Willow the Seeker

Willow the Seeker is written by by Charlene Alaimo. Willow and Garry are drawn by Robin Ator ♥

Greetings Fellow Seekers! 

My name is Willow and I am working towards my post-graduate degree in Sacred Spaces. I'm hoping to graduate from Seeker College and become a Guide on the Astral Plane, but my guidance counselor GOK wants me to be grounded here before I move on to that assignment (his name is short for an old medical term that means "God Only Knows"--go figure!). Apparently he and my Creative Spelling teacher got together and he found out about the Cotton Candy Incident... 

It was at the annual Druids and Drakes picnic. The day was hot, the skies were bare and there wasn’t enough shade for the 40 or 50 young Witchlings in attendance. I was in charge of making cotton candy--and in a stroke of genius (at least I thought so)--I noticed that the balls of sugar looked like clouds! I used the cones as wands and began chanting, "Clouds, clouds come today, Come and make a little shade!" Tiny wisps of pink and blue clouds started forming—it was wonderful! Every Witchling who walked away with cotton candy also got his or her personal cloud-shade. What I didn’t count on was the combined energies of the cones when they were thrown out. All the discarded cones were recycled in the trash bins but they were still charged. The flash floods that followed are still being talked about. I apologize to the Midwest United States for all the flooding. 

My guidance counselor also pointed out that I had failed my Location of Sacred Spaces Exam three times. My last test was to find the Catacombs of Rome—and I thought I came very close to finding them—but he insisted that the subways of New York City aren't catacombs. So I was on the wrong continent—anyone can make that mistake! I pointed out to him that they're both underground, so at least I got partial credit. 

GOK feels that I need some additional help to get my degree. He said that I should get some Junior Seekers (that’s you) to help me identify magical and sacred places. He insists on using this thing called the Buddy System so that no one gets lost (at least not for too long). Second, he assigned me a Gryphon named Garry to transport us to our sites. 

♥ Willow and Garry ♥

A Gryphon is a mythical beast with the head, talons and wings of an eagle and has the body of a lion. Garry is my Gryphon Precognition Seer or GPS and will take us to our sacred places. He has great foresight and excellent eyesight (This is a very good thing—I need to wear my glasses, but I keep misplacing them...what big eyes you’ve got Grandma…oops! Wrong mythical beast!). As a certified flying Gryphon, he insists that all passengers wear safety helmets and goggles. I wear them, but I think that they'll mess up my hair, don't you? Helmet hair can be soooo unattractive but safety first. 

Garry can give us hints but he can't tell us where we are. It is our job to discover our mystical location. So what do you say? Will you help me pass this course? You'll get to learn about all the wonderful sacred and magical places on our world, and I'll get to share the cool techno-magical devices I have to figure things out. My robe pockets are stuffed with gadgets that I’m dying to show you (and try out!). I have a Crystal Tooth (similar to a Blue Tooth but uses vibration energy) and a Pocket SC (Pocket Scrying Computer)--and that covers just two pockets! Our adventure begins now—what a great way to start the New Year! I'm excited to begin our travels together...

Greetings Fellow Seekers! 

Willow here. It's January, and you know what that means--MIDTERM EXAMS. But that's okay because I AM AT MY FIRST SACRED SPACES LOCATION! I'm so excited and I KNOW I'm going to pass this first SSE (Sacred Space Exam). But first, I MUST tell you about how I got here...

It was a breathtaking journey--and I REALLY mean breath-taking! We were so high up that the air was sucked out of my lungs. To be fair, Garry flew high because he didn’t want me to cheat by looking over his shoulders and “seeing” where we were going. Once we reached a more comfortable altitude, I had to put my goggles on “Dark Mode.” I couldn’t see very much, but I did hear a lot of wind, waves, and seabird calls--we were traveling over water. 

