by Masha, of Cyganeria
On St. John’s Eve the revelers go from bonfire to dark woods--hunting the flower that offers elusive beauty and second sight, that blooms--bright red at midnight--for just the moment when earth hovers between dark and light. Well-guarded: with dark spirits calling from the trees "look away!" One distraction--the flower withers, good fortune flees, and death come sneaking beneath the moon.
|Nikolai Astrup, St. John's Fire|
Beauty is never safe. It’s full of shadows and whispers in the dark. The pursuit is like the hunt for that hidden flower--it leads us off into the dark, into distant lands--where those we love cannot follow. As God does, it promises to build on the desires of our hearts, but slowly--as God taught Abraham to wait for a son--all alone in a strange country.
The country of beauty is one of possibility, in which "desires are the memories of our future"(Rilke). A place of mystery and magic and the ever present danger of falling too completely--of loosing that which brought us out to begin with and going native. Turning to the dark voices, or taking up with small gods and their pretty lies. Fairy tales draw us into this world, they open up avenues at our feet, teach us to walk quickly--to make our decisions and not look back at the brambles that grow up behind us. All things pass away in time.
|Edward Robert Hughes, Midsummer Eve|
Fairy tales whisper, with Rilke, that we needn’t fear too much the dragons, that "perhaps all the dragons in life are in fact princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave." It’s a heady thought. An invitation to love the shadowy bits of earth as much as the bright--“to feel out the shapes” that frighten us, and “be not strangers to the unspeakable terrors of [our] abode.” Because even Faery is not so far from us after all, and when we fall into it--after the first disorientation--we discover that Faery, like our own world,
is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terror; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them… Then that which now still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust.
And we will find, like those men who marry fairy queens and live for ages apart, or like monks whose long lives have seen only the cloister walls and chapel, that we can see the world with new eyes and be aware of all that is still hidden in sunlight. The sense of beauty I see in fairy tales is the wild beauty of a fallen world--the wood that holds both good and evil, as all woods do; as my own wood welcomes our happy relics and the dead we love, as well as something that haunts the evening. It is a beauty that helps me see my own imperfect beauty and welcome it as well--to grow in light and darkness, in the holy moments and in those that feel profane. Because beauty is always rushing madly toward a heaven that, in this world, it never quite reaches.