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Episode 626th January 2021 • Saga Kraft • Betsy Bergstrom, Gabriela Sarna, Sea Gabriel: Saga Kraft
00:00:00 00:43:35

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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 in training. 

Gabriela: The stories that we are about to share with you today contain some intense descriptions and material, so, if you are feeling in any way sensitive, perhaps this may not be the stories to listen to at this time.

Today, we are excited to share stories about initiation, and the forms they take. How they change us and our world. And we invite the blessing of Saga, the blessing of Story, and the blessing of change at the right time, and especially the blessing of a graceful change whenever possible.

Betsy: I also want to honor the listener, because what is a story without a listener, and so, may our stories in this new season land with you in a way that interests you or amazes you, or intrigues you, or challenge you. 

Sea: And I also want to honor saga and all the helpers.

Betsy:  And I'd love to begin if that's all right with you two.

Gabriela: That would be lovely, thank you Betsy. 

Betsy: So, my story is called Morvoren.

The sea has always held mysteries and treasure. Though ocean and coastal currents may be habitual, how things move about in the sea and where they ended up cannot always be explained. Water carries emotion and sound. It can imprint with experience and intention. It's always subject to magic. 

I've always trusted the goddess Sirona, and that's why I'm now floating in the sea, nailed into a barrel, being carried away by the outgoing tide Goello, my betrayer, was watching me with beetled brows and smiling in an odious way as his men nailed me into the barrel with just enough of an opening for the sea to enter.

 Now his ship sails away from me. I suppose I should feel the shame that has been heaped onto me, but I'm furious. Not at the goddess, after all, she said I would be facing trials, but at my parents for being swayed by my betrothed to cast me off. Casting me off was their idea. He wanted me stoned. As if the stones of Brittany would even allow that. Instead I'm floating away in what everyone hopes will be the end of me. I am resolved to live.

I don't quite know how that's going to happen, but I will not let them kill me and my baby. Time was, not so long ago, that my decision to consummate my love with Grannus would have been celebrated with a feast and gifts, not worries about what a foreign god would think about it. It's a confusing time when priests of the new god are trying to diminish the goddess and her place in my country. Confusing because my parents have to consider this god, because almost no country will trade with us while we are considered pagans. 

They planned on my marriage to a christian princeling Goello. I've always known marriage was my duty, but never to him. Sirona intervened. She merged my path with a man who was made for me as though he was my other half. Grannus of the black hair and white skin, whose breadth of shoulder is matched by the vastness of his heart. He's now locked away and won't be freed until I've been swept away. I hope he is praying and not despairing, for I need his prayers. 

Serona of the waters, send me a rescuer. Please deliver me from the ocean. Two days have passed and I've been becalmed in unseasonable heat. I feel I'm going nowhere, but still a current carries me far from land. Is this a reprieve from death? Or am I in the vestibule of death even now, and don't know? I dream of Grannus and how in his arms, Sirona's  voice came into my head with light and love, saying through me to Grannus:  my love, my heart, my husband. In that moment I melted into love, but now hungry, thirsting, and bobbing in a reaking barrel, I wonder what came over me. 

No. I cannot allow myself to think like this. Sirona, as your waters meet the sea, may it send prayers to the sea god to help me. The ocean swells are growing bigger and the sky darkens. My barrel, which I've named Indomitable, is tossed about.

My prayer is now a plea straight from my soul, without words. I dose, too wretched to think or feel. There's a blinding light in the darkness. The voice of Sirona saying "Trust.",  and soon, as if in a dream, I'm aware of slim white arms reaching through into the darkness where I sit huddled, and a soft and melodic voice saying  "It's a lady in here." 

The arms withdraw, and then there's a sensation of the barrel steadying. I am somehow no longer at the mercy of the waves, bearing steadily in some direction. I sleep, and wake to this heavenly sound of voices singing. These voices sang of the beauty of the sea, of treasure, of love. Sometimes they sang in a language I've never heard, but will always long for. The voices are pure, melodic, eerie.

I think we traveled like this for hours, maybe days. A cup of water was passed to me, and the most delicious fish. I ate and drank and slept again. 

The barrel was pushed onto land and strong arms lever the lid off. The male faces disappeared and a lovely female face, haloed with blonde hair and twined with pearls, peeked over the edge of the barrel.

"We've brought you to Cornwall in Pendour Bay. Ahead is Zennor village. You and your baby will be safe here. We've put you into the hands of a trusted friend. Here, these are for any need you have."

 A necklace of priceless pearls was put into my hand. The trusted friend and his wife came and freed me from my barrel and took me to their home where they cared for me. The local priest came to me to discover more about my story, and all I could do is rave about the light around the golden head, the voice, the white arms. And before I knew it, I was declared a christian miracle. Saint Senara, saved for some purpose by an angel. It was most disconcerting, but I accepted it, for what else could I do?

