost the size of my head.
Carefully, I covered it with the coins again so that the quartz would not touch the wood, and reburied the box in the dry sand with my hands. It belonged here, in the place between elements.
One of my patron-gods is Hephaestos, the crippled smith-god. Hmmm ... perhaps that's why I have had perpetual ongoing knee injuries since 1984! I kept walking along the dunes, and he joined me, limping companionably alongside me. I am used to the company of gods - many people find their energy overwhelming, but in the final analysis many of them are simply my friends, and he is one of those.
After a while we had walked enough, and I fell behind to follow him, because I knew he would lead me somewhere. I found that we were walking through the informal or poorer quarter of what felt like an older city, with grey-bleached wooden buildings on either side of a very narrow cobblestoned street with their higher floors overhanging the street itself, too narrow for horse and coaches, only just wide enough for two people to walk abreast if they were friendly, or one person mounted on horseback.
The cobblestones were erratic and uneven underfoot, I had to make sure I wasn't going to trip. I could smell woodsmoke and coalsmoke and hot animal fat and a hint of sewage. I kept following Hephaestos. We turned right, pushing aside a curtain of raw animal hide, and entered a comfortingly dark room. Along one wall was a table. Out of a wooden dish, Hephaestos picked up a shred of smoked eel (okay, something brown - don't ask me how I knew it was smoked eel, I just knew), and pressed it to my lips. It wasn't for eating - it was a kind of blessing or benediction. I tasted its smoky, fatty richness as exactly a blessing. Next, he picked up an iron cup, and put it to my lips. It was full of cool water, another blessing and benediction.
He then showed me the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci was out at the time, the place was messy, with tools and wire and paint and diagrams everywhere. There were also, sadly, dirty clothes everywhere, it has to be said. I got to flick through one of Leonardo's current notebooks, got to see the mind of the master in action, even though I couldn't really read the archaic font, the early dialect of Italian, or even my own tongue in mirror-script. This was a marvellous moment.
Then Hephaestos went to work. I realised this was his workshop, and there was a small forge in the centre of the room. He pumped the bellows until the coals burned more brightly and burst into white flame, then inserted the blade of a half-made sword with his bare hands, not with blacksmith gauntlets. Drawing it out red, he placed it on his anvil, and hit it with the hugest hammer. In the fire, in water to temper, in the fire, on the anvil to be beaten.
And I became aware that I was the sword he was making.
I am the sword of a god. I have been forged in the fire of a god. I have been tempered in the water of a god. The strength of the steel is my strength. The hardness of the steel is my hardness. The sharpness of the blade is my sharpness. The Ancient Crippled Smith has walked beside me for decades: the I that exists now, am his creation, his child, and his companion. There have been times when I have been in god-form and he has tried out being human. Currently, he is in god-form and I am trying out being human, but never forget that I am the sword of a god.