Wheel of Life
dedicate this to the Morrigan, who whispered the
memory in my ear. May She always remind me to
be careful what I pray for in every Turn of the
Wheel. It is a true memory of the past, and only
Conrad is a bow to what should have been…had the
Goddess willed it in this Turn of the Wheel.
1. THE WELLSPRING AT DAWN
Jenna sat by a deep, wide pool at the forest’s
edge. In the distance were the hills that surrounded
her homeland. The pool was fed by several springs
and had been sacred to the Goddess since time
out of mind.
Sighing idly, she tossed leaves onto the surface
of the water and watched as gentle gusts of wind
moved them around. Her mother Sula, the Voice
of the Goddess, saw visions here when the Wellspring
was still, but today the little ripples would
have closed the Gates to the Otherworld.
Sighing once again, she looked anxiously down
the trackway that led across the Downs and into
her village. It was a fair distance away, but
she thought she could smell woodsmoke, so the
village must be waking up.
At least an hour had passed since dawn, and although
she had arrived well before the first glow touched
the sky, Con had not arrived as promised. Jenna
shivered as the wind changed around to the East,
and she drew the wolfskin snugly up around her
Growing bored - and annoyed at Con as well - Jenna
changed from leaves to pebbles and calmly started
sinking the arboreal boats.
Her mother would beat her if she found out she
was waiting for Con, but she did not intend to
be caught. Anyway, as far as Jenna was concerned,
the rift between her mother and the rest of the
People of Conaral had very little to do with her.
However, if Con was much later, she would have
to accept that even he had turned his back on
And there had been such high hopes for reconciliation
between Sula and the Warlord Conaral on the previous
morning as everyone prepared for the Festival
of Harvest Home…
2. HARVEST HOME
Con felt his heart beat hard against his ribs
as he knelt behind the wall of spears set in the
ground at a 45° angle. He could just hear the
shouts of the beaters as they drove the boar down
the track towards him.
He was beyond a curve, so the boar would have
no warning Con and the spears were there until
it was too late to avoid impalement. His task
was to despatch the boar quickly before it ripped
itself apart and damaged the meat for the Feast.
As he waited, birdsong floated on the breeze and
a cool mist rose from the forest floor. His mind
wandered. He hoped his marriage to Jenna would
be announced that evening at the Feast.
Until recently he had been confused about the
way she made him feel, but now he understood -
they were friends, but more than that, they were
Soulmates. Sula had explained it to them at the
Wellspring the day after Jenna had celebrated
her Womanhood Rites.
people are fated by the Goddess to know each other
down the centuries, reborn time and again on the
Wheel of Life, sometimes as parent and child or
brother and sister or inseparable best friends
and occasionally - unhappily - born apart and
doomed to a lonely lifetime.
she reassured them, “the best by far is the relationship
is the one you both are fated to share in this
Turn of the Wheel: a mated couple! I have seen
it in the Wellspring and nothing can take away
the fact you’re fated to be together throughout
all your lives: Soulmates.”
Although he drew comfort from that memory, and
the fact that he and Jenna had always played together
and she was his dearest friend, Con still couldn’t
stop a small frown creasing his forehead as he
remembered another conversation: one he had overheard
that morning between his father and Sula.
will agree to accept your daughter for Con,” Conaral
had said, “not because of who you are, Sula, but
in spite of it. I dislike your efforts to control
my people,” Conaral had continued, “with these
conveniently-timed visions warning against contact
with outsiders. We may live on an island, but
we aren’t alone in the world. You’re trying to
prevent my people from a liaison with a race whose
ways and Gods may be strange, but who offer us
Sula had averted her gaze, thought carefully,
then bowed her head and spoke contritely. “I hope
this joining will be seen as a lasting end to
our disagreements. Tonight, we will honour the
Goddess, but tomorrow when Acturion and his Cohort
arrive I’ll welcome them - if that is then still
your wish - and the wish of the People of Conaral."
