The Three Realms

First, I knew the sea. The dark waters and the deep. That seeping, salty body that sloshes crest to trough and back again, ebb and flow in a dance with the moon. We carry an ocean in our blood, blue or purple beneath our skin, and only sometimes flushed pink or deeper red. The sea, like the past, seeps into the hidden depths within us where it works its erosion through memory and dream. Ancestors trickle through our fingers like water, each one of the beloved dead like a raindrop that enters the river that runs to join its source again. You can feel it sometimes, just as you are drifting off to sleep — that spinning, floating, rocking — as though the present were only a tiny raft upon a great heaving sea of time.

And then there is the sky. The bright air, the heights that hold the stars and sun like mighty pillars, fluted columns circling to make a temple to the gods. The sky is almost like another sea, a lifting, weightless body that pulls away and ever upwards into eternity. Sometimes delicate and blue, like a porcelain bowl overturned to make a great arching dome. Sometimes dark and clear to the utmost end of imagining, scattered with the shining, shivering dust of distant stars. Here, fire licks the edges of abyss, unfolding into the future in rising plumes. We press our faces upwards against the night, or squint against the sunlight that pours like an anointing oil or libation, warm against our skin — as though we were children pressing our faces to the window that, every once in a while, suddenly gives way like a veil or shift of mist to reveal the great hall that the gods call home. And to our surprise, we find we call it home as well.

These are mysteries, and there is still a third: the land itself. The tiny raft that floats upon the sea. The hard, cool surface of the window pane, the sticky sweat and rough texture of our skin. The neighbor’s cat lounges on the back steps purring, wood and fur and rumbling throat. All around me the trees speak to each other with the breeze. A million ants criss-cross in their purposeful bustle over the dappled gray cement. Root and limb, mud and stone. The body of the landscape rolls between sea and sky, reaching out to every horizon, holding within itself the dark waters. There is a surface to things, and this too is a mystery. Where infinity meets infinity in a crash of splintering Now. Each shard, each facet, each edge — the present moment, the utterly unique and particular, solid, dazzling — here is the birth of both fecundity and lack, where life and death dance through their melodies of color and scent, hunger and pleasure, blood, breath and bone. Here, surfaces give way to new surfaces, every face turning one into another, overlapping transformation. We find the realms again within the land itself, the shapes of weather and the shadows of clouds, the peaks of ocean waves and seafoam on the shore. Communities of spirit given form, nested one inside the other, endlessly.


This post is part of the 30 Days of Druidry creative writing project.

Alison Leigh Lilly
Alison Leigh Lilly nurtures the earth-rooted, sea-soaked, mist-and-mystic spiritual heritage of her Celtic ancestors, exploring themes of peace, poesis and wilderness through essays, articles, poetry and podcasting. You can learn more about her work here.

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