Loading Episode...
Saga Kraft - Betsy Bergstrom, Gabriela Sarna, Sea Gabriel: Saga Kraft EPISODE 19, 16th December 2020
Magical Weapons
00:00:00 00:51:22

Magical Weapons

Sea: Welcome to  Saga Kraft. Myths, fairytales, legends. Stories, comfort us, inspire us and heal us. Please join us. As we share stories, both old and new. More than anything, we are open to the story and it's unfolding. At times, it may be one story told by one person. At times it's the same story told through three different voices.


In the end, we go where the story takes us and we invite you to follow. 


I'm Sea, a writer, artist, and storyteller. 


Betsy: I'm Betsy, a medium and teacher of mystery traditions. 


Gabriela: I'm Gabriela, an artist and practitioner of folk magic. 


Saga Kraft: We are magical fairy godmothers in training. 


Betsy: I'd like to start out by welcoming Saga, and our stories today are about magical weapons.


The white chalk horse gleamed in the Moonlight on the late fall evening. The wind blew from the South making its way through the rolling hills and ruffling the leaves of the hedge rows, The sound of a lone horse cart, clopping, hoofs, and wooden wheel rims,  creaking harness and the puffing of a horses breath could be heard from the ridge top road down in the homes in the small village.


Wives put their shawls over their ears. Husbands started fiddling with their pipes and tossing more logs on the fire. Children pulled the covers over their heads, tucked three and four to a bed. The huge man sitting lazily on the seat of the cart, pulled it to a stop once the road was level and jumped down, giving the horse a rest from pulling the combined weight of firewood, his blacksmithing gear, and himself.


He put his hands behind him, stretching out the muscles of his back and his broad chest Talking gently to his horse, a companion for many years, he checked its hooves for stones and offered a handful of oats. Almost there. Boy, my fine fellow, almost there. The horse grunted stomping, one hoof to the ground, indicating that he'd prefer to move on and get out of the wind.


The man laughed and pulled the reins to the front. Leading the horse and stretching out his long muscular legs for an ambling mile or so. Several miles later, having climbed back on the card, the wagon pulled to a stop by an ancient long barrow. The mystery of this place was perceptible. Trees, having lost their leaves, provided something of a windbreak around the ancient stones.


Wayland unhitched the horse, throwing a warm blanket over him for the time being. It would soon be hot enough. He jumped up into the wagon, hoisted up the anvile  and tossed it to the ground in the direction of the long stone structure. The moon was coming on full and gleaming above the far off Hills in the distance across fields, lying fallow.


Wayland stood in the Moonlight, looking around and sensing for the closest living creatures. None very close, he thought satisfied. He had private things to do, and this was the best place that he could do them. He didn't like to be spied on. This  barrow was one that was avoided by humans because it led into an opening into the realm of the old ones.


On top of that, the white horse gleaming in the distance was part of the province of the horse goddess Epona No one would dare to be out in the night here. After setting up the anvil in a place where the wind could reach it, the furnace was pulled to the cart's edge and heaved to the ground. He set that up in the windbreak area adjacent, humming to himself.


He conjured the fire with wood from nine different kinds of trees. He pulled out a great bellows and set to work some hours later with molten metal and the fierce firelight casting shadows on the sculpted planes of his face. He was sweating and smiling with satisfaction. Whatever came out of this night's work, it would be something very fine, he thought. He moved around to do his blacksmithing work, finding strength from the earth, and different qualities available at different times of the year.This place was accessible to old magic to Epona's strength and to the old ones. Unlike other blacksmiths, he didn't plan anything ahead of time.


He just felt the need to be in a particular place at a particular time,and some weapon or tool came out of that. Somehow the one it was made for always found him. He wasn't particularly interested in making that easy since he'd once been captured and forced to create. Now, trust didn't come easily and he preferred to keep moving.


Getting into the rhythm of making had its own reward. He pulled deeply from the earth working the old magic into the iron. He pulled down moonlight and incorporated the wind. The iron rods were piling up and he kept working. Whatever it was going to be,  it was going to be big. A sword most likely, but what kind of sword and for whom.