Con continued his daydreaming. He remembered that
he had gone in search of Jenna. He found her sitting
outside the dwelling that doubled as both the
ceremonial heart of the village and her home.
At the sight of him, Jenna had jumped up and run
eagerly forward. He had clasped her hands in his,
and daringly brushed her forehead with his lips.
promise has been made! I heard them just now at
the Council House. Come on!” Con pulled Jenna
farther from the doorway. “We can spend the whole
day before the Feast together, forget our parents
and their stupid fighting. We can talk about what
it will be like when we are grown and have a place
of our own. We can start our own village, maybe.”
today, Con!” She laughingly scolded him. “You
know you have to hunt for the feast, and this
will be my first time assisting in Ceremonial
Rites. Our lives are fated: one day you’ll be
Warlord and I’ll be the Voice of the Goddess.
Because of this, we have responsibilities. We
are almost grown and have to accept this, like
it or no.”
Jenna’s resolve seemed to waver despite her fine
words as she looked at Con’s crestfallen expression.
She had just reminded them they were still really
only children, after all. Then she had smiled
tell you what! We can spend all day tomorrow together,
making plans and dreaming of the future. We won’t
tell anyone. I’ll meet you at the Wellspring at
dawn tomorrow. Well? Will you come?”
I promise! Nothing in the world will stop me.
We’ll cement the relationship,” he said wickedly
grinning. “I’ll be there at dawn, I promise.”
At the memory of that promise so recently made,
a slow smile caused by his dawning sexuality spread
across his face. “Maybe tomorrow at the Wellspring
we’ll find out what it is like to be truly Soulmates!”
He shut his eyes and leaned back against the bole
of an oak snuggling in happily to wait for the
hunt to reach him.
A crashing! It was there! He leapt to his feet
and cried aloud as the boar suddenly dashed into
view. It was huge! He cast about for the great
knife he was to use to slay the beast, and seeing
it beside the tree, ran back to pick it up, nearly
beside himself with fear and anger. How could
he have dozed off?
Luckily, the boar obligingly hurled itself onto
the spears, and Con was able to run forward and
slit its great throat before the rest of the hunters
came around the bend in the track. He was standing
bloody and grinning in the act of plunging the
dagger deep into its heart as they caught their
breaths and laughingly clapped each other on the
This was Con’s very first kill of an animal larger
than a hare, and to have the honour of making
the kill just in time for the feast meant he would
be allowed to join the adults in the Feasting
House. As this was the end of his twelfth Summer,
it would have been embarrassing to still be with
the children at the feast, especially since Jenna
would be with other adults of her rank. Moreover,
how would he have faced her tomorrow at dawn?
The killing of the boar was a perfect start to
their celebrations, and as the hunters made their
way back to the village, the women and children
left the fields and joined them, carrying the
fruits of their toil to begin the final preparations
for the feast.
3. THE GLADE
At the same time as Con daydreamed awaiting the
boar; Sula was smiling at Jenna as her daughter
led Magra into the Glade of the Goddess. “This
girl Magra will work nicely for my plans,” she
Magra, who had been chosen to be the Corn Maiden
in the Spring, was amazingly the only woman to
become pregnant that year. Magra’s baby was considered
by all to be doubly lucky. It would be seen as
a virgin birth, as the baby was conceived not
of man and woman but of the Corn Maiden and the
Horned One. Furthermore, Magra, as the only pregnant
woman in the village, was the only one who could
be chosen to represent the Harvest Mother.
was right to use the Summer Solstice to make sure
she was the lone woman to bear fruit from the
Beltane Fires. None could know there was ergot
in the mead, and the loss of any new tribe members
is well outweighed by my being able to present
a Corn Maiden transformed into a fecund Harvest
Mother. Yes. It suits my plans well.”
Sula knew she had yet to convince the People to
accept her prophecies that the newcomers were
their enemies. This evening all her specially
orchestrated signs and portents, as well as this
girl, would ensure that she would never have to
keep her promise made to Conaral: to welcome the
hated Romans on bended knee.
