Relax and Get comfortable
Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths.
You begin your journey on an overcast day. You are near the forest, deep, dark coniferous woods, and you have heard of a beautiful grotto somewhere in its midst. There is a wide stream that runs into the wood, and you stand on its bank, looking down into the ravine shaded by fern and long, dripping moss that beards the trees.
You turn to the wood and begin your journey, traveling by the stream bank as you go along. There is no well-worn path here; you have to climb over fallen logs covered with moss and skirt large chunks of granite deposited here during the last march of the glaciers.
As you enter the wood, the heavy growth darkens the glow of the sun as it lowers toward the horizon. The sound of the birds echoes around you, and you smell a tinge of autumn chill in the air, hints of cold nights to come. The stream gushes along beside you. At first the ravine is steep and you cannot feel the spray of the water as it rushes past. Gradually the slope of the wood lowers to where you are only a few feet above the stream bed, and you can see clearly below the surface of the water if you bend down.
There are water skimmers darting across the surface of the bubbling water, and a few mosquitoes. Small fish dart just below the surface -- quicksilver, almost as if they aren't even there.
You find the walking easy at first, and the continual susurration of the water lulls you as you travel. It is cool near the stream, in fact it's almost chilly, and sometimes as you walk along you can hear a late season frog croaking. The forest thickens, but you have become focused on the stream below. Occasionally, you hear laughter rising with the water, but you can't see where it is coming from.
The current is picking up, and you feel a sense of urgency now, inspired by the force of the water. You begin walking faster, trying to keep up with the ever-running stream. And then, up ahead, you see that a large cliff blocks the path, making it impossible to continue on the stream banks. You could go around it, but you'd lose sight of the stream and by now you know that you're on the right path to find that grotto. But you have one other option. You know that you could let the stream carry you along; it's deep and swift now. So you step forward and jump into the water.
The first shock of chill water stuns you, and you flounder for a moment, fighting the current that drags you past the cliff. You manage to catch your breath and straighten out, riding the current on your tummy. You don't even have to swim, just stretch out and let the water buoy you up.
Now the last shadows of daylight are glistening on the water around you. It sparkles, reflecting like brilliant sapphire, dazzling your eyes. You are soaked, but you find yourself adapting and it's easier to remain calm, easier to use your arms stretched out in front of you to steer yourself around the occasional rock jutting up from the water.
The pulse of the current begins to match your heartbeat. You feel a strong quiver run through the water. With each breath you take, the stream seems to rise. Every time you exhale, the stream lowers, and so you gently but swiftly flow along, almost as if you were a part of the water itself.
The cliffs that you pass through are steep and dark, towering blocks of granite. You realize that you have no choice now except to let the water be your guide. You are suddenly thirsty and so you open your lips and let a mouthful of water slide down your throat. It is icy, glacial, and refreshes you like no other drink ever has.
A roaring sound echoes from up ahead, and the water picks up speed. You raise your head to try to see what's coming, but it's difficult from this position. Suddenly you find yourself teetering, you are on the edge of a waterfall, with no handholds in sight and you have a glimpse of white water spray all around you and mist rising like fog from below, then you plunge over the edge.
You twist and turn until you've righted yourself, and you find you are actually sliding down the falls, buoyed by the force of the cascading water. You catch a glimpse of a glistening pool below, and the fern-covered slopes surrounding it, and then you hit the surface and sink.
You try to swim upwards, you kick and fight your way to the surface only to grab another breath and be pulled down again. You are spinning now. Each time you rise you gain a breath of air, but it's hard to break free from the whirlpool you're caught in.
The water circles around you, tearing at your clothes, pulling at any possessions you might have. When you think you've reached you last gasp, you manage one final kick and push yourself out of the center, where you can navigate away from the whirlpool. With the last bit of energy, you swim to shore and crawl up to the sand. You find you're naked, your clothes have been swept away, and all your possessions you have with you are gone. But you are so tired, you just sit and rest.
As you regain your strength, you begin to notice the cold. The water is drying on your skin now, but the night air is cool and you begin to shiver. If you don't find some sort of shelter, you will freeze. You wearily get up and look around for anything that might help.
The dusk is thick, but you can see dark caves against the ravine walls, and you imagine a few might be below the surface as well. Fern and Moss hang down here and willows surround the pool. You wonder if you've found the grotto, but somehow you don't think you're quite there yet.
You see a thick, long drape of moss and it occurs to you that it might provide some protection from the cold. You pull it down from the tree it's on and wrap it around you, tucking it in so it makes a kind of sarong. Surprisingly, you find it really helps. You look around some more and decide to use long fronds from the fern to weave into a kind of cloak. When you finish and drape it around your shoulders, you feel much more comfortable, enough to notice how hungry you are.
Movement on the beach catches your eye. You move closer to see what it is, and find an otter staring at you. She's come out of the pool and is waiting on the shore with something in her mouth. You move a little closer, not wanting to spook her, but she remains calm and when you are almost within range to reach out and touch her, she drops a fish at your feet.
"Your dinner" a voice in your head rings out, and then you hear a laughter similar to the one you heard in the stream. It's gentle and playful. She waits for you to pick up the fish.
When you do, you find it's dead, and she's sliced it open with her claws and washed it in the pool. There's no fire, but the water here is clean and clear, and you know the fish is safe to eat. You bite into the flesh. It's juicy and almost sweet, and your stomach gurgles with the promise of a meal. As you eat the fish, you can feel its life-force streaming into your body, and you feel shimmering and sleek, and energy races through your blood.
Thank the fish for its life, that is sustains you, and then turn back to the otter.