Unlike other times, he had no clear sense of the requirements for this blade. Shrugging, he decided pattern welding would be ideal and set to work. He was at the moment where the long blade was beginning to take form when he felt a prickling between his shoulder blades.The sounds of his elvin blacksmith's hammer, beating the sword into shape, nearly muffled the arrival sounds of the lean woman on a dapple gray horse. Securing her magnificent steed near the blacksmith's apparently older cob, she observed wryly that the horses were likely to get along more easily than she and the surly Wayland.


 Continuing his rhythmic beat on the anvil, he called out. "who's there?"  Not a fae,  not Epona, not human. Sky born? He edged around the anvil, massive hammer, still striking and rhythm. He saw her first out of the corner of his eye. 


She stood, like a blade herself, absolutely still and lethal with cold smoke gray eyes looking out of a stylized winged helmet. Elvin manufacture, he thought automatically, but not an elf.


 Certain of herself, but not of her welcome,  she said  "blacksmith,  I have a need of you, or rather, of your help.",  She amended when she saw his curling lip.  She was heavily armed with a sword belt, two swords: one long, one short,  and knives strapped in her iron shod boots. Not a fae. Her tabard, over gleaning mail coat,  showed a vast tree with swans circling below on a pond. Valkyrie.


 Wayland felt hot anger and cold loss looking at her and remembering nine years with a Valkyrie, who simply left one day, never to return. She looked impatient as she saw the shifting story moving across his face and in his eyes, and the abrupt silence when he stopped swinging the hammer. 


"You dare?",  he said coldly. "Or, are you here for me?".  Another realization flashing across his face.  "


"Of course, I'm here for you. But not to take you in any sense of the word,  blacksmith." She said evenly. "I'm not here about what happened before. I'm here about what happens now and what unfolds in the future."


 "Do you dare come here as a Valkyrie after all she put me through?"


 " He asked scathingly Well, I'm a Valkyrie,  but in truth I came here for a sword" 


" from you?" She hesitated and then let her guard down Infinitesimally.


"I would love one of your swords, who wouldn't? But as you see, I'm armed with sky metal. No, I want a sword for a hero yet to be."


" At your own request? Or here at the will of the Allfather?" He asked,  deciding the best path forward was to get down to business and get her gone. 


"As the will of the Allfather,  blacksmith. As you have never understood, or you would have cherished your Valkyrie and then let her go."


She had several tense moments of conversation with the blacksmith, understandable under the circumstances,  before he nodded curtly in agreement. He resumed the pounding and beating of the sword. Already a pattern welded while she drew out her own hammer and instruments. He shaped the sword, working quickly and with consummate skill. She poured a flask of water into the cooling barrel, which changed the texture and color of the water, shifting it to luminous pale fire blue. When the sword gleamed silver, proud and deadly, he put it back into the flame and heated it up again. When it was malleable, but still holding its form , he pulled it out of the flames and onto the anvil. She took up her own hammer, shaped like a mini Mjölnir,  and moved into place over the sword and began a complicated incantation in an ancient tongue while stamping cuts onto the length of the blade. Eerie currents swirled from the ground below wrapping her in a dark glow.


Occasionally peering over her shoulder and letting her know when the sword needed to go in the fire again, Wayland watched as letters appeared in what looked to be an ancient language. He knew not to interrupt her as she worked, but tried to puzzle out what she was writing. Hard to tell as it kept changing.


It seemed what she was doing was repeated three times in three different languages. When she finally completed what looked like a line of runes, she pulled another instrument out of the fire. This stamping tool allowed for less fine script. And with this, she hammered what were clearly large runes onto the blade that were bigger than the condensed and very fine script.


These runes glowed with an Eldridge light and Wayland recognized the victory rune of the god Tyr. She put the blade back into the fire and pulled out her boot knife, slashing her forearm and dropping her blood onto the blade. Magic poured from her voice, which grew loud and harsh,  and magic flowed from her hands into the blade until the script glowed and the larger runes blossomed with fire.


Eventually satisfied, she passed the blade back to him and said "Sign it with your mark."


 He complied adding his own charm in an elvin tongue and passed it back to her after flipping it from side to side, to see it in its entirety. She intoned another chanted charm and plunged it into the luminous water.


