When Lion Comes

Lion by Laura Smith-Riva, Oil

There is a solitary lion who walks the landscape of my dreams. He does not roar or snarl. He is silent on padded paws. His eyes are yellow gold and his tawny coat ripples like the surface of a vernal pool.
I see him sometimes when I journey to the grove. Often just out of sight, tracking me. Sometime he sits by the lake, cat paws crossed. He yawns and turns to glance at me as I pass. Languid or bored, he licks his cat paw and cleans his ear.

I shed the last vestiges of a civilized world and sit before the fire on the shores of ancient waters. I inhale the slowly curling smoke of cleansing herbs that have been prepared just for me. An Undine splashes near the shore, sending a rainbow spray of water the lifts my skin in shimmering back arching waves.

When I enter the sacred grove, I am greeted by the old one with the antlered crown. She uses her fingers to paint ochre on my belly and breasts. I receive. She leads me to the temple.

The drum is distant, holding me, containing me, tethering me. I lay on the thick sheep hide inside Mother Tamarack. Her boughs are the bright green of early spring and soft as goose down.
My eyes lift and I see the chrysalis that is me hanging above on the stone lintel. I close my eyes and fall below the drum, below the journey, beyond the grove.

I am a warrior, young, strong and curious. My people are celebrating, the revelry of the harvest moon. The Watcher stands tall, her mature warrior’s gaze lifted toward the distant horizon. She must hold herself above the revelry, listening, watching. I, watch the Watcher.

We see. We see the riders, like distant fire flies etching the darkened landscape, before we hear the thunder of their hooves. Chaos, battle cries. I reach for my weapon. And like a rabbit in a snare I am caught, entangled. Heart beat keeping time with the leaping fires and cries of the wounded ones, I sense the dissolution, the coming, the ending. The Tamarack’s bright green boughs are turned brilliant orange, falling.

There is a solitary lion that roams the dark reaches of my deep. He does not roar or snarl. He rises silently before me, impossibly tall, five cubit, white belly sailing over my head. Black toes, cat paws on my spine, blood welling, sooty tear stained eyes slowly close. Surrender.

When I return, all is quiet in the grove. The Antlered One listens as With down cast eyes, shy, I reveal what I have come to know. She stays firm when I hold onto her, trembling as the snake rises, her breath a small gasp of shared knowing. We are carried deep into the sea, a tsunami lifts us, ecstasy.

There is a solitary lion that lives deep in my heart. His teeth drip with the blood of my thoughts. He is a devout connoisseur of demons, breath stealers, whisperers and ghosts of dead heroes.

Laura Smith-Riva is a Natural Dreamwork Practitioner from the mysterious Green Mountains of Vermont. www.archetypaldreamworks.com.

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