Romans threaten our very existence. By sunrise
tomorrow everyone will fear and hate them, and
Conaral will be the one standing alone. By the
Dark Goddess I swear my very life to this!”
Sula and Jenna spent the entire day with the Harvest
Mother engaging in purifying rituals. Near sunset,
Sula turned to them, saying “I must pass through
the fields on my way to the Downs. Stay on the
trackway, and I’ll meet you at the summit.”
Jenna wondered what her mother was up to. Although
she had never taken an active part before, she
knew on all previous ceremonies her mother had
followed the trackway that led directly from the
Glade of the Goddess to the crest of the Downs
which was the Western border of the lands which
looked to the Warlord Conaral for protection.
Turning to her, Jenna boldly spoke out; “What
are you doing, Mother? Shouldn’t we all three
climb the trackway, bound together as the three
faces of the Goddess?”
you to question me? There are things I must do
that you’re not ready to know,” her mother stormed.
“I am not now your mother. I am The Voice of the
Goddess and you will obey me as you would the
It was as if her heart had died within her, but
she had learned one lesson of the Sisterhood well:
do not question the Voice of the Goddess. Jenna
felt her stomach begin to churn. She knew that
her mother had been changing since news of these
Romans had reached the village. As she grew older,
Jenna was becoming aware that sometimes the words
that Sula claimed were from the Goddess were actually
her own opinions and for her own ends. She had
an awful feeling this was one of those times.
Jenna turned and took Magra by the hand. “Come,
Harvest Mother,” she said forcing a smile. “We’ll
walk the trackway together.”
At dusk, the People arranged themselves in family
groups outside the palisade, facing toward the
setting sun. As the sun touched the rim of the
Downs, Sula appeared over the crest facing them,
haloed in its rays and clad only in light, with
the crescent Dagger of the Goddess about her neck.
Her hair, heavily streaked with grey, was unbound
and hung to her waist. In her right hand was a
stone chalice with water from the Wellspring,
and in her left a spear cut from a living hawthorn
in the Glade of the Goddess.
Looking down on the village from this vantage
point, it was impossible for Sula to believe the
divisions caused by rumours of newcomers would
last this night’s work. Woodsmoke rising in columns
in the still, chill air melded with the aromas
of cooking and animal odours into a pleasant fragrance
that was uniquely Home.
Sula intended for it to remain their home, and
she concentrated all her considerable powers,
called to the Goddess, raised the cup and slowly
spilt the water there at the border of their tribal
lands. It glowed like molten gold in the last
rays of the sun.
At her mother’s call, Jenna dropped the wolfskin
she had been huddling under with Magra and stepped
over the crest of the hill to stand on her mother’s
right. Jenna shuddered as a gust of wind caught
her naked body, adorned only by a girdle of Autumn
Jenna was shivering as much as Magra, and for
much the same reasons the cold and fear of the
Goddess. She glanced sideways, moving only her
eyes: watching the Voice of the Goddess, Sula,
who did not waver in the stiffening breeze.
chill in the air is a good sign,” her mother said
softly. “It is proof from the Goddess that Wheel
of Life continues to turn. Don’t fear the future.
Face it and make it your own.”
Jenna stood up straight and proud, her gaze fixed
eastwards on the distant Tor. In her right hand
was an unlit torch, and hidden in her left hand
at her side was a glowing coal to light the torch
as soon as the sun’s rays no longer touched the
Tor. That would be the signal for the Harvest
Mother to step up next to Sula. Sula’s eyes were
unblinking as she faced East.
At the precise moment the Tor was plunged into
blackness, she raised the hawthorn spear above
her head, and shook it.
Jenna’s hand trembled as she touched the coal
to the torch and sent out a silent plea to the
Goddess that it would catch swiftly. She then
spoke in a clear and carrying voice: “The Wheel
turns and the Seasons pass. We are one with the
earth and her fruits. Like the corn we are sown
and come forth…” She stepped directly in front
of Sula, and changed the torch from her right
hand to her left.