The rune script and solo runes all glowed, as did Wayland's Mark, and then went out, leaving the blades silver and quiet. She pulled a large crystal bead,  carved with spirals and strung on a leather thong, from her belt purse. Wrapping the leather cord around the hilt of the sword, she breathed more charms over the crystal. 


"Awaken, lifestone" where the only words that Wayland understood.


She looked up into Wayland's eyes and said "It's done."


"What happens now?" asked Wayland.


"We share some mead and I give you a bag of gold and a special gift. The gift is sky metal, which I saw fall to earth long ago. I thank you for your skill Wayland."


" Thank you for allowing me to watch your skill, Valkyrie. And the sky metal is appreciated as much as the gift of knowing the Allfather's will. What's your name?" 


"Sigrdrífa" she answered. 


"Lovely. Do you take this to your would be hero now?"


" Oh no. Now I throw it into the river to be found in a thousand years 


Gabriela: Thank you, Betsy. That was really extraordinary and totally caught me by surprise too. The end really caught me by surprise. I love so many things about it. Just so many things. Especially the tension. The tension to make something is there just through the elements, but the tension of those two talents coming together and meeting in this way and how that infused the sword into something even more powerful. I love that. Thank you.


Sea:  I also love the resistance Maybe I identify with the resistance. And of course, all of the descriptions were amazingly beautiful. 


Gabriela: I love how, in some way we can look at these as opposing forces or complicated relationships between powerful beings.  Powerful people, at certain times, have to work together for greater purpose. Which shows such a high level of consciousness and responsibility and duty. 


Betsy: I was inspired, with the ending, by a real sword that was found, I think in the Thames, did have the entire runes carved into it. Having heard about that, I've always wondered how did it end there? What's the story of that sword? 


Gabriela: And today we find out. I think, any sword that ends up in the Lake for that many years, for hundreds, thousands of you know, or a thousand years is, is magic.


Sea:  I also love the idea that there's always something that we need to bow to the willingness to give over one's gifts. And there's something about wanting to show up and be in integrity. And do one's best while also negotiating what best is for others. 


Betsy: One thing I liked about this Valkyrie is that she just had a superb command of herself and maybe by reaping all these different warriors over the years or decades or hundreds of years, thousands of years who knows, she could talk to a powerful creature like Wayland, who's also known as Woland as well. And for those who maybe have heard of him that way, the long barrow actually exists,  as does the white horse. And that long barrow is known as Wayland's Smithy.


Sea: And what does her name mean?


Betsy: Victory. 


Gabriela: Do you find yourself Betsy, resonating with Wayland or Woland,  or with the Valkyrie herself or both in a particular way.


Betsy:  I think with both, I love the feel of, of Wayland being  untrusting because of having been captured before, um, to be on the move. But I loved his going where the impulses took him for the creations. That there was just such a sense of things flowing through him. And while he put his great skill towards things, he let the forces move him around too. And so, as you were saying for him to then find himself in this tense situation, I felt like it was good for him. 


Sea: Yeah. It totally felt like it was good for him from listening. Yes. 


Betsy: Good. I'm glad to hear that. 


Gabriela: Well, it felt like it was a triumph for him to be seen, to be witnessed and to be unbound, but to be asked for his great work. So it feels like there's an element of liberation for him on some level, much needed healing and liberation. 


Sea: Well, it feels significantly more vulgar. I think he was also liberated from the chafing thing that he was experiencing against his own ego. 


Betsy: That feels true as well. 


Yeah. Well, thank 


you very much for listening. 


Sea: Thank you. 


Betsy: And now,  Sea's story.


Sea: I have no magic weapon to bring to council today. I'm not sure what I was thinking I was content, or at least I thought so,  ruling over the community, the land. Standing on solid ground. The moment changed,  that much is clear. I forgot myself, tripping over my own dream. That in itself is a forgetting. I'm not usually one for dreaming.


It's my sister's department and she needs no help. I handle the waking world. I can only chalk it up to twilight. Or Dawn. It was both. A twilight that burst the day. So problem was in skipping the night, allowing myself to dream under the sun instead of the moon. I didn't intend to sit there. I went for counsel,  guidance, but it wasn't there.