She smiles, her whiskers sticking out, and then she says, "When you've rested, you must climb through that cave if you want to reach the grotto." Then, quick as a wink, she slides back in the pool and disappears under the water. You feel energetic now, strong and ready to continue, and so you carefully climb over the rocks and up to the dark slit that awaits.
The cavern is narrow and high. You feel your way along, running your hand over one of the walls. Before long, it opens out into a mammoth room with stalagmites and stalactites glistening from a phosphorescent glow. There are no other entrances or exits, but in the center of the room, you see a large pool. The water in the pool is black and filled with twinkling light.
You hear singing rising from the pool, and it's indescribably sweet and alluring. The voices echo and rebound off the walls, and you feel your heart begin to pound and you're overcome by the desire to follow the voices.
They swirl around you, reverberating in your mind, and they sing. "Come to us, come to us, leave your home, leave your loves, leave your families and ride with us into the sea." The pull is so strong that, try as you might, you cannot escape and you plunge into the pool, searching for the singers of that melody.
As you sink into the water, something begins to happen. You feel strange, your body is shifting, altering. You find you're changing into a creature of the sea, perhaps a salmon, an otter, a trout, an octopus. Look at your body, and see what it looks like. Feel the fins, tentacles; feel the way the water moves around you now that you don't have to fight to breathe. Play with your transformation for a moment.
After you have gotten used to the idea that you're no longer human, you swim deep, following the current of the pool that leads you down. Then you see ahead of you a tunnel in the water, a cave going under the cliff and you follow it. You can still hear the voices singing and they're coming through the tunnel.
As you swim through the darkened tube it grows lighter. You swim up and up, heading toward the surface. As you break the water's edge, you shirt again and are back in your human form.
You are in a large lake, and the forest surrounding this lake is truly beautiful, shimmering and glowing. As you head toward shore, you're able to wade through the water as it grows shallow. You see crystals glistening in the sand, and the full moon hangs low overhead, casting its light across the grotto.
You stand on the shore, looking back at the lake to get an idea of where you are. You see that the forest entirely surrounds the lake with shimmering light. In the center of the lake is a large rock, and you know that's where the singing is from and that's where you must go.
You plunge back into the water, but find that you remain human and you begin to swim out to the rock, and you hope that your strength will hold you up.
As you leave the shore behind you, you can feel the gentle currents. They seem to be helping you along at first, guiding your way, holding you. The water lulls you into a happiness you've never felt before; it surrounds and warms you and you flash back to the time when you lay in your mother's womb where water cushioned you against the hardships of the outer world. Take a moment to feel that cushioned rocking, and see what it means to you.
You are quite a distance from the shore, and the water begins to grow choppy. It pulls you out of that peaceful calm and you have to be alert, watching as the water swells and creates, waves growing larger. It could be dangerous here, and your muscles ache a little because you cannot relax; you must be aware of your surroundings.
Now you are closing on the rock, but the passage is more than difficult. The waves have grown dangerous, they tug at you, and you must use all of your strength to fight the current if you want to make it to your goal. Rain begins to pelt down, stinging like hail as it drives itself into the surface of the water. The night is so cold now that your muscles are starting to cramp. You see the rock is almost within reach.
Finally, the water swells again with a big wave coming in, but as it swells you can reach out and it pushes you towards the rock just enough for you to grab hold. Dig your fingers in and pull yourself to the granite, and then, with your hands bleeding from small lacerations, drag yourself up, onto the rock.
You lie there for what seems like an indeterminable amount of time, but eventually you begin to catch your breath and when you sit up, you see you're not the only one on the rock. There is a ring of women, beautiful and ethereal. They almost seem like shapes formed of mist, and they are singing. But now that you're here, their songs have little effect on you.
In the center of their midst, there is a great throne made of mother of pearl and amethyst, and on the throne, a woman cloaked in long streams of dripping seaweed. Her hair is the color of twilight, and she wears a gown woven of fog and raindrops. She sits in front of a large bowl, so large you could almost crawl into it, and in the bowl you see water darker than any water you've ever seen before.
She motions for you to come forward. When you are standing at her feet, she says, "I am Aqualia, the Queen of Cups, the Queen of Water. You have come to seek my element." Her voice echoes with the roar of the waterfall.
She continues, "Know this, I am the force of your body, I am the home from whence life began. Your ancestors swam in my primordial seas. I cushion your tears and soothe you with my gentle raindrops. But I am also the force of the gale, the wild cresting waves. Do not underestimate me, or deny my strength."
As she speaks, you see a great serpent rising from the water, greater than any serpent ever before known or seen. Aqualia says, "I am Tiamat Primordial Mother of the Ocean. Know me and pay me respect."
Then she shifts again and she is cloaked in a beautiful girdle and she is the loveliest woman you've ever seen. "I am Aphrodite, the foam-born. Love me and desire me and ride on my waves of passion."
Once more she shifts and she is wild and fearsome and full of dark storm clouds. "I am Ran, Goddess of the angry seas, and I drown sailors who dare to challenge my strength. Do not think you can beat me, I am always more powerful than you."
Then she is back to herself again and she sits back down and smiles gently. "Know also, I am in each raindrop and each teardrop you shed, and when you drink of me, you bring my life force into your body."
She points to the bowl in front of her. "I give you a gift. If you drink from my dark wine while asking a question, then close your eyes. You will hear the answer within your own heart. For my waters unlock the gates to your subconscious, and from there most answers spring." She hands you a crystal goblet and says, "Think of your need to know, then drink and listen for the answer.
When you have finished you task, she gives you the goblet to keep and says, "Place water that has been charged under the dark moon in this goblet and you may touch the wells of knowledge by drinking deep." Then she says, "It is time for you to leave." She provides you with a boat and send you on your way.
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