When we finally landed and I was allowed to look around, I found myself standing on the cleft of a lush green mountain. The sky was sunny and blue, and the air was dry and hot. I turned to ask Garry if we had packed any water bottles--and he was gone! I was about to panic when I saw him. He'd wedged himself behind a group of fallen rocks and standing so still that he looked like a statue. Even his coloring had changed to match the stone. He pointed at a group of people talking and wandering around. Right. It wouldn't do for any "normals" to see a live gryphon. 

With Garry safely camouflaged, I took a look around. Everything was made of stone, and very old. All the structures were broken, and there was rubble everywhere. A circular stone structure with a group of pillars (mostly fragments, only three pillars stand upright connected by a top stone) caught my eye. It appeared to be the focal point of the site. Here's a picture--sorry--it's the best I could get while hiding--I can't let anyone see me! 

Photo by ISANYU via Flickr Creative Commons,

I'm thinking that this is a temple of some kind and the visitors must be worshippers. But what kind of worshippers let a Sacred Site fall into disrepair? And they weren't dressed for a holy place; they were wearing sneakers, shorts, and baseball caps. Is this a Sacred Site for ancient baseball players? Garry said no to my first guess. A few of the people wore Hawaiian shirts. Are we on one of the Hawaiian Islands? We did travel over water, and Hawaii does have mountains... 

To that, Garry sighed loudly and said, "They're tourists, and this site is ancient. Active daily worship is not practiced any more, but individuals may still honor this place in their own ways."

Okay, then. I pretended to be one of the tourists and joined the group. We were lead to a wooden stage area where a young man wearing an oversized white pillowcase with holes for the head and arms held a strange musical instrument. It was shaped like a curvy U with a crossbar that had strings attached to it. He started to play and sing in a language I couldn't understand. 

Time to break out the magical devices! Okay, okay, I know I was supposed to wait for permission to use them, but I was sure my Crystal Tooth could translate--and it did. The Crystal Tooth picked up the words Praise, Sun... and a God’s name... Apollo! What I really wanted to know, though, was the name of that musical instrument. Garry wasn't looking--so I asked:

“Sir? Excuse me, sir? I’m just another tourist. Can you tell me the name of the instrument you're playing?” 

Before he could answer, I saw Garry is waving me towards him from his hiding place. Rats! I was found out--and he's taking off 5 points for illegal use of magical devices and trying to get answers from the locals!

Well, there was still that circular structure with the broken pillars to explore. I felt a tingling sensation in my toes as I walked over the stone slabs. There's a lot of vibrational energy here! Garry suggested that I use my Pocket Scrying Computer. When I placed it over a crack in the stone, an image started to form. It looked like an eye... no... a pair of eyes. This must be a Scared Site for Eye Doctors! Is this an Oracle for Opticians? Garry looked like he wanted to spit at that guess--that must mean no. 

Let’s use some reasoning. Eyes are for looking and for seeing. Maybe this site has something to do with a Seer? I tried my Residual Sound Sensor--good for detecting any lingering ancient conversations, chants or prayers... What I got sounded like a conversation between several people--here's what I heard: 

I am a Mother with a handsome son. He is my world. Who will he marry? The girls I see are not worthy of him.

This is a very protective Mom. I’m getting a response to her question. 

The man you speak of, has a fate most ill. He’ll marry his mother and his father, kill.

Boy, it sounds like this guy has a real Oedipus complex. Is this site like a Dear Abby advice column?

Many consider me the strongest man in the world. I have committed a crime that cannot be forgiven. What can I do to atone for my sins?

Wow, I wonder what he did. What advice will this man get? 

Agree to complete twelve impossible deeds. When they are completed, your conscience will have ease.

Definitely not Judge Judy. This man needs to perform Herculean Labors. There was one more:

I am the King of a great country. I have come to ask for military advice. Should I go to war against the Persians?

War? That's never a good idea! 

If war is the path you take, a nation's fate will be at stake.