No one was there. How hard could it be? I didn't think. And in the absence of thought, absence of intention, I climbed the steps and sat down. Beauty. So much beauty. As soon as I saw it, I thought I should stop, but I couldn't, it wasn't so much that I lacked will,  as that some unconscious part of myself had will had willed itself into action. an action, I could not take back. There she was in all her glory. A goddess of the liminal. She danced between the realms. I didn't know her then. I only knew I wanted her. It was and was not shallow. Clearly she was beautiful, but it was more than that. She compelled me in ways I could not describe,  as if some part of my psyche had manifested her. That is within my power. Perhaps unthinkingly I believed that it did. That she and I were a foregone conclusion. When I think of it, I feel stuck.


 I told my father and my friend, no, my not-a-friend,  that I loved her. I didn't love her. I recognized her. They're different. Now I love her, but I built myself a prison of paradox, and I can't find a way out. Or, we've built us in prison paradox. I wish to give her credit, but not blame. The blame is mine. The credit hurts. I asked my, not-a-friend to go to her and propose. Impress he I said, bring her back. I said, she will love me, I didn't think. he'd asked for my sword. So I gave it to him. I thought he was going to offer it to her. No! No! He rendered a magical item, enchanted, to balance the essence of the upper and lower worlds while holding a stable and strong in the middle world. Worthless. He couldn't access it's power. He carried it around for a while, doing nothing more than impressing potential lovers. Then he lost it. He lost it. 


I have been avoiding the council, but today I must go. I am needed for a judgment. I will have to tell them, explain that our downfall is, will be , my fault. That when the final battle ensues, I will be empty handed. But she will be with me on the battlefield. I hope she will. No. I know she will. I only hope she wants to. I would rather lose knowing she wants to be there than win having never known her. Or maybe it's that I would rather lose knowing the part of myself she awakened, then win,  never having been fully me. For what can I know of her more than what she means to me? 


My not-a -riend went,  and returned,  with her promise. Her promise to meet me in the forest in nine days. I've asked her what she did with those nine days many times. She will not tell me. The first time she lied, afraid not to answer. It was the dawn of my comprehension. I thought she came willingly, but she had not, I offered her her freedom of course, but she was afraid to take it. It was not me who had cursed her. It was not me who can reverse her curse. She has to stay with me, which means she can never want to. In sending him to fetch her, I rigged the game against myself. It pulled her from the numinous into the concrete, imprisoning her fluidity in my earthly stone. She is brilliant, pragmatic and strong. There are none with more rigor,  strength or determination. To say she is beautiful  is ludicrous,  as beauty itself pales in comparison to her spirit. She can alter time, raise mountains and rule kingdoms, but can she forgive me? Can I?


And the council. The hall is lit up in a dim haze, mid morn competes with mid winter for the light and shadow. The winner is a muted gray. I enter and take my seat staring at the harth. Fire is the connection I want most right now. It got me into this, it will get me out. She has already in the seat beside mine and she gives me a side hug as I sit. Everyone takes their places.


The bringer of gifts is showing off his new ware,  hoping they're good enough to spare his head. I will have to get through this contest before I will have the opportunity to address the group. What do I say? I have an announcement. No, it's not really an announcement. It's more of a confession, but I can't say that. Confession sounds as if I'm prone to guilt and will not play well with this crowd. I need to speak from my scars, not my wounds. My sword is gone. It is my responsibility. I have little hope of regaining it, but I'm committed to doing all that I can until the end game where I will fight beside you ,with or without it. No,  that sounds too egotistical. Like they can't win unless they have me. Plus it's a premature defeat to say no hope. Though, both might be true. Still, my sword is gone.  That part's strong. My sword is gone, but I am with you to the end and we'll do everything in my power to assure our mutual success. You are my people and I...  suddenly she leans over and opens my hand so the gifter can place something in it that is small , hard,  and warm from his pocket. The harth's flames are reflected in the polished golden surface. 


"What have you brought?" I asked


 "Skin Ladner? She will extend to a full-size ship if only you unfold her."


 I stare at the sparkling nugget a moment before looking into his eyes, which oscillate between pride and pleading. So much love, so much pain, so much distance. I don't know how he bears it, but why would he give to the Lord of agriculture a boat And I realized that,  like my relationship, this glittering lump is my soul manifest. That the changes I require come, whether I welcome them or not. That maybe the way to undo the curse of concretizing the liminal,  is for the God of land to master the sea.