Then Magra came over the brow of the hill, transformed
by the afterglow into the Harvest Mother clad
in garlands of corn and leaves, her gravid state
accented by the side light from the torch.
She took the torch in her right hand as she spoke
clearly: “We ripen and we bear fruit…” Magra stood
to the left of Jenna and passed the torch to her
left hand. Sula took the torch as she stepped
to the left of Magra.
They stood there for what seemed to be an eternity,
and the watching villagers could only stand in
awe at the Magick before them as they saw indeed
the three faces of the Goddess: Maiden. Mother.
are…” As Sula was about to continue, there was
a collective sharp intake of breath from the Tribe.
Forcing her eyes to see beyond the smoky and flickering
light from the torch in her hand, Sula saw a shadow
seeming to scud through the air a bird huge
black. The People groaned as the raven landed
beside Sula. This was the Goddess’s hidden face:
Coming like this, at the very height of the Ritual,
it was a portent of tremendous significance. Jenna
could see the terror she felt mirrored in the
eyes of every member of the Tribe as Sula spoke
the words: “We are cut down and consumed.”
Sula smiled a secret smile, for the Goddess had
answered her prayer. Granted Sula had given Her
a little assist in the form of the strong-scented
emmer wheat which she had gathered in the field
on her way to the Downs and scattered on the brow
of the hill under the guise of shaking the spear.
This had enticed a homeward-bound raven to land,
but the People could not possibly know this and
they must believe her now. She stood with only
the torch for light groaning, moaning and swaying.
The People of Conaral shifted uneasily as they
watched Sula transform completely into the Voice
of the Goddess. Her very appearance seemed to
change, and her entire being was trembling as
her voice, now harsh, screamed out the warning:
“The Morrigan is come!” she cried, “The Death
of our people as foretold by the Voice of the
Goddess is come! Run to your homes! Bar the doors!
The enemy is come and he is at your gate! Look,
you can see the fires in the East…I burn! I burn!”
Sula collapsed and allowed the torch to fall on
some strategically placed tinder that flared dramatically
for several seconds and then was consumed. The
hillside was plunged into darkness, silhouetted
against a sky the colour of blood.
There was complete silence for several moments;
then the raven took to the air, wings clapping
like thunder in the hush. Following its flight,
everyone began speaking at once. Jenna ran to
her mother, and knelt beside her, terrified she
away!” Sula hissed. “Do not speak until I rise.
I must press home the words of the Goddess that
these Romans are evil. They mean to end our way
this is wrong! You are using the powers from the
Goddess for your own needs. Remember the saying
you taught me? ‘Be careful what you pray for,
as you will surely get it!’ Just because you…”
Jenna stopped speaking and tears started in her
eyes as Sula’s nails dug into her wrist, but as
she looked into her mother’s face, she saw that
Sula was no longer looking at her, but staring
with terror toward the East.
There was a sharp intake of her breath, then Sula
spoke in a harsh whisper, “It seems as if the
Goddess would indeed use this night for Her own
purposes, look now, Jenna!” She pointed directly
over the heads of the demoralised villagers.
From the East there started a glow like a flight
of fireflies approaching. As one, the villagers
turned from the tableau on the Downs to watch
the approach of Acturion and his entire Cohort,
bearing torches to light their way and mounted
on the fine horses of Rome.
Compared to the shaggy, stocky ponies of Britain,
these war horses of the Romans were almost beyond
comprehension: small neat hooves, wide-set intelligent
eyes incredibly beautiful.
The Celts had their stubby horses and cumbersome
vehicles which were not as manoeuvrable as the
high-strung war-horses galloping toward the palisade.
If the truth were told, these glorious beasts
were the main reason Conaral wanted good relations
with the invaders: a man mounted on one of these
could rule not a just village, but all of Britain.
