Sometimes, life throws us all a curve-ball – and we have to accept the roller-coaster ride, with all its sickness (and exhilaration) which follows. If we are lucky (and I have been), we have companions and loved ones on the ride with us, people whose presence makes the jolting nature of the experience less ghastly. My curve-ball appeared at the end of a truly special weekend of Ritual Drama.
The letter was waiting for me when I returned from the delightful Foliate Man weekend. Having read it, I tried to put its full import on hold for as long as possible by allowing Lady Ragnell to stay, to tell more of her story than I had initially thought possible.
But my body reacted even as my typing fingers followed The Veiled One’s words and images. I am in a crisis of Stress-related physical symptoms – and feeling so desolate and afraid and ill that each day is more difficult to get through. The pain has gone nuclear, and has been accompanied by constant nausea since Monday morning. No analgesics make a blind bit of difference. Nothing can be detected by the doctor I saw yesterday.
I feel completely alone with this, and utterly unprotected because, in truth, there is nothing anyone can do to help me. Not, in grim reality, without making things worse (for reasons which I cannot divulge at present). In my role as Lady Ragnell, I was released from the terrible enchantment by Sir Gawain: He gave me sovereignty and, by so-doing, allowed me to emerge from bent, pain-racked, dark-veiled suffering, to become beautiful and loved.
The wedding which followed was, to me, incredibly touching and life-affirming. The circlet of flowers placed upon my head felt like a symbol of hope, of love, of a future – and I danced in sheer joy and renewed spirit, felt, with regard to the situation which so overwhelms me now, ‘This too shall pass…’
Sue and Stuart did me great honour by giving me the roles of Death and Beauty. I had told Sue earlier that all my dramatic roles in the village Drama Club had been either funny or evil (or both) – and she, bless her, decided to allow me to explore a beautiful role. This touched me to tears.
In truth, when it came to the moment in ritual of nuptial celebration, I felt like a young, pretty, shy bride. I felt excited and uncertain and a little bit scared. My Gawain held my hand, which was lovely. One of the things with going through divorce is the loss of all physical contact – often when one needs it the most – and, in my case, the fear of asking for hugs and gentlings from others. So that level of warmth, in the ritual setting, was healing and comforting.
It also forced me to see that I have encased myself in a thick layer of ice during the past few months. Fear has frozen me. I have been too afraid to ask for help – and my body has taken the toll of that inability. Even writing the last two paragraphs caused such terror and pain that I had to leave the laptop for half an hour.
I have hesitated with this post, was reluctant to write it. Why? Because I so want to be positive, uplifting, inspiring – to reflect the multitude of wonders the weekend provided. But, with every uplift, there is its shadow – the down-draught. And I have become enmeshed in one, cannot pretend that it is not so.
I started all in green, segued into black and ended a riot of red and gold. I am hoping that this can be a symbol of my life outside Silent Eye: Currently, I am veiled in black, and feel ancient and crippled. But, just as my character, Lady Ragnell, emerged into vibrant crimson and danced and sang and rejoiced, so can I.
The weekend showed me many things: My potential for happiness and love and spirit and fellowship. The love of, and for, others. The power of ritual drama. The delight of Fox Dancers (which I will expand upon in my final Foliate Man post tomorrow). The fact that I am stronger than I sometimes think, and have lovely people at my back. The importance of creativity and imagination, tradition, myth and legend in our lives. The reality that, without the polarities, we are only half-human. The magic of friendship…
…and, ultimately, the fact that, Ragnell or Ali, I can only ever be myself. I cannot gloss over the dark parts; I have to face them head on. But, dark or light, brave or afraid, silent or boisterous, I am ME – and, as such, deserve better (far better) than the black ‘card’ dealt in Sunday night’s letter.
I AM Lady Ragnell. I AM Alienora Browning. I WILL survive.