I did bring a magical weapon to the council today. My willingness to choose love over fear, change over oppression, life over death. I shall wield it proudly. 


Betsy: That is a  gorgeous retelling of that story Sea thank you. And Gerd? Is that her name?


Sea: Yes


Betsy: I think what i'm so struck by is how your story really shares with us how changed he was by her, how struck he was by her. And also, I feel strongly the hand of destiny in all of this as well.  You did a beautiful telling of his heart and his vision and his knowing.


Sea: I want to say thank you, but I think he did it. Thank you. Yeah. 


Gabriela: I agree with everything Betsy's said and I'm deeply touched by the relevance of the story and by the relevance of, of longing,  change,  and the inevitable release of whatever we are in the moment and to something greater or something that we really want, that we don't even know why we want it. Like,  there's no reason , here. It is destiny, and that he would be willing to give up and offer the most precious item, the most precious aspect of himself to gain a new aspect he didn't even know existed yet. He was willing to give up everything. And I just see it in so many ways as, as a bridge, because to expand your horizon by water means meeting new land, new possibility, new people, new communities, new ways of thinking.


And I feel like that was so beautifully woven into the story. I really enjoyed it. And it has, has me thinking that way. Thank you.


Betsy:  I also was intrigued by the lack of respect that his not friend had for the sword after wanting it, apparently. And how magical weapons, I think ,anything that's potentized is going to perhaps bring forward what's really there in the holder, the wielder, and also for the sword to leave that non-friends hands it's like that sense of it. Not wanting to be there with that person. 


Sea: That was my feeling as well. Just like, I'm getting out of here.


Gabriela:  Maybe it's in the Lake. 


I appreciate the vulnerability. We see the vulnerability and the questioning of love and whether or not he is truly loved. And that sort of, you know, when we cast a magical spell for someone to love us, that we want really badly, and if that comes to us, are we always going to be wondering if that would have happened?


I was touched by the vulnerability of that moment as well and that questioning. 


Betsy: I think that's so true. I mean, at the point when the spell is cast, does the person really love you or do they have to love you? And that becomes an agonizing question.


Gabriela: Perhaps the ultimate price for casting such a spell. 


Betsy: To speak well for him is for him to know that what he thought was love in the beginning wasn't ,but did indeed become that. And I think that's a good thing for a God of fertility and agriculture.  How was it being with this story? 


Sea: Oh,  great. I loved it.


Betsy: I Feel like I know them both much better than I did before. So,  thank you for 


that and now, 


Gabriella.


Gabriela: My story 


is called


the  and the three sisters. There have been many stories shared about me. Carried and whispered by the wind that blew across the Carpathian mountain peaks. Stories of adventure, passion, danger, and courage taking form in the city, smoke that rose around the fires where people gathered on cold nights.


I can neither confirm nor deny any of these stories to do i so would be to take away from the storytellers and their gifts of weaving and empowering those who listened in times of need. Most of their stories are about my conquest and triumphs, but few know how my story truly began, which is the most important tale of all the story of how I came to find who I was meant to be, while I was wandering lost in the woods.


It was many, many years ago. And I was just a young man, barely out of boyhood, when I found myself lost in the forest after coming home for the summer from my studies in town, I wandered around for many hours and was met by the night, which came fast and caught me by surprise. I was not used to being lost.


I decided to climb to the top of a high Ash tree so I could see better and to get a sense of what direction I should be heading. The forest was thick and vast all around with no edge in sight, in the distance, a flickering light danced through the trees and above the treeline gray smoke. I threw my red cap in the direction of the light,climbed down the tree and walked forward until I found my hat, and following its direction came upon a small hut. I knocked on the door three times. An old woman opened it slowly and peered at me suspiciously. 


"Who are you and what do you want?" She asked sharply.


 From the sound of her voice she didn't seem fond to visitors.


"I lost my way home, mother, as I was coming back from my studies. I seek shelter for the night, if you would be so kind. My name is Janosik I cannot invite you in for the night" said the woman " Because if my elder sister comes home, she will surely kill you."