The galloping horses slid to a stop next to Conaral
and his family, and he returned Acturion’s chest-thumping
salute with vigour, if not style. “Vale, Acturion,”
said Conaral in an attempt at Latin.
and well met, Conaral!” replied the General. “I’ll
be billeting my Cohort outside your palisade tonight.
May I present my officers Flavin and Pacentius,
and may I also commend to you my only son Lucius.
I was hoping you would invite the four of us to
come along to see these Harvest Celebrations of
yours. They sound a bit like our Bacchanalia,
and a rip roaring orgy is not to be missed!”
Jenna watched in horror as Sula drew herself up.
The Rites practised at Harvest Home were not for
outsiders. She knew when her mother drew The Mantle
of the Goddess around herself she was a force
to be reckoned with, and she honestly feared for
the safety of this uncouth foreigner.
Fairly flying over the short grass of the Downs,
Sula shrieked like all the fiends of the Otherworld,
and the horses skittered and tried to bolt from
this apparition that approached them. Her arrival
did not have the effect on Acturion she expected,
Laughing hugely, Acturion leapt off his horse
and approached her, opening his arms wide, intending
to draw her beneath his cloak. “Come to me you
Heathen Goddess! I admit you British do have an
amazing religion! By Venus, we may both be getting
on a bit, but we can still show these striplings
a thing or two, I’ll wager!” He reached out and
drew the struggling Sula to him.
Conaral made a half-finished gesture to stop the
Roman, but then he seemed to consider the fact
that Acturion was in armour and wearing a sword
(and backed by the entire Cohort of trained troops
who were setting up camp next to the palisade).
By contrast, he was clad only in his ceremonial
garments of wool trimmed with furs, and the nearest
thing to a weapon was the spear Sula had used
on the hilltop, or the crescent dagger at her
Jenna heard herself scream. “She is the Voice
of the Goddess, and in this form may only mate
with her Consort!”
then, how about you, warrior maiden?” He asked
starting toward Jenna. “You seem to be made of
stern stuff, and you look like the Face of the
Goddess to me. Perhaps you should be a native
bride for my son. He is far too well-bred and
could do with some fire to make his blood heat.”
has been decided that she is for my son, Con,”
said Conaral hesitatingly. “It is seen as a way
of linking the two ruling factions into one…”
his voice began to trail off. The emotions that
were racing across his face left no doubt in anyone’s
mind he was seriously considering the offer made
half in jest.
Con moved toward Jenna slowly, so as not to attract
his father’s attention. When he was at her side,
he gripped her hand tightly. “He can’t do this,”
he whispered, “It would be unthinkable to break
a promise to the Voice of the Goddess.”
Acturion was looking at Jenna in the fast fading
light with an expression he usually reserved for
a fine brood mare he was about to cover with his
you what, Conaral, let’s go into the feast and
discuss this. The Emperor Claudius has suggested
we take native brides to make our presence more
shall we say friendly?”
With one voice, Con, Sula and Jenna screamed “NO!”
Sula drew her ceremonial dagger in a futile gesture
Acturion only laughed at the three of them, then
turned his back to face Conaral. “In the civilised
world of Rome, we men make these decisions and
don’t allow boys or the uneven humours of women
disrupt something which is beyond them. I think
that Lucius could benefit from a woman. He’s too
much in the company of men, and I want to have
an heir. Shall we go in, Conaral?” Then he put
his arm companionably around Conaral’s shoulder
and began drawing him toward the Feasting House.
to the Wellspring,” said Con in an undertone to
Jenna, “I’ll meet you as promised, and plot our
escape if there is no other way to end this.”
Jenna nodded, and began backing away. As soon
as she was well away from the palisade, she turned
and ran straight for the trackway. At the top
she tripped over Magra, lying in a heap alone
and afraid. “Give me the wolfskin and get you
down to the village,” she said.
The last thing Jenna heard as she went over the
brow of the hill was her mother cursing Conaral
and all Romans and the soft crying of Magra, a
crumpled and forgotten lump on the hilltop.