I could have told him that! I wonder what the King decided to do? Garry says that my time is up and I must submit my answer. So, Fellow Seekers, where do you think we are? If you have any suggestions, leave me a comment. I really NEED a good grade on this! We'll find out if we got it right in my next post. Till then, stay warm!

Here's the note I got from GOK for the Sacred Space Midterm... well, there's always next time!

Greetings Fellow Seekers! 

Willow here, riding on the back of my favorite Gryphon friend and guide, Garry. He's taking me to my Second Sacred Site, and I'm excited to prove myself. This time I'll show GOK that I can take my time and study all the clues. Plus, I have something that I know is gonna help me get this one right! Last week, I attended an Advanced Wizard’s Gizmo Expo. While there I bought a JWC™ (Junior Wizard Contraption) camcorder/camera. It’s guaranteed to record the present (regular speed), the past (reverse speed) and, with an adapter I couldn’t afford, the future. I have it packed away in my yellow pocket ready to use.

Whooooeeee! We just landed on a lush green field surrounded by rolling hills. I know we flew over water like last time—but this place is definitely different. There's a tall tower that reminds me of the fairy tale about Rapunzel and her long flowing hair; the doorway to the tower is about fifteen feet from the ground. It looks like a modern set of stairs has been built that allows people to enter the tower but I don’t think it was part of the original structure. The base is made of large boulder-like granite blocks of different heights. I think it's made of limestone, and my pocket scrying computer tells me that the tower is about 108 feet high.

I just realized that I am standing in the corner of a very old cemetery. A beautiful brick church (or maybe it’s a cathedral) with funny-faced gargoyles stands in front of it with the tower in the far corner. Garry dropped me in the backyard of a church... churches are totally sacred. Is this the site I'm supposed to study? When I turn to confirm this, Garry shakes his head “no,” and changes color to blend into the grass and stone. Whatever. My finely tuned senses tell me that I'm not too far off the mark. Better continue to investigate.

Wow--that tower sure is round!

On the southwest side of the cathedral is a very plain High Cross made of granite. It has no decorations and is missing the upper ring section. In my “Mystical Signs and Symbols” course, I learned that a High Cross is a free standing cross made of stone that often had a circle around the top half. It usually had rich markings and designs. This one has neither. Maybe the people were Amish?

Past the cross and near the round tower is a low but thick wall enclosure with an opening to the grounds on one side. There's a fire burning in its center. How nice! Someone must be planning on having a barbeque! Oh my, there’s a woman tending to the fire. She's so quiet, I didn’t notice her. No wonder Garry went invisible. She’s dressed in a plain skirt, blouse, and sweater, but she's also wearing a veil that covers her hair. An oddly shaped gold cross hangs from her neck. It looks... woven.

This woman appears to be praying while she takes care of the fire. Other women are walking along the path to the church now, praying as they go inside. They are dressed like the fire-tending woman--veils, crosses and some with beaded strings in their hands. This must be some type of religious order because they don’t look like tourists; no cameras or backpacks. They leave the solitary woman to tend to the flames alone. I wonder if this is a privilege or a punishment. When my “Clean-Up Spell” stuck all the cleaning supplies up to the ceiling, house cleaning became my responsibility for a month. That was a punishment. This looks like a privilege.

On this assignment, I will NOT make the mistake I did last time. I won't talk to the fire-tending woman. She is praying aloud but I don’t understand the language and I don't want to disturb her. This is a good time to break out the JWC™ . It has so many buttons, but I think I managed to get the reverse speed to work. Let's have a look at the backyard of the church with the stone enclosure and see what went on there in the past.

Talk about mystical sights! The viewfinder shows a grove of tall lush oak trees. The buildings are missing as are the walls and gravestones, but the fire is still there. Eighteen women in long robes form a circle around the flame. A nineteenth woman in the center holds a tree branch as a staff or wand. She's tending the fire. This must be either a perpetual BBQ or an eternal flame.