 As soon as I heard these words, I knew I had found myself in the company of witches. Whatever fate has meant for me, let it be.


"I will not leave here for, I am so very tired and I must rest." I replied. 


Slightly resigned. The old woman opened the door and let me inside. She invited me to sit at the table and eat supper with her. The supper consisted of a most foul tasting red soup, spiced  so strongly that it made my stomach burn, but I said nothing. I ate it all and thanked my host for the meal. 


After we finished eating, she told me to hide behind the fireplace so that her sister wouldn't find me. I did just that. Shortly after her elder sister flew in on a broom through the open window. 


" Pew Pew, there must be a human hiding here. I can smell him." She exclaimed sniffing the air in the hut, her nose wrinkled and disgust.


"Aha. Janosik. You must come out now." Yelled the first sister and I slowly came out from behind the fireplace. 


The elder sister ordered me to sit and eat supper with her. So I did. The black soup she gave me was so bitter that it made my mouth numb, but I said nothing. I ate it all and thanked her for this meal. 


When we were both finished she said " You must go now for our oldest sister comes home. She will kill you without a doubt."


 But I refused. "It is dark and I am tired, mother. I will not leave. I need rest."  I said stubbornly because this was true. And went back behind the fireplace. Shortly after the eldest sister came home.


" A human, where is he hiding? She demanded.


 And once again, I emerged from my hiding place as requested. I sat with the oldest sister and ate with her. The white soup she fed me was so sour that it made my throat want to close shut, but I ate it all and thanked her for her meal. Once supper was finished. I went behind the fireplace to sleep while the three witches debated about what they should do with me.


What they didn't know is that I wasn't sleeping at all, but was listening to every word. 


They said "what a strange young man. Most would flee from our hut, not insist on sleeping in it." "Let's put hot coals on his bare skin while he sleeps." Said one of the sisters. "If he stands the pain and doesn't wake and cry out, that means he's strong and resilient, worth saving."


They all agreed. As they said they would do, they did. They took hot coals, opened my shirt and put them on my bare chest, but I neither stirred or cried, enduring the pain in silence, until the coal's burned out, I heard the witches say "He shall be a man of great courage and endurance. Best suited to be a mountain robber."


"We must prepare him for his profession. I will give him an ax." Said the first sister. 


"From me, he will receive a belt." Said the second.


"And from me a shirt" said the third. 


As they continued to talk. I listened intently and learned that the axe was no ordinary axe. And if I jump and stand on it, it will carry me forward in any direction for three miles in the blink of an eye. The shirt and the belt both will give me supernatural strength and might. The shirt made by the oldest sister was started with one thread at midnight and by morning it was fully woven and complete. The glistening threads of a strange texture,  moving with their own life like serpents. The belt embroidered with extraordinary motifs,  red like blood.  With shiny buckles, as bright as the sun. The axe seemed to move on its own. Matching my breath and intention. Waiting for my command. The three sisters gave me the gifts and explained,  you will not be a scholar or a priest. You shall be a mountain robber. Which is why you need these items. The axe will carry you three miles in one jump and will protect you from danger. The shirt and belt will grant you extraordinary strength. You will become the leader of all robbers from this land, but before you can do that, you must first prove your worthiness and steal from your own father. If you do this and your father does not recognize you, we shall bless your destiny in full. I bowed, and thanked the three sisters. I took the three gifts and left the hut. The path home now easily found in daylight. I decided not to wear my new shirt or belt or travel by my axe, but had them packed in my traveling sack upon arriving home.


I was joyfully greeted by my father. We sat and ate together, but I kept pretty quiet because I had much to think about as I settled into myself and recalled last night's adventures. My father said he had planned to go to the market right before evening. So he could get there by morning and buy a couple of cows for the farmstead.


"Don't go, father." I begged feeling the burden of my impending final task. "What if a mountain robber attacks you in the night?"


"Ha, I am not afraid of no mountain robbers. Maybe you might be, my good son, but I am not afraid, and I will go." My father said. 


Sighing deeply. And with my heart heavy, I watched father depart into the evening.


A few hours later, I put on my new shirt and a belt and jumped on my axe which carried me three miles and right where my father was. Jumping off the axe I pounded it into the ground and shouted in a bellowing voice. "Where are you going?"