5. TANGLED WEBS IN THE NIGHT
Con turned to his father in disgust, and grabbed
his arm to prevent him entering the Feasting House.
“You can’t do this thing! I love Jenna and she
Conaral threw his son to the ground. “Don’t embarrass
me in front of the entire village and our guests!
You are only twelve, and can know nothing of love.
he added in an undertone, “I have a plan that
can convince Sula this is beneficial for her daughter,
and if I do this, she will then support us and
we will gain all the luxuries and knowledge that
Rome can offer! Maybe one of the other officers
has a daughter for you, you fool! Would you not
prefer to be a Citizen of the Roman Empire?”
He turned then to Sula with a forced smile. She
stood shaking with cold and anger. “Clothe yourself,
woman. The day of the Goddess is at an end. The
Roman Gods are more sophisticated, and have obviously
overcome the Goddess. I shall have to speak more
with Acturion about his Gods for men. Sula, tonight
you will serve us at table. Con! Attend me!”
Conaral turned without another word or glance
to see if Sula would do his bidding and went in
with Con, sullen at his side.
It was Conaral’s plan to have Sula spend as much
time as possible with Acturion. He was convinced
that if she were near the Roman, she too would
feel the power that was Rome and be bent by it.
For that reason, he was going to insist Acturion
and his son be housed with Sula in the Ceremonial
House of the Goddess.
For the first time, Con sat beside his father,
and all the while he ate and drank he watched
the Romans: Acturion who was claiming kinship
to half the royalty of the Roman world but with
the manners of a sow. Flavin and Pacentius who
wanted to recline whilst eating, and made a grab
for any woman that passed by. Lucius who was Roman
in a way Con had heard rumoured - Lucius only
had eyes for the pot-boy.
Con shuddered. The more he knew of Rome and Romans
the less desirable they became, rather than more.
It was also the first time he had drunk the heady
honey mead, and it seemed to him that the more
he drank, the clearer the solution became: no
Lucius, no marriage. He watched carefully to see
when the Romans retired for the night. He intended
to pay them a late night call.
And so it was that at the hour before dawn, Con
rolled out of his sleeping furs, and crept toward
Sula’s house. His head was throbbing incredibly,
and his eyes refused to focus. Tiptoeing in an
exaggerated manner, he crossed to the pallet where
Lucius lay sleeping.
Then a groan escaped Con’s lips as he realised
in his fuddled state he was weaponless. How did
he intend to kill this Roman brat? He cast his
eyes around the room, came to rest on Sula’s Ceremonial
Dagger and a smile lit his face. He drew the
dagger from its sheath.
He placed a sleeping fur over Lucius’s head to
muffle any cries, and thrust the dagger exactly
as he had done to the boar on the hunt. He slit
the Roman’s throat from ear to ear, then rammed
the dagger home between his ribs.
In a moment, Lucius was as dead as the boar had
been, and just as bloody. Realisation of his deed
cleared Con’s head. He stood panting as if he
had run a race, then turned and fled to his father’s
6. A TIME OF BURNING
At the same time that Jenna was starting to grow
impatient by the Wellspring, the village was waking.
Acturion gently withdrew his arm from underneath
Sula’s head, rolled over and glanced toward his
son. The bloodstain had darkened on the fur and
settled in a thick puddle on the dirt floor beside
Lucius. The Dagger of the Goddess could be seen
between his ribs.
Acturion turned to stare at Sula, who had not
yet risen, but was looking in horror at the scene
from the bed they had shared. A wail of horrible
anguish escaped his lips. “Fiend! Demon! Slayer
of children!” Acturion withdrew the dagger from
the corpse of his only child, and with a single
movement turned and plunged it into the breast
He then ran out into the compound, shouting, “Troops!
To me! To me!”
Pacentius and Flavin as well as several other
half-dressed Romans appeared from various dwellings.