The women are rapping. Or maybe they're singing? Oh, wait! They're reciting poetry. It’s hard to tell the difference when you don’t understand the language. In the background, sheep with bulging bellies are munching on grass and roaming the field. The energy is positive and powerful.

Well, the film has run out and I’m not getting any more images—and I’ve accidentally wandered over to the tower where an elderly gentleman has arrived. He's taken off his cap and is asking me a question. I don’t want to get into trouble talking to the natives again. I shrug and try to walk away.

"English?” he asks.

I nod and keep moving.

He smiles and points over the hill. “Bridget’s well. Bridget’s well,” he says.

That’s very nice that Bridget is feeling okay, but I don’t know the lady and I don’t want any more points taken off my exam!

So, fellow Seekers, I think I know where I am, but this time I better go over my clues very carefully... 

Exam results--YESSSSS!!!

Greetings Fellow Seekers! Before I begin my adventure, I want to thank all the Junior Seekers who helped me with my last assignment (especially Skye and Pamela who gave excellent suggestions, and to Jenny who had the correct answer). Their answers were greatly appreciated and saved my grade! Woo! 

I'm standing on my new site and I find it hard to breathe. The air is a bit thin and it's taking me some time to adjust to this place. It's bad enough that I have to be out doing research so close to Samhain... Garry, my GPS and guide, has placed me on top of a mountain peak. There are other mountains around me but this appears to be the highest point. I definitely need a jacket or a parka because it's a bit chilly and there's a light dusting of snow. 

Maybe I should light a fire? Mist and fog surround me. I have to squint to see, and it doesn't help that I misplaced my glasses again. My goggles are only good for traveling while on Garry’s back. I can’t complete this assignment if I can’t see. Let me check my pockets... I have my Magical Ear De-waxer, my SAMD (Spaghetti and Meatball Detangler--I’ll save that for lunch). Funny but I’m craving bratwurst and sauerkraut ever since we got here. Wait, here's my Ethereal Telescope! It has two viewing modes: Real and Surreal. Let's try the Real mode first.

Oh, look at the magnificent forest! I see railroad tracks and puffs of smoke coming from a steam locomotive. It’s traveling up and down the mountain. There seems to be a large park. I see two signs near the entrance. It must be a park for cardiologists because I see a word that looks like it should be "heart" but it's spelled H-A-R-Z. And the other sign looks like they're trying to say that the garden is broken B-R-O-C-K-E-N-G-A-R-T-E-N). Now I see a tall metal tower next to a restaurant and what looks like a hotel. The tower looks like it's used for TV, or something like that. Hmmmm... Do you think the restaurant serves sauerbraten? Garry just whispered in my ear and told me to try the surreal mode on my Ethereal Telescope... 

Junior Seekers, you are not going to believe what I’m seeing. Everything's changed--there are flowers in the garden below and the air is so warm... AND THE VIEWFINDER IS SHOWING ME A SKY FILLED WITH FEMALE SEEKERS FLYING AROUND ON BROOMSTICKS! They're babbling about something called--hold on, let me see if I can catch it--"val-pur-gis-knockt." Huh? Maybe it's some kind of food--I could use some of that right about now!

On the ground are more women dancing around a huge bonfire near a large moss covered stone. I don’t think they're campfire girls; they look too old for that. When I shift the viewfinder to scan over the bonfire, I see a very awesome sight. A dark image appears to be rising up from the flames. It looks like it's... summoning something... Creatures are coming up from the ground! OMGosh, Seekers--something's coming towards me. It's a kind of... ghost. It moves when I move. I’m turning off the telescope; these visions are too surreal for me! 

My real view isn't any better than the surreal one. It’s getting dark and the mountain is cold again. Well, fellow seekers, I’ll have to look over my notes and try to figure out where we are... Until next time, explore the world--but don’t get lost!

A peek at GOK's diary...

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