 "To the market." He replied, his words trembling with fear. 


"Give me your money." I demanded. 


And father did just so.


"Is that all of it?" I asked


"Yes. Yes. All of it. I won't even have enough to get home." Father replied.


Hearing this. I gave him a few zlotys,  enough for the old man to get home,  and flew away on my axe. 


I was home for hours when finally my father arrived back tired and shaken. He did not recognize me at all from back in the forest, dressed in robbers, garb, and now sitting quietly at the kitchen table, back in my school uniform. He didn't even blink. 


"Oh, my son, I should have listened to you." He said with regret. "I was attacked in the woods by a mountain robber. He took all my money, only left a few zlotys so I could just get home."


"See father? I was afraid of this. Can you tell me about this robber? Did you get a good look at him? Notice anything particular about him. Do you think you would recognize him if you saw him?" I inquired curiously. 


"Oh yes. I would recognize him anywhere."


 Father explained "He was dressed in the most strange and terrible shirt and blinding shiny belt and had a giant horrible axe. Just horrible, terrifying."


 As he told me this, I snuck into the corner of the house where he couldn't see me, changed into my robbers attire quickly and jumped out in front of him. 


"Did he look anything like this? I asked.


" Yes. Yes." He yelled. "Just like this. How can this be?"


 I couldn't help, but laugh and fetch the pouch with money I took from him earlier. I returned it to him. 


"Beloved father. It was me you saw in the woods. I will not be a scholar or a priest. I am now a mountain robber and I will be the best mountain robber and the leader, these parts have ever known. Bless you, father, be well and healthy, and it's time for me to go now and start my new life."


With those words I departed heading to the mountains, knowing that I passed the last test the three sisters set for me and I was ready to become the leader of mountain robers. In no time. I was just that. It was so easy. I found myself twelve talented and strong robbers. The best companions I could ask for. Each of them had unique gifts and strengths, but none of them matched my own together.


We gained quite a reputation in these parts. Under my instruction. We only robbed the rich, never attacking the poor. As a matter of fact, we usually gave what we stole from the rich to the poor, to balance the scales. This of course enraged the rich and powerful, and they were always out to kill me, but I had no fear of death and no matter how hard they tried, I always got away.


My ax was fast like the wind. Faster than any horse. My shirt woven with the magic of supernatural threads protected me from any kinds of attack. The belt , enchanted by the currents of destiny, fueled by my courage, deflected, whatever stood in my way. My destiny, like my weapons was blessed by the three mothers, the three sisters and the powers of the woods that grew vast and thick all around.


Sea: Thank you. That was a very fun story. I couldn't help relating to the dad though.


Gabriela:  It was a different time! 


Betsy: And I ask that is, is being the best mountain robber, considered to be a good career for your child. but I can see that it would be, yeah, especially when it's a destined path. 


Sea: And especially when you're leading them. You could be a mountain robber Robin hood kind of robber or, or not, and do all sorts of things in that kind of realm. The power of leadership 


Gabriela: Well, to give some, reference this story, it's, one of the most popular stories from Southern Poland and Slovakia and just the top three mountains and,  there,  y'all know who the story's about was apparently a real figure, you know? So it is a person who existed. it's unclear whether the stories came before the real person or after, but it is one of the stories I grew up with and he's seen as a defender of the people and a warrior of the people and one who would need supernatural powers and supernatural strength to defeat the kinds of oppressors that came with great power and money to meet that kind of an oppressor and to become a hero that folk, you know, the, the common folk talk about , would usually mean magical intervention. So I would say in a case like this, yes, the father would be proud. And wouldn't stand in the way of that destiny because at that level of destiny called, then,  you followed. 


Betsy: He really did display remarkable courage with those witches too. 


Sea: Yeah. And I was trying to figure out if there's any way I could not flinch when somebody put hot coals against me. I don't know. I did love the whole listening to them thing  though. And I loved them. 


Betsy: Yeah, I found it interesting that the witches gave him a chance. Like you can't, you shouldn't stay here, my sister will kill you. And, but then they fed him. 


Gabriela:  And what did they feed him? I wonder. But he was polite. 