They were belting on armour and wielding swords
in confusion as they faced their commander. Conaral
ran from his house and stood with his son by his
The sun rose over the crest of the downs and bathed
the scene in tones of blood red and fiery orange,
echoing the sunset of the night before. Acturion
approached Conaral, tears streaming down his face,
with his officers flanking him. “Claudius said
you savages were not to be trusted, and I disbelieved
my Caesar. He has been proven right. I have taken
the life that took my son’s. But I demand another
in his place.”
He gestured the officers forward to seize Con.
“This boy is now my hostage: a son for a son.”
They dragged Con screaming from the enclosure
and threw him on a horse: one of the wonderful
mounts that Conaral had so coveted.
Acturion went to Sula’s house and returned with
the body of his son in his arms. He turned to
Pacentius and said: “Burn these hovels to the
ground, and start with the one that housed the
He walked out of the compound, and allowed Flavin
to help him affix the body of his son to a packhorse.
He mounted and rode away leading the packhorse,
and Flavin leading the horse with Con - bound
and struggling. Acturion never looked back, and
Con was not able to, but they could both hear
the crackling: the village was in flames.
What he and Con never knew, as their horses galloped
across the Downs, was that Pacentius had taken
Acturion’s command one step further the cries
of the villagers filled the morning, followed
by absolute silence and then the sound of galloping
hooves as the Cohort pounded after their leader.
Acturion and his hostage were on the first ship
back to Rome. Con did his best to forget where
he came from. When he grew up to be a Citizen
of Rome, he was ashamed of his ‘savage’ roots,
except for the memory of a girl. He always planned
to go back and find her, but growing commitments
always got in the way. “It’s not too late,” he
thought, “I have plenty of time to go back.”
But in his declining years, he would sit in his
atrium on warm Autumn evenings and look at his
plump, sedate Roman wife and dream of a girl he
left waiting by the Wellspring.
A TURN OF THE WHEEL
When she smelled the smell of burning and heard
the screaming, Jenna left the Wellspring and climbed
to the top of the trackway on the Downs. From
there she saw the ruin of her life.
She walked slowly into the pile of smoking ash
that had been her home for all her eleven years.
In the cinders she found the ceremonial knife
and the stone chalice. Of her mother there was
She stood looking out at the enclosure through
walls that had disappeared, and from force of
habit crossed to where the door had once been
and stepped onto the blackened grass.
All the people she knew seemed to have simply
fallen asleep all over the compound, but the body
positions were awkward and unnatural. She looked
into familiar faces that were inexplicably altered.
She saw Magra partially underneath a young man
who seemed to have laid himself protectively over
her. Jenna shook Magra’s arm. “Where is Con?”
Magra only continued staring at the sky.
no one seen Con?” she shouted. No-one spoke to
her. They couldn’t. They were all dead.
Her mind could not accept the horror she had seen,
and she told herself that Con would come to the
She went back to the Wellspring and sat and waited.
“He promised. Perhaps tomorrow’s dawn,” she thought.
She did not eat or sleep, she just waited.
The weather grew worse, and as the first of the
great Autumn storms roared across the Downs, Jenna
drew the wolfskin around her head to keep out
the biting wind from the East.
Still she waited.
After a time, the ravens feasted on her, and the
chalice and the knife were forgotten, along with
the Voice of the Goddess.
Jeanie sat beside a pond surrounded by catalpa
trees. Sighing idly, she tossed leaves onto the
surface of the water and watched as gentle gusts
of wind moved them around. She was nine years
old and playing one of her favourite solitary
games of make-believe.
She was waiting for something or someone she
wasn’t sure. It was just that when she was here
there was a feeling of loneliness she never felt
anywhere else, and it was like she had just lost
her best friend. Sighing again with a longing
she couldn’t really understand, she looked down
the road that led to Cassville, Missouri.
In disgust with her mood she changed from leaves
to pebbles, and started idly sinking her arboreal
boats. She then drew the hooded sweatshirt up
around her head to keep out the biting wind from
In Dorset, a man hurried to a small Spring-fed
pool by a mill just outside of town. It was set
in a garden, and a brass plaque said the seven
Springs had been a Holy Well in pre-Roman times.