 I sought Sirona's advice. In the village was one of the old stone monuments and a sacred well. There, Sirona and I spoke. "Trust." she said again. I was witnessed glowing with her light and trying to sing those enchanting songs that were sung to me while in my barrel. I cannot stop trying to sing them. I know they were full of love and protection, and that is what I imbue my songs with, though I can never quite get the melody right.

 Eventually word came to this village of the princess who was cast to her death in a barrel across the sea. Here, where I was washed ashore, in this most christian village of Zennor, I regained my status and eventually my love. Grannus found me. I was duly baptized, along with my son Budock and my husband, into the celtic church.

I used my pearls to build a small castle and a church, which took my name later. I built a few more churches nearby, which were also dedicated to St. Senara, but to me, they were to Sirona. Here I lived out my life. 

Part Two

The humans have no idea how strongly sound carries underwater. When I became of an age to have my own household, I looked around my family's domain of the Irish sea and the North Atlantic coastal region. I was always attracted to the sunken village Lyoness, with its great bells, but I settled on the nearby bay of Pendour in Cornwall.

 There used to be a princess, partly fairy but sadly mortal, who's singing lured me to build my home in the bay off shore, that I might hear her voice for as many years as she would be able to sing her spell songs. Her life passed and the castle felt to ruin, but the bay continued to be a home for me. When L.  my father or M. my brother chided me about my choice, with a whole ocean open to me, I remain steadfast. But now for another reason. I stayed in my home in Pendour because I took up where the princess left off.

Her songs were meant to support the lives of those who lived in her lands. She did not know that her domain was actually mine. No matter, I found myself inspired by her concern and have kept to her decision to infuse this region with magic for the betterment of all. The songs of the long dead princess were intended to foster protection, generosity, goodwill, and good behavior. I understand she had suffered from bad behavior. Easy enough to continue in that way. 

And so on many a night, I'm am to be heard singing my own songs. I've traveled up and down the coast, and I'm quite sure of the difference between a protected cove and one unprotected. You've only to hear the harsh words and the sounds of beatings and sobs of humans who are left to their own tendencies. Bear in mind, these are smuggler's waters, were French brandy comes to shore, stripping away any semblance of good intentions.

 It's said that not only is Pendour Cove and the village of Zennor home to good people, but also to the sweetest singers. I expect they learned to sing from me, singing for generations near them., but perhaps it's also a side effect of the spells of the princess saint. 

In any case, one villager surpasses them all. This lad can be heard singing in the church of an evening after a long day's work. I'm mesmerized by his voice and his heart, which can be heard as he sings his hymns. I can hear him less well when he sings at his chores, but it's the sweetest sound nonetheless. 

I'm not sure when the idea came to me, but once it did it stayed until I began to transform myself to human girl and slip into the back of the church of Saint Senara on most evenings to see him, as well as hear him up close. The old ladies of the village saw me right off, for I am inhumanly lovely and quite well dressed.

I knew I was taking a risk showing up like this, but my village people are good people and I don't fear them. I didn't reckon their curiosity, for apparently young well dressed women don't simply go where they want to. Oh well. I also didn't reckon on seeing a lad whose personal beauty matched that of his almost unearthly voice. I made a stir with my own voice as well, so much so that he eventually came to meet me,  though I forestalled him on this because I made it a habit to slip away first thing.

 I came back year after year, until he was a fine man. One day my longing to see him even closer, made me a little slow and he caught up with me. I gave him the gift of my name, M.M.  He was not to know what a gift it was for quite some time. His name is Matthew Penwalla. Masquerading as humans slowed things down for us, but added spice to it. After all, I do have more time than he does.

After spending many hours together, it was clear that it was love. The villagers saw us together, deeply engrossed in one another. He was warned that nothing good could come of being with a woman who never ages. He didn't fear it. Time came when he left the land and entered the sea with me. I let his people know he was not drowned, but alive with me and our children.

When a ship anchored in front of the door to my home, I surfaced and stood on the water and called out to the ship captain

" Kind, sir, please lift your anchor and move. I can not get home to my husband, Matthew Penwalla, with your anchor in front of my door, please, my children are hungry and I must feed them."

I made sure that his people on land prospered. If ever danger came to this coast, together we would ring warning bells in the under sea church of drowned Lyonesse. 

Gabriela: Thank you for that. I'm really moved by the songs, and the power of song in these stories, both of them. And really there are so many things here to nibble beautifully.  They were both so wonderfully written and so rich. I think what strikes me more than anything is the beauty of magic and the beauty of hope. Especially in the first story, since I really connected with the princess and her gnosis, her awareness, and her commitment to life more than anything. That she was so committed to life that no matter what happened, she would be found. And she was. It was absolutely lovely. Both stories were absolutely lovely. 