Betsy: Which, as we've said before, is what you need to do when you are facing the supernatural is to be polite. Respect can go a long way and open doors. 


Gabriela: Absolutely. 


Betsy: I was also curious about it being  an axe that flew, or that could help him fly for three miles. That's not your usual magical weapon. 


Gabriela: Yeah, it's the flying wind aspect of that part of the world and where the winds and axes are, are magical and they, expell danger and protect. But all the items, all the magical items in this story, because this story is told in many different ways and there's so many different versions and most of it really is about what he did, you know?  And how he was captured and how he was finally caught, which we're not going to talk about today, but I've always been intrigued by how it all started because the how it all started is very consistent. There are the three witches,  or the three mothers or the three sisters,  and the three magical gifts, which make him who he is and the aspect of him not being recognized.


He cannot be recognized by his father, so they're really a shape shifting into a totally different form of himself, which I found intriguing. So the axe being a very magical, powerful weapon, the shirt itself as well in Slavic culture is, is a very powerful and important attire. The belt as well. All those pieces coming together are that anchoring of power and, and magical power.


And that's actually still the traditional garb of the Patala region, where the, from the mountains and that's how people dress and their traditional garb and with the axe there are dances and folk dances and these different rituals that are performed. So it's definitely in that current of folk tradition and powerful tradition of honoring the land.


Betsy: It makes me wonder too. if in Poland or the neighboring countries,  if the axe also is a symbol of the thunder God and a God of the winds, et cetera. So do you think that there's an ancient aspect of the ax that connects in with this story? 


Gabriela: I really do. I do. So as we're talking, I'm holding... the name of this axe is to PAGA and, uh, It's a shepherd's axe , really, is what it looks like, but it does have, elements of Thor's or  and we would call them flower and just the thunder aspect.


And it is an ancient item that people have, and it's considered very magical and yes, very, very old. And so of course that would be one of the items that the three mothers or the three sisters would give him to. It's a recognized symbol. 


Betsy: Yeah. And to connect him with that kind of power in the way that Thor or the god  ?????   Manifests.


Gabriela:  Exactly. Defender. The defending forces, now. And justice as well, because we were looking at the, you know, that he would balance the scales. He would take away from those who had too much and give to those who had nothing. So he does become a godlike hero in a lot of these stories, a supernatural being a supernatural protector.


Betsy: I loved how he just threw himself into it and embraced the opportunity. This is what's happening now. And Thor,  too,  has a belt. We rarely mentioned Thor's belt. Thor does have a belt. Indeed. A very important part of his regalia. 


Well, that was great. Fun. Thank you. 


Sea: That was fun. Yeah. 


Gabriela: Thank you. I love all of our stories today. I always do, but , every time is just great. 


Betsy: There's something appealing about magical weapons, I think.


Gabriela:  There certainly is. We need all the magical items we can find, and we can have.


Sea:   I was thinking that,  carrying forward in this week, I'm going to pay attention to what magical items I already carry, particularly those that I carry unconsciously as well as what items in my life are sort of on the verge of magic. That just needed a touch to push them over the edge.


Betsy: I'm going to be thinking about the kind of magical items that have come my way. That I haven't really necessarily strongly considered as part of my destiny, but it allows me to take another look at that and perhaps embrace it, embrace them a little bit more deeply. 


Sea: Yeah. I hadn't realized that all three stories, they were destined. In all three stories they were absolutely destined. 


Gabriela: And I think that aspect of destiny, and courage to meet destiny, and the third part being the weapon. Whatever that may be. Or magical item that is infused by both courage and destiny. Triple strength, triple power, triple protection. I will be looking at that too. Am I willing? Am I willing to show up for this magical item. Especially if one is presented to me or given to me. What is that person seeing? What is destiny seeing,  that I'm not really opening up to. That and saying, yes, thank you, I will, I will. 


Betsy: So I think in each story there was a strong sense of commitment. And what happens if something magical comes our way and we not only accept it and embrace it, but commit to that path and that destiny.


Gabriela:  Blessings, many blessings.


Betsy: So look around you and notice what kind of magical things have come your way 


Sea: and special. 


Thanks to the fantastic Zoë magik for her phenomenal editing skills.