Furthermore, it stated smugly, a knife and chalice
found there could be seen in the local museum
along with some female human bones, probably a
Despite his overwhelming melancholy, he always
expected to meet someone there. He sat on his
usual bench and looked all around, feeling the
customary sense of loss and longing. He had always
felt this way near forest pools, and yet throughout
his life had been drawn to them.
Although his entire family thought he was mad,
he had just made the decision to move his business
locally, hinged on the discovery of this pool.
He felt better there than anywhere else on earth,
even with this awful sense of incompleteness.
And so it was, as the Wheel of Seasons turned,
he attended to business, but spent as much time
as he could at the spring.
After a time, the mill and its spring became a
Trust Property, and was no longer open to the
public as before. But down the years, the Trust
Caretakers all turned a blind eye, as they could
see how much it meant to this man to come and
sit so quietly by the spring…
When she was twenty-one, Jeanie visited England
and it lifted her in a way she could never explain.
In a funny way, it felt more like home than America
Over the following seventeen years, she continued
visiting England, and instead of decreasing her
yearning, it increased dramatically. She lived
for her twice-yearly visits, and all her spare
cash was saved to make these visits possible.
Her friends thought she was crazy to give up a
good job when she was thirty-eight and immigrate
to England to live in comparative poverty, but
she was happier than ever before, yet still there
was that feeling…an unimaginable yearning…
9. THE WELLSPRING AT SUNSET
In early September 1998, Jeanie went to Dorset
for a Spiritual Workshop, held at a Trust property
with an old mill. She was frightened and a little
disturbed to discover the Wellspring there, as
it looked so much like the one she imagined more
than forty years earlier.
Then, as the weekend progressed, she could see
this for what it truly was: part of the continual
Turning of the Wheel, and she smiled with a measure
On the final day, she had time to spare before
her lift home. As she wandered around, she was
drawn once more through the garden to the peaceful
pool. Sitting on a bench, she passed the time
idly tossing leaves onto the still water.
A chill wind rose in the East, and she drew her
jacket collar up high around her neck. After a
time, she switched to pebbles. As she sat there,
idly bombarding her arboreal boats, her attention
was drawn to an elderly man who was hurriedly
entering the garden.
must be meeting someone,” Jeanie thought, “and
he looks worried about being late.”
He stood looking in her direction, and then he
smiled at her. Looking at him, she felt all the
sadness and loneliness leave her to be replaced
by a strange feeling of completeness.
Time passed un-noticed. She could have happily
stayed there forever. Then suddenly she realised
that time had indeed been passing. Glancing at
her watch she knew she would have to run to catch
her ride back to London. As she hurried past the
pool and the old man, their eyes met again. She
had an urge to run up to him - to embrace him.
Disturbed by this amazing reaction, she stopped
and looked closely at him, feeling a startling
shock of recognition… somehow she should know
this man…no. How could she?
Then he smiled at her, and she smiled back. “Were
you waiting for someone?” he asked.
I mean no, uh I was just waiting for a ride from
a friend,” Jeanie stammered, embarrassed and vaguely
disoriented. She heard the old man speaking once
hope your friend turns up soon,” he said, looking
hopefully at her for a moment she saw instead
a youth wearing a torque looking back at her!
The image shimmered, vanished.
has,” she said softly to herself, looking at him,
“He has!” She looked deep into his eyes then allowed
him to daringly brush her forehead with his lips.
Jeanie turned away, smiling serenely as she hurried
to catch her ride.
Conrad was still smiling too, as he walked slowly
and stiffly to the bench where Jeanie had been
sitting. He lowered himself carefully, because
bones that were eighty-seven years old were very
brittle. He was very tired, but felt so peaceful.
He was so glad that finally he hadn’t been too
late. He smiled, sighed and closed his eyes.
The Wheel of Life gave another turn. Blessed be.
The Wheel of Life © MommaWhiteCougar