Betsy: Thank you. 

Sea: Yes, they were very beautiful, and I love all the details and the richness. And the bells. I love the bells, and of course the water. And I have to admit that simultaneously, that I was so pulled into them. Like I felt like I was just in the story itself and swept away with the tide of the story. And so it was quite beautiful. And I wasn't following the structure as much as I was following the feeling. Does that make sense? So, I felt completely, not consumed by, but as if I was floating in it, which is a very, very beautiful thing for me. Thank you. 

Betsy: Well, thank you. 

Gabriela: I absolutely have to agree with Sea. The first one for me, especially, had the swept away feeling. I felt so swept away by it and really in it, in it in every aspect, every detail and, yeah, I'm still in it. I'm quite taken by all the magic of it and the water. Love the water. 

Betsy: Thank you. For myself, I was just struck how one story initiated another story. And it gave me a different perspective on initiation than I previously had. So, for that I'm super grateful. 

Sea:  I mean this in the nicest way, so this is a good thing, I feel I have to say up front, but I felt like I was seeing two aspects or two perspectives on initiation that on one hand filled me with a sense of wonder and power, and on the other hand made me feel a little bit cross-eyed because I was trying to hold two visions as one. So, the feeling of it was very complete and very whole and very beautiful, and simultaneously the details became, not irrelevant... because they were so beautiful, so they were contributing to my lived experience, but they were not static or concrete in the way that details in a story usually are for me, because they were more contributing to my holistic experience, which held the two. I am one who loves to be lost in things and I often can't get into things in the way that I wish I could, and so I felt completely held by this double vision.

Gabriela:  I feel that that's the power of the story, and the power of initiation. That we really don't know what's happening, sometimes for a long time. And the parallel and the connection, and even the changing of front or the changing of name, of this becomes that. The power of a place or the power of something, or someone, doesn't disappear, but  can be absorbed into something else. And sometimes it's unknown what the underlying light or power is, but it remains and it's sustainable  and it's eternal. So that's how I felt. Both these stories held that. They fed each other. One came from another, or maybe not. It was this eternal binding, this eternal flow, this eternal truth of something beautiful that would carry you forever. Did you enjoy these stories, Betsy? Did you enjoy being with these beautiful magical beings?

Betsy: Oh yes. They felt so different and yet they felt so entwined together too.  I was really quite taken with the princess saints and, and just that single word from her goddess of "trust" and just go with it. Now she's a christian miracle and a  christian saint in her lifetime

Gabriela:  Which really did happen. 

Betsy: And which apparently really did happen to her too. Yeah. I loved  her discipline in her trust, also. Of how the mind can wander in a direction, but her discipline kept bringing it back. And that, especially that place she was in of praying without words, just praying straight from the soul that really touched me. 

Gabriela: Those are probably the most powerful prayers because they reach gods of different languages, and spirits that maybe do not speak as we would speak.

Betsy: I think also, one of the other aspects of initiation that I loved was how the singing initiated her in some way and inspired her in the ways that were described, but also, that left her with that longing to be able to create that music that she heard. And and my sense of it was her devoting her life, not only to the intentions of her songs , but in trying to re- not even so much recapture, but to sing in that way, I find very moving and inspirational, also. 

Gabriela: Honoring her lifeline. 

Betsy: Yeah, well thank you. 

Sea: Thank you. 

Gabriela: Thank you for that story. Thank you. I suppose that means I should go next. 

Sea: And Gabriela

Gabriela:  my story of initiation is called Night Hound. 

Every death is terrifying. But the birth is just as so, if not more. With birth you have to keep going. You have to emerge, while death can be a gift, the solution, like the last drop of sweet honey wine that lingers on your lips. 

I am walking through complete darkness, unable to see a thing, feeling around me for pathways, my feet determining the firmness of ground underneath. Serpent like roots seem to be moving against my bare feet, tangling them and making it difficult to walk, but I must keep walking because this darkness is full of hunger, insatiable, terrible, and wanting my blood. I can hear and smell it's predatory longing reaching for my face.

The sky is empty of moon or stars. Perhaps it's not a sky at all. But a vast sea, a thick black matter, moving like a beast inside a beast, somewhere in the distance. I sense a change, a thinning of this black veil, and when I focus my eyes, I see a glimmer of the faintest light and head towards it as fast as the serpent roots beneath will allow, it is urgent that I get to the light. I do not know why, but I lean on what my deep heart is pushing me towards, or rather, out of.

Finally I arrive at an entrance into a mountain with steps leading underground and I slowly follow them down as the light that brought me here grows brighter, illuminating the stone walls, and I can make out the reddish stains and symbols, some still wet, as my hand glides on them to steady my descent down.

I know I'm not